My dad recently visited and, since we were way overdue for a day trip, we decided to drive up to Nashville to visit a few places that were on our field trip list. We had a great day, and in case you’re looking for something fun and easy, I highly suggest The Hermitage, The Aquarium Restaurant, and The Parthenon.
We drove up on a weekday so I can’t say what the weekend crowds would be like. However on our day, all places were populated, but no overbearing crowds.
The Hermitage, home to Andrew Jackson, is located just outside of Nashville. Both road signs and GPS led us directly there with no issue. Ticket prices are listed on the website, but they do offer pretty decent senior and veteran discounts, you just have to ask. I definitely recommend picking up the headsets for the audio tour; throughout the grounds are audio clips for both adults and children. Both of my children – ages 11 and 8 – enjoyed the audio and retained much of the information. The mansion tour was quite interesting (maybe took an hour), and the interpreters brought the house to life on what a typical day might have looked like. They really do watch, though, if little hands are touching things they shouldn’t, or if feet get “off the carpet,” so definitely keep on eye on everyone in your party to avoid getting called out! We had limited access to outside as it was raining off and on that day, however, we were able to see Jackson’s tomb as well as the burial place of “Uncle Alfred.” The garden was quite lovely, and being an avid gardener myself, I enjoyed reading all of the plant markers. There is an exhibit titled “Andrew Jackson: Born for a Storm,” and we all thoroughly enjoyed that and found it very educational. For me, one of the highlights was seeing Jackson’s refurbished horse carriage; quite the ride in his day, I’m sure! All in all, we spent about half a day taking in the mansion and the grounds.
After The Hermitage, we drove over to the Opry Mills Mall to have lunch at The Aquarium Restaurant. I first heard about this place a few months ago from a friend’s Facebook post and have been looking forward to giving it a try. We arrived for a late lunch around 1:15, so I believe we missed the crowd, and only had to wait about 10-15 minutes. While we waited, we enjoyed watching the fish in the large tank in the lobby, though there was a small gift shop we could have browsed through as well. When you first walk in to the dining area, the size of the tank is a bit misleading. It wasn’t until I walked around to get to the restroom, that I realized the full scale of the 200,000 gallon tank. Their website states that there are over 100 varieties of fish in the tank and, while I didn’t count, I can easily see this being the case. We were greeted by a very friendly and knowledgeable waitress who made excellent suggestions from the menu. The adults in our group had the Bayou Shrimp Pasta and the Louisiana Cajun Pasta; similar dishes but with varying degrees of “hotness.” Both were excellent. Oldest child ordered off the adult menu as well, she had the Bacon Mushroom Burger, and the younger one had the Fisherman’s Sticks off the children’s menu. The children’s menu has the usual assortment of kid-friendly options, something for everyone’s tastes from chicken fingers, to macaroni & cheese, to popcorn shrimp just to name a few. As restaurants go, it was a bit pricey but well worth it in terms of the experience and the quality of food. I would highly recommend it for a special occasion. The Aquarium also offers several different tours, as well as a Marine Biologist for a Day. At the time of this post, all are very reasonably priced I believe. Check here for prices and more detail.
From the Aquarium, we went to the Nashville Parthenon. Did you know that the Nashville Parthenon is a full-scale replica of the real Parthenon, complete with Athena Parthenos? Also, it is home to the Nashville Art Museum. After paying your admission, you’ll walk through a small gallery detailing the history of the Nashville Parthenon with many photos and relics. From there, you can choose either to enter the art gallery or go upstairs to the “temple” area. You’ll be treated to the larger-than-life statue of Athena Parthenos. Be sure to read all of the signs on this self-guided tour. Here, the information pertains to the original Parthenon and the many images and symbols used throughout. The children enjoyed this area a bit more than the other galleries. We spent a couple of hours at the Nashville Parthenon, and we were finishing up just as the guards were going around clearing folks out (closing time is 4:30).
We all enjoyed the day, it was an educational and fun outing. In hindsight, I probably could have found some free printable worksheets online to have for the children, but despite that, they soaked up valuable information.
What is your favorite local day trip?