As much as my family and I love Indiana, sometimes it’s nice to cross state lines and take a short weekend vacation to another state. One place that has been on our summertime bucket list is the Gaylord Opryland Resort in Nashville, Tenn. A five-hour drive from Indianapolis, traveling to the Gaylord Opryland is what I like to call a “two tank” trip (one tank to get there, and one tank to get back). Five hours was the farthest we have ever traveled by car as a family, and I was wondering how long we would make it before we’d have to pull over, but it turned out that driving to Nashville was a totally doable drive for my 3- and 6-year-old sons.
We could tell that our drive was worth it as soon as we stepped into the Gaylord Opryland. Entering it is like stepping into a magnificent greenhouse. Everywhere you look, there are plants, flowers, and lush greenery. It is truly a plant lover’s dream hotel. Being a plant-lover myself, and a hobby photographer, I couldn’t wait to just walk around and snap photos of all the loveliness around me.
But, first things first. We needed to unload all our bags and luggage in our room. Like most kids, our boys love staying at hotels: they love opening and closing the mini refrigerator multiple times, they love turning all the different lights in the room on and off, they love peering out the window and seeing the people and cars below, and they love that they can watch the TV from pretty much any place in the room. (Our TV also allowed us to connect to our Netflix account, which came in handy!) We probably could have stayed in our room for the rest of the day if it was up to our kids, but we knew there was a lot more of the hotel to see.
The Gaylord Opryland is one of the 30 largest hotels in the world, and it is the largest non-gaming hotel in the United States. As soon as you start walking around the resort, you’ll believe it. (My pedometer believes it too — I racked up a lot of steps during my visit!) This hotel is huge! There are five different areas in the hotel, and in each, you will find restaurants, coffee shops, bakeries, mini-marts and more. There are more than 20 different restaurants inside the hotel! On our first night, we ate burgers and fries overlooking a huge indoor waterfall. The next night, we ate frozen yogurt on benches in a flowering gazebo. Being at the Gaylord Opryland is almost like being in a small, indoor city. There is so much to do, see, eat and enjoy in the hotel.
One of our favorite things to do during our visit was to hit up the pools. The Gaylord Opryland has three pools: two outdoor and one indoor. One of the outdoor pools that we swam in was only two feet deep, which was perfect for my two boys who don’t yet know how to swim, but love the water and wanted to splash. The day we visited the pool, there was a DJ spinning tunes, and it was nice to relax at the pool in such a fun, summery atmosphere.
Some of the most fun that we had was just walking around and looking at the botanical paradise around us. The Gaylord Opryland has more than 50,000 tropical plants living inside the resort — everything from orchids to ferns to fiddle leaf fig trees. Not to mention, there were actual waterfalls inside the hotel! If you love listening to the sound of water, book a room in the Cascade Atrium, which is right near the waterfalls. The sound of rushing water is sure to lull you sleep.
Speaking of water: Where there is a waterfall, there has to be a river, right? The Gaylord Opryland has a quarter-mile river flowing through it, as well as boat rides that you can take that will take you on a tour of the hotel’s 4.5-acre garden.
In late 2018, the Gaylord Opryland will be finished with the newest addition to their resort: SoundWaves, a four-acre, three-level luxury indoor/outdoor waterpark, with dedicated zones for adults, young children, and families. You can be that we are definitely looking forward to coming back!
More Info: Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center is a hotel and convention center located in Nashville, Tennessee. It is owned by Gaylord Hotels, a division of Ryman Hospitality Properties, and operated by Marriott International. With 2881 rooms, it is one of the 30 largest hotels in the world.
Nicole Sipe is a freelance writer and editor in Indianapolis. A Southern California native, she enjoys exploring Indy with her husband and two sons.