The Discovery Center enlivens kids’ learning experiences by cleverly disguising exhibits as awesome playtime arenas. Tiny tots and even 10-year-olds are encouraged to run wild at this hands-on children’s museum and nature center, trying their hand at the many fun activities.
At the creation station, which is stocked with paint, clay, chalk, paper, and just about anything a young da Vinci or police sketch artist needs, kids are free to unleash their creative potential. Alternatively, at the fire-truck exhibit, they can put on a firefighter’s boots and hat and climb aboard the full-sized 1954 Oren fire truck to learn about a firefighter’s job in Murfreesboro. Nearby, at Tennessee Live!, they can get in touch with their natural surroundings when they come face-to-face with turtles, fish, and snakes at the living stream table, dig in the fossil pit, and learn about the customs of the native Cherokee.
Replete with ornate gardens and a brick mansion fronted by towering, white columns, Rippavilla Plantation winds the clock back to the time of the Civil War. In the fall, the smells of bonfires and steaming hot chocolate fill the sprawling grounds as they host pumpkin paintings and other old-timey, outdoor fun. The Rippavilla corn maze tests internal compasses and scarecrow-bribing techniques on a 10-acre, labyrinthine path. As they pass through the maze, guests encounter signs that boast historical facts about major Civil War battles in 1862, putting them in touch with the site's legacy. For a plus-size serving of fresh, autumn air, guests can also board the hayride to circle the grounds, which are devoid of the sinister ghouls that often emerge at many fall festivals; instead, the grounds remain family-friendly throughout the night.
Perched atop an 80-foot bluff overlooking the Tennessee River, Hunter Museum of American Art hosts collections ranging from colonial times to contemporary America. The permanent collection includes historical works by renowned painters such as Thomas Cole, Mary Cassatt, and Winslow Homer as well as contemporary pieces in less traditional mediums such as filmmaking, which artists turned to after paintbrushes went extinct. Educational programs guide visitors through these core works as well as temporary exhibits, which have included Depression-era photographs by Dorothea Lange and the sculptural installation art of Beverly Semmes.
Hunter Museum's buildings are as much a work of art as the paintings they house. An outdoor sculpture plaza and a sleek structure of steel and glass built in 2005 give the compound a contemporary edge. In contrast, the massive fireplaces and hand-carved woodwork inside the original edifice—a classical revival-style mansion built in 1904—recall the days when horses still chauffeured their owners around in Ford Model Ts.
The framing experts at Reflections Gallery & Framing have prepared photographs, artwork, and family heirlooms for display while guarding them against wear and tear with custom framing for 25 years. Conservation-quality materials, such as UV-filtering glass, guards keepsakes against damaging sun rays and radioactive art critics, and acid-free paper and pH-neutral mats preserve images by eschewing photo-unfriendly chemicals found in ordinary materials. Gussy up a standard 11”x14” photograph for the gallery ($95) with standard glass and backing, frame a 16”x20” oil painting ($98), or shield-dress an 8”x10” wall hanging ($131). Custom shadow boxes can present a vast array of physical memorabilia, from a collection of butterflies to baby’s first split atom. While selecting a frame, visitors at Reflections can sip complimentary beverages from the hot-tea bar and peruse the gallery’s rotating lineup of local original art.
The International Towing and Recovery Hall of Fame and Museum recounts the history of roadside tow-truck drivers with a variety of exhibits, vehicles, and artifacts. The museum resides about three miles from the building site of the industry's first wrecker in 1916, and the museum commemorates such vehicular innovation with displays of antique wreckers created in its wake alongside showcases of old-fashioned equipment. Delight little ones and stir nostalgic waters for reflective grandparents as you follow the tow truck's evolution through antique toys, memorabilia, and stories of the professionals who risk their lives for fellow motorists daily.
Priscilla was born in Bristol, England in 1967. She toiled in public transportation until the 1980s, when she begrudgingly entered early retirement. She spent some of it in Liverpool, and some in Flitwick, but eventually succumbed to the promise of greener pastures in the U.S.—she moved to Kansas in 1993, and eventually settled in Tennessee.
Priscilla is the double-decker bus that Rufus, the owner of Nashville Double Decker, loads up with guests before touring the city. The idea for a bus-tour company came to him before his second deployment with the Tennessee Army National Guard on a visit to Nashville. He took a trolley tour that left him disappointed. The tour didn’t cross any of the city’s bridges, and he couldn’t enjoy some of Nashville’s best views thanks to the trolley’s closed top. So while Rufus was still overseas, he convinced a friend to drive Priscilla across the country from Washington, and now she shows guests the sites around Nashville.