By Ginny Luckie
If you are in need of a last-minute family spring break trip, Nashville could be your answer.
This destination is just a three hour drive north of Birmingham and a straight shot up Interstate 65. Music City is convenient, easy and has a lot more to offer than just country crooning. Nashville has activities and sightseeing that kids of all ages can enjoy.
When booking the trip, be mindful of the area of town you prefer to stay in. There are great options that will fit any price point. If the heart of downtown floats your boat, check out the Renaissance hotel or the new Westin, which has a rooftop pool.
On the more expensive side, the Thompson Hotel in the Gulch offers an eclectic vibe. Once the kids are put to bed, visit the rooftop bar L.A. Jackson for scenic views of the city and chic cocktails. The hotel’s restaurant, the Marsh House, also is home to a James Beard award-winning chef.
More budget-friendly options include the Hampton and Holiday Inns along West End, as well as Homewood Suites, which are all straight shots to downtown and close to the Vanderbilt Commodore’s football stadium.
If you have no shame in your tourist game, the Gaylord Opryland Hotel is the best place. It will keep kids entertained and amazed with the massive atriums, indoor canal rides and restaurants that make you feel like you’re outside. The Gaylord Opryland sits next door to the current Grand Ole Opry, which is a must-see.
Ginny’s Tip: For a more relaxed stay, try booking a home on AirBnB in a neighborhood of your preference. Check out these neighborhoods: 12 South, Germantown, Sylvan Park and East Nashville.
When in Nashville, there are certain to do’s that must be checked off the list. Top of the list? Take a tour of the Ryman Auditorium. It was the original Grand Ole Opry and is known as the mother church of country music. If you can, see a show while you’re there. The church pews, acoustics and stained glass windows make it one of the best venues in the country for live music.
Other worthwhile museum tours include the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Johnny Cash museum. While downtown, walk Broadway and enjoy the sights and sounds of the honky-tonks. With live music coming from every direction, who doesn’t love to window shopping for cowboy boots and hats?
To top off an evening downtown, go to an NHL Nashville Predator’s game. The fast-paced energy of the game and enthusiasm from the fans in the Bridgestone arena make for a memorable hockey game. Be sure to wear yellow to support the Preds. Soon the whole family will cheer for Smashville.
Try the Hop On, Hop Off bus tour. It is convenient because you can come and go as you please and see whichever destinations you prefer. The Adventure Science Museum is fun for kids and a wonderful activity on a rainy day.
In the case of sunshine and warm weather, rent bikes along the Greenway. The Nashville Greenway offers trails along the Cumberland river, with parks and playgrounds on the route. Stay outside and take a hike at any Edwin or Percy Warner parks. Horse riding is available at Percy Warner, if you have any equestrian lovers in the family.
Radnor Lake is beautiful for the outdoors lover, as well. The lake is meant for wildlife observation and is protected under the State Preservation Act of 1971.
Not far from the parks and lake lies the Belle Meade Plantation. John Harding called his farm, which was built in the 1800s, beautiful meadow. Tour the plantation to learn more about its history.
For the history buff in the family, stop by Franklin on the way out of town. Just 25 miles south of Nashville, Franklin offers a lot of civil war battle sites to check out. Also, visit the historic downtown square; it is not only charming, but perfect for shopping and eating.
Ginny’s Tip: Parking can get expensive, so if you’re planning to spend the entire day downtown, consider a rideshare option such as Uber or Lyft.
Enjoy lunch on the rooftop of Acme. With views of the Cumberland River and the Titan’s playground, Nissan Stadium, Acme is a four-story restaurant to relax and relish the outdoors, live music and the city. Try the local yokel or the hot chicken sandwich.
For an upscale dinner on Broadway, try Merchant’s restaurant. It’s been around since 1892 and is a hot spot for dinner. Try to make a reservation on OpenTable to skip the wait.
Other great places to check out include: 12 South and Reese Witherspoon’s store, Draper James, next door. For sweet treats, check out Las Paletas popsicles, cupcakes from the Sprinkles ATM or Jeni’s ice cream, made with seasonal, high-quality, natural ingredients that will make you want to invest in a franchise.
A top tourist spot is the Pancake Pantry in Hillsboro Village, but beware of the long lines on the weekends. A fun pizza joint, Desano’s, is kid-friendly and mom and dad can even BYOB. Go to Taco Mamacita, Bar Taco and Taqueria Del Sol for Mexican. For a delectable splurge, try any MStreet restaurant such as Virago, Whiskey Kitchen, Saint Anejo, Tavern and Kayne Prime.
Ginny’s Tip: Nashville is famous for its hot chicken, and while Birmingham does have a Hattie B’s, it is not the same as the original location. But to venture off the beaten bath, visit Prince’s Hot Chicken. It’s been around longer than Hattie B’s, and is Nashville’s not-so-best-kept secret.
Enjoy Nashville and make time for what interests you and your family the most. Happy last-minute planning!