Bicentennial Mall first opened June 1, 1996 in celebration of the 200th anniversary of the state of Tennessee. Located on 19 acres in downtown Nashville it provides a grand entrance to the State Capital. It is an urban state park and a great place to spend an afternoon.
We combined our trip with a visit to the farmer's market so that is where we parked. Alternatively, there are some weekend parking lots on the 6th Ave side of the park. Our group wandered in from the side in the middle of the park and the kids quickly found the amphitheater. It is open to the public and our group of 7 enjoyed pretending to perform and running around the stage as the adults watched from the stands.
From there we wandered through the middle of the park toward the Court of 3 Stars and Bell Carillon.
There is a HUGE open green space that you can run in, picnic, bring a Frisbee and enjoy. There are also events held in the space through the year including Kites and Kids day in March, the “Whole Kid Festival” in May and Tennessee's History Festival in October. Look for the list of annual events here for dates and more details.
As you traverse the green don't forget to look down – you are possibly walking on the Path of Volunteers; a path of commemorative bricks that were purchased by Tennesseans to commemorate the bicentennial celebration. Be sure to stop and see the World War II Memorial. Our kids loved exploring the 18,000 pound granite globe of the world that floats on water so you can turn it and see the countries as they were during the War.
At the far end of the park near Jefferson Street is the Court of 3 Stars and the Bell Carillon. The Court is made of red, white and blue granite and displays the 3 stars of Tennessee. There are 95 bells that symbolize the 95 counties of Tennessee. There is a 96th bell known as the “answer bell” on the ground of the capital that symbolizes that government answers to the people. The bells play Tennessee songs at the top of the hour every hour.
Excuse my thumb – we got there at the end of the bell show so there are only a few seconds in this video, but it will give you an idea of what you will hear.
Make sure you go back and see the other end of the park. You have 2 choices – the walkway along 6th Ave. is also known as the Walkway of Counties. Our kids had a great time reading the details and trying to find certain counties in Tennessee (all 95 are represented). Alternatively, walk along 7th Ave. and see the Pathway of History. A 1,400 foot Wall of History showcases historic events that occurred over two centuries.
Continue past the amphitheater to the Rivers of Tennessee fountains. The fountains are open all summer. Wear your swimsuits and bring a towel 🙂
At the top of the stairs you will find a HUGE map of Tennessee. Our kids loved trying to find favorite cities.
There are restrooms under the train bridge and be sure to see the exhibits in the Visitor's Center before you leave.
Family Fun Facts
Hours: 6 AM to 10 PM daily