Winter activities in Nashville

With the holidays over it can seem like a long, cold stretch until spring. Instead of focusing on what the groundhog does this weekend, try some of these fun winter activities in Nashville!

Visit the zoo

The Nashville Zoo is middle Tennessee’s top paid attraction and with good reason. Located six miles southeast of downtown in Grassmere, it has some of the best winter activities in Nashville.


This is the country’s largest Chinese lantern festival. It has over 500 custom made silk lanterns spread over 60 acres. Chinese artists have re-imagined dozens of zoo animals in bright and colorful scenes throughout the Zoo. The star of the show is a 200 foot long dragon.

Select animal exhibits are open late including the Sumatran tiger, Andean bear, flamingos and Unseen New World.

It also provides a great opportunity to experience Chinese culture. Chinese acrobats and entertainers perform nightly at 6:00, 7:00 and 8:00 pm. There are  hand-made crafts and Chinese food is available for purchase every night.

Zoolumination runs through February 2.

winter activities in Nashville
The 200 foot long dragon at Zoolumination

See the animals

Winter is least visited time at the zoo, even though many of the animals enjoy the cooler weather. Since the zoo has fewer visitors in the winter, it is a very peaceful time to stroll through the pathways and spend time with the animals.

If you are going on a particularly cold day, make sure to check out the Zoo’s blog post that details which animals need to stay inside during the winter.

Workout with the animals

Every second Sunday of the month, the Zoo offers a high intensity interval training workout with the animals! The Zoo Keepers introduce you to their animal animal friends. You will have the opportunity to interact with the animals and learn some fun facts about a variety of species. All while getting a great cardio and weight training workout. What could be more fun?

winter activities in Nashville

Run a 5k

On Saturday, February 8, 2020, the  Zoo is hosting the Zoo Run Run, a 5k run for adults and kids. Participants can run/walk through the Zoo grounds, including areas not generally open to the general public. Timing is provided by Run Nash, a locally owned race management company. Interested registrants may purchase a timing chip when they register.

Refreshments and snacks will be served at the finish line. Adults 21 and older can purchase adult beverages. All proceeds go to support the zoo.

Tour the Grassmere Historic Home

The Nashville Zoo operates the Grassmere Historic Home. It’s the perfect place to visit on a cold winter’s day when you need to warm up between seeing different animal exhibits.

The house, which is on the National Register of Historic Homes, was built by Colonel Michael C. Dunn. Completed around 1810, it is the second oldest residence in Davidson County that is open to the public. Its grounds have a working farm and extensive gardens.

Visit the art museum

Nashville has an excellent art museum- The Frist Art Museum. What better way to spend a cold winter day than being inside and looking at some beautiful art? There are plenty of hands on activities for kids. BONUS: The Frist Café, which has been closed for renovations, is re-opening in February 2020.

See the orchid show at Cheekwood Estate and Gardens

Orchids in the Mansion runs from January 31-March 1, 2020. It features a large variety of colorful orchids and tropical foliage woven throughout the Mansion’s period rooms. Being surrounded by bright tropical plants is the perfect antidote for a grey winter day.

Go ice skating

Ice skating is one of the best winter activities in Nashville and the city is lucky enough to have a few options available.

The Nashville Skating Academy has year round classes for kids and adults. You can learn to figure skate or skate to play hockey. There are group and private classes available from a highly qualified team of coaches.

The Centennial Sportsplex, owned and operated by the Nashville Parks and Recreation Department, has two skating rinks. They also have a concession stand so you can have lunch or a snack after you skate.

If you like outdoor skating, you can visit Winterfest at Fountains at Gateway.

Take a snow trip

Pigeon Forge is the perfect weekend getaway for you and your family. Even if you have visited Pigeon Forge before, you probably haven’t been to its latest attraction: The first indoor snow park in the USA! It boats a whole hillside of snow tubing hills and a giant snow play area. The snow is made of 100% pure water, with no additives or preservatives. They use a unique patented process to make snow just as nature makes it, so everyone is perfectly safe when they make snow forts, snowmen and snow angels.

Pigeon Forge is only a three and a half hour drive from Nashville. Aside from Pigeon Forge Snow, you can visit Dollywood, listen to some country music at The Smoky Mountain Opry and even go outlet shopping.

Are you looking for other roadtrips? If so, we invite you to read 5 Unique Tennessee Road trips.

Visit mermaids

Do cold winter days make you want to go to the ocean? If so, you can have the ultimate water experience without leaving Nashville. Aquarium Restaurant at Opry Mills Mall features a 200,000-gallon aquarium with over 100 species of fish. Even better, they have special Mystic Mermaids Experiences where you can watch mermaids swim with other sea creatures, such as Barracuda, Black tipped sharks, Drum Fish, Shovelnose Guitarfish, 150lb Queensland Grouper, Butterfly fish, assorted Tangs, Look Down Jacks, Green Moray Eels, Tessellated Eels – and many other schools of fish. The shows are family friendly and  performed in the dining room aquarium tank. The mermaids teach people how to care for the ocean. There is a meet and greet afterwards.

If you want something more romantic, you can book a special Romance Under the Sea dinner for two on February 14-16. Champagne is included!

winter activities in Nashville

Visit ancient Greece

Can’t afford a ticket to the sunny Greek islands this year? Do the next best thing and visit Nashville’s Parthenon. Ranked by Airbnb as one of the Top 10 attractions in Nashville, the Parthenon is an exact replica of the temple that crowns the ancient city of Athens. Inside the building is a 42 foot statue Athena. It is the focus of the Nashville’s Parthenon, just as it was in ancient Greece.

The Parthenon also serves as Nashville’s art museum. The focus of the Parthenon’s permanent collection is a group of 63 paintings by 19th and 20th century American artists donated by James M. Cowan. Additional gallery spaces provide a venue for a variety of temporary shows and exhibits.

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