Arcade's Kids Guide to Nashville

Hi, ya’ll and welcome! As many of you know, Arcade makes its home in Nashville, Tennessee. We love having a kids’ store here not only because of the city-wide creative growth you’ve undoubtedly heard about but also because it’s a great place to raise children! With so many out-of-towners, new-to-towners, and locals with little ones coming through the store every day, we decided to compile a list of our favorite things to do with kids in Nashville. Here’s our round-up of the city's best parks, activities, and kid-friendly restaurants. 

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Nashville Zoo

Talk to the animals that live along the central walking path, featuring open-air exhibits along the way (look out for the clouded leopards — the zoo’s best-known residents). After checking out the animals, let kids run wild in the forts of the Jungle Gym playground, featuring over 66,000 square feet of kid-friendly playspace. Make sure to hit the classic carousel and newly-added zipline.
 
3777 Nolensville Pk Nashville, TN 37211
 
Adventure Science Center
The perfect summer respite for hot and humid days, this is the place to take budding scientists. It can get crowded on weekends, but features like Adventure Tower — a scientific playscape that’s over 75 feet tall — are worth it. There are permanent exhibitions on upper levels, as well as traveling exhibits and a planetarium on the first floor.
 
800 Fort Negley Blvd Nashville, TN 37203 
 
Plaza Mariachi
Modeled in the style of an old Latin American marketplace, this mall offers everything from a video arcade and street food to upscale dining and a plaza with live music and occasional salsa dancing. A great opportunity to expose your kids to the customs and pastimes of another culture.
 
3955 Nolensville Pk Nashville TN 37211 
 
Nashville Children's Theatre
All productions at this beloved theater are developed in-house and performed by professional actors. In recent years they’ve made productions of Arcade’s favorite books: Ezra Jack Keats’s The Snowy Day, Eric Carle’s Mister Seahorse and the ever-popular Dragons Love Tacos. Fun fact: Time magazine ranked this as one of the top five children’s theaters in the country.
 
2040, 25 Middleton St Nashville, TN 37210
 
The Belcourt Theatre
Located in bustling Hillsboro Village, just a block from Arcade, is Nashville’s best-known independent movie theater, operating since in the 1920s. The Belcourt has excellent children’s programming, with occasional showings of old cartoons on Saturday mornings and bookings by family-friendly musicians. Check the Saturday Family Films section on the website to see what’s playing.
 
2102 Belcourt Ave Nashville, TN 37212 
 
Tennessee Performing Arts Center
TPAC is one of Nashville’s biggest venues and home to some of the city’s largest-scale theater and dance productions. It hosts Broadway tours, comedians, and all sorts of performing arts companies, including kid-friendly productions like Paw Patrol, Yo Gabba Gabba, and Bubble Guppies Live.
 
505 Deaderick St Nashville, TN 37219 
 
Cheekwood Estate & Gardens
A historic estate that’s an easy destination for art and botany lovers, Cheekwood also has attractions for the family. Come to roam around the Cheek family’s estate, art museum, and gardens, or drop in for a class. “Tuesdays for Tots” art classes are designed to delight toddlers. Don't leave without watching the toy trains zip through the woods outside. Check the website for seasonal festivities and art installations.
 
1200 Forrest Park Dr Nashville, TN 37205
 
OZ Arts
OZ is Nashville’s center for contemporary performing arts, from dance and music to visual art and theater. The seasonal schedules are always packed with incredible performances and interactive shows for the whole family. An annual highlight is Family Day in August. Check the OZ website and mark your calendars!
 
6172 Cockrill Bend Cir Nashville, TN 37209
 
Brentwood & Rivergate Skate Centers
Lucky Nashville natives of a certain age remember attending birthday parties at these skate centers. The skates have improved some, but the atmosphere hasn’t changed since the early eighties. Come out as a family to play nostalgic arcade games, hit the snack counter, and skate to your favorite tunes.
 
