Belle Meade Plantation’s story began in 1807 with a single log cabin set on 250 acres. The house was built in 1853 after the plantation gained fame as a stud farm that produced some of the best racehorses in the South. In fact, every winner of the Kentucky Derby from 2003 to 2014 can trace its bloodline back to this farm. Today, the Greek Revival mansion is the centerpiece of the affluent Belle Meade region of Nashville and is surrounded by 30 acres of manicured lawns and shade trees. A long driveway leads uphill to the mansion, which is fronted by six columns and a wide veranda. Inside, the restored building has been furnished with 19th-century antiques that hint at the elegance and wealth that the Southern gentility enjoyed in the late 1800s.

Today, visitors can explore the plantation’s remaining 30 acres including the original cabin, a slave cabin, a massive carriage house, and stables built in 1892. Mansion tours provide fascinating glimpses into the lives of the people who once lived at Belle Meade, led by costumed guides. The Journey to Jubilee tour offers a look at the slaves and skilled laborers who played a key part in building the estate. All tours include complimentary wine tastings, but know that the specialty here is, like most Tennessee wineries, sweet wines, though you can find a few non-sweet options. Wisely, the plantation also offers a 35-minute Yearling Tour, which is geared toward toddlers and preschoolers, engaging them with hand-held teaching toys, creative play, and fun questions. After, kids can grab a sweet treat at the ice cream and fudge shop, where the blackberry cobbler is a stunner, and adults can indulge in chocolate truffles made with local Belle Meade bourbon. For international travelers, this plantation will offer an informative look at American history; however, if you grew up in the American South and have toured other historical properties from this period, it’s not going to knock your socks off. But it’s a more convenient option than making the hike out to Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage.