Traveling with toddlers is a must do in life but it can be a challenge, let our woes make your Nashville family trip with toddlers more enjoyable. You’ll see it wasn’t all bad, we were able to explore the city and got a lot of extra exercise (I like to walk it out when the option of walking vs hitching a ride comes up). Ultimately, we had a fun time in downtown Nashville yet we would do things a little differently next time. Hopefully this will help you travel with your toddlers better than us and find things to do in Nashville with those wonderful little kids.
It was Memorial Day weekend. We booked our stay the day before travel as we weren’t 100% sure this trip would happen since this was the front end of a business trip and the logistics were still fuzzy. The hotel was booked on Hotels.com at the Hyatt Place Downtown. We got a great rate however when we went to check in there was no reservation in the system. Hotels.com got us a new room within about an hour just up the street at the Hilton Garden Inn Nashville Downtown but this cost us an hour which was a little frustrating (tip – if you book last minute through Hotels.com call ahead to ensure you have a room).
It’s about 7 PM now and we’re here! Now where do we eat with a 3 and 1 year old? Our girls are troopers and eat most anything we give them so we have that going for us. I turn to Yelp trying to find a good place for kids that is reasonably priced and local. We come up with about 4-5 options and bounce it off the front desk staff. They guided us to stay away from Broadway (we were ignorant what goes on at night) with the kids so we decide on City Fire in “The Gulch” district. This is about a 15 minute walk with some nice things to look at on the way. We get there and it’s closed on Sunday at 4 PM. Ugh.
The next place on our list was The Southern Steak and Oyster which was back toward our hotel and Broadway. We decided to go anyway and as we started walking saw a rickshaw so did hitch a ride this time. The young man gave us a scenic tour then dropped us off at the front door for $20. Unfortunately, the restaurant was no longer accepting reservations. On to the next place, Merchants Restaurant. Another 5-10-minute walk and we hit Broadway and understood immediately why we were told to avoid with small children – it was jam packed like Bourbon Street in New Orleans. We shielded the kids, holding them tight and make it the extra block, get to the Merchants and they tell us it’s over an hour-and-a-half wait. Double (or triple) ugh. It’s now around 9 PM and the BBQ place (Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint) right across from our hotel is now the place we are settling on. We walk another 10-15 minutes, get into line and after about 5 minutes they announce they are out of all their food for the day (or at least anything you’d go to a BBQ place for). Now it’s just funny. The last place we can think of is the quiet place in our hotel, Sobro Sports Bar & Grille. We sit down and they actually have a decent menu. We both get the Coffee Dusted Iron Steak, share a salad and get the girls chicken tenders. The food was good and we were thankful to finally eat.
We got up fairly early to avoid issues and went to Frothy Monkey on 5th Ave for breakfast. This time we beat the crowd. I had an omelet, the wife had a salad (food allergies limit choices) and some pancakes & eggs for our 3 y/o. The food was good, so was the coffee as was the eating at our first choice of places!
On the way back to the hotel we stopped and let the girls play in front of the Loews Hotel at the corner of 5th Avenue and Church St in the Art District. The 3 y/o loves to climb and jump off stuff. They had some unique pieces of marble furniture for her to do so. On the other side of the street was a historic Presbyterian Church that we planned to tour but never made it back.
After checking out of the hotel we went on our restaurant checklist to get lunch. There are quite a few lots to park in downtown all being around $30/day (at least day we were there) so we found one close to Southern Steak & Oyster which was the first choice but closed for lunch… so off to Merchant where we ended up sitting outside. Lunch was nice, I had a fried bologna sandwich (I’d never have this, but when in Rome…) and the misses had a salad.
From there we walked around some more doing a little more exploring and purchased a few souvenirs from a store on Broadway. Since the Nashville Predators were in the NHL Stanley Cup Finals they were setting up for a viewing outside the stadium and there was a buzz in the city. We didn’t go into the main area but it looked like everyone was having a great time and were wearing yellow.
Finally, it was off to the Country Music Hall of Fame. This is a great place for a family with a lot to see and do for people of all ages. Our kids were no charge so our family of 4 paid about $50. We are not huge country music fans but it was very interesting to see some of the history of country music and the different genres throughout the years. Our favorite exhibit was the area where you could go into small pod-like rooms and listen to the music. A couple of the biggest surprises are what were deemed county music and the influence of Bob Dylan (originally Robert Zimmerman) on country music in Nashville. I won’t get into that but something for you to discover.
At last we were on our way out of Nashville headed for Bowling Green, KY but had 2 last quick stops to make to make our Nashville family trip with toddlers complete. First, we wanted something sweet for the road and heard about some famous milkshakes so dropped by Burger Republic for their award-winning shakes. They even made a special smaller kids-sized strawberry shake at no extra charge (kids sizes are not on the menu). What’s a trip to Nashville without stopping by Bluebird Café from the hit-show Nashville. It was closed and not much to look at sitting in a little strip mall but the wife wanted to see it and we weren’t the only ones there at the time. Sugar-levels up, we were on the highway for the approximately one hour drive to Bowling Green.