Frugal Family Fun Nashville Style

My girls (when they were much younger…sniff) get a look at pioneer farm life at Ellington Agricultural Center’s Summer Saturdays program.

It’s hard to believe that July is already creeping up on us like a pair of granny panties.

Wasn’t it just the last day of school?

We dissed the idea of summer camp this year. My older daughter is playing indoor soccer once a week, though, and both my girls have already participated in two fun weeks of Vacation Bible School. After our family beach trip to Jekyll Island, Georgia, in July, though, I know we’ll be on the slippery downhill slope of “Mom I’m Bored” until school starts back in early August and I’ll be saying things like “When I was a kid it was a rare treat to go swimming and I played with my pet chickens and I had no Nintendo DS to play with and look how great I turned out!”


If you’re like me you’re constantly on the look for fun, relatively inexpensive, things to do with your kids. It’s somewhat of a tradition here on my blog to share my ideas with you.

I take payment in wine or margaritas (on the rocks or frozen…it’s all good.)

Here’s a list I’ve compiled of great summer family activities in the Nashville area that are free, or relatively free (see last summer’s list and my list from 2009):

Ellington Agricultural Center Summer Saturdays July 9- July 30

Goats, and horses, and butterflies oh my! This is a great summer series held from 9 to 2 on Saturdays in July at the beautiful Tennessee Agricultural Center. The events are free although there is an occasional small charge to ride miniature donkeys or participate in other activities. With themes like Old MacDonald’s Farm and Flying High: Wild Wings & Creeping Things, there’s something to keep kids of all ages entertained. There are also great live demonstrations of farm life in the 19th and 20th century. Great history lesson for the kids and a fun outing for the entire family.

Regal Summer Movie Express $1 Kid Flicks

Head to your neighborhood Regal Cinema on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 10 a.m. to catch a family friendly movie for a buck. The Middle Tennessee theatres participating Streets of Indian Lake Stadium in Hendersonville, Providence Stadium in Mt. Juliet, and Green Hills Stadium 16 here in Nashville. July and August showings include Charlotte’s Web, Furry Vengeance, Marmaduke, The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything, Shrek Forever After, and Despicable Me. Not in Nashville? Check out the search engine on Regal’s web page for a participating theatre near you.

Carmike Cinemas Summer Kid Series $1 Movies

Carmike Cinemas is also featuring kid friendly movies such as Madagascar and Kung Fu Panda this summer. Middle Tennessee participating theatres are: Clarksville: Governor’s Square 10; Cookeville: Highland 10; Cool Springs: Thoroughbred 20; Murfreesboro: Wynnsong 16; and Springfield: Cinema 1. This is another great family activity that isn’t just local to Nashville, so be sure to check out the schedule on Carmike’s website to find a participating theatre near you.

Downtown Franklin Theatre $5 Family Movies (And Then Some)

The downtown Franklin Theatre has reopened in beautiful downtown Franklin, Tennesssee, and is featuring many family friendly movies for just $5. Head to Sweet CeCe’s afterwards for a cool treat (check your CitySaver coupon book for good deals and make sure you get a punch card at checkout.) Speaking of $5 movies, the Bellevue 8 is featuring a special bargain matinee price for all movies with a showtime between 4 and 5:30 p.m. These are current releases, too, such as Cars 2, although there is an additional $3.50 charge for 3D movies.

Williamson County Rec Center Pools

My girls would live at the pool if I let them but unfortunately we live in an older subdivision with no neighborhood pool. What’s a mama to do? Head to one of the Williamson County Rec Center pools for a day of water fun. Admission is just $3 per person with children ages 3 and younger admitted free. Choose the pool closest to you: Fairview, Brentwood, Spring Hill, or Franklin.

Local Library Storytimes

My girls are too young for story time at the local library, but there are a ton of options at the branch near you. This is a great way to introduce your preschooler to the wonder of the local library! We do frequent the library, though, to check out books and DVDs.

Burns Park Splash Pad

Check out the fun splash pad at Burns Park in beautiful Kingston Springs. This is a great park with a huge playground so you can easily make a day of it. The Splash Pad will be closed June 28-30 but it sounds like it will be up and running the remainder of summer. Pack a picnic lunch and plenty of sunscreen and you’re good to go.

Roller Skating – Bellevue Community Center

Every Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 11 to noon and every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday kids ages 6 to 13 can skate free in the Bellevue Community Center gym (they provide free skate rentals but you can bring your own skates, too). This is one of my favorite best kept secrets in the Bellevue community. During the school year, kids can skate on Fridays from 4 to 5 and it’s a great way to get the ya ya’s out before the weekend, especially in the winter. Here’s a full schedule of all the Metro Nashville Park Community Centers. The Bellevue community center is also adjacent to the Bellevue Library and Red Caboose Park so it’s an easy way to fill an entire day. (The Bellevue branch is closed, though, on Fridays just fyi.)

Free Music Under the Stars

There are a myriad ways to enjoy live music this summer. Centennial Park has its Symphony in the Park series at various Middle Tennessee parks through July; Red Caboose Park in Bellevue features free concerts every Friday night from 7 to 9 until Aug. 26; and Crockett Park in Brentwood has a series of summer concerts every Sunday night at 7 until July 17.

What are some of your favorite free or nearly free activities in Nashville and beyond? Let me know if you’ve tried any of these!


  1. Jamie says:

    Thank you for this list! We are headed to Nashville for the month of June as my husband will be doing a RE rotation at Vanderbilt. I am excited to explore this city with my 3 babes!

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