402 Wilson Pike Cir Brentwood, TN 37027
 
119 Gleaves St Madison, TN 37115
 
The Little Art House
Located between Jeni's Ice Cream and Arcade in Hillsboro Village, this vibrant, fun-filled art studio is owned and operated by two sisters. Little Art House offers daily classes for little ones and adults. Check their website for the drop-in class schedule. And then stop in Arcade afterward to show us what you made!
 
2104 Acklen Ave Nashville, TN 37212
 
Downtown Library
The city’s central library is a gorgeous building with a grand staircase and lovely interior courtyards, all welcoming to families. The children’s section is quite big and has a playscape that looks like a miniature downtown Nashville! On Monday and Wednesday mornings, there are puppet shows for very little ones. Check the calendar for story times.
 
615 Church St Nashville, TN 37219 
 
Robert’s Western World
And now for something completely different: if you want to let your kiddos experience the honky tonks of Lower Broadway, you’re in luck. Robert’s is totally family-friendly during the day, with live musical performances by aspiring (and usually very talented) country stars, starting every day at 11:00 AM. Don’t leave without splitting a fried baloney sandwich.
416 Broadway B Nashville, TN 37203 
Lane Motor Museum
Off the beaten path but not far from downtown, Lane is a hidden gem for aspiring gearheads, with rare vintage European and Japanese automobiles and motorcycles on view. There’s also a play area stocked with coloring books and toys.
 
702 Murfreesboro Pk Nashville, TN 37210 
 
Frist Art Museum
After browsing the main exhibits in Nashville’s downtown art museum, reward your kids by taking them to the newly renovated Martin ArtQuest Gallery. There are thirty interactive stations and educational art activities designed specifically to help kids understand the way art can be found in everyday life and culture. Admission is free to those under 18!
 
919 Broadway Nashville, TN 37203
 
Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage
President Andrew Jackson’s mansion and estate are a great place for older kids to learn about Tennessee and American history. The Hands-On History experience is customized for school groups of any age, and include studies of archaeology and Tennessee, American and presidential history. Family Pass discounts are offered.
 
4580 Rachel's Ln Nashville, TN 37076
 
Climb Nashville
Wall-to-wall climbing spaces are designed for access by all ages, though older kids are more suited for this kind of fun. Good news: auto belays (climbing safety mechanisms) make it easy for parents to relax. Appointments aren’t necessary to start climbing the walls at locations in East and West Nashville, so drop in any time.
 
3600 Charlotte Ave Nashville, TN 37209
1900 Eastland Ave #104 Nashville, TN 37206
 
The Flipside
In the heart of 12 South, The Flipside has a retro theme with a refreshing twist. Vintage elements compliment a bright atmosphere with tons of natural light. There are big, spacious booths to accommodate families, and when the weather’s nice, the windows are open. Kids enjoy the giant mural of “The Great Grape Ape” in the main dining area as well as the old-fashioned milkshakes.
 
2403 12th Ave S Nashville, TN 37204
 
12 South Taproom
A neighborhood classic, 12 South Taproom is a great place for parents to grab a beer on tap after a long day, and mild enough for the kids to tag along. They serve perfect, simple bar food and the staff is great with kids. Eat on the patio and enjoy free entertainment courtesy of the constant stream of tourists passing by on 12th.
 
2318 12th Ave S Nashville, TN 37204
 
Burger Up
Kitty-corner from Sevier Park, Burger Up is a slightly upscale hamburger joint. When the weather is nice, the wait can be long, so put your name on the list and go next door to "The Meet Room” to grab a drink and let your kiddos play.
 
2901 12th Ave S Nashville, TN 37204
 
Las Paletas
This Mexican popsicle shop is made for Nashville parents and kids. Situated in front of Sevier Park, Las Paletas is both a refreshing first stop on your way to the swings —or a nice bribe to get kiddos to leave the playground. Kids and adults alike will love the artisan flavors, with the little guys digging the added bonus of a tire play area outside.
 
