Thanks to the pandemic, we’ve been spending quite a bit of time outside these days; anything to get us out of the house yet maintain social distancing. And because we have a toddler, that means we have to find kid-friendly outdoor spaces to go. Hence: parks and playgrounds! While there are many lovely parks in the city (The swoon-worthy Lake Radnor, on the south side of town. The extensive Shelby Park in East Nashville. The perfectly photogenic Bicentennial Park downtown), this short list consists of the four places we tend to revisit over and over again, when family visits or when we just need some outside play time.
Welcome to the iconic Dragon Park, home to a gorgeous mosaic sea serpent statue created by artist built by Pedro Silva and decorated by locals. It’s fun to climb on and is perfect for photo opps. Bonus: The larger playground here is wheelchair accessible, fully shaded, and has a separate section for little kids (ages 2-5).
Just five minutes from our house, Two Rivers Park features easy Greenway access, Wave Country, a disc golf course, a golf course, and two playgrounds. We have spent more time using the newer playground with the rubber ground (instead of mulch) since it gave Skyler such a wide open space to practice walking, but now that he’s more mobile and agile, I’m sure we’ll play on the older one as well.
Centennial Park offers much in the way of outdoor entertainment. When it’s not hosting festivals and free events, the park is home to the lifesize replica of the Parthenon, many shaded walking trails and gardens, the Suffragette statue, and a lovely central pond where you can entertain the little ones by feeding the ducks. Our little Mooch loves chasing the pigeons, throwing stale bread at the fish, hiding in the plants, and people watching. There is a playground on the south side of the park, which is awkward to access these days, do to all of the construction, but it’s worth it. There’s a big kids and little kids playset, plus some swings (with one handicapped swing available). There’s lots of shade and plenty of squirrels to chase.
Outside of Nashville in Wilson County, this has got to be the biggest, most accessible, coolest playground I’ve ever seen. This summer, we’ve spent the most time here because of the splashpad, which is a genius concept — why aren’t there more of these?! The splashpad has become Skyler’s happy place, but now that the has discovered the massive playground, he’s always keen to explore that as well (if reticent to do much climbing, yet). If you only have time to visit one playground during your Nashville trip, this should be the one. It’s worth the extra drive time out to Mt. Juliet.
As a parent, I have a feeling that any future family trips will feature fewer cocktail bars and more playgrounds. So please tell me about your favorite parks and playgrounds around the world! It may be a while before we get to visit any of them, but they’ll be something to dream about in the meantime.