Cedar Creek (Nashville), TN – Events of Wednesday, June 26, 2014
During our visit to Nashville in 2012, we went to the Ryman Auditorium and learned about the history of the Grand Ole Opry. Click here to read about our visit to the Ryman. By the late 1960s, the Grand Ole Opry had outgrown its home in the Ryman Auditorium, and the promoters were looking for a new, more modern, larger venue for the stage and radio show. In 1974, a new Grand Ole Opry House was opened about 9 miles east of downtown Nashville.
A hotel was built on the same tract of land to support the new Opry House. The hotel, which originally had 590 guest rooms, opened in 1977. In 1984, more guest rooms and a garden conservatory containing 10,000 plants were added. In the following years, the number of guest rooms was increased and so was the size of the conservatory. Today, the Gaylord Opryland Hotel has 2,881 guest rooms and suites, 9 acres of indoor garden space, and 600,000 square feet of meeting, conference and exhibit space.
It’s not often a hotel becomes a tourist attraction, but this one has. Visitors can roam the gardens, watch water fountain shows and even take cruises on the Delta flat-bottom riverboats. Although admission to the conservatory is free, we found out when we tried to visit there when we were in Nashville last year there is a charge of $21 to park. We decided to pass. We think nothing of paying $10 to $15 a person to see a botanical garden, but somehow we balked at having to pay to park.
We decided to bite the bullet this year and pay the parking fee so we could see the conservatory. That is, we decided we were willing to pay to park until Margery found a website called Nashville Fun for Families.com. The website tells how you can park for free at Opry Mills Mall next door to the hotel and walk to a side entrance of the hotel. We decided to give it a try.
On Wednesday morning, we headed to the Opry Mills Mall. We drove past the movie theater to far northern end of the mall parking lot. Sure enough, there were several dozen other cars parked there, and there was a walkway to the left of the Gaylord Event Center just like the Nashville Fun website described.
We followed the walkway past the front of the Event Center, went under the green canopy, and ended up at the Delta entrance of the hotel. See the link to Nashville Fun for Families above for more detailed information on how to get from the mall to the hotel.