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A Vacation for the Whole Family (Yes, Really)

The Gaylord Opryland has kicked off its ‘Summer of More,’ and it’s worth ‘checking in’ to (see what we did there)

They often say once you have kids, and you travel with said kids, ‘vacations’ are no longer ‘vacations.’ They’re demoted to ‘trips’ now. Or ‘business trips’ for the cynical ones. I’ve even heard them referred to as just ‘parenting at a different location.’ While family vacations aren’t easy, they don’t have to be re-branded in such bleak terms. It is possible to still have a ‘vacation,’ so long as the destination strikes a harmonious balance between the desires of the parents and the children alike.

Nestled in the heart of Nashville, Gaylord Opryland is one such contender for satisfying the needs of the entire family. First, let’s start with the litany of family fun planned at the Gaylord this season. On May 19th, the resort kicked off its Summer of More festivities (which will continue through September 4th); it’s an itinerary busting at the seams with activities and entertainment, sure to excite (and maybe even tire out) your little ones.

First up are the fantasy-filled experiences to ignite and stimulate your mini’s creativity. There are seasonally inspired crafts to be made at the Adventure Kid’s Clubhouse. There are also live, interactive shows with fun characters such as Bella the Blue Tick Hound, Brody, the Black Bear, and Sophie, everybody’s favorite Adventure Kid, to help your littles discover the wonders of summer. For something to satisfy your budding investigator, the Gaylord hosts a Pirate Treasure Hide and Sea-k Scavenger Hunt where the kids can search the resort for clues and uncover hidden gems. And to give your tykes a dose of Zen in the morning, you can tune into yoga with Sophie (the aforementioned Adventure Kid) from the comfort of your hotel room.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a summer vacation without some water fun. And it would feel a bit like buying the lede if we didn’t mention that the Gaylord has ‘SoundWaves,’ a four-acre water attraction that the resort calls, “over-the-top fun.” SoundWaves features both an indoor and outdoor area with rides, waterslides, a wave pool, both a rapid and lazy river and multi-level play structures. In addition to the plethora of water options, there’s also an arcade (replete with virtual reality games), a rock-climbing wall, and game tables. You’d be hard-pressed to find a type of entertainment that isn’t available here. 

And if you’re searching for activities for the kids that are as fun as they are edifying, Gaylord hosts Animal Encounters, which the resort describes as, “an educational opportunity where guests can have close-up encounters with incredible creatures.” There’s also Wildlife Rescue which is, “an augmented reality experience presented by Bubly to virtually search the resort for endangered animals.”

Now perk up, weary parents, lest you think we’ve forgotten about you. There are plenty of amenities here for you, too. The Gaylord is the home of Relâche, an upscale spa with seasonal specials, such as the Father’s Rejuvenate and Recover package with vanilla bourbon body, face, or nail treatment (available for the entire month of June). And from July 1st through August 31st, Relâche has the Summer of Spa Love package, in which guests are treated to luxurious mojito-infused treatments.

After achieving full relaxation at Relâche, culinary discovery is only a few steps away. The atriums of the Gaylord (which span over nine acres) are lined with a wide variety of dining options – from authentic Italian cuisine at Ravello, gourmet steaks and fine wine at Old Hickory Steakhouse, Mexican fare and signature margaritas at Solario Cantina, fresh sushi, and cocktails at Cascades American Café. 

Additional attractions offer fun for the whole family; there’s the General Jackson Showboat cruise (offered midday and evening) which includes first-class entertainment, gourmet meals, and unbeatable views of Nashville. And last but not least, the Gaylord Spring Golf Links is a Scottish-links style, par-72 layout with 18 holes, surrounded by beautiful limestone bluffs and wetlands, where junior golfers (15 and under) are permitted to play one free round for each adult paid after 3 PM.

In all of this talk about the activities and attractions of the Gaylord, it’s easy to miss that the resort itself is a site to take in. The atriums are brimming with gardens, plants, flowers, and waterfalls. You might even call it relaxing. And with your kids’ hearts filled with summer memories made, and your body and mind at ease from a restorative day at the spa, topped with a gourmet meal, you might even feel like you’re on vacation. opryland.com

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