Just outside of Nashville, you’ll find yourself on a two-lane road, with mature trees and wildflowers growing on both sides. This is what Nashville once was. Tucked away in a small community, you’ll find a massive home and beautiful gardens. You’d never know it was there unless you were looking for it, but once you find it, you’ll be amazed! Here is your quick and concise guide to visiting Nashville’s Cheekwood Estate and Gardens.
Cheekwood is located just to the southwest of Nashville, on Highway 100. It’s a pretty drive, but you will definitely need a car to get here. There is a large parking area, though, so you won’t have any trouble finding a place to park (unlike Downtown Nashville!). Parking here is also free.
Fair warning: There is very little signage to help you get here, and signage could also be improved on the property. You’ll do well to know how to read a map!
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You may be surprised that this mansion and estate are not from the Antebellum South. The home was actually built in 1929! Mr. Leslie and Mrs. Mabel Cheek had the house built after Leslie Cheek sold his interests in Maxwell House Coffee. Despite the Great Depression, they were able to have the house completed, sparing no expense, in 1932.
During their time at Cheekwood, the Cheeks hosted lavish parties, luncheons, and their legendary “BC Ball,” where friends came dressed as characters from Ancient Greek mythology! Leslie Cheek only lived until 1935, and Mabel lived on at the house until 1944. The Cheeks’ daughter, Hulda, was deeded the home at that time, and she is the reason why the mansion and grounds are open to the public today.
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Based on country houses the Cheeks saw on their travels throughout the English countryside, the massive home is filled with furnishings and artwork the couple gathered in their world travels. You can tour the house during your visit, but it does require a separate ticket. The second floor is full of original pieces from the family, and the rooms are set up as they would have been while the family lived there.
The third floor is a large art gallery. Hulda and her husband were both known for their appreciation of fine art and nature, and they chose to make Cheekwood a public garden and fine arts center. Exhibits change periodically and range from historic to modern.
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With 13 gardens to explore, the garden lover in your group may want to spend an entire day here! You can purchase a grounds-only pass, if the house isn’t your thing, so you can spend all your time outdoors. Don’t miss the Blevins Japanese Garden (Shomu-en), Bradford Robertson Color Garden, Rose Study Garden, and the Martin Boxwood Gardens around the mansion!
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Cheekwood also hosts events all year round. From special exhibits like the Bruce Munro Light Display in 2023, to special exhibits by statuary artists, to antique car shows, to jazz concerts and other performances after hours, there is something for everyone! Check their events page to see what’s coming during your time in Nashville.
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