Looking for things to do in Nashville with kids?

Music City can be very drinking and dancing oriented, so if you are looking for a more family-friendly (or sober!) day in Tennessee’s Capital, here’s what you can do:

3 Things To Do in Nashville with Kids

things to do in nashville with kids squad

My students and I at the Parthenon in Nashville. We’re starting a girl band.

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Take a Tour of the Grand Ole Opry

things to do in nashville with kids opry tour

The Grand Ole’ Opry, the show that made country famous! Even if you aren’t a big country music fan, it’s one of the top things to do in Nashville with kids, even if you are just passing through, because of the immense cultural mark it’s left on the city.

The Opry is also the place to work for those looking to break into the country music scene. Think about it: does your day job give you access to your creative industry’s greats?

Be sure to share a smile with everyone: the ticket sellers, the tour guides, and even the security guards, because you never know, you might be singing along to their music soon.

things to do in nashville with kids opry stage

The security guard who checked my purse had the smoothest, radio-perfect DJ voice I’ve ever heard. Turns out, he spins for a local station at night! Dierks Bentley also used to work on the grounds, but got kicked out for crashing too many parties! He got the last laugh though, when he was inducted into the Opry in 2005.

Your best bet is to take the daytime tour, which begins with a video introduction from Opry-member and hitmaker Blake Shelton. The video started when I was still around the corner, so I definitly felt disappointed when I saw that it wasn’t really him.

things to do in nashville with kids opry dressing room

One of the dressing rooms at the Opry.

Our tour lasted just under an hour and took us through the ornate dressing rooms, the loading docks, recording studios, and even onto the stage itself. As we walked around the corner and out onto the Famous Ryman Circle, I closed my eyes for a moment and tried to imagine what it would be like as an artist experiencing this hallowed stage for the very first time.

I teared up as I stood where Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Elvis, and even Carrie Underwood have performed…and I can’t even sing! I imagine it to be an even more special experience for aspiring musicians.

things to do in nashville with kids opry stage

Singing in the famous circle.

Essential Info:

  • You can reserve tours up four weeks in advance. Book ASAP as they tend to sell out — especially during the summer.
  • The website for Grand Ole Opry Tour Reservations is here.
  • Tickets are $27 for 12+ and $22 for 4-11. Children under 4 are free.

Explore the Parthenon and Centennial Park

Can’t make it to Greece? No problem! Nashville has a full-size model of the Parthenon. Having been to both, I can confidently say that the one in Nashville is actually quite a bit cooler because it’s not in ruins.

things to do in nashville with kids park

While the Parthenon in Athens is cool because it’s where the history actually happened, the Parthenon in Nashville is one of the best things to do in Nashville with kids because it allows you to step into history and really get an idea of just how amazing the original was in all of its glory.

In addition to all the splendor of the Greek temple, the Parthenon in Nashville offers visitors a look into the history of Nashville and the 1897 Centennial Exposition for which it was constructed. The building also serves as Nashville’s art museum.

things to do in nashville with kids the pharmacy

After you visit, be sure to wander around Centennial Park, as there’s great landscaping and places to sit and relax. You also never know who you might meet! My group ran into WWII vet. When one of my students noticed the man’s Air Force cap and thanked him for his service, he told us the riveting story of how he cheated death.

He had been working around the clock training pilots on an aircraft carrier and was essentially a dead man walking due to exhaustion. His commander broke protocol and had mercy on him, sending him to rest instead of fly the next drill. The plane he would have been on was shot down. He was so emotional when he told the story that I cried, my student cried, and pretty much everyone standing in the lobby of the Parthenon cried.

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Essential Info:

  • Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 9AM to 4:30PM, Sunday, 12:30PM to 4:30PM, Closed Monday.
  • Tickets are $4 for 4 – 17 & 62+ and $6 for 18-61. Children under 4 are free.
  • Plan to spend about 60 – 90 minutes exploring the Parthenon and the park.

Relax with an Orange Soda at the Pharmacy

things to do in nashville with kids the pharmacy

I honestly still dream about the orange soda I got at the Pharmacy. It was like drinking a creamsicle cloud.

If you want to grab a tasty burger, sausage, or sandwich at a cute shop with a fun outdoor eating area, don’t miss the Pharmacy while you’re in Nashville!

