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I’ll be honest, the older I get, the harder it is to celebrate myself. The one question I dread from my family, especially on Mother’s Day or my birthday, is “What do you want to do?”. But this year was simple: I wanted to celebrate my birthday at Opryland SummerFest 2017!
You already know Gaylord Opryland Resort is like our home away from home here in Nashville; it’s somewhere we can staycation yet truly escape in our own city. (And did you know Opryland was recently named best resort in the South by the readers of Southern Living?)
Even if you’ve visited Opryland before, you NEED to find your way back before September 10th because its nine acres of indoor gardens have been transformed into a kaleidoscope of colors with experiences inspired by Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking-Glass”.
The resort’s annual SummerFest celebration, supported by Pepsi®, invites guests to step into the curious wonderland Alice encounters after falling through an enchanted rabbit hole.
We were able to test our skills in the “Follow the White Rabbit” Scavenger Hunt through the resort and board the Delta Riverboats for some nonsensical magic on Hatter’s Floating Tea Party Cruise along a ¼-mile- long indoor river. (The ‘regular’ riverboat ride runs in the morning and then at 3pm it turns into the tea party version, complete with free sweet tea for your journey).
You can watch our water journey through Wonderland in real time here:
As visitors wander into Wonderland, they will be lured into Carroll’s original storybook with the Queen of Arts Tour, featuring works by local artists. Adding to the magic inside, visitors will find strolling entertainers including Alice herself and other characters from the story.
While you’ll find themed aspects throughout the resort, we’ve come to love staying in the Delta Atrium. Not only do we feel like we’re right in the middle of the action at Opryland, but we’re also within an even closer walking distance to the Grand Ole Opry and Opry Mills (more on how we maximize that below). We stayed in one of the newly remodeled Delta Atrium rooms and we’re giving you a sneak peak here:
And I cannot stress this enough: get a room with an atrium view. Even with all the activities offered at Gaylord Opryland Resort, especially during SummerFest, my favorite thing to do is to wake up early before everyone else in my family and sit out on our balcony to have my quiet time. It’s also my favorite way to unwind at the end of the night – watching the people, lights and sights come alive – before going to bed.
We’ve only been at @gaylordoprylandresort for a few hours & already having a ton of fun at the splash party. . Next on the agenda, early birthday dinner ?. . . . #opryland #summerfun #familytravel #travelblogger #nashvilleblogger #tmom #igtraveller #nashville #deltaatrium #atriumview #roomwithaview #hosted
Guided hotel and garden tours also let guests further explore the resort’s indoor gardens, which are decked out with giant mushrooms, caterpillars, teacups and whimsical décor. Adults 21 and up can add a wine flight, starting with whites and moving to reds, along the tour.
For younger visitors, the “Eat Me, Drink Me” Junior Chefs Camp lets aspiring culinarians learn from the hotel’s award-winning chefs and even get their own kid-sized chef hat and apron to take home. Keep in mind, these chef camp experiences happen less frequently throughout the week, so you’ll want to schedule your other activities around this if it’s something you want to take advantage of during your SummerFest stay.
Additional activities include free nightly fountain shows, family-friendly films every night and the Aquafina® Splash Party—a poolside experience with music, food, drinks and lawn games. We made sure to arrive early on Sunday afternoon specifically to take advantage of the Splash Party with the live DJ and it did not disappoint – there was fun for the entire family…and I even got a birthday shoutout from the mic 😉
Guests can also make their very own furry friend at the resort’s Build-A- Bear Workshop® experience, which would have been extremely exciting for my kids just a few years ago, but as teens/tweens, they really just wanted to spend all their extra time at the Splash Party.
At Relâche Spa, resort guests can have their fingers and “toeses” painted red with the Queen of Hearts Roses Red Manicure/Pedicure and other Alice-inspired treatments. Kids can get wild and wacky with Mad Hatter Hair Color (washable, of course!) and Cheshire Cat face painting.
One thing I love about being a Nashville local and visiting Relâche Spa is you get free valet parking and get to spend the entire day enjoying the spa facilities and the pool, even if you just get a manicure or a pedicure!
And don’t forget that just steps from Gaylord Opryland, guests can take in the wonder of country music’s most famous show—the Grand Ole Opry, as well as the General Jackson Showboat, one of the largest showboats in the U.S., and Opry Mills—Tennessee’s largest shopping destination.
One way we save money on food while staying at Opryland is by getting Starbucks for breakfast from Opry Mills, eating at a ‘counter service’ restaurant for lunch (Stax is our family’s favorite, conveniently located within the Delta Atrium) and then enjoy a leisurely dinner at one of the many delicious sit-down restaurants within the resort.
For my birthday, we were treated to dinner at Cascades, which was absolutely delicious and perfect for our family because one side of the menu features American cuisine while the other side features Japanese cuisine from Wasabi’s. That means my son can get all his favorite foods in one meal, including miso soup and edamame for an appetizer and a bacon cheeseburger with fries for his main course.
But make sure to leave room for dessert because the Warm Skillet Brownie Sundae is unlike anything your taste buds have ever experienced, including candied walnuts and salted caramel. They will bring enough spoons to share with the whole table, but you may not want to…
I never know how to respond to the question, “What do you want to do on your birthday?”. . This year, the perfect solution was presented to me: a #staycation at #Opryland during their #Summerfest. . Following dancing & playing poolside during the @aquafina #SplashParty, we took a ride on Hatter’s Floating Tea Party Cruise, then capped off our night with a family birthday dinner at #Cascades. . My favorites were the crab bisque, vegetable tempura & this delicious dessert, the warm skillet brownie sundae wth candied walnuts & fresh bananas. . Confession: my son got the Cascades burger made with Wagu beef and I couldn’t stop eating his leftovers! . What a great night at this home away from home in #Nashville. Thank you for your hospitality, @gaylordoprylandresort! . . #nashvilleblogger #birthdaygirl #hosted #familytravel #travelblogger #igfood #igtraveller #birthdaydinner #visitmusiccity #visitnashville #summerfest
Believe it or not, we did everything above in just about 24 hours: we checked in Sunday afternoon and checked out Monday (though we stayed at Opryland and Opry Mills through Monday evening). As you can see, you don’t even need to dedicate an entire weekend to your Opryland vacation to have fun, though more time is always a bonus.
Packages and information are available at GaylordOpryland.com/SummerFest or 1-615-889-1000.
Did you hear the news? They also just announced the lineup for this year’s A Country Christmas. Watch my live report here.
Disclosure: Gaylord Opryland Resort hosted my family during our recent stay. All ideas, suggestions and thoughts I shared are my own in hopes that it will help you in your future vacation planning because we love visiting the resort so much!