Did you know that at one time Nashville was home to Iroquois, the most famous Thoroughbred of his time in the late 1800s? He was the first American bred and born horse to win the English Derby in 1881. He is just part of the amazing history you will learn in a visit to the Belle Meade Plantation.
The Plantation was founded in 1807 by John Harding. By 1820 he owned his racing horses outright and completed a Federal style mansion he named “Belle Meade”.
The Wills Visitor Center
Start your tour in the Wills Visitor Center where you buy your tickets and can enjoy the gift shop and restaurant.
Make sure when you buy tickets to ask for a Family Scavenger Hunt. There are several different hunts available depending on the ages of the kids you have. They have hunts appropriate for preschoolers all the way to high schoolers. There are multiple choice questions that you have to answer and then look for the posted answer signs throughout the property. The hunt really makes the tour fun for kids.
When you visit the plantation you are able to explore the entire history beginning with the Harding log cabin that was home to the family until they moved into the mansion.
Civil War History
While we waited to enter the mansion we listened to a fascinating story about the Civil War.
Learning about Toys of the Time
Guided tours are given of the stately home and are catered to the group in the tour. The children I was with on our visit enjoyed seeing the toys of the time and seeing the nursery.
You can also explore the dairy, slave cabins, gardener’s house, and smokehouse.
The carriage house and stables are open to see as well.
After you finish the tour of the house and the scavenger hunt around the grounds be sure to come back to the gift shop and look around. There are all kinds of unique items that would make wonderful Nashville-themed gifts. The cafe is upstairs and has a great kids’ menu and lots of choices for adults.
Wine Tasting at the Plantation
If you are over the age of 21 there is some additional fun at the Plantation. Be sure to visit the Winery for free tastings of locally made wine. The grapes are grown elsewhere, but the wine is made on the plantation premises.
I was able to taste a wide selection of both reds and whites. There is also a very nice wine themed gift store filled with specialty cork screws, chilling bags and other accessories.
Just a bit of trivia – Belle Meade Plantation is the only place in the city limits of Nashville where you can buy wine on Sundays.
Enjoy a beautiful day exploring history, horses, and wine and make sure to come back and tell us about your visit!
Hours: Open Daily 9AM – 5PM
Cost: Adults: $24.00
Seniors (65+) $20.00
Youth (Ages 6-18) $13.00
Child (5 and under)-FREE
Grounds Only- $15.00
Purchase tickets online at this link.