Essential Info:

  • Located at 731 McFerrin Avenue Nashville, Tennessee 37206
  • Hours: Sunday through Thursday, 11AM to 10PM and Friday through Saturday, 11AM to 11PM.

Bonus: Spend the Day Volunteering

Volunteering in Nashville Habitat for Humanity

Some of my team at Habitat for Humanity of Greater Nashville.

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The reason for my trip to Nashville was on a week-long service trip with some teenagers from my church. We spent a week pouring love and acts of service into the city of Nashville.

Although Nashville is a fun, upbeat place, there are still overwhelming amounts of unmeet needs throughout the city. Volunteering as a family is great one of the best things to do in Nashville with kids because it’s a way to make a small impact in the lives of Nashville’s vulnerable populations as well as your own.

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This post is a part of my Black Hills Road Trip Series 

The Mission of Crazy Horse Memorial South Dakota is to protect and preserve the culture, tradition and living heritage of the North American Indians.

The looming and luminous Crazy Horse Memorial is both the companion and antithesis of nearby Mount Rushmore. Both are impressive monuments blasted into stone and meant to stand for a thousand years, yet Crazy Horse celebrates the pride and culture of America’s native peoples, while Mount Rushmore memorializes the prosperity of a colonized nation.

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Crazy Horse Memorial South Dakota

A mantra seen often around the monument.

Mount Rushmore was built with government money and continues to be federally funded, while Crazy Horse operates on the generosity of benefactors and tourist entrance fees.

Some might balk at the “steep” pricing structure, but they should quickly be reminded of sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski’s promise to “never get into bed with the Federal Government”

Current Crazy Horse Memorial Pricing Structure 

$30.00 per car – more than 2 people

$24.00 – 2 people in car

$12.00 – 1 person in car

$7.00 – per person on a motorcycle

$7.00– per person on a bicycle

Free – Children 6 and Under + Active Military + Native Americans

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Crazy Horse Memorial South Dakota

Visiting Crazy Horse from Mount Rushmore

It’s a quick 30 minute drive from Mount Rushmore to Crazy Horse, so most tourists to the Black Hills area choose to see both monuments in one day.

The two also complement each other well in terms of history and cultural experience, as the more time you spend in the Black Hills, the more it seems like a waste to come all this way and not learn about its original inhabitants.

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Crazy Horse Memorial South Dakota

Posing as Crazy Horse. The white sculpture is what the finished project will look like. The quote on the bottom reads “My lands are where my dead lie buried” – Crazy Horse.

Things To Do at Crazy Horse Memorial South Dakota

How long should you spend at Crazy Horse? Because of the price tag and all the things to do, you should plan to spend about two to three hours at Crazy Horse.

You should start by paying the extra fee for the tour down into the construction zone. It’s only $4.00, so a great value to get up close and personal with the monument and get the inside scoop on the carving process and how things are progressing.

My sister and I visited at the beginning of spring, so we were the only two people on the tour. During the summer, it’s often packed, but that won’t make it less valuable.

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Crazy Horse Memorial South Dakota

Inside one of the museums at Crazy Horse, you have the opportunity to take a home a rock that has been blasted off the mountain for a small donation.

My sister and I traveled “carry-on only” to the Black Hills, but she still took one and managed to get it home. Just goes to show how strict the TSA requirements are, when you can somehow board a plane with a giant rock in your bag.

I am glad she took one though, as we now have a part of  Crazy Horse Memorial South Dakota history with us at home.

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Crazy Horse Memorial South Dakota

The Crazy Horse Memorial South Dakota is also home to the Indian Museum of North America®, the Native American Education and Cultural Center®, as well as the original home and studio of the sculptor, Korczak, and his family. The breadth of knowledge and history on display here is worth the admission fee alone.

You can learn about the culture and lifestyle of many different Native American tribes through their clothing, art, religious relics, dish ware, weapons, and construction materials. It’s a deep look at the “everyday” histories that are often glossed over during formal education.

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Crazy Horse Memorial South Dakota

What the Crazy Horse campus will look like once completed.

Be sure to set aside some time to simply stop and admire the mountain.

To use your imagination and think about how majestic it will look once Crazy Horse is finally finished being carved. How special and important the area will be to all Americans as we make an effort to remember all parts of our history.

