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!
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 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.
When you finish with the visitors’ center take a quick tour through the museum before you head out to the grounds and the Hermitage itself.
Walk though the grounds up to the main house and make sure to use your audio player. There are signs though out the grounds with numbers to punch in to your player to hear the right audio snippet.
Both times I have been, there has been 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 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 about 20 minutes and the wagon drivers are full of more interesting stories. You see the fields where Jackson grew cotton as well as the footprints where the slave cabins were.
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.
There are picnic tables available and you are welcome to bring lunch. The Hermitage used to have a cafe but it closed. There are Firehouse subs, drinks and chips available for purchase in the gift shop if you get peckish.
The gift store also has lots of Presidential books and items. Plus, there is 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. I may try to go back for Christmas gift shopping!
Here are the 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)
Cost: $19/adult, $14/student (13-18 yrs), $6/child (6 -12 yrs), 5 & under & military – FREE (check you Entertainment book for a BOGO coupon. There are also group rates)
Make sure to come back after you go and tell us about your trip in the comments!