Nashvillians can find honky-tonks downtown, museums throughout the city, rivers, lakes, natural beauty, history, parks, restaurants, shopping, and so many other things to do and experience within the city, but sometimes, exploring nearby areas can be fun, too. If you want a great adventure with the kids away from Music City, here are ten great day trips from Nashville.
Located approximately two hours, 14 minutes south of Nashville, Scottsboro, Alabama is nestled in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. There are unlimited outdoor activities like hiking, biking, and fishing at various spots along the mountain.
The town of over 14,000 people is known as the “land of the lost luggage.” If you want to score a great deal on unclaimed luggage, and whatever contents might be inside, stop by the Unclaimed Bagged Center.
If you prefer an outdoor experience, the Sauta Cave National Wildlife Refuge is the perfect place to spend the day with kids. Situated on 264 acres of land, the wildlife refuge is home to a cave, but it's closed to the public, as well as several species of bats. For about an hour at dusk, approximately 400,000 bats leave the cave to search for food.
If you want to experience some history, check out The Scottsboro Boys Museum, a civil rights museum housed within a historic church. The building is newly renovated and offers a vivid look into the past injustices of life in the American South.
Stones River National Battlefield
Interested in history? Take a drive to Stones River National Battlefield in Murfreesboro, Tennessee to explore the location of one of the bloodiest, most brutal battles of the American Civil War. The visitor center and museum start your visitor experience. You'll view an orientation film and knowledgeable staff are useful in answering any of your questions.
Explore the park at your own leisure via one of the self-guided tour options, where you can explore the replica artifacts. Daily programs and events put on by park rangers give a more in-depth look into the battles that took place on the grounds. Park guides do plan programs and daily events for those interested.
Stones River is just 33 miles from Nashville along I-24. Plan to spend the day exploring the interesting history presented at this park.
Located about two and one-half hour's drive from Nashville, Cathedral Caverns in Marshall County, Alabama, is a great family-fun cave experience for all ages. The cavern has paved walking trails so they're easily accessible with strollers.
The caverns were originally occupied by Native Americans. You'll find a collection of arrowheads and artifacts dating back some 9,000 years representing Native American history, gigantic rock formations like the Goliath, and a frozen waterfall awaiting you during the 90-minute cavern tour.
Land Between The Lakes
A 170,000-acre nature area located an hour and 45-minute drive from Nashville, Land Between the Lakes starts in Kentucky and ends in Tennessee. It's the perfect destination for nature lovers.
Many visitors bring their tents and make this trip a weekend adventure, but if you can only stay for the day, there's still plenty of fun.
Stop by the four main attraction areas — the Woodlands Nature Center, the Planetarium, the 1850s Homeplace, and the Elk and Bison Prairie — for a fulfilling day adventure.
Take a boat out on the lake, fish with the kids, or take a hike along one of the trails where unlimited surprises await. View the wildlife or explore the lands during your Land Between the Lakes visit.
U.S. Space and Rocket Center
Drive two hours south on I-65 to the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama. It's one of only three places in the entire U.S. where you can explore the history of NASA and space rockets as you learn more about the history and future of space. Visit during the 4th of July to enjoy a spectacular fireworks display.
Plan to spend the entire day exploring the space center. There is so much to see and do that you can easily blow through eight hours of time without realizing how long you've been at the center. Day trips like this are the best day trips!
Ticket price includes all the exhibits, rides, and two simulator experiences. Tickets for the IMAX Theater and a third simulator are sold separately. The Discovery Center features interactive shows about life in space. Each show lasts 30 minutes. Visit the Mars climbing wall, where you can climb 12 stations with increasing difficulty.
The Team Redstone Exhibit showcases advancements in rocket weaponry, while outside you can explore Rocket Park and see and walk under rockets and a lunar crater. The space center also features many changing traveling exhibits and, most importantly, a small play area for young kids.
Window Cliffs State National Park
Located in Putnam County, Tennessee, near Cookeville, Window Cliffs State National Park is home to a group of natural bridges spanned together in a narrow 200-foot-ridge in the neck of Cane Creek.
Hike the 2.7-mile trail to access the day area, where you can enjoy scenic views, even more trail ways, beautiful waterfalls, several state-listed endangered species, wildlife, and relaxing nature.
About an hour and a half from Nashville in Cave City, Kentucky, is Dinosaur World, the perfect adventure for anyone who enjoys the prehistoric animal. The attraction has tons of life-size dinosaurs displayed throughout the park, a small theater with dino-mite performances, a Dinosaur Playground, and numerous attractions.
Fossil Dig is pretty fun for smaller kids. This attraction lets kids dig for fossils -and they're sure to dig up a bone! The Boneyard is home to a huge dinosaur head that's perfect for photo opps!
The Dinosaur Walk is the main attraction. Replica dinosaurs stand tall throughout the trail, with plaques giving more information about each one. Go off trail to Mammoth Cave to explore life-size replica mammoths and stop by Photosauras to snap a photo of the gigantic dinosaur.
Located just an hour north of Nashville, the city of Clarksville is minutes from Ft. Campbell Army Base where weekly tours give visitors more information about military life and current events. Locals and visitors alike enjoy exploring Dunbar Cave. It's one of the most popular things to do in Clarksville. Bring a flashlight and expect to see bats. Shop till you drop at Governor's Square Mall, where you'll find stores like The Children's Place, GameStop, and Zumiez, as well as a movie theater and plenty of dining options.
Located in Bowling Green, Kentucky, Beech Bend Park and Splash Lagoon is an affordable adventure just an hour from Nashville. You'll find rides like those you'd see at the county fair, with options suitable for kids and adults of all ages.
Rides include bumper cars, a carousel, flying swings, and many others. Mixed in with the rides are plenty of carnival-style games and a theater with several shows throughout the day.
The Kentucky Rumbler is the one and only rollercoaster found at Beech Bend, and it doesn't disappoint. The Splash Zone is nearby the Rumbler to keep you wet as you ride.
Young kids love the petting farm, where they can get up close with goats and other animals. Older kids enjoy going through the haunted house.
Be sure to play a game of mini golf before leaving Beech Bend.
For plenty of day-trip action, head to Chattanooga, which is a short two-hour drive from Nashville. Your first stop should be the Tennessee Aquarium. It's home to hundreds of mammals, amphibians, invertebrates, and aquatic critters for your viewing pleasure. Most visitors are surprised at how close they can get to the different species of creatures here.
This aquarium gives visitors a chance to get up close and personal with birds and reptiles in Alligator Alley. There are several alligator presentations at Alligator Alley. The Ocean Journey takes visitors through a tour of the rainforest. There is a touch pond filled with stingrays and a butterfly area with hundreds of butterflies. The South Pole area is home to penguins and birds. Plan about two hours inside the aquarium if you want to explore all the animals and presentations along the way.
Also in Chattanooga, you'll find Lookout Mountain, which offers a breath-taking view of seven states from high atop the Cumberland Plateau. There you'll also find Rock City Gardens, which offers a 4,000-foot walking path among rock formations, gardens, and caves. There is also an Incline Railway that lets you take in every detail of this magnificent area. A limestone cavern, known as Ruby Falls, will complete your getaway with an underground waterfall that is accented with lights and music.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Kevin Ruck/Shutterstock.com.