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Nashville brings so much entertainment to a family vacation. From the honky tonks on Broadway to the famous Music Row to a replica of the Greek Parthenon, variety rules in this favorite southern city! But deciding where to stay can be challenge. The Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center is our choice. Its 19 restaurants, 2,800 rooms, two seasonal outdoor pools, one year-round indoor pool, whirlpool, fitness center, spa, golf, video game room, indoor/outdoor waterpark, indoor waterfall and boat rides on an indoor river make this mega-resort a marvel that offers something to entertain just about anyone.
The writer was hosted.
The Southern Charms of Gaylord Opryland Resort
From the moment you enter the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center, you realize you’ve found not just a hotel, but an attraction. It begins in the Cascades atrium featuring a 44-foot cascading waterfall with evening fountain shows. Massive indoor gardens span 4.5 acres including nine acres of waterfalls.
Opened in 1977 as a 600-room property serving visitors to the old Opryland theme park, the Opryland Hotel has evolved into a mega-resort.
Today, the Gaylord Opryland Resort in Nashville consists of more than 2,800 rooms and suites, meeting rooms, a wide variety of shops, 19 restaurants and more amenities than any family could possibly need!
But even with all the enhancements, the Gaylord Opryland retains the charming Southern mansion feel of the original property.
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A River Runs Through It
Further into the resort, the Delta unfolds with an indoor river. Riverboat rides (yes, boat rides!) meander through the quarter-mile river providing guests with a unique perspective on the vegetation and surrounding décor. Riverboat guides provide interesting anecdotes along the way. Make reservations and purchase tickets online here.
One of the fun facts we learned featured the water and a connection to Jack Daniels, the famed Tennessee whiskey. When the river was ready to be filled, the hotel sent 3,000 Jack Daniels bottles to countries around the world and asked they be returned filled with water from local rivers. As a result, you’ll be cruising through international waters! Be sure to check out the plaque just outside of the boat ride to trace the waterways across the country and around the world that filled this unique river.
Let’s Talk Accommodations
No matter what the rest of the hotel looks like, when it’s time for bed you’ll want a comfortable bed, well-supplied bathroom, and room for the family. All Gaylord Opryland beds have pillow-top mattresses for a cozy night’s sleep. Rooms also have a small refrigerator, WiFi, and air conditioning to combat the often humid hot weather of Nashville.
Gaylord Opryland guest rooms are based on views: Atrium View and Standard Exterior View. Both views offer the choice of one king bed or two queens.
Atrium View Rooms
My husband and I loved having an atrium view which allowed us to sit out on our little terrace with a glass of wine and listen to the music softly drift up from below. However, if you’re super-sensitive to any sounds, you may want to forego the atrium view. It’s not noisy, but you will hear some sounds until about 10 pm.
For larger families, Junior Suites feature two bedrooms with a king bed in one and two queens in the other. A sofa bed is also provided in the living space. Executive-level suites provide more space and amenities at a higher price point.
Speaking of prices, they vary depending on the season, conference schedules and current packages on offer. During the high seasons which include the summer months as well as December, prices start around $300 for a standard exterior room. For a money-saving option, consider a weeknight stay off-season when rates begin at $179.
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TravelingMom Tip: When you price rooms here, be aware that you’ll also be charged a dreaded resort fee. At Gaylord Opryland, the resort fee is $20 per day added to your room price. The fee covers WiFi, fitness center access, use of indoor and outdoor pools and complimentary shuttle service.
Exploring the Extensive Dining Options
Hungry? There are plenty of great restaurants in Nashville. There are also plenty of great restaurants at the Opryland Resort.
For fine dining and superb steaks, the Old Hickory Steakhouse serves up a delicious menu loaded with choices. I opted for the perfectly cooked 8-ounce center-cut filet with roasted cauliflower. For the heartiest of appetites, the Old Hickory delivers a whopping 30-ounce prime, dry-aged Tomahawk steak!
More casual options include an Irish pub, Mexican cantina and Italian offerings. We chose to dine at Jack Daniels our second night. Here southern cuisine reigns alongside Tennessee sipping whiskeys. Staying close to my southern roots, I opted for the deviled egg starter and a pickle brined fried buttermilk chicken sandwich.
Yum! For lunch, we popped into Stax on Delta Island to build our own burgers served with a side of house-made chips. Quick bites like pizza and sandwiches are also available. If you manage to save room for dessert (I didn’t!) treat the kids (and yourself) to gelato or frozen yogurt.
For a sit-down breakfast, I suggest Cascades American Café. Located in the Cascades atrium within view of the soothing waterfall. It’s a very pleasant way to start the day. For those traveling with younger kids, the coloring sheets, kids menu and kid’s cups with tops are a bonus.
And if the family can’t decide on one restaurant for all, there’s 24-hour room service.
