Visiting Nashville with a Toddler: The Enjoyable and the…. very judged

nashville with kids

Visiting Nashville with a Toddler, from the perspective of social-drinking parents

For years, my husband and I have always had Nashville on our list of places to visit. But with family spread out across the country – 5 different states including us (and that’s only immediate family!) other trips always took higher priority. We’d visit our family in the various states multiple times a year, and with the remaining travel budget we’d visit our Myrtle Beach Airbnb, and then we’d choose a tropical trip (ie: our 30th birthday trip to Los Cabos)

So when my brother and his girlfriend moved to Nashville (suburbs) for work, guess what? Nashville got pushed wayyyy up our list and we knew we’d be visiting Nashville very soon!

The tricky part? For the years we had talked about visiting Nashville, it was just us two. The idea of hitting up broadway and taking the city by storm was easy,

But now we have a 20 month old

Visiting Nashville with a Toddler

We are very much the parents who choose to try to live life as much to “our normal” as we can. We took our son to a brewery when he was 6 days old. When we meet friends out for drinks, we always meet up at breweries, or restaurants that have space for the kids to roam around. We bring our son with us to as much as we can, and we intended to do the same in Nashville.

Before I go on, I want to make it clear that this is not an anti-Nashville post, but I do want to share our realities for any other parents out there.

Let me also preface this by saying we have taken him to other crowded cities – New York and Atlanta being the two biggest, and we had a great time in both of those cities. I am a huge advocate for taking kids – of any age – to as many places as you physically can and to not let them fully disrupt your life.

When it came time for Visiting Nashville and time to ‘plan’ our trip, we fully expected to hit up breweries for a majority of the time and pop into Broadway for a “quick-see” and then head on out to a more kid friendly place. And let me be clear, that is how we approached it, but here’s the reality of it all…

We live in North Carolina, and our city is a VERY kid friendly place. Actually, it’s very kid and dog friendly. On any given day, afternoon, or night, you will see kids and dogs at a local brewery (and we have TONS of local breweries!) it’s one of the many reasons we love where we live – because we don’t feel held back or judged by having a kid, and before our kid, having our dogs

But in Nashville and surrounding areas? Whoo wee, I’m convinced that the people who live there who have kids just stay inside their homes. The first night we were there, we bopped around to two breweries in one of the surrounding towns of Nashville and WOW were we not welcomed. I am used to walking in to any establishment and within the first 30 seconds having someone comment light-heartedly about our kid – “he’s so cute” “I love his shirt” “oh my gooodnesss!”. Now, we don’t bring him out for attention like this, but these comments speak to the friendliness of our hometown.

You know that saying that is also in quite a few songs about “turning heads” or “breaking necks”, as if it’s a good thing?

Yeah, we did that. People would see me walk in, and then followed by my husband with our kid and they would quite literally stare, like a prolonged stare. A table of girls clearly dressed for a late night turned their heads and stared at us over their shoulder. The table next to us sat vacant the entire time.

We didn’t let this stop us of course, we had our drinks and closed our tab to head to the next place. Where we were welcomed with the same “who invited you” stares. Like c’mon people! We’re adults too, and if you know anything about going out with a kid, is that those adults are more in need of a drink haha #iykyk

So you might be wondering, what about the bars on broadway?

I KID YOU NOT! These were MORE welcoming of kids, but I felt more awkward being there because they are so so crowded. Like seriously, I don’t know if this is just because I’m 30 now, but I personally did not see the lure to broadway like everyone talks about. Who wants to be around THAT many people in those SMALL spaces, all the time?! We were there at 1:00 in the freaking afternoon and it was slam. packed.

But we did go to Jason Aldean’s bar, Miranda Lambert’s rooftop bar, and another Whiskey… something bar. We were more welcomed there with kids than anywhere we had gone the two days/ nights prior – even when we had to carry the stroller, with our son in it, up the stairs to Miranda’s rooftop because the elevator was broken. HA!

Let’s break it down:

when it comes to Visiting Nashville with a toddler, here is how our experience was broken up between “accepted” and “not-so-accepted”

Moderately or Openly kid friendly:

-Jason Aldean’s
-Miranda Lambert rooftop
-Whiskey Row rooftop
-Von Elrod’s

You Can Bring Your Kid, but you’ll be judged

-Monday Night Brewing
-Bearded Iris Brewing
-White Limozeen (not the worst, but had judgy patrons/ stuck up server. Still my fav place of the trip)

I know not every city is meant for kids, but we weren’t trying to go clubbing with him at 11PM. We were just trying to see some of the city, including some places that my brother and his girlfriend liked. Will we go back and try again? Yes. Will we also have our parents meet us so we can have one night kid-free? Also yes.

Our experience with Visiting Nashville might be an anomaly, but it is what it is. Nonetheless, we have tough skin and don’t care what others think about us and how we parent. And, the company we were with made the trip 1000% worth it, and like I said, we will go back again.

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