The South's Best Resort 2017: Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center
With its elegant chandeliers, a grand staircase seemingly out of Gone with the Wind, and nine acres of lush, tropical indoor gardens, the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville has been wowing guests for 40 years. And now, with a $90 million luxury indoor/outdoor water park set to open adjacent to the resort in the fall of 2018, even guests who have visited multiple times have reason to book yet another trip.
Not surprising, visitors who plan a weekend getaway have always wished they could stay for weeks. And why not? With its nearly 20 restaurants and bars (Jack Daniel's serves killer barbecue and whiskey, of course), the largest spa in Tennessee, and entertainment that ranges from live music to a quarter-mile indoor river ride, the four-star resort is its own little world.
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Of course, you're only minutes from the Grand Ole Opry, the longest-running radio show in the nation, which takes place live on stage each weekend at the Opry House. Want to see more of Music City? Step right outside to take a Cumberland River cruise on one of the few operating steamboats in the U.S., the General Jackson Showboat, which offers breathtaking views of downtown Nashville.
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The original part of the hotel, the Magnolia section, was constructed in 1977 to support the Opryland theme park, where Opry Mills now stands. The city had never seen a hotel like it. As ownership changed through the years and the hotel grew with three more sections—the Garden Conservatory, the Cascades, and the Delta, totaling 2,888 rooms, and the smaller (303 rooms) Inn at Opryland across the street—the property welcomed guests from all over the country for relaxation, adventure, and seasonal celebrations such as the family-friendly Summerfest.
Christmastime is magical at the resort, where you can admire the 15,000 poinsettias, the 48-foot decorated tree, and the larger-than-life ice sculptures. Or you can ride a romantic horse-drawn carriage around the property to view the more than two million lights, and even pop the question as part of the hotel's proposal package.
But romance abounds all year round. From the walk behind the Cascades atrium waterfalls to the bench in the Garden Conservatory, there are a myriad places to hide away and steal a kiss. Reservations, anyone?