The Belle Meade Plantation, regarded as one of the most beautiful historic Nashville plantations, is located just six miles west of town and is one of the most popular sights in the area. The 30-acre grounds of the mansion are beautifully landscaped, and the original 1807 cabin can still be seen, giving visitors a glimpse into an earlier time and a chance to learn about the history of Nashville and its environs. The opulent Belle Meade Mansion was built during the plantation's most prosperous times, and today it has been fully restored, furnished with period furniture, and opened to the public for tours. A rich history, as well as a winery and an exceptional restaurant on-site, make a visit to Belle Meade Plantation a must on every Nashville vacation.
The plantation began as a 250-acre parcel of land with just a log cabin on it, which can still be seen today. The horse breeder John Harding first began his life on this humble, undeveloped piece of land, and in his lifetime developed it into a Thoroughbred horse-breeding farm, in addition to one of the largest Nashville plantations. His son built the luxurious Belle Meade Mansion in 1853, and its Greek-columned design is a beautiful example of Southern Greek Revival Ante-Bellum architecture. In one of the more colorful episodes of the plantation's history, the Battle of Nashville during the Civil War was in part fought on the grounds of the Belle Meade Plantation, and bullet holes can still be seen in the mansion's stone columns.
Today, the extensive grounds (which at the plantation's most prosperous time exceeded 5,000 acres) have shrunk to just 30 acres, but they are beautifully preserved and open to the public. Visitors can experience the past as they visit the Belle Meade Mansion and the outlying buildings of the estate. Tours of the house and grounds are available, and visitors can walk through the fully furnished rooms of the house, and visit the stables and carriage house. The 1807 log cabin is one of the oldest surviving log cabins among the Nashville plantations. A house that once housed slaves is also open for visitors, giving you a more sober glimpse of life on the plantation. Although they’re smaller than what they once were, the grounds are quite large, so be prepared for extensive walking. You will be rewarded, however, by views of the beautiful giant oak trees and varicolored flowerbeds situated all over the landscape.
In addition to the period buildings, Belle Meade Plantation features an excellent restaurant, Belle, a café featuring seasonal food inspired by Southern cooking. The winery is also worth a visit, and there is an excellent gift shop. If you want to channel your inner Victorian, there is a Jane Austen book club that meets for tea and discussion every month. And if you're looking for a beautiful locale for your special day, Belle Meade weddings are definitely memorable and elegant events. A variety of wedding and other event packages are available, and Belle Meade staff will work closely with you to ensure that everything goes according to your preferences.
If you’re interested in learning about Civil War history in Tennessee, you can combine your trip to Belle Meade with stops in nearby Franklin or even Chattanooga, near the Georgia-Tennessee border. Historical tours are one of the best parts of any trip to Nashville, and it’s worth journeying out to Belle Meade for the opportunity to combine a scenic setting with what you’ll see in the city.