When I was six years old my parents took us all on our first vacation. Daddy drove us to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It was a cloudy morning and on the chilly side of comfortable when we arrived. Expecting to see smoke coming off the mountains and seeing none, I asked, "Where's the smoke?" Daddy said, with a grin, that we should look at the gray clouds as they must be the smoke. Mother laughed and took a picture of us standing in front of a stone wall with the mountains in the background.
From that time on we began exploring the state, usually on a Sunday drive. There was always something to see and experience: county fairs, festivals, Native American sites, lakes, the zoo, meeting family down in the hills or into Kentucky, and visits to natural wonders, historical sites, and state parks. Oftentimes, Mother packed a picnic basket along with the gallon-sized Coleman drink cooler full of lemonade, and we enjoyed lunch at one of the parks. We often stopped at a roadside farm stand for just-picked apples, peaches, or melons. Sometimes we stopped at a gas station for a bathroom break and got a pop from the soft drink machine (I always chose an orange or grape Nehi).
Sharing short travel experiences with family is a great way to make memories while learning more about the people, places, and history that make up our state and its neighbors. It doesn't have to be any more expensive than a tank of gas and a picnic lunch. Make some memories soon! Check out 101 Family Day Trips from Nashville on nashville.kidsoutandabout.com for information on area attractions, many of them cost-free!
While you're at it, comb Nashville Public Library's catalog for more inspiration. A few of our many children's resources on exploring are listed below.