At some point in the 90s, or maybe the early 2000s, I came to Nashville with my family. The only thing I remember about the city was our visit to the Opryland Hotel. More specifically, I remember going on the riverboat ride and hearing about the Presidential Suites that cost a few thousand dollars a night. I told my grandparents that when I got a job, I would treat them to a night in the suites. I have since gotten a job, but there has been no reason for them to return to Nashville.
This time around, we actually had a chance to stay in the Gaylord Opryland hotel. MAN this hotel is huge, and the whole place was a blur for us on the first day. But never fear, we figured it out, and I am here to tell you all about it.
First off, here is a map of the resort.
As you can see, there are five sections, one of which is the convention area. Figure out which section you are in (we were in Delta) and locate the elevator nearest to your room. You may want to get in the habit of using that elevator so that you’re not disoriented when you try to use a different one.
Once you figure out where your room is, make it a point to walk from your room to the Cascades lobby. Follow the signage, and make note of any landmarks. Then from there, do a loop of the whole hotel, going up the escalators towards the Garden Conservatory Skywalk, into the Magnolia section, past Fuse sports bar and Jack Daniel’s, into the Convention Centre, down the escalator to Delta Island (level 1), and through the Delta walkway to get back to the Cascades walkway. The whole place becomes a whole lot less confusing once you’ve walked around a few times.
When in doubt, go to level 2. You can access pretty much everything from that level, including the fitness centre and both the indoor and outdoor Cascades pools. You can either get to it through the Cascades guest room hallways, or through the Cascades skywalk.
Alright, now for some fun things that we did…
We took Andy swimming for the first time at the Opryland! We opted for the Magnolia pool even though it’s not as glitzy as the Cascades pool, because it’s in a courtyard and offers some good shadow coverage in the late afternoon/early evening. I did not want Andy roasting out there! Both Cascades and Magnolia have wading pools beside the main pool, so it was perfect for us. We didn’t have any swim diapers, so we coughed up the $5 for a disposable swim diaper at one of the Necessities stores inside the hotel (be prepared to pay some crazy markups for toiletries if you forget anything).
We also got to enjoy quite a few things in the Delta section, including the 15-minute narrated riverboats tour ($9.50 if you’re staying at the hotel, $10.50 if you’re not) and part of the fountain show, which happens daily on the hour between 6 and 9 pm. We even built our own burgers at Stax! Suggestion? Get the combo if you’re going alone, but know that there are enough fries to share between two people!
We really enjoyed our room, and Andy loved his little rollaway crib, so we made sure to spend some time in there as well! Remember, though, when you leave the room, to physically close the door. Unlike at most other hotels, the doors don’t always bang shut on their own, and I stumbled upon quite a few unsecured rooms. Better safe than sorry! (And speaking of safe, there’s a safe in the room, so use it!)
Last but not least, if you want to head beyond the hotel, options abound. There are free shuttles to the Inn at Opryland, Opry Mills, and the Grand Ole Opry (all of which are also within walking distance) and paid shuttles downtown and to the airport. Just know that it’s cheaper to take a taxi to the airport, especially if there’s more than one of you. And as for heading downtown, ask for the $25 flat rate in a taxi or take transit, like I mentioned in Part 1 of this Nashville series (The 34, which takes you downtown, also takes you past Kroger supermarket, where Andy and I went to pick up a few groceries for our days there).
So that’s the Opryland in a nutshell. Good times.