If you are like my family, we have spent a lot of time outdoors in the past few months. One place we have found to love again is Cheekwood. We are big fans of nature and art. So, spending time at Cheekwood, which blends both so well, is nice. Not to mention it is not far from our home in Bellevue. While we have been ‘safer at home’, Cheekwood Estate and Gardens has been busy with renovations. Let me tell you about what’s new at Cheekwood.

nashville cheekwood turtle pondBefore we get into the fun new exhibits and gardens, I am sure everyone wants to know how they are handling COVID. Cheekwood’s website and Facebook page are the best places to stay up to date on the latest rules. However, at the time of this writing, they do ask for a mask to be worn when inside any of the buildings and when you cannot social distance in the gardens. You also need to have a timed entry ticket to be allowed on the grounds. This is included with your tickets or part of your membership. There is no extra charge. However, they must be ordered online before pulling up to the gate. They are not handing out printed maps either so either you can use your phone or print a map at home. Some areas have items missing due to safety but most of those are in the kid’s area. Please check the website for more details.

Now for the fun! First to share is that they have redone two of the trails. The Sculpture trail and the Japanese Gardens have easier trails for those using a stroller or wheelchair. They have some areas that are still not paved but that are crushed gravel. It was a little hard to do in my daughter’s wheelchair, but not impossible. The sculpture trail is fully paved once you get down to the actual trail, but there is a section of crushed gravel before that. The new trail is very pretty and easier to see the beautiful sculptures. My favorite is still the half bunny/half human. The Japanese Garden has an easier path to the left of the entrance. There are a few lookout spots to see the garden without using the stairs. We even saw a baby deer in that area one day we were there.

The Bracken Foundation Children’s Garden covers two-acres. It is near the Frist Learning Center and the Howe Garden. Some areas in this part of the garden are not in full use due to the COVID restrictions. However, there is still so much to look at and enjoy. The turtles floating in the pond were a big hit with our family. They are brought to Cheekwood through the Tennessee Wildlife Agency. They have mostly been rescued from the illegal pet trade. You can stand on the bridge and watch them in the pond. There are fountains, a rope bridge, areas to sit and picnic, a preschool area which will have splash fountains when it is safe to have them on, and so much more to explore. Our family truly loves this new garden.

cheekwood nashville chihuly 2020Most exciting to most people right now is that Chihuly is back in Nashville. His glorious art made with a mix of materials — glass, paint, charcoal, neon, transparent plastic — can be seen throughout the gardens and mansion until January 10, 2021. We spotted a few being placed a week before the grand opening. They were stunning!! They are scattered throughout the gardens and even inside the mansion. There is a map of their locations you can view on the website before going. You are free to look at them any day you are at Cheekwood during daytime hours. They are having special Chihuly nights Thursdays through Sunday; however, they are not part of your regular admittance for the evening hours. You will have to purchase special night tickets off the website. I highly recommend visiting Cheekwood a few times if you can during this unique exhibit. You will stand in awe as you view these installations. Some are so large you will wonder how he ever did them. Nashville is so lucky to have such talent on display in our city.

There is so much to see and do at Cheekwood. Pack a picnic and blanket, and social distance a nice little outing for your family. View the flowers, the art, and the ponds. There are so many areas updated and new at Cheekwood this season. If you happen to go in the Fall, read my Cheekwood Harvest blog for more info. Try them soon for a fun family outing.