Growing up in Middle Tennessee, fall was and is my favorite time of year. As a kid there were always hayrides, pumpkin patches, and carnivals to enjoy. There is no shortage of family fun to be found today (not to mention zombies) so get ready to mark your calendars! I’ve partnered with Expedia to share some of my fave ghoulishly Nashville fall family fun activities to check out for kids of all ages.
WHITES CREEK FALL CRAFT FESTIVAL
Located just a short drive north of downtown in Whites Creek, Fontanel (former home of country music great Barbara Mandrell) is hosting several fun activities for the entire family October 24-26. The 4th annual Whites Creek Fall Festival kicks off at 10 a.m. October 25. Festival craftsmen will be offering tips and displaying their wares among dozens of booths including burnt wood designers, antique restorations, hand made soaps, black smith artists, jewelry designers, wood carvers, photographers and leather artists re purposed art and painters. There will also be plenty of live music and food. FREE admission.
HAUNTENEL FAMILY FRIENDLY HAYRIDE
Alright a good old fashioned hayride is my speed. This is a 2-mile ride through the dusky woods on the Fontanel property led by a costumed guide. Tailored for families and younger children, who are encouraged to arrive in their Halloween costumes. Upon arrival at the mansion, guests will trick-or-treat before the second part of the hayride begins. There will also be live music, food, and beverages. A portion of the proceeds benefits the Monroe Harding Children’s Home. You can also buy your pumpkins, corn stalks, and other fall decor from The Pumpkin Patch at Fontanel, also benefiting the Monroe Harding Children’s Home.
On the spookier end of the spectrum, Fontanel transforms into Hauntenel featuring a new “SIDESHOW” outdoor walking haunt over the greenway and into the woods. This is not for the faint of heart (I hear there’s a Wolfman on the loose) so it’s better for older tweens, teens, and adults. October 24-26 from 6-11 p.m.
Nashville’s littlest ghosts, goblins and monsters are invited to don their favorite costume and head to the Zoo for Ghouls at Grassmere. This annual Nashville Halloween tradition is ideal for kids ages 12 and younger and is open to the entire public (not just zoo members). Activities include trick-or-treat stations, games at the Carn-evil tent, and the newly designed Howl-o-ween Hayride. Other activities include rides on the scary-go-round, a dance party at Monster Mash, animal shows at Monsterpiece Theater, shows featuring Mr. Bond the Science Guy, a corn pit, and a new vortex optical illusion experience at Festival Field. Children ages 2 and younger are free while zoo member admission is $12; zoo non-member admission is $15. October 17 – 19 & 23 – 26 from 5-9 p.m.
I’ve been dying to do this (get it, dying?) Historic downtown Franklin, Tennessee, is one of my favorite places to take and recommend to out of town visitors. This quaint little town is not only filled with fantastic shops and eateries, but lingering spirits with unfinished business as well. From socialites to soldiers, this hour and a half tour will introduce you to ghosts who call downtown Franklin home. The tour covers about six city blocks and most of the tour is wheelchair accessible. Tours sell out so reserve early by calling 615-400-3808. Cost: $18 adults; $10 teens; $5 children.
This was a family tradition with our girls when they were younger (as well as a traditional school fall field trip.) There are plenty of activities, from a 4-acre corn maze that pays homage this year to historic Carter House in Franklin, Tennessee, to a pumpkin patch. Open Saturdays 9-5, Sundays 1-5 p.m. and Mondays 9-noon through October 27. Admission is $7 for ages 2 through 102.
SPOOKY SCIENCE DAY (October 25)
Hosted by the Adventure Science Museum, this is the perfect educational outing for kids and a celebration of all things bubbly, oozy and creepy. There will be, of course, mad science experiments guaranteed to amaze and excite. Kids and adults are also encouraged to wear their Halloween costumes and enter the costume contest. All activities included with general admission and include: oozing pumpkins, slime, disappearing ghost eggs, a spooky handprint station, and The Science of Fear, a 1:30 presentation by Jenni Blackford, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Vanderbilt University, who’ll discuss how our bodies respond to fear, what makes us afraid and the psychological effects of fear. General admission for adults and teens, $13; kids ages 2 through 12, $11; children ages 2 and younger, free. Planetarium admission is an additional fee.
The marionette shows at the beautiful downtown Nashville library are truly a family tradition you can’t must experience at least once. I remember going to see these shows as a child. The Halloween special production of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is the perfect family activity. Production dates: October 24, 25, and 31 from 4-5 p.m. FREE admission!
If you’re headed downtown to the library October 25, make a day of it and schedule a stop at the Tennessee State Museum. Kids of all ages are invited to arrive in their costumes and hit the “ghost trail” throughout the museum to pick up prizes as well enjoy raft projects along the way. At certain stops, you can hear ghost stories from Tennessee’s past, including those of the Bell Witch (from my neck of the woods in Robertson County), the Cherokee spirit Spearfinger and John Murrell’s thumb. Kids will most likely want a photo op on the mezzanine where a 3,500-year-old mummy — along with its mummified cat — rests in peace. October 25, 11-4 p.m. FREE admission!
DOWNTOWN FRANKLIN PUMPKIN FEST (October 25)
This day-long festival kicks off at 10 a.m. and will feature fun for the entire family. Produced by the Heritage Foundation of Franklin & Williamson County, Pumpkinfest will offer a full day of free family fun along Main Street from First to Fifth Ave., and on portions of Third and Fourth Avenues, including a free children’s activities for younger kids, activities for older kids such as a mechanical bull and a spider web mountain, costume contests for people and pets, and a chili cookoff.
Whew! What fall activities are you going to enjoy this month my fellow Nashvillians? I’m going to need an extra pumpkin spice latte or five to keep up with the fun.