Cheekwood is a botanical garden with an arty inclination, just southwest of downtown Nashville. The numerous gardens combine themes (Japanese, water, wildflower) with art, and surround a straight-out-of-a-Jane-Austen-novel house, where exhibitions are held regularly. Also on view are the furnishings of the Cheeks, the family who built the house in 1932 after selling their share of the Maxwell House coffee emporium.
A new children's garden featuring winding paths and a trickling stream has recently opened, and a nearby exhibit dubbed "TRAINS!" will have kiddos exclaiming exactly that when they spot the hundreds of feet of miniature rails and cabooses chugging along. On the north side of the property, the sculpture trail meanders through the woods surrounding the estate, surprising walkers with occasional installations that meld with the surrounding environment in strange and delightful ways.
Tickets and other practicalities
Tickets that include entrance to the garden and mansion start at $25 for adults. If mansions aren't your thing, you can pay $20 just to see the gardens. Book ahead on holiday weekends, especially around the winter holidays, when the garden lights are the main attraction.
Where to eat
The on-site Café 29 is a good spot to pick up a quick bite (such as sweet potato waffle fries) or a coffee. If you're hankering for something more substantial, the courtyard is a nice place to sit and scarf down one of the cafe's flatbreads.