My first visit to the Hermitage was in 2003. All I remember is a tour of the historic home and a walk through some beautiful gardens and Andrew Jackson’s tomb. A nice day, but it would not have entertained my kids. Then, the Spring of 2012 I went back when my Mom came to visit from Texas and we didn’t have enough time to see everything (we were there for 5 hours)! Rachel and I went back to check it out again – I had been raving about it. Remember, Rachel is a local and visited the Hermitage in second grade. Even she was impressed! And there have been even more updates and additions this year.
Make sure to pick a nice day – there is lots to see outside. Parking is easy – there is a large lot close to the entrance. Once we paid we went into the visitors’ building to see a 22 minute film narrated by Martin Sheen. It’s a great introduction to Andrew Jackson and his Presidency.
After viewing the movie go pick up an audio player to use for the rest of your time there. It is included in the cost of admission and the tour turns the Hermitage from just another museum to a great day out with kids.
There is an adult tour and a children’s tour. The kids’ tour is narrated by Poll the Parrot – based on Andrew Jackson’s actual pet parrot. You will learn interesting facts such as how boring it is to have to sit for hours to have your picture painted, and at the time (1820s) there was not a left and right shoe – both in a pair were identical. It also discusses slavery and the Trail of Tears in a very factual light – it could provoke many insightful conversations with your kids.
The visitor’s center has been updated with new touch screen interactive displays.
There is also a new for 2015 exhibit “Andrew Jackson: Born for a Storm“, where you can explore the significant events in Jackson’s life with interactive displays. There is even a comment section at the end and kids (and adults) can post their thoughts.
After learning about Jackson’s life and legacy head outside and walk though the grounds up to the Hermitage itself. There are audio player stops all through the property, so watch for signs.
I have been several times at different times of the day and of the year and there is always a small line for the house tour. Tours leave every 5 minutes so you don’t have to wait long. The costumed interpreters will keep you entertained while you wait and share more facts about Andrew Jackson (did you know he fought in 12 duels?).
The house tour is not stroller friendly so be prepared to walk up a flight of stairs. If that is not possible you can do the tour of the first floor of the house and there is a book available so you can see pictures of the second story.
After you tour the home (pictured above is the back where you exit the tour) you can head out and see the kitchen of the home as well as a cabin that belonged to Albert, one of Jackson’s slaves. Jackson’s original log cabin is also on the property to see. On the way are bathrooms if you little ones have the urge to go….and there is a changing table for tiny ones.
For $11 a person you can take a wagon tour of the outer fields. It is available from April to October and is about 20 minutes long. The wagon drivers are full of more interesting stories as they take you to see the fields where Jackson grew cotton as well as the footprints where the slave cabins were.
You can also see the spring house which provided water to the Plantation. There is also a beautiful nature trail that follows a creek in the woods that is worth exploring. If you are quiet, you may see wild turkey and other wildlife.
Before you leave don’t miss the gardens and Jackson’s tomb. Jackson had a formal English garden built for his wife Rachel and it is fragrant and beautiful in the spring.
The Hermitage reopened its restaurant, The Kitchen Cabinet Cafe, in the Spring of 2015 and its a great place for lunch. They also offer boxed lunches if you would like to have a picnic on the grounds. You are also welcome to bring in your own lunch and eat at the available picnic tables.
There is a large gift store that carries lots of books, toys, and mementos about Jackson and other Presidents and First Ladies, and a wide selection of Tennessee jams, honey and treats. We kept eyeing the fresh toffee. There are also some beautiful garden themed items and jewelry. For locals, its a great place to shop for interesting gifts.
Family Fun Facts
Hours: 8:30 AM – 5 PM Daily (Apr. 1 – Oct. 15), 9 AM to 4:30 PM Daily (Oct 16 – March 31)