Gaylord Opryland Resort Amenities
How’s this for amenities? Gaylord Opryland provides a seasonal outdoor pool and whirlpool, one year-round indoor pool, a state-of-the-art fitness center, full-service Relâche Spa, golf, jogging/fitness trail and a video game room. That seems sufficient, right? But, Gaylord Opryland didn’t stop there. The resort recently opened an even bigger attraction to the delight of water lovers everywhere: the SoundWaves Waterpark!
This mega attraction features a whopping 111,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space filled with music-themed water attractions. Bringing an upscale water experience to Nashville, SoundWaves focuses on fun set to music…a fitting theme for a Music City experience, don’t you think?
Available exclusively for resort guests, sample water attractions include the Groovin’ Lagoon Activity Pool with a rock wall, lily pad walk, basketball hoops and 30’ water curtain. For more thrills, check out Rapid Remix ™ —a mega raft for 4-5 people that spins through a breathtaking series of vortex loops-complete with 21 LED lights and 12 music speakers. Or just chill out in the Down Tempo Lazy River. If you need a time out from the kids, SoundWaves delivers with an adults-only infinity pool.
Get all the details on this over-the-top water park in our guide here.
Location and Transportation Details
Located on Opryland Drive, the resort is about a 15-minute drive from the Nashville International Airport. The hotel offers a shuttle to and from the airport for $35 round trip. The shuttle is free for children 18 and under when accompanied by a parent or grandparent. Look for the Gaylord Opryland Welcome Desk on the lower level of the airport between the two escalators.
The resort is also a 15-minute drive to downtown Nashville and the legendary Music Row. Gaylord offers a Wildhorse Shuttle Package for transportation between the resort and the downtown music scene. Also, taxis and Ubers stand ready to assist with additional transportation needs.
- $20 per person, round trip
- $40 per person, 3- day round trip pass (unlimited 3 consecutive day use)
- Ages 18 and under are complimentary with accompanying adult and groups of four or more are discounted 50%. Check with the front desk or the concierge for tickets.
The Complex Shuttle (complimentary for resort guests) provides transportation between the resort, the Inn at Opryland, General Jackson Showboat, Grand Ole Opry House (only on show nights) and Opry Mills. Shuttle service between the resort and the golf course is also available and complimentary for guests. Note: A shuttle ticket is required for all guests from November through February when the Grand Ole Opry is at the Ryman Auditorium.
TravelingMom Tip: Unless you’re driving to Nashville, we recommend using the Gaylord Opryland transportation rather than renting a car. The resort parking fee is a hefty $32 per day for self-park and $40 per day for valet parking.
What Worked for Us
My husband and I were visiting Nashville for the country music, the decadent southern cuisine and, of course, the sites that comprise this uber-cool city. Our debate on which of the many Nashville hotels to choose was primarily based on location.
Typically we would choose a downtown hotel within walking distance to everything. But how could we miss out on all of the amenities at the Gaylord Opryland Resort? The amenities won.
We dined at the Old Hickory Steakhouse, worked off the calories in the fitness center and indulged ourselves with massages at the Relâche Spa. In between sightseeing, we took the boat ride around the Delta, picked up souvenirs in the shops and explored the property for hours.
On a recent return visit with a friend, we ventured into town for honky-tonk time at night. Then, we embraced our inner child and zipped down the water slides at SoundWaves Water Park. After the thrills, we chilled at the adults-only infinity pool.
As for the grandkids, Gaylord Opryland wins hands down. It is the home of SoundWaves after all. Let’s face it, when you’re traveling with kids, there’s only so much sightseeing you can do. They need breaks and if you can find a hotel that provides plenty of entertainment for the non-sightseeing portion of the trip, you’ve found a gem.
Things to Do in Nashville With Kids
If you can convince the kids to leave SoundWaves, there are lots of fun things to do in Nashville with kids.
Check out the budget-friendly Nashville Sightseeing Pass. Choose the number of days that work for you (from 1 to 4) and gain access to over 30 top attractions. Start with a tour on the hop-on hop-off bus to get an overview of the city and its many points of interest. Or, my grandkids’ choice for a really fun ride, choose the Jacked-Up Joy Ride—a two-hour tour in a monster truck!
Tweens and teens can put their clue-solving abilities to the test at Nashville’s Escape Game. For older teens (16 and up), the Belle Meade Segway Tour provides a fun way to learn about the history of the Harding and Jackson family, the skilled workers, and the variety of 19th-century operations on this historic property.
Nashville’s Adventure Science Center offers numerous exhibits for all ages. Grab a lab coat and examine Pat the patient in the BodyQuest exhibit. Check blood pressure, look over x-rays or take an EKG. Sneak in a life lesson for the grandkids at the Amazing Aging Machine. This face-altering photo booth turns twelve-year-olds into seventy-year-olds in an instant while showing kids how things like smoking affect the aging process.
Or course, if you have music lovers in the family a visit to the Country Music Hall of Fame is a must. Whatever you choose to do, you’re certain to have a fun family vacation in Music City!
TravelingMom Tip: After spending time in the Music City, head over to Dollywood for another classic Tennessee attraction.