If you have the opportunity to stay here, I would recommend it. Not for the accommodations—I have to admit that I have never seen the inside of one of the rooms—but because it is just such an amazing place.
Since we had opted for the more economical Millennium Maxwell Hotel, we decided to head to Opryland to have dinner. We happened to be at the Hermitage when we made this decision, but if you are downtown you will need to take Rte. 65 north to Briley Parkway. It is all very well-marked, so don’t worry about finding it. The actual entrance to Opryland is on McGavock Parkway and again, with all the signs and lights, it is hard to miss.
Once on the property you will need to decide very quickly through which lobby to enter. You may enter through the original lobby in the Magnolia Building—this is the one with the beautiful chandelier and the sweeping stairway—or you may opt for the equally dramatic Cascades Lobby. There are also entrances in the Delta Area and at the Convention Center. Signs will direct you to these two. You have the choice to self park for $10 or to do valet, which is also $10, but only for the first hour. More than 2 hours is $18 plus tax and tip. We chose the convenience of the valet and it worked wonderfully.
We entered through the Cascades Lobby. Stop at the concierge desk and pick up a map of the hotel interior. You are going to need it. There are three different areas to explore and this does not include the Convention Center. We began by walking into the Cascades and we took the escalator up to the garden conservatory. You may walk through on the skywalk or if you prefer you can walk at ground level. The Christmas decorations here are spectacular. Children will love it and it certainly caters to the child in all of us.
The map will help you to locate the restaurants, bars, cafés, retail stores, Delta Flatboat Experience, Magnolia Pool, Relache Spa, and the Video Arcade. Another great thing about the map is that it pinpoints all the restrooms.
From the Conservatory we walked into the Magnolia Section, which includes the original Opryland Hotel. Only about 600 of the now more than 2,800 rooms are in that original section. We choose Rachel’s to have dinner in. It is a lovely buffet restaurant with very good food and a casual and inviting atmosphere. We could have chosen an Irish pub or a sports bar, both of which were in the same area.
With dinner out of the way we headed to the Delta Section to take the flatboat. We arrived at 6pm and maybe it was just luck or maybe everyone else was at dinner, but we got to take a private trip: just Cindy, myself, and our flatboat operator. Her job is to point out all the items of interest along the way, including Louise the albino catfish and Ben and Jerry the woodland ducks. This is an interesting ride and gives you an up close look at the water features as well.
We finished up by shopping in the many upscale stores on the upper level in Delta. Whether it’s Opryland memorabilia or Jack Daniels anything, you will find it here. We spent about 3 hours there and I am sure if we hadn’t already spent a full day at other things we could have spent more.