Downtown Nashville vs. Opryland: Which is the Better Place to Stay?