The Gaylord Opryland Resort‎

As rewarding as parenthood can be, it does make it harder to do some things. It’s tough enough to take a trip to the grocery store with a baby, never mind that vacation to Mexico we keep talking about. My mom has always been a fan of “staycations” where they enjoy local attractions instead of traveling. The great part about these day trips is that you get to fall into your own bed at the end of the day, but still participate in a little tourism. Last week, we decided to give it a try, taking an afternoon jaunt out to Nashville to see what could be found close to home. Our favorite stop, without a doubt, was the Gaylord Opryland Resort‎.

A little like an old Spanish villa and a lot like a tropical vacation, the Opryland hotel is the kind of place we could spend a whole day walking around. It’s open to the public with no cost if you just want to go for a stroll, which is a great idea for the blustery, icy kind of day we went to see it.

Yes, there was ice falling when we arrived, but you’d never know it from the pictures. The comfortable, if humid temperature is just as out of place as the carefully manicured tropical plantings inside. The largest non-casino hotel in the U.S., all the sprawling gardens and fountains and waterfalls are indoors. There’s even an artificial river with tour boats to ride, if that’s your sort of thing.  Shrek’s house is nestled in there, too, though the door was locked when we visited. Ogres need their privacy too, you know?

The plantings of palm and banana trees reminded me a lot of our time in Acapulco, though a little less secluded. The resort is also a convention center, and was bustling even though we visited in the middle of the week. We ate before visiting, but a number of restaurants inside the resort made us figure we’ll save our appetites before our next visit.

A hotel isn’t usually the sort of place you’d think to put on a tourism list, but it’s a spectacle, and since they were still in the process of removing Christmas lights from the trees in mid-March, I think a winter visit will be in the cards for us in the future.

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