This lavish resort offers the finest in Southern hospitality combined with all of the excitement and energy of Music City.
The Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center is located near downtown Nashville and only eight miles from Nashville International Airport. With over nine acres of indoor gardens and waterfalls, three pools, and 17 restaurants, it can be a destination in its own right. On the other hand, its close proximity to legendary Nashville landmarks and family-friendly activities allows you to easily get out and explore, if that’s more your style.
Where to stay?
The resort is so large that there are four different sections of hotel rooms: Magnolia, Delta, Cascades, and Garden Conservatory. If you want to be closest to the main lobby, spa, and bigger pool area, request the Cascades. The Magnolia is adjacent to smaller pool and closest to the convention center. The Delta and Garden Conservatory are the most centrally-located with the Delta atrium being home to the Delta Riverboat Tour and the majority of the shopping. Unless someone in your party has mobility issues, I think that any of the sections would be suitable for families. Even if you do have walk a bit, it allows you to see the lush, beautifully-landscaped grounds of the resort, which are not to be missed.
KidTripster Tip: Because of the resort’s size, bring along a stroller for young children.
Our family stayed in the Magnolia section in a spacious room with two queen beds with a garden view. There was vanity and sink just outside of the bathroom, as well as one inside, which made getting ready in the morning and at bedtime much easier.
What to do?
There is plenty to keep your family busy at the Gaylord Opryland Resort. If you prefer to stay at the resort, you can enjoy three pools: two outdoor, one indoor, and all heated. The outdoor Cascades Pool has a kiddie pool, scheduled entertainment, and a poolside bar and grill with waitstaff, who'll bring your order right to your lounge chair. The outdoor Magnolia pool is slightly smaller, has less seating, and no food service. We swam at both, and while my kids had no preference, I preferred the Cascades pool. Food and drink prices were very reasonable, and the chicken tenders that we ordered for lunch were outstanding. My kids especially enjoyed the Icee machine!
If relaxing is on your agenda, the Relache Spa offers massages, body treatments, facials, manicures, pedicures, salon services, and more; appointments required.
If you’d like to squeeze in some shopping time, you’ll find some of Nashville's finest stores at the Gaylord Opryland - everything from souvenirs to home décor to Opry-inspired Western wear all under one roof.
The Delta atrium is home to two unique attractions at the Gaylord Opryland: the Delta Riverboat Tour and the Aqua Fountain Show. The Delta Riverboat Tour travels down a scenic river winding through a 4-1/2-acre indoor garden. It operates daily and tickets are available at the Delta Riverboat Dock on the lower level of the Delta atrium. Cost: $10. We didn't ride the boat, but it seemed like a relaxing, quiet way to enjoy the beauty of the resort from a different perspective. Our family did enjoy the Aqua Fountain Show. Free of charge, you can see this breathtaking union of water, music and light. It’s performed every evening from 6 to 9 p.m. at the top of each hour and lasts about 15 minutes.
If you’re a golfer, you can get in a few rounds at the Gaylord Springs Golf Links, a short 5-minute drive from the resort. Recognized by GolfWeek magazine as one of the best courses in Tennessee, it runs along the Cumberland River and is bordered by limestone bluffs and wetlands. To get there, take the free resort shuttle.
More to do
If you prefer to leave the resort and explore the surrounding area, there are several attractions within close proximity. We loved our visit to the Nashville Zoo, which was only a 25-minute drive away. Although on the smaller side, there was plenty to see for our family, and I liked the fact that we were able to get through the whole thing before the kids got tired. I also liked that there were four exhibits which allowed you to be among the animals and touch them, if the opportunity presented itself: parrots, tortoises, a traditional petting zoo, and even kangaroos! The highlight of the day, however, was the Soaring Eagle zipline. This recent addition to the zoo takes seated riders on a tree-top trek to see elephants, giraffes, and more. Sit back and relax as you're lifted 110-feet high and several hundred yards back before being released. It’s an exhilarating 28-mph ride back to earth. I recommend riding it when it first opens at 10:00 a.m. like we did, as the line does grow, and there’s no shade. Cost: $8.
KidTripster Tip: Be sure and visit the Jungle Gym, an elaborate playground inside the zoo, right next to the entrance with shaded seating for parents.
We also visited nearby Centennial Park, the site of the 1897 Tennessee Centennial Exposition. There are so many things to see and do, but our focus was on the Parthenon replica. Both the building and the 42-foot Athena statue are full-scale duplicates of the Athenian originals and are a must-see for Greek mythology fans like my daughter. There’s an art museum inside, which we didn’t tour. Museum cost: Youth (4-17) $4; Adult $6.
Country music fans will be pleased to learn that the Gaylord Opryland is located right next door to the famed Grand Ole Opry, where country music legends perform several nights a week from February to October. (From November to January, the Opry moves to the historic Ryman Auditorium in downtown Nashville.) If the weather is good, you can walk the path connecting the venue to the Gaylord or take the complimentary shuttle. Check the Grand Ole Opry website for upcoming shows and to purchase tickets.
For KidTripster’s top 10 family-friendly things to do in Nashville, click here.
Where to eat?
There’s no need to leave the resort for meals, unless you want to. The Gaylord is home to 17 restaurants and food venues, ranging from quick-grab counters to fine dining; in-room dining also is available. We really enjoyed the traditional southern fare at the casual Jack Daniel’s Saloon. All of the on-site restaurants have kids’ menus and table activities that will keep your kids happy. If you prefer to explore outside of the resort, the Opryland Mills Mall next door has several restaurants from Mexican to traditional Tennessee BBQ. The mall is a just a short distance away with a nice walking path; no car needed, if the weather is good. There’s also a complimentary shuttle to the mall for hotel guests.
KidTripster Tip: During the resort’s annual SummerFest, you can enjoy several special dining events and happy hours at the on-site restaurants.
For KidTripster’s top 10 family-friendly restaurants in Nashville, click here.
Rooms at the Gaylord Opryland start at $234/night. There’s also a daily resort fee of $18, which includes a resort savings card, basic high-speed internet access, and more.
KidTripster Tip: We used the resort savings card daily for discounts on gelato from Bravo Gelato.
KidTripster Tip: If you visit during the holidays, you’ll be treated to lights and decorations inside and out. Plus, you can see ICE!, an indoor display of ice sculptures which are hand-carved from more than two-million pounds of ice (extra fee).
The Gaylord Opryland is located just northeast of downtown Nashville and is a 10-minute drive from Nashville International Airport. A scheduled shuttle service is available to the hotel for $19/person one way (or $30 round trip), as well as bus service for $2/person, each way. If you drive your own car, on-site parking costs $24/day, while valet service is $32/day. There are various shuttle services available (for a fee) between the hotel and area landmarks.
KidTripster Tip: Guests of the Gaylord have access to complimentary shuttle service between the resort and The Inn at Opryland, General Jackson Showboat, Grand Ole Opry House (only on show nights), and Opry Mills Mall. The shuttle runs daily from 11:00 a.m. to 8:45 p.m. There’s also a complimentary shuttle to the Gaylord Springs Golf Links upon request.
In addition to vacations on land, Diana Smith is an expert cruiser. She and her family, including her three Disney princesses, have set sail on six Disney cruises. For more, check out Disney Cruise Mom Blog.