Let’s cut right to the chase. This isn’t a post detailing all the fun ways to experience Nashville with children. It probably should be titled “How NOT to Spend One Day in Nashville With Children.” My 8-year-old son is a typical kid, but he also has a lot of things in common with men three times his age. He is OK sitting in bars, he loves attending sporting events and he demands a table in a restaurant closer to the televised basketball game. If you’re visiting Nashville with children, consider learning a few lessons of how best to map out your own trip.
My wife grew up an hour from Nashville, so we are in the region every few months. But it’s rare that we spend much time in Nashville, and this was the first time my son and I would spend a full day on our own #NashvilleBoysDay. I bought tickets for that night’s Nashville Predators home game against the Winnipeg Jets. But the game started at 6 p.m., meaning we’d have a few hours to check out the city.
The plan called for a family breakfast before Colby and I drove into Nashville.
The reality had Colby getting me out of bed an hour earlier than I wanted. So I decided we would hit the road early and make it to Nashville in time to have breakfast over pints as we watched Tottenham take on QPR in Barclays Premier League action with the Nashville Spurs fan club. So this day was already starting off in a way that isn’t a typical father-son outing.
The plan then had us driving across the Cumberland River to walk around LP Field, home of the Tennessee Titans. Colby and I attended the Cowboys game against the Titans there last season, so we had already been in the stadium. But he does love sports, and since the stadium sits just across from downtown I knew it would have great views. Plus, there is a cool pedestrian bridge that connects to downtown and I thought that would be a fun experience to walk to downtown.
The reality was that we walked around the stadium a bit before deciding that morning’s coffee and other beverage had me needing a restroom. And since the stadium was closed that ruled out the walk. So it was back in the car and off to an awesome gourmet burger spot for lunch (and a bathroom), Burger Republic in the Gulch.
This is where the rest of the day’s events were turned upside down as a borderline ear infection reared its ugly head in Colby, turning him into a whiny child who wanted no part of being outside in the wind. So we lingered over lunch at the bar of said gourmet burger spot while watching basketball. And, yes, he requested that we sit at the bar so he could watch basketball, even requesting the replay of an old NBA game showing on NBA TV be switched on.
This ear ache threw out the window my plans to visit the Nashville Zoo and possibly the Parthenon, the re-creation of the real deal in Athens. We drove by it after visiting Walgreen’s for meds.
By this time Colby only wanted to go to the arena — some four hours before game time. But I thought a little education was in order so this day wouldn’t be all about guy stuff.
So we parked at the Bicentennial Park, built in 1996 to commemorate 200 years of Tennessee’s statehood, and walked around a bit. This was made possible by a winter hat pulled down over his ears.
We walked around the state capitol (it was closed for the weekend) and even managed to look at a free exhibit at the state archives building on Tennessee’s involvement in the War of 1812.
Finally it was off to Bridgestone Arena for a couple of hours of pregame action before enjoying ourselves at the game.
I did also have on my planned itinerary to walk around Broadway and Second Avenue. This downtown hot spot is home to the original Grand Ole Opry house, the Ryman Auditorium, a Johnny Cash Museum, and a bunch of tourist trap honky tonks and gift shops. It reminded me too much of Beale Street in Memphis and Bourbon Street in New Orleans, not to mention Times Square and dozens of other places just like it in cities around the world.
I hate the idea of tourist-heavy entertainment zones about as much as I dislike the idea of going to any Disney park.
So what did Colby learn on this full day of Nashville with children itinerary? Well, said gourmet burger spot makes grilled cheese out of mini hamburger buns, we love Predators games, dad’s love of history is about as annoying as his love of beer, and earaches suck.