Winterfest at Gaylord Opryland Resort
One of our favorite annual traditions is attending Ice at Nashville's Opryland. The beautifully sculpted artisan Ice sculptures and well-thought-out holiday activities always leave us smiling and have created some of our most treasured memories to date. Due to the circumstances over the last few years, we haven't been able to attend, and I, for one, have missed it.
We were excited to kick off our new year travels with a trip to Winterfest at Gaylord Opryland and create new memories at one of our places! Winterfest is the perfect winter retreat with plenty of ways to explore winter activities.
Winter Riverboat Ride
We kicked off our stay with a Wintry Riverboat Ride through the 4.5-acre indoor garden. We learned about some of the plants and flowers and had a chance to see bananas and papayas growing. As someone that loves waterfalls, my favorite part was gliding past the falls, hearing them crash down into the river, and seeing the lights glisten shimmering off the water. The kids enjoyed getting their Jr Captain Stickers and going on an indoor boat ride.
The riverboat ride is an excellent opportunity to learn the resort's history and take everything in before jumping into other activities.
Pinetop at Gaylord Opryalnd
After our boat ride, we headed out to Pinetop for some cold-weather fun. Here you'll find a 15 foot, four-lane ice tubing hill, ice skating rink with cute helper bears for kids and adults, ice bumper cars with optional connecting seats for those unable to ride alone, fire pits to warm up and stay toasty, live music and of course, a concession stand with hot cocoa.
We spent hours racing down the tubing hill and watching the lights change. We could've spent the entire weekend playing at Pinetop, and no one would've complained.
The best part about Pinetop is that everything is adaptable for families with young kids who need more assistance. We love when our three-year-old gets to do all the activities alongside his brothers, and he likes having the safety of mom and dad as he does them.
*Pro-tip: buy a few rounds of bumper cars; it's so much fun you'll definitely want to ride again!
Winter Fountain Show
At some point, we adults were ready to call it a night, so we wrangled up our crew and headed to the Delta fountain show. Dancing water synchronized to music and lights are a winning combination and seem to fascinate kids no matter their age (ok, we love the shows too!).
The shows last about 15 minutes each and run every hour from 6 pm - 9 pm, with International shows occurring at 7 pm & 9 pm. I highly recommend making one of the international shows. This resort attraction is free and worth making time to see.
*Pro-tip: up the excitement by watching from below. Kids are sure to get a kick out of the occasional sprays of water coming their way. Or grab a pizza and watch the show while you eat upstairs.
After spending the first day outside, we decided to check out soundwaves on our second day. Soundwaves is an upscale, indoor water attraction with something for everyone. Whether you prefer laying back floating the lazy river, the thrill of speeding down water slides or looking to try surfing on the crowd surfer, you're guaranteed to have a ball! I thought it was cool that all the attractions reference music in their names; Gaylord did an incredible job honoring the music city here.
As a family always looking for an adventure, we had so much fun at the Groovin' Lagoon Activity Pool, which includes a rock wall and basketball hoops, Up Tempo Rapids River, think lazy river on steroids, and Crowd Surfer. I'm not going to lie, I completely chickened out when it came time to surf, but hubby did it and had fun. The boys and I had fun learning new boogie board skills instead.
Although we didn't get to try them out, there's an adult-only section with an infinity pool, bar and deck upstairs, and arcade downstairs at soundwaves. I plan to check out both on our next visit.
*Pro-tip: Reserve a whole day to enjoy Soundwaves
Frigid Fun Zone
Cookie decorating and winter coloring was the perfect, low-key activity to end a full day of swimming and usher our family back into the Winterfest.
More Indoor Winterfest Activities
We spent our final day exploring the remaining indoor activities. After breakfast, we went on Jack Frost's Frigid Finds Scavenger Hunt. The clues in our booklets were fun and pretty easy to find except the last one, which challenged us the most. We coupled our scavenger hunt with the Wildlife Rescue, a virtual experience that guides guests to track down endangered species. The adventure highlights indigenous animals and brings them to life before your eyes with the magic of augmented reality.
Several people stopped to ask about the Wildlife rescue as they watched us interacting with the animals right from our phones. It was a lot of fun and fascinating for the boys as we tried to find them all before leaving. Our adventure took us through the beautiful 9 acres of gardens, including more waterfalls, gazebos, and many Instagram-worthy photo ops. Naturally, this is where we chose to end our Winterfest getaway!
*Pro-tip: Pick up your scavenger hunt materials while decorating cookies in the frigid fun zone. It saves a trip, and you only have to return for your completion prize.
There are a lot of places to enjoy a meal during your visit to Winterfest. We went with a mix of sit-down and quick service meals to maximize our time and experience different food settings at Opryland.
If you only have time for one meal, opt for the breakfast buffet at Cascades Garden. The restaurant is surrounded by lush greenery and waterfalls and even allows you to eat in a "cave" if you're lucky enough to snag one. While on the higher end for breakfast, the buffet is nicely laid out with plenty of options for the whole family. As someone looking to avoid added sugars in my diet, I appreciated being able to order a custom omelet made with all my favorite vegetables. The boys loved the waffle station and seeing so many yummy breakfast offerings. It was their favorite place to eat and one we'll keep on our list for future visits.