Exploring Nashville with Kids

Outdoor Play Party: Exploring Nashville with Kids. Rain or Shine Mamma

Published on November 6th, 2014 Updated on January 10th, 2023 By Linda McGurk

I’m very pleased to share that I’ve been asked to co-host the Outdoor Play Party, a fortnightly link-up of blog posts that focus on getting kids back outside! That means that you will find a lot of outdoor play inspiration gathered conveniently in one place at the end of this post!
Outdoor Play Party: Exploring Nashville with Kids. Rain or Shine Mamma
We headed south to Nashville, Tennessee, over Fall break and enjoyed both some warmer temperatures and spending a lot of time outdoors. When researching outdoor recreation in Nashville, Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art immediately piqued my curiosity. Normally, this type of place isn’t something I’d choose for a family activity. Although I was pretty sure I would love the place, admiring intricate flower arrangements and looking at oil pastels of dead people usually isn’t my kids’ idea of fun.
But Cheekwood promised some fun outdoor exhibits, so we decided to give it a go. It did not disappoint. In fact, the girls never wanted to leave. So how did Nashville create a botanical garden and art museum that gets kids truly excited? This is why I think it worked:
  • Whimsical and kid-friendly exhibits. While at Cheekwood, the girls were able to explore sculptor Patrick Dougherty’s playful installation of stick houses, play in a state-of-the-art tree house and watch as Thomas the Train huffed by on an elaborate outdoor miniature railway. Oh, and did I mention that there was also an exhibit of scarecrows made by different school classes and community groups? No less than three of the scarecrows were made to look like Olaf, the adorable snowman from the movie Frozen, so of course this was an immediate hit with the kids!Outdoor Play Party: Scarecrow Exhibit featuring Olaf at Cheekwood Garden
  • No ‘Keep Off the Grass’ signs. Kids love to run around and the grounds at Cheekwood were an open invitation to do exactly that. Aside from a few fences around certain exhibits, there wasn’t much that restricted the kids’ movements. Hidden pathways and different nooks and crannies that were asking to get explored added to the excitement. The kids were even able to climb some rather large rocks, which was refreshing and a little bit unexpected considering the litigation-prone culture of the US.

Outdoor Play Party: Exploring Nooks and Crannies at the Cheekwood Botanical Garden

  • Water. If all else fails, just add water. And at Cheekwood there’s a lot of it, in the form of ponds, creeks, waterfalls and fountains. Better yet, the kids can actually splash it, put their feet in it and jump over it.

Outdoor Play Party: Playing with Water at Cheekwood Botanical Garden in Nashville

Now over to the Outdoor Play Party! At the last party I really enjoyed reading Simple Fall Learning Activities from Learning 2 Walk. Sheila had some great ideas for things to do with leaves and tree nuts – for example challenging each other to find a certain type of leaf. I love activities that can be done on the fly like that and don’t require any additional equipment!
Simple Fall Learning Activities. #outdoorplayparty
I also thought these Autumn Leaf Masks from Mommy Loves Trees were gorgeous! I’m not a crafty person but with the help of my kids I think I could pull these off!
Leaf Masks from Mommy Loves Trees. #outdoorplayparty

Now it’s time to link up to a new Outdoor Play Party!

We would appreciate it if you included a link back to this post (either in your post or sidebar) to help us spread the word about the importance (and fun!) of outdoor play! In return, we’ll gladly further share your post on Pinterest/Facebook/Twitter. Please feel free to grab the Outdoor Play Party button from the sidebar and/or include a text link back. 

Please note that by contributing you are giving permission for an image and link to your post to be republished if featured. (If you have been featured, please feel free to grab the ‘featured at’ button from the sidebar.) Share your ideas for outdoor play activities with us every other week!


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