Catch a Show (or Take a Tour) at the Grand Ole Opry
This year, the Grand Ole Opry celebrates its 90th anniversary. This legendary music venue began as a popular radio broadcast in 1925; as its popularity grew, the show began to stage live broadcasts at the Ryman Auditorium in 1943. In 1974, the Opry received its own location in Opryland, where it has been ‘dedicated to honoring country music’s rich history and dynamic present’ and ‘showcasing a mix of country legends and the contemporary chart-toppers who have followed in their footsteps’ since. Check out the venue’s impressive roster of upcoming shows or take a backstage tour to get a unique, in-depth look at the very halls through which innumerable legendary artists have walked. (Tip: if you’re staying at the Opryland hotel, you can take a shuttle to and from the venue.)
Spend a Night at the Opryland Hotel
Marriott’s Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center is not only the largest hotel in Nashville, but is also one of the largest hotels in the U.S. This is a far cry from your average hotel; the Opryland consists of seven floors, over 2,800 rooms and nine acres of indoor gardens (not to mention a number of amenities, including both indoor and outdoor pools, multiple restaurants and its own golf course). A stay at the Opryland hotel is the ultimate getaway. Note: you don’t have to spend the night at the hotel to take advantage of many of the attractions on this list. Visitors are welcome to wander through the hotel and spend a few hours marveling at all that it has to offer!
Visit a Towering Waterfall
At the Opryland hotel, waterfalls are not an exclusively outdoor phenomenon. In fact, right inside the hotel at the Cascades Atrium, you will find a 44-foot tall waterfall that will make you wonder why you ever considered hiking over hills to find an outdoor cascade. Spend a few moments (or hours) marveling at this truly unique indoor attraction.
Take a Riverboat Tour on the Delta River
Not only does the Opryland boast an indoor waterfall, but it is also home to a quarter mile long river that is made of samples from nearly 1,700 rivers around the world. Check out this indoor river, located in Opryland hotel’s Delta Atrium, by climbing aboard one of the Mississippi-style flatboats and taking a short tour. Not only will you learn all about the history of the Opryland resort, but you’ll be guaranteed an afternoon of relaxation unlike any other.
Browse the Shops (or Watch a Film) at Opry Mills
Roughly half a mile away from the Opryland resort rests the largest outlet mall in the Tennessee area: Opry Mills. This massive indoor shopping mall, located on the grounds of what was once the Opryland USA amusement park, boasts over 200 different stores, an impressive food court and a Regal IMAX movie theater. Opry Mills has something to offer everyone — whether you’re a local on a shopping mission or a visitor in need of a budget-friendly afternoon of diversion.
Watch a Fountain Show
Every night at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. in the Delta Atrium at the Opryland Hotel, the lights dim and something truly unique unfolds: a water fountain show unlike any other. Stop by to see firsthand this awe-inspiring movement of water and light, choreographed to music with flawless precision.
Watch a Live Broadcast of the Midnite Jamboree
The second-longest running broadcast in history is the Ernest Tubb Midnite Jamboree hosted at the Texas Troubadour Theater. If you happen to find yourself in Music Valley at 10 p.m. on a Saturday, you can be a part of the live audience. Attending the live tapings — and watching history unfold before you — is free of cost and well worth the late night start time. Be sure to check out the website for the list of artists scheduled to perform each week.
Charlie Worsham and Hunter Hayes perform at the Midnite Jamboree on June 11, 2016.
Take a Ride on the General Jackson Showboat
Float along Nashville’s breathtaking Cumberland River aboard the General Jackson Showboat, a massive four-deck cruise ship that boasts a two-story theater. The cost of a meal and an unforgettable country music show is free for Opryland Resort guests, and a shuttle will even take care of transportation to and from General Jackson. Check out their website for a specific list of showtimes.
Learn How to Line Dance at Wildhorse Saloon
Although Wildhorse Saloon is not technically part of Opryland/Music Valley, this is a unique Nashville experience for visitors and locals alike. Shuttles from the Opryland resort operate daily to and from Wildhorse, where guests are treated to a meal of authentic Southern food before a complimentary line dancing lesson.
Visit the Willie Nelson And Friends Museum and General Store
Right across the street from Opryland sits Nashville’s largest (and perhaps most interesting) souvenir store. Doubling as a museum, Willie Nelson and Friends is devoted to honoring the legacy of the great country artist (you guessed it!) Willie Nelson, along with the friends who helped this mega-star turn country music into what we know it as today. Take a tour through the museum or browse the enormous selection of Willie Nelson, Nashville and country-music souvenirs in the general store.
By Katie Miller