The first time I was in Nashville was about a million years ago when my high school music department went 'on tour' to Music City. It was my senior year, I think, and I remember parts of that trip very well. There was the tour of The Ryman Auditorium, the walk up and down Music Row, time spent on Broadway, a really cool private outing on The General Jackson riverboat, and a visit to The Bluebird Café. What I remember most, however, is probably the fun day spent at the giant theme park just outside of town. I'm not even sure now, but I think it was called Opryland. It was just a great day spent with my classmates riding rides and eating junk food. A very cool place that is there no longer.
When I moved to Nashville years later and found out that the theme park had been removed so a shopping mall and hotel could take its place, I was appalled. How could they take away that place where so many happy memories had been created just to stick in a Bass Pro Shop and some hotel rooms?! Well, I'm still sad that they took away the theme park, but I have to admit, what took its place is rather impressive, indeed.
Opry Mills is the shopping portion of the property. It's a giant mall, filled with lots of stores and places to eat and little kiosks and all of the other mall 'isms' that have to exist as such places. One thing that makes Opry Mills unique, I will say, is that there are no anchor stores. Rather, it's just lots of stores doing their thing and competing for our discretionary dollars. A decent mall, a large mall, but at the end of the day...still just a mall.
Opryland, however, is NOT just a hotel. If you've not been, make sure you check it out while you're in Music City. It is a massive and sprawling complex that really is difficult to describe to folks who haven't seen it for themselves. It is self-contained, and within its walls are four separate sections of the hotel/resort, all connected by beautiful paths and walkways that make you feel as though you're in a tropical forest. There's an indoor boat ride that takes you around parts of the complex, and a host of restaurants, bars, and shops to occupy your time and money. It's always beautiful at night, as they have so many fun lights that make the entire complex come to life after dark. However, it's during the holiday season that Opryland really shines. The whole place is filled with quirky décor, and the way they have the pathways and giant atriums lit during December is really something to see. Many people from the region come each year just to have a look. I hope you'll spend some time there the next time you're in Nashville!