Visiting friends and family ask me all the time where they should take their kids in Nashville – and if there is anywhere they can take their kids to hear music – it IS Music City after all! We love to take our young girls to outdoor concerts and events and occasionally we also like to take them to historical Nashville music venues as they develop their own appreciation of music. Here are 10 of our favorite Nashville music venues that are kid-friendly – some are free, some are outside, some are for kids a bit older, some are seasonal but ALL of them are incredible music experiences here in Music City!
We love to take visitors to the world famous Nashville Honkey-Tonks downtown on Broadway! The best time to do this with kids in tow is mid-morning or early afternoon. Grab an ice cream at Mike’s and walk down Broadway while popping into a few bars to hear live music. Many, including Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge and Robert’s Western World, never have a cover charge and have live music all day.
This massive live music and dance venue in downtown Nashville has free line dance lessons, great food (definitely try the fried pickles) and a family-friendly atmosphere.
The family-friendly and dog-friendly Musicians Corner lawn parties take place on Saturday afternoons in May and June and September and October at Centennial Park, with all genres of music, children’s activities, and lots of food trucks. My girls LOVE the “Kidsville” area of the event where they have music, crafts, and games for all ages.
Lightning 100’s “Live on the Green” is a mini music festival series that runs weekends in August and September at Public Square Park. Saturday morning of the last LOTG weekend is the Kids Music Fest where everything is geared for music loving kids from 10:30-1pm.
These laid-back, family-friendly events feature Nashville’s finest bluegrass music under the light of a full moon. Bluegrass and pickers jam in circles under the trees and around the grounds of a horse barn and Equestrian Center, while three headlining acts perform on the main stage throughout the night. The Pickin’ Parties are put on by Warner Parks and they are magical. Kids can dance and play PLUS you can get a discount on entry if you bring an instrument to pick on! They take place May through October on the Friday closest to the full moon.
This winery just outside of Nashville in Arrington, Tennessee started by music legend Kix Brooks has a free “Music In the Vines” series of live music every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, May through November that is perfect for families. Parents can sip on some Arrington wines while kids dance to the music in the grass.
The Opry is an American icon – it started out as a radio show in 1925 and has become “the place” for country music. It’s loud and wild and fun – you may catch surprise country music legends, contemporary chart-toppers or new-comers to the scene. The first time I went to an Opry show, I was tentative (I’m not a pop-country fan) – but I left exhilarated and eager to learn more about the musicians I heard that night. It is a wonderful family-friendly experience that you’ll love – parents, for the history and the music and kids for the electric ambiance and the music too! Even if you’re not typically country music fans, it’s a quintessential Nashville experience.
For kids or teens who can sit & enjoy the music:
The famed Bluebird Café is where many songwriter’s made their start in Nashville. The Bluebird is known as a “listening room” and the venue has gained worldwide recognition as a songwriter’s performance space. They have a variety of performances all week, but on Monday nights at the Bluebird, they have Open Mic Night which is a unique musical experience. On Monday’s you get to see about 25 artists singing their own acoustic tunes. It’s pretty amazing to hear and you never know what you’ll get. This is a much quieter venue than many I’ve listed above – great for kids who can sit quietly and appreciate listening to the music a bit more. Also, The Bluebird only seats 80 people, and on Mondays each of the 25 artists gets a seat and can bring a friend, which means there are only about 30 available seats left to the public – you have to line up early – something else to consider with young kids. If they can handle it, it’s worth it!
The Ryman Auditorium is another historic Nashville music venue. Known as “The Mother Church,” the Ryman was originally a church at the turn of the century and you still sit in church pews to hear shows. It also housed the Grand Ole Opry until the 1970s. This venue is truly special and you can hear any genre of music – from country to rock, punk to gospel, blues to Americana. If your kids are music buffs and there is a band playing that you know and love, it’s worth the experience. I can’t wait to take my girls to their first Ryman show.
10. Station Inn
This famous bluegrass bar has been in Nashville since 1974 and their mission is to preserve the legacy of bluegrass music. Under 21 is only allowed with a parent or guardian, but it’s another memorable Nashville musical experience that you can share with your kids and the performances are always pretty amazing.