I'm Lindsay Ferrier, a Nashville writer with a passion for family travel, exploring Tennessee, and raising kids without losing my mind in the process. This is where I share my discoveries, along with occasional deep thoughts, pop culture tangents and a sprinkling of snark. Want to get in touch? Use the CONTACT form at the top of the page.
October 18, 2017
If you happen to be in Nashville and learn of an impending apocalypse, I can think of no better place to wait out End Times than the Gaylord Opryland Resort. I think of it as Music City’s own biodome — a glass-encased tropical paradise with acres of indoor gardens and waterfalls, nearly 3,000 guest rooms, an impressive variety of restaurants and shops, ballrooms, exhibit halls, a fitness center, a spa, and three swimming pools. By the end of next year, the place will even have its own indoor/outdoor waterpark. I mean, who wouldn’t want to fight off zombies and demons from the safety and comfort of this gilded fortress?
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s discuss in detail exactly what makes Opryland so very, very awesome. I’ve stayed in this hotel five times now, and I live here — That alone should tell you something!
Self-parking costs $29 per day and overnight valet parking will set you back $38 per day — high, yes, but comparable to what you’d pay at the downtown Nashville hotels. The resort is so huge and the parking lots so expansive that we always valet when we stay at Opryland. The valet staff is sizable and efficient in a hotel this size — Call for your car before you come down from your room and you shouldn’t have to wait very long at all for your car to be pulled around to the entrance.
Be sure and get a map when you check in and listen closely when you’re told how to get to your room. I have more than one hilarious story of getting hopelessly lost while wandering the halls of Opryland searching for my room, often in a herd of other lost guests we’ve managed to collect along the way. Speaking of…
We spent a weekend in one of Opryland’s newly renovated rooms recently and it was fabulous — even nicer than this photo from Opryland’s website. It was clean and modern and our beds were supremely comfortable, with plush mattress toppers and high-quality pillows. We all slept like rocks every night during our stay. Our room also had all the little things that frankly mean a lot to me as a frequent traveler– free wi-fi, a Keurig coffeemaker, free bottles of water (I get really irritated by those $10 waters some hotels put in the rooms), large, plush bath towels, and a mini-fridge. Another detail we loved: the television is preloaded with Netflix! Simply enter in your username and password and you’re good to go.
The bathroom was also clearly designed with families in mind. It has two sinks and lavatories, as well as drawer space for all your stuff. Best of all is the bright lighting over the bathroom mirrors — I don’t know why so many hotels have low lighting in the spaces where a woman would want to put on makeup or do her hair. It’s frustrating, and thankfully not an issue at Opryland Resort.
And don’t forget your ‘good’ camera while you’re out looking around with the fam — I always get stunning family photos at Opryland. The natural light and dramatic backdrops make for perfect pictures.
At night, the gardens transform into a fairytale setting filled with twinkling lights. This past summer, the atriums were transformed into scenes from Alice in Wonderland for SummerFest, and during the Christmas season, people come from miles around just to see Opryland’s holiday lights and decorations.
You’ll also want to catch the International Waters Fountain Show and Aqua Fountain Show in the Delta Atrium, where synchronized lights, water and music combine for spectacular performances 6, 7, 8, and 9 pm every evening. The water shows are a favorite with kids in particular.
If the weather’s warm, you’ll definitely want to spend some time at one of Opryland’s two outdoor pools. With poolside service, an outdoor bar and grill, and plenty of space to swim, both pools have a luxurious resort feel.
Our kids also loved the oversized checkers board and Jenga games beside the pool, and my son and husband had fun playing cornhole on the lawn.
My entire family agrees Cascades serves one of the absolute best burgers in Nashville, and in a town that’s become known for great food, that’s saying something! Everything we’ve eaten at Cascades has been even better than expected, and I also love that I can order sushi from Wasabi’s Sushi Bar (also excellent) here as well.
For a big night out, your best bet is Opryland’s Old Hickory Steakhouse, which features 1855 Black Angus Beef steaks. Reservations are required.
We’ve also enjoyed our meals at Findley’s Irish Pub, and we like to get burgers to go from Stax and have them at the seating area next to the fountains when we watch the fountain show at night.
Opry Mills is within walking distance of the resort — There, you’ll find even more great family restaurants, including Aquarium, Rainforest Cafe, Chuy’s, Mission BBQ, and Romano’s Macaroni Grill.
There’s plenty to do at Opryland Resort without ever leaving the property! That’s why we like it so much as a staycation option.
Another must-do activity while you’re in town is the Grand Ole Opry, also within walking distance of the hotel and Opry Mills. Whether or not you’re a country music fan, trust me when I tell you this show is worth seeing. It’s fast-paced, fun, and totally unique, and I’d recommend anyone visiting Nashville take the time to see a show. You can read more about our thoughts on the Grand Ole Opry here, as well as the Opry’s fun and informative backstage tour — also highly recommended for those of you with older children.
You might also opt for a mid-day or evening cruise on the General Jackson Showboat, where you’ll enjoy a traditional Southern buffet meal, view Nashville’s skyline, and watch a show inside the riverboat’s two-story Victorian theater. Complimentary shuttle service is available to and from the hotel for overnight guests.
We went on a scavenger hunt throughout the hotel, took a Mad Hatter-themed Delta Riverboat cruise, watched one of the family movies shown at Opryland each night throughout the summer season, and enjoyed all of the beautiful Alice in Wonderland-themed decorations throughout the atriums. Coincidentally, my kids went on to try out for the school Alice in Wonderland play a month after this photo was taken at Opryland — My daughter got the part of the Queen of Hearts and my son was a cardman. Coincidence? I THINK NOT.
Opryland’s Country Christmas festivities are one of the most popular holiday activities in town, both for locals and visitors. There are SO many things to do at Opryland this holiday season!
See Cirque Dreams Holidaze, offered for the first time at Opryland and featuring more than 300 costumes and 20 of the world’s best Cirque acts. Send the kids to Opryland’s Build-a-Bear Workshop and participate in a Build-a-Bear Scavenger Hunt throughout the hotel afterward.
And this has me thinking now that we need to go back for a holiday weekend!
This should answer most of your Opryland Resort questions — If you have more questions, leave them in the comments and I’ll do my best to find an answer for you!
Thanks to Opryland for hosting my family during SummerFest!