If you are new to the Nashville area with small children, you may be wondering, where are the best places to go, and how can you get the most bang for your buck?
Since I live in Brentwood, I will be giving recommendations that cater more towards mothers that reside in the area just south of Nashville in Brentwood, Antioch, and the Franklin areas.
As a Brentwood mom, and former President of the Brentwood MOMS club, here are my recommendations.
I want to give full disclosure that I do not get paid to share my opinions as these are all based on my personal experiences.
The Nashville Zoo
This is my top choice for a membership. We have a membership for me plus one unnamed guest and up to eight children. I also added on the all you can ride pass which will pay for itself and then some-trust me on that! Your children will get unlimited rides on the train, carousel, and the zip line.
This pass is especially awesome because I can always invite a mom friend and her children to join us for a day at the zoo, at no cost to her!
There is so much to do at this zoo and as of now I just saw that they are rebuilding the playground to make it better than it ever was before! Some days we came just to go to the playground and ride the carousel.
They have live animal shows and stations where you can pet kangaroos or pet goats and my children have learned so much from these hands on experiences. There is even a veterinarian center where you can see the doctors operate on animals and we got to see the C-section birth of a gibbon! My daughter is now convinced that she wants to be a veterinarian and I know our zoo membership has played a big part in that.
During the colder months the zoo does host a Halloween celebration and a Holidays lights one, and I highly recommend purchasing tickets for the Halloween one. In the summer months they have Disney Princesses come out and this is all covered under your membership! We have waited in long lines to meet Belle, Snow White, and Elsa and they did not disappoint.
As a member you get additional discounts on merchandise and food but we always bring our lunch with us and there are plenty of places to sit and have a picnic lunch with your children.
After reaching out to the zoo and telling them that I featured them as my #1 choice for a membership for local moms they generously gave this code so you can save $20 off of any membership! Here it is:
The Adventure Science Center
I can’t say enough about this place. It is our go to for rainy/cold days. They have an age 5 and under place set up with Montessori equipment to help your children learn about science and math. You just help direct your child to learn, just as a Montessori teacher would. There are so many hands on manipulatives that your children will learn by doing, and all of you will have fun in the process.
There is also a gigantic playground in the middle of the center that has ways to climb upwards to the top of the pyramid where one can see all of downtown Nashville. There are multiple slides to come down as well, and I could sit there at the top on a bench and watch my children climb and play until they are tired.
They also have live science experiments and demonstrations that your children can participate in. My then five year old learned and retained information on liquid nitrogen from those experiments. She knows facts about astrophysics because of those as well.
The science center has a planetarium where they change out the shows often, and some afternoons they are worth buying discounted tickets for to go learn with your children. Here’s a fun side note: they have laser music light shows in the evenings and weekends for adults, and it can be a fun date with your partner to get your discounted tickets and have a fun date night.
They have a fun music section that is new where your children can try out different instruments, learn about sound waves, try out being a sound engineer or sound editor for movies, etc. My daughter is very interested in sound editing for videos because of this and also, her love of science has been highly nurtured by us going here so much.
Ok, I’m going to keep on keeping it real with you. As a mom, I have never been more tired in my life. I know what you’re thinking, so why go to the gym? Well, I first started coming because I just needed someone to hold my baby so I could be left alone for a little while. I was suffering from post partem and was really struggling. Once I handed off my baby I was able to take a shower, use the steam room, jacuzzi, etc. I could read a book. I could have a free cup of tea or coffee and just listen to music. If the pool was open I could go lounge by it with a good read and just relax for two hours.
This soon led to my wanting to make other mom friends and at that time I didn’t know anyone. I joined a few classes and before I knew it, I had made friends in these classes and looked forward to coming. I learned alot from these classes. I started off with ones such as Zumba which was so much fun! I then tried boot camp where I met many friends. I then added in step class and kick boxing. When I became pregnant with my son I did a ballet barre class to help my birthing go better. On a side note, that class saved me and my son’s life when an emergency occurred during his birth and I had to push him out in seconds to save his life. Because of all the work I did in that barre class, which included alot of squatting, I was able to do this successfully. All of these classes are included with your membership.
You get two hours of childcare every single day included with your membership. My son is now three and he asks to come! They draw with them, paint with them, do other crafts involving glue and scissors, teach them songs, take them to the outside playground, etc. They have special party events with inflatables, free food, face painting, and even hired mermaids to entertain the children in their pools! All included with your low monthly membership that can be reduced if you apply and meet certain criteria.
I also am very appreciative of the diversity here verses the more expensive gyms that are nearby. Many of the staff are precious Muslim women and I think it is important for my children to make friends and have positive connections with people who are from different religions, countries, and cultures. I have made friendships with these women, many of them mothers as well, and it has truly helped to make me a happier person.
When you are a member at the Y, your membership money goes to more than just the buildings or the workout classes/equipment. The Y gives free swim lessons to families who cannot afford them. This means very much to me as my sister died from drowning in our backyard when she was three. I wish that program existed then and saved my family from that tragedy that about destroyed us all. They also help to families who have children with special needs, and as a woman with autism, this touches my heart so very very deeply. They help train older children with special needs to work jobs on site here, and give employment opportunities to members of the elderly community. I started to cry happy tears when a mother of a son with special needs told me that the swim classes that they freely gave her son were the only times she could have any kind of break and saved her sanity.
The good works that the Y puts your membership money into literally saves lives. If you believe in helping others, if you believe that the elderly community and the people with special needs deserve equitable treatment, then you should put your beliefs into action.
Because I live in Brentwood, I attend the one off of Concord Road. There are two facilities off of Concord road, one is the workout facility with outdoor and indoor pools plus a large gym, basketball courts, and inspiring and fun workout classes. The other has a large brand new outdoor splash pad and many indoor swimming pools. The splash pad comes with a small fee, but it is well worth it verses driving all the way to Franklin to use the other one.
If you get a membership that includes all of the central Tennessee locations, then during the winter we make the drive to Bellevue to use their indoor water park which is totally included in our membership.
A membership to Nashville Shores is a must for a summer! With the memberships also come free passes to bring your friends throughout the summer, which we definitely use. The splash park is amazing. There are actually several of them throughout the park and the rides are alot of fun.
Here is a video we made about our visit.
Fun Places to Visit Without Memberships
I highly recommend visiting the Opryland Hotel. They have an incredible water park called Sound Waves and my children ask to go all of the time! It is open year around and doesn’t close with bad weather. It is very expensive to go there but I have tips and tricks to save you money and we have practically gone for free at times.
What about other memberships?
I gave my top three that have been my tried and true for the past several years. I have joined other places but they failed to serve my family in terms of education, value, and being a place that we would want to keep visiting.
These are just my experiences though, and every parent and child is different, so please do what works best for you and your family.