For me, Opryland is a bit of a contradiction. On the one hand, it’s close to the Grand Ole Opry and outlet shopping, and it has 9 acres of indoor botanical gardens and cascading waterfalls, which are unique and interesting. On the other hand, seeing people who have traveled from across the world to Nashville riding through a boat attraction in an indoor hotel lobby frankly bums me out, and I typically love kitschy stuff like that. I don’t want to say that Opryland could exist anywhere because they have gone to great pains to countryfy and Nashville-it-up, but physically, it’s only significance is its proximity to the Opry (and the original location of that was actually the Ryman, which is downtown!). Here’s my biggest worry: that the people who come to Nashville to visit the Opry won’t ever go into the actual city, and that would be a terrible shame. Plus, the rooms are dated, the vibe is lackluster, and the food is exorbitantly priced ($4 per shrimp in a shrimp cocktail at Old Hickory Steakhouse is ludicrous). And then there are the upcharges and logistics. It will cost $50 extra to get rooms with atrium views, which is kind of the point of being here. Boutiques, cafes, and specialty shops are scattered throughout, and you will need a literal map to navigate these, which they will provide you on check-in. Opryland also charges overnight guests an additional $20 per day resort fee. Just promise me if you do stay here, you will not literally stay here the whole time; take advantage of the shuttle service (see below), and come into the city as much as you can.
All that aside, there is some cool stuff, especially for kids, including the Soundwaves indoor water park. And there’s no denying that the Delta Atrium’s aforementioned indoor river and waterfalls will provide a heck of a lot more entertainment than most hotels for children. There are bridges and pathways throughout, and the gigantic Magnolia lobby could be reminiscent of an antebellum mansion, if you squint the right way or have too many $10 beers. The Gaylord Springs Golf Links, the resort’s par-72 course, offers 18 challenging holes bordered by limestone bluffs and wetlands. Opryland also shines at the holidays, when it’s outfitted with millions of lights, indoor and out, 15,000 poinsettias, 25 miles of garland and ribbon, and a 48-foot-tall Christmas tree. They also use 1 1/2 million pounds of real snow at Arctic Plunge Snow Tubing and 2+ million pounds of ice for the signature ICE! attraction, fashioned by 40 Chinese ice artisans, which is something to see.