Crazy Horse Memorial South Dakota

The History of Crazy Horse + Why It’s Important To Visit

Crazy Horse was a war leader for the Oglala Lakota tribe. He attempted to fight off the U.S. Federal government as the young nation spread rapidly westward, bulldozing the culture and nearly annihilating the native peoples that got in the way. He fought to protect the legacy of his people, the Lakota.

Crazy Horse Memorial South Dakota

He is most famous for two battles: the Fetterman Fight (21 December 1866) and the Battle of the Little Bighorn (25–26 June 1876). He eventually surrendered to U.S. troops under General Crook in May 1877, but was fatally wounded by a military guard while allegedly resisting imprisonment (what a bogus charge though?) at Camp Robinson which is in present-day Nebraska.

In 1931, while Mount Rushmore construction was under way, Henry Standing Bear, an Oglala Lakota chief, commissioned  Polish-American sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski to build the Crazy Horse Memorial South Dakota. This is because Standing Bear’s brother had written to Gutzon Borglum, the lead sculptor of Mount Rushmore, to request Crazy Horse be added, but he never heard back.

Crazy Horse Memorial South Dakota

Standing Bear is quoted as exclaiming, “My fellow chiefs and I would like the white man to know that the red man has great heroes, too.”

Once finished, the Crazy Horse campus will be even more of a hub for Native American cultural education and enrichment, including a satellite campus of the University of South Dakota.

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Crazy Horse Memorial South Dakota

 

 

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This post is a part of my Black Hills Road Trip Series 

The draw of the Four Corners is that you can be in four states at the same time. In fact, my right index finger has done exactly this. The draw of Belle Fourche, South Dakota is that you can be right smack dab in the middle of it all. The United States, that is. If you count Alaska and Hawaii (you really should).

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Where is Belle Fourche?

Belle Fourche South Dakota: The Geographic Center of the United States

It’s in western South Dakota, serviced by Highways 85, 212, and 34. The nearest airport is in Rapid City, South Dakota and it takes just under an hour to drive over.

If you choose to fly into Gillette, Wyoming, the drive to the Center of the Nation Monument is about 90 minutes.

Luckily, the drive from both directions is easy and scenic.

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Why is Belle Fourche Important?

Belle Fourche South Dakota: The Geographic Center of the United States

Before Alaska and Hawaii became a thing, the very center of the United States was somewhere near Lebanon, Kansas. In fact, it still is, but it’s now known as the geographic center of the contiguous United States.

When the two youngest states officially joined the Union, things had to be switched around a little bit to accommodate their locations. Enter Belle Fourche.

Belle Fourche South Dakota: The Geographic Center of the United States

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What Is There To Do in the Area?

Belle Fourche South Dakota: The Geographic Center of the United States

Other than stopping to take a photo with the large granite compass flanked with flags from all 50 states that marks the center of the nation, you can stop into the Center of the Nation Visitor Center and the Tri-State Museum, if open.

It’s hours are Tuesday to Saturday, 10AM to 4PM, Mountain Standard Time, but the monument is always accessible.

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What’s the Catch?

Belle Fourche South Dakota: The Geographic Center of the United States

Unfortunately, the actual geographic center of the nation is located on private property about 20 miles away. When it was discovered, a metal pole was placed into the ground to mark the location, but the owner of the land wasn’t interested in turning his property into a full-blown tourist attraction.

So, based on the results of a National Geodetic Survey, it was decided to place the monument in Belle Fourche, as it is the closest town to the real location, and actually within the margin of error.

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You have my permission not to mention this to your friends after your visit, though. Just let them think you stood right in the center of it all.

Belle Fourche South Dakota: The Geographic Center of the United States

If, however, you’d like to really go and see the actual geographic center of the nation, follow these instructions from the Belle Fourche Chamber of Commerce:

Drive 13 miles on HWY 85 north from the intersection of HWY 85 and 212. Turn left onto Old HWY 85 (look for a small blue sign with white lettering) and drive 7.8 miles until you see a barn on your left hand side.

On the right side of the road, you will see a small sign in red, white, and blue telling you that you have reached the Center of the Nation. Looking into the pasture, you will see a US Flag flying freely. Feel free to park and climb through the barbed wire fence and make the short walk out to the location. Make sure to watch for cow pies and snakes! At the location you will see the survey marker highlighting the “Center of the Nation.”

Belle Fourche South Dakota: The Geographic Center of the United States

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Belle Fourche South Dakota: The Geographic Center of the United States

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