2911 12th Ave S Nashville, TN 37204
 
Nashville Farmers’ Market
Located inside a vast pavilion near downtown, the Farmers’ Market is a fun place to take the family to learn about farming and food culture. There is a large food court with local vendors who sell everything from pizza to Asian cuisine to soul food. The Sheds outside host farmers and merchants selling seasonal items and foods.
 
900 Rosa L Parks Blvd Nashville, TN 37208
 
 
Martin's Bar-B-Que Joint
Not only it Martin’s arguably the best barbecue in Nashville, it’s also a kid-friendly zone with many distractions for little ones. There are free Moon Pies and braver kids have the opportunity to check out the whole-roast pig process. Tables and seating are plentiful.
 
3108 Belmont Blvd Nashville, TN 37212
 
Arnold's
Our choice for the ultimate Nashville “meat and three” experience. Arnold’s is a no-frills, family-owned cafeteria that’s only open for lunch during weekdays. Kids have fun carrying their tray and choosing their top “three” from a variety of veggies.
 
605 8th Ave S Nashville, TN 37203
 
Hattie B's
Hot chicken is the unofficial protein of Nashville, and this iconic Nashville franchise has convenient locations all over town. The chicken comes at different spice levels, so you can adjust the spiciness to suit even sensitive tiny taste buds. The 8th Avenue location has an outdoor porch with a turf area for playing.
 
112 19th Ave S Nashville, TN 37203 
5209 Charlotte Pike Nashville, TN 37209
2222 8th Ave Nashville, TN 37204
 
Proper Bagel
Hands-down the best bagels in town, this Belmont neighborhood hot spot brings an NYC foodie favorite to Music City. Their kettle-boiled bagels are made from scratch and they have about over a dozen cream cheese options: kids will dig the cookie dough and birthday cake flavors. The atmosphere is beautiful inside and out, making it a cute backdrop for a family photo.
 
2011 Belmont Blvd Nashville, TN 37212
 
Gabby's Burgers
A fun throwback to a simpler time, located in the heart of the arty Wedgewood Houston neighborhood. Open only during the day, this laid-back, family-owned restaurant makes an amazing grass-fed burger, served in an unpretentious atmosphere.
 
493 Humphreys St Nashville, TN 37203
 
DeSano Pizza Bakery
The pizza is delicious, the space is huge, and they give kids dough to play with. What more could you ask? The pies are baked in wood-fired ovens and they offer a fun-for-all Italian dessert, cannolis.
 
115 16th Ave S Nashville, TN 37203
 
Hugh-Baby’s
Pat “Martin’s BBQ” Martin's fast food restaurant has a retro vibe — and cheap, delicious burgers. The perfect spot to hit for a refuel after a Sylvan Park play date. Bonus: the staff is always super-friendly.
 
4816 Charlotte Ave Nashville, TN 37209
 
McDougal's Chicken Fingers & Wings
Located in a small house with lots of personality (think walls covered in license plates, memorabilia, and hand-written notes — there is plenty to look at while you dine), this Hillsboro Village mainstay makes the best chicken nuggets, wings, and fries in town. Before you leave, make sure to take a look at the dragon mural!
 
2115 Belcourt Ave Nashville, TN 37212
 
Bobbie's Dairy Dip
The go-to Nashville dive for an old-school burger and ice cream experience. As soon as the weather is nice, Bobbie’s is serving up soft serve non-stop to happy families looking for a fun way to get out of the sun. Kids will love the brightly colored building, tables, and chairs. We recommend the onion rings!
 
5301 Charlotte Ave Nashville, TN 37209
 
Bella Napoli
From the checkered tablecloths to the authentic red sauce pizza, this cozy joint is as fun for large parties as it is for small family gatherings. Housed in the middle of Edgehill Village, there are nice shops to explore before or after you eat. Take our advice and camp out under dreamy string lights at one of the tables in the outdoor courtyard.
 
