Ready for some antebellum travel? This Throwback Thursday is for you! On my recent trip home for Christmas in Tennessee, my parents picked us up at BNA and treated us to a fun day at the beautiful Belle Meade Plantation! If you’re in Nashville any time of year, a trip to Belle Meade should absolutely go on your list.
Website: Belle Meade Plantation
Location: 110 Leake Avenue; Nashville, TN
Hours: Sunday-Saturday 9:00am-5:00pm; closed major holidays.
Admission: Adults $24; Seniors $20; Ages 6-18 $13; Grounds only $15
Need to Know: No photos inside.
Brunch at Harding House Restaurant
My family is pretty typically Southern: where there’s family, there’s food! So we couldn’t pass up an opportunity to enjoy brunch here. Try an omelette named for a famous race horse, salmon eggs Benedict, or go full-on French toast with preserves and maple syrup! and don’t forget to order up a truly Southern appetizer:
I have both given and attended countless tours of all sorts of places in my life, and I have to say this very well could be my #1 favorite tour of all! That is no exaggeration. The costumed interpreters truly know their history, and they really seemed to take pride in what they got to talk to you about!
You will be greeted in each room by a different historical interpreter in period clothing, and they will tell you about the room and how the various owners would have used it. We were there at Christmas time, so we also saw each room decorated for a different time period and learned about Christmas traditions through the years! The home is impeccably restored, beautifully decorated, and many of the furnishings are family pieces that have made their way back to the home over the years.
When one thinks of a Southern plantation, one usually envisions cotton fields, corn, cattle, etc. Sorry! Not this plantation. It was a race horse farm. At one time the farm spread over 5,400 acres (that’s a lot!), but now it’s down to around 54 acres. Was it a successful race horse plantation in its heyday? Absolutely!
Head hostler and horse trainer Bob Green gained his freedom after the Civil War and chose to stay on at the plantation, as many of the former slaves at Belle Meade Plantation did. He was the highest-paid employee on the Plantation and the best horse trainer in the world. Europeans would regularly send their horses to Belle Meade to be trained by Mr. Green, and his horses won in record numbers. Many historic race horses are descended from horses he trained here. Our historical interpreter named off so many famous horses I lost count!
Many of the horses who lived on the plantation are also buried on the property (and former property), including this one:
Want to know more about horse racing at Belle Meade? Check out the annual Iroquois Steeplechase!
When you finish your tour of the house, you’ll be able to roam around the property on your own. You’ll see the family mausoleum, the largest smoke house in the South, a dairy, beautiful gardens, slave quarters, stables, carriage house, and other outbuildings. But before you do that, you’ll have the opportunity to visit their recently-added Belle Meade winery for a selection of complementary wines. Not into wine? Try out their chocolates, cheeses, and gift shop!
Are you ready for your own trip to this gorgeous property? I recommend it!