One of the best museums in Tennessee has reopened after a lengthy rebuild—we’re talking a $160 million dollar brand new museum. The new Tennessee State Museum encompasses 137,000 square feet of gallery space. If you ever went to the old museum, you’ll see some of the same pieces of history, but everything is presented in a much more interactive way. Take a walk down the music gallery, learn more about Tennessee’s role in the Civil War, or just soak in the view of the Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park.
Photo: Courtesy of the Tennessee State Museum
No one lived that honkytonk life like George Jones. While he never had the same level of fame as Johnny Cash, he made up for it by keeping his life interesting...to say the least. Whether you’re a fan or you have no idea who Jones was, the museum is a fun and often times amusing visit. This is a guy who would party so hard he’d forget to show up to shows, drove a lawn mower (which is at the museum) to the liquor store, wore suits that look more like Elton John than country star, and had the nickname “The Possum”.
In true George Jones fashion, there’s a rooftop bar on top of the museum.
Photo: Courtesy of The George Jones
Warning: your children are not going to want to leave the Adventure Science Center. On the bright side, once you finally get them out of the 175-exhibit museum, they’ll be zonked out. Kids will love the 75 foot tall Adventure Tower that lets them look out over the city, and the Sudekum Planetarium will blow their minds with movies about space. Unlike many other children’s museums, Adventure Science Center has a constantly changing area of traveling exhibits, so there’s always something new for the kiddos.
If you’re not just visiting town, it’s worth it to become a member—otherwise, ticket prices can add up quickly.
Photo: Courtesy of Adventure Science Center
If you’re wondering why Johnny Cash has his own museum, you deserve a punch in the mouth. Nowhere else in the world has more Johnny Cash memorabilia, and even if you’re not the man’s biggest fan, it’s still a cool experience with interactive exhibits and things like his handwritten lyrics. It’s family friendly and it’s relatively short, so you won’t spend your entire day in there. After you’re done, hit the shop and buy a Johnny Cash cookbook.
Tickets are $20, so if you really don’t have an interest in The Man in Black, skip it.
Photo: Courtesy of the Johnny Cash Museum
Housed in an Art Deco building downtown that once served as the city's main post office building, the Frist Art Museum is Nashville's premiere art destination. As a non-collecting museum, the museum is a new experience each time you go, playing host to a constantly revolving calendar of exhibitions, lectures, film screenings, and special events. Perfect for an afternoon entertaining little Picassos-in-training or a cultured date night, the Frist is the city's go-to for letting out your inner art critic. Oh and did we mention--visitors under 18 get free entrance (making this both an entertaining and an economical choice for the whole family)?
There is a parking lot located right behind the building, but it often fills up quickly--unsurprising given the museum's prime Downtown real estate.
Photo: Courtesy of the Frist Art Museum
Mention Nashville to many out-of-towners and visions of cowboy boots and down-home crooners will surely dance through their heads. That part of Music City is alive and well at the Country Music Hall of Fame, one of the world’s largest museums and research centers dedicated to American music. No country music fan’s trip to Nashville would be complete without a visit to this veritable mecca of the genre. Devotees could spend days exploring country treasures, including Elvis Presley’s 1960 “Solid Gold” Cadillac limousine, Patsy Cline’s cocktail dress, and nearly 200,000 sound recordings. Even those in the “everything but country” crowd may find something to love, and certainly a lot to learn.
Check the calendar of events before you go; with everything from banjo lessons to meet-and-greets with up-and-coming artists, there’s always something new to take in.
Photo: Courtesy of the Country Music Hall of Fame
Take in beauty of all kinds at the Cheekwood estate, home to a botanical garden, art museum, and the stately Cheekwood mansion. Featuring numerous styles of gardens, from a serene Japanese garden to a literary garden used for poetry readings, the 55-acre grounds are an excellent place to enjoy all of the four(ish) seasons of Tennessee. The art museum spans the history of American art, including Worcester porcelain and paintings by Andy Warhol. You’d be hard pressed to find a more beautiful place in all of Nashville than Cheekwood in the spring, when over 100,000 tulips crop up from the earth in a resplendent display. We recommend a walk along the 0.9 mile-long sculpture trail anytime of year.
This place is BIG, so allot your time properly. The mansion alone is over 30,000 square feet!
Photo: Courtesy of Cheekwood Estate and Gardens
Located on 122 acres in the buzzing West End neighborhood, Centennial Park is the city’s crown jewel of urban greenery. Once a prime piece of farmland, the park is now home to numerous historical landmarks, an exercise trail, a dog park, sand volleyball courts, and good old fashioned Mother Nature. It’s also home to the iconic Parthenon building, one of the most recognizable structures in the city.
If you’re not of the whole “connect with nature” mentality, have no fear; Centennial Park is truly a park of the 21st century, with free WiFi found throughout the grounds.
Photo: Courtesy of The Conservancy for the Parthenon and Centennial Park