I’ll be the first to admit, despite being an avid country music fan for my entire life, I’ve never really paid much attention to the Grand Ole Opry. I always knew that it consisted of artists who can really “sang,” but I never went out of my way to watch or listen. But since we were in Nashville, it almost seemed heretical not to visit what is widely considered the “Mecca of Country Music.” The kids, of course, we’re more excited about the next-door Opry Mills mall, so it all worked out for us to check out this famous spot.
I didn’t realize until later that the Grand Ole Opry used to have an amusement park alongside the main venue. It was removed back in 1997 and the Opry Mills mall was built and finished around 2000. As for the mall, it was definitely enjoyable. I’m not really one to consider going to the mall on vacation a truly exciting experience, but the kids wanted to go, and this particular mall did have some nifty spots to check out. Dave and Busters, Rain Forest Cafe, Bass Pro Shop, the Nashville Store (times two), and my personal favorite, Smith Creek Moonshine!
We arrived on a Friday evening to the mall, so Opry Mills was fairly busy. We entered through the Bass Pro Shop side (I always have to spend a minute in there) and continued onward. We had a bit of a family dog emergency that we had to deal with via the telephone, so that took about an hour out of our night. We wandered around the Rainforest Cafe while handling that issue, as our plan had originally been to go in there and get some dessert. We’ve been to the Rainforest Cafe in Disney Springs so many times, so we’re familiar with their menu, but they had an hour wait just to sit. Baby J had a great time checking out the store though.
After the issue with our dog back home, we needed a drink. I won’t go into the whole experience here because I’m doing a separate blog about it, but Smith Creek Moonshine was pretty neat. I’ll admit, the tastings in Gatlinburg at Ole Smoky and Sugarland’s Shine are better, but this was a fun pitstop after a bit of stress. We continued moving through the mall and found another restaurant we had wanted to try: Aquarium. The name speaks for itself, it’s a restaurant with aquariums literally everywhere. However, that night clearly wasn’t our night for new food because by the time we made it, they weren’t accepting new seating. The scenery, on the other hand, was super cool. I’m an aquarium buff, so it was neat seeing just how many tanks they had to take care of in this place.
They boys had to check out the Lego store before we left, and then we moved on to Dave & Busters. I have to take a moment to think about the mind of a child here. We literally live near almost all of these places, but when they see a new version in a new place it’s like the whole experience is brand new. Wouldn’t it be so wonderful if we all could think that way? Anyway, the kids played some games for a little bit before we moved on out to the actual Grand Ole Opry.
Now, a disclaimer. We weren’t at the Grand Ole Opry when they had a show. We knew this in advance, and we just wanted to check out the area and say we went. That being said, the area just outside the Grand Ole Opry is beautiful near sunset. They have the overhead lights running through the gardens, the guitars and statues are lightly reflecting the sun, and the actual building sits in a quiet opposition to the normal hootenanny that’s going on. It’s weirdly peaceful.
Probably the nearest aspect of being around the Grand Ole Opry is the fact that you can almost hear some of those classic country singers jamming out just because of the presence the place has. Don’t get me wrong, the building itself is nothing extraordinary, but the history seeps out. It almost felt like we were walking around a closed amusement park, where you can just imagine hours earlier everyone running around having a great time.
Needless to say, our trip to Opry Mills and Grand Ole Opry was a success. It was really fun for all of us, Baby J included. Even though we didn’t see a show or eat at the restaurants we wanted, it was still a great time. Definitely go and check the place out when you’re in Nashville, it’s worth it.