Your kids — and you! — may be mourning the end of summer and starting another school year, but you can cheer them up with something fun on the horizon. Here are 10 awesome things for them to look forward to this fall:
TENNESSEE STATE FAIR
500 Wedgewood Ave., Nashville
Sept. 6 - 15
Hours: Mon - Thu 5 - 11 p.m.; Fri 5 - 11:30 p.m.; Sat 10:30 a.m. - 11:30 p.m.; Sun 12 - 11 p.m.
Admission: $6 all ages; unlimited ride wristbands are $25
There are 30 rides on the Midway this year, and 14 of them are for little kids. Free competitions in which kids can participate include karaoke, lip sync battle, ice cream eating, potato sack racing, hula hooping and the kids' tractor pull. Little ones love visiting friendly farm critters in the Barnyard Animals exhibit, and nearby they can learn fun farming facts in the Agriculture Live! exhibit. Plus, have fun playing a variety games for prizes, and be sure to leave room for a yummy funnel cake!
Bridgestone Arena (and Walk of Fame Park)
501 Broadway, Nashville
Sunday, Sept. 29
Hours: 2 - 6 p.m.
Celebrate the Nashville Predators during this festivity to help kick off the 2019 - 2020 hockey season. Enjoy Preds player appearances, live entertainment, a used equipment sale and more family fun.
ERIC CARLE'S PICTURE BOOKS: CELEBRATING 50 YEARS OF THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR
Frist Art Museum
919 Broadway, Nashville
Oct. 18, 2019 - Feb. 23, 2020
Hours: Mon - Wed & Sat 10 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.; Thu - Fri 10 a.m. - 9 p.m. (Martin ArtQuest closes at 5:30 p.m.); Sun 1 - 5:30 p.m.
Admission: $15 adults, free ages 18 & younger
One of the most celebrated children's authors and illustrators off all time, Eric Carle, is the creator of more than 70 picture books. His most famous creation, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. In the exhibit Eric Carle's Picture Books: Celebrating 50 Years of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, you and your kids can explore Carle's personal history and interests, varied subjects, materials and artistic techniques. The exhibit will showcase approximately 100 of Carle's original artworks spanning the five decades of his picture-book career.
1200 Forrest Park Drive, Nashville
Sept. 21 - Oct. 27
Hours: Tue - Sun 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Admission: $20 adults, $13 ages 3 - 17, free ages 2 & younger
Mosey through the 11-foot-tall pumpkin house and explore the pumpkin patch while enjoying the beauty of more than 5,000 autumnal chrysanthemums. This year's Scarecrows exhibit features a storybook theme. Special family activities take place on weekends, and Tuesdays for Tots (ages 2 - 5 with a parent) happen every Tuesday from 10 a.m. - 12 p.m. The Halloween Pooch Parade takes place Saturday, Oct. 26. Cheekwood's annual El Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) festival is Saturday, Nov. 2, and admission will be free that day for ages 17 and younger.
RUTHERFORD PARENT'S FALL KIDS FEST
The Avenue Murfreesboro
2615 Medical Center Pkwy., Murfreesboro
Saturday, Oct. 26
Hours: 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Join Rutherford Parent magazine for a fun-filled day of Halloween hoots galore! Children can participate in costume contests in two age groups: 6 months - 2 years and 3 - 10 years (participating kids will be entered into random drawings for fun prizes). There will also be inflatables, live music and a bunch of local vendors who have an array of products and services for your family. Don't forget to pick up a free pumpkin while supplies last!
Historic Downtown Franklin
106 Third Ave. N., Franklin
Saturday, Oct. 26
Hours: 10 a.m. - 7 p.m.
Pumpkinfest celebrates its 36th year in 2019. It's one of the best fall festivals for families in Middle Tennessee drawing upwards of 65,000 people. There are lots of arts and crafts vendors, artisans, food, live entertainment and more. The extreme pumpkin carving demonstration's a huge draw. The Kids' Zone fills a city block with face painting, games, pony rides, inflatables and more.
THE SPONGEBOB MUSICAL
(ages 6 and older)
TPAC's Jackson Hall
505 Deaderick St., Nashville
Nov. 5 - 10
Showtimes: Tue - Thu 7:30 p.m.; Fri 8 p.m.; Sat 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun 1 & 6:30 p.m.
Tickets: $45 - $85
The New York Times calls it "Brilliant!" and the Daily Beast says "it's a party for the eyes and ears." The SpongeBob Musical is based on Nickelodeon's wildly popular animated series SpongeBob SquarePants. The musical features original songs by Lady Antebellum, Cyndi Lauper, Aerosmith's Steven Tyler and Joe Perry, Panic! At the Disco and more, promising a night of theatrical fun for the entire family.
RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER: THE MUSICAL
Grand Ole Opry House
2804 Opryland Drive, Nashville
Nov. 16 - 27
Showtimes vary daily
Tickets: $24.99 - $109.99 (children 3 & younger are free only if sitting on a parent's lap)
This fantastic musical is something your kids won't want to miss this fall. It's a live-action stage version of the beloved 1964 stop motion animated TV special. The show was in Nashville at TPAC in 2014, and it was truly a magical, heart-warming experience. The 70-minute stage adaptation holds true to the TV version, and its great fun to watch Rudolph flying in the air over the stage. Your kids are gonna flip when the larger-than-life Abominable Snowman takes the stage! It's the big new attraction this year at Gaylord Opryland Resort's "A Country Christmas" celebration.
First Tennessee Park
19 Junior Gilliam Way, Nashville
Nov. 22 - Dec. 31
Hours: Daily 4 - 10 p.m.
Tickets: Early bird rates (now on sale): $23.99 adults, $15.99 ages 3 - 12, $71.99 for a family four-pack. Tickets are a little cheaper if you choose to go on a Tuesday or Wednesday night: $20.79 adults, $12.79 ages 3 - 12, $63.99 for the family four-pack.
Nashville's getting a bright, brand-new holiday experience this year at the Nashville Sounds' stadium, GLOW will feature 4 million lights, the South's largest Christmas tree (at more than 100 feet tall), ice skating around a three-story tall frozen fortress, tubing and more. Little ones are sure to love popping into Santa's Workshop where Mrs. Claus tells stories, Santa poses for photos and the elves await to play reindeer games with the kids.
JURASSIC WORLD LIVE
501 Broadway, Nashville
Dec. 19 - 22
Showtimes: Thu - Fri 7 p.m.; Sat 11 a.m., 3 & 7 p.m.; Sun 1 & 5 p.m.
Tickets: $20 - $100
There have been other "Jurassic" live shows with life-size robotic dinosaurs, but this is the very first time that the official Jurassic World movie franchise has set loose its prehistoric creatures in an arena experience. Your kids can look forward to a whole new Jurassic World encounter as an adventurous story unfolds while favorite dinosaurs like Indominus Rex, Blue the Raptor, Triceratrops, Pteranodons, T-Rex and others from the movie make their way around the arena floor — including ones that get up close and personal to the crowd.