Nashville's Gaylord Opryland Resort
Nashville’s Gaylord Opryland Resort

Music City’s packed with offbeat fun for families

Get your groove on

You can’t visit Nashville without partaking in the city’s vibrant music scene. Decide what’s best for your crew among the bountiful offerings, which include concerts and tours of the legendary Ryman Auditorium and the Opry Theatre, a visit to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum (where there’s a musical petting zoo and kids can often learn about letterpress printing from the experts at Hatch Show Print) or the brand new Johnny Cash Museum.

Hang out with Dreamworks characters at the Gaylord Opryland Resort

Depending on what time or year you visit this climate-controlled wonderland, your kids will have different opportunities to interact with Shrek, Kung Fu Panda and other characters from Dreamworks movies, from hotel pool parties to meet-and-greets. There’s also nine acres of spectacular indoor gardens to marvel at, flatboat rides along the property’s river and—our personal fave—the “consider it done” button on the hotel room phones, which connect guests to room-service staff who strive to fill most any request (say, a fresh stash of diapers in the middle of the night).

Stand inside the body of a massive guitar

Or crawl through a beating heart, show off your strength by lifting a full-sized car (thanks to some strategically placed lifts), or see what it feels like to walk on the moon. Your kids can do all that and more without ever noticing that they’re learning a few things at the one-of-a-kind Adventure Science Center.

Make like you’re in Athens

No need to fetch your passport to see remnants of ancient Greece. The Parthenon in Centennial Park is a full-sized replica of the real deal, complete with a 42-foot statue of Athena and direct casts of the Parthenon Marbles found in Naos. This is also the site of Nashville’s art museum, with a permanent collection of works by 19th and 20th century American artists, as well as temporary shows and exhibits.

Flip some flapjacks

Everyone’s a chef at Berry Hill’s Pfunky Griddle (2800 Bransford Ave, 615-298-2088), where the tables are outfitted cooktops so you can customize your own pancakes with an assortment of add-ins, from apples to M & M’s.

Climb a dragon

Fannie Mae Dees Park, a.k.a. Dragon Park, is a family fave thanks to artist Pedro Silva’s climbable mosaic serpent sculpture that lies as its centerpiece. Look for tile renditions of clowns, balloons and even Dolly Parton within the design.

Risk brain freeze at Las Paletas

The Mexican-style popsicles that sisters Irma Paz Bernstein and Norma Paz serve at their small storefront have attracted national attention from the likes of the Food Network, Travel + Leisure and other trend spotters. Kids will get a kick out of flavors such as hot chocolate and cookies; you can get adventurous with hibiscus or cucumber with hot peppers.

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Tagged: Family time

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