Heading to Music City with the kids? With so many interesting things to do in Nashville, there’s no question you’ll have a good time. But what’s the best hotel for your family? With more than 2,800 rooms, the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center claims the title as the largest non-gaming resort in the United States. It’s the ultimate family-friendly resort, but is it right for your family? Here’s how to decide.
Introducing the Indoor Landscape of Gaylord Opryland Resort
With indoor gardens spanning 4.5 acres that include nine acres of waterfalls, the Gaylord Opryland Resort leaves an indelible impression on all who enter. Originally opened in 1977 as a 600-room property primarily for visitors to the old Opryland theme park, the Opryland Hotel has evolved into a mega-resort. As one of five Marriott Gaylord Hotels, the resort boasts more than 2800 rooms and suites, meeting rooms, a wide variety of shops, 19 restaurants and more amenities than anyone could possibly need.
After your front desk check-in, you’re immediately engulfed into the Cascades atrium filled with lush botanicals. Appropriately named, the Cascades atrium features a 44-foot cascading waterfall with evening fountain shows. The gardens continue in the Garden Conservatory where lush palm trees join the indoor landscape. Still retaining its charm from the original Gaylord Opryland, the Magnolia Lobby resembles a grand Southern mansion with an impressive staircase and a Tiffany-style chandelier.
Further into the resort, the Delta unfolds complete with an indoor river running through it. 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. One of the fun facts we learned featured the water and a connection to Jack Daniels. 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. That means this indoor river represents international waters!
Let’s Talk Accommodations
No matter what the rest of the hotel looks like when it’s time for bed you’ll need a comfortable bed, well-supplied bathroom, and room for the family. 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. All beds have pillow-top mattresses for a cozy night’s sleep. Rooms also have a small refrigerator, WiFi, and air conditioning to combat that often humid hot weather of Nashville.
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. Additionally, each room is accessed a resort fee of $20 per day.
Exploring the Extensive Dining Options
Hungry? Choose from 19 restaurants for the cuisine you’re craving. There’s high-end dining at Old Hickory Steakhouse. Looking for something more casual, choose from an Irish pub, Mexican cantina and Italian offerings. Sample southern cuisine alongside Tennessee sipping whiskeys at Jack Daniels. If burgers are your go-to meal, check out Stax on Delta Island where you can build your own burger. Quick bites like pizza and sandwiches are also available. Treat the kids (and yourself) to dessert with gelato or frozen yogurt.
For a sit-down breakfast, I suggest Cascades American Café. Located in the Cascades atrium within view of the soothing waterfalls, 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’s Amenities
How’s this for amenities? Gaylord Opryland provides two seasonal outdoor pools, one year-round indoor pool, whirlpool, state of the art fitness center, full-service Relâche Spa, golf, jogging/fitness trail, and a video game room. As if those options weren’t enough, a new indoor/outdoor waterpark recently opened.
Featuring 111,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor attractions set to immersive music SoundWaves brings the nation’s first truly upscale water experience to Nashville. 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.
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 Music Row in downtown Nashville. Costs are as follows:
- $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 November through February when the Grand Ole Opry is at the Ryman Auditorium.
Bringing your own car? Parking is available for a daily rate of $32(self-park) and $40 (valet).
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.
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.
TravelingMom Tip: After spending time in the Music City, head over to Dollywood for another classic Tennessee attraction.