1200 Villa Pl #206 Nashville, TN 37212
 
 

Centennial Park

Nashville’s central urban park is equipped with an open green space, ponds with ducks to feed, and an unmissable replica of the Parthenon. Check the Kidsville calendar on Centennial’s website for free Saturday morning programming, and in the spring and summer, mark your calendars for installments of the park’s concert series, Musician’s Corner, and let your kiddos dance in the grass.

 

2500 West End Ave Nashville, TN 37203

https://www.nashville.gov/Parks-and-Recreation/Parks/Centennial-Park.aspx

https:// musicianscornernashville.com/

https://kidsvilleonline.org/

 

Dragon Park

Officially named Fanny Mae Dee’s Park, locals lovingly nicknamed this Hillsboro Village park for the brightly colored mosaic-covered creatures that dot the playground. Conveniently located two blocks from Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital, it includes several playscapes — and the titular tile dragons. After you play, walk a block to the Village for a treat at Jeni’s Ice Cream in the Village and a swing through Arcade!

 

2400 Blakemore Ave Nashville, TN 37212 

http://www.nashville.gov/Parks-and-Recreation/

 

Sevier Park

Located at the southern-most end of one of Nashville’s most strollable neighborhoods, 12th Avenue South, Sevier Park has a burbling creek and wide, wandering walking paths winding. There are two playgrounds as well as open pavilions for picnicking. The local farmer’s market sets up weekly in the summertime.

 

3021 Lealand Ln Nashville, TN 37204

http://www.friendsofsevierpark.org/

 

Edwin Warner/Percy Warner

The Warners are a major park system in West Nashville, featuring moderate hiking trails that wind through beautiful forest space. The stone staircase at the end of Belle Meade Boulevard serves as the entrance to Percy Warner. Sit on the steps while you watch the kids play, then walk up and hit the trails for some fun family exercise.

 

Edwin Warner: 50 Vaughn Rd Nashville, TN 37221 

Percy Warner: Belle Meade Blvd Nashville, TN 37221

http://warnerparks.org/

 

Fort Negley

A historic Civil War site-turned-park and education center, Fort Negley is a great place for a family stroll. The highest points of the park serve up nice views. If you’re lucky, you might run into the goats that live on the property!

 

1100 Fort Negley Blvd Nashville, TN 37203

http://www.nashville.gov/Parks-and-Recreation/Historic-Sites/Fort-Negley.aspx

 

Radnor Lake

Adjacent to Nashville’s Oak Hill neighborhood, this state park has awesome trails and offers sure-thing wildlife sightings (birdwatchers are everywhere!). Trails come wild or paved (best for parents pushing strollers), and curve around a scenic lake. It's a great way to teach kids about Tennessee’s biodiversity.

 

1160 Otter Creek Rd Nashville, TN 37220

https://radnorlake.org/

 

Bicentennial Capitol Mall

This downtown park is dotted with monuments related to both Tennessee and broader American history. Let loose on the greenway, then spend some time finding Nashville on the large granite map of Tennessee, featuring a to-scale network of cities across our great state — and a water feature highlighting Tennessee’s key waterways. Bring a swimsuit!

 

600 James Robertson Pkwy Nashville, TN 37243

https://tnstateparks.com/parks/about/bicentennial-mall

 

Cumberland Park

This riverfront park has some inventive playscapes to keep the family entertained (the playground has a crazy long slide, water fountains and climbing walls), plus a stunning view of downtown Nashville. Little football fans will love the proximity to the Nissan Stadium, where Nashville’s NFL team plays. Go, Titans!

 

592 S 1st St Nashville, TN 37213 

https://www.nashville.gov/parks-and-recreation/parks/cumberland-park.aspx

 

Elmington Park

Right off West End Avenue, this open green space is perfect for field games. But things really get interesting at Elmington in the summer, with the outdoor movie series, when food trucks circle up at dusk and people spread out on blankets to watch family-friendly flicks. Parking fills up fast, so get there early.

 

3531 West End Ave Nashville, TN 37205

https://www.facebook.com/ElmingtonPark/

 

 

 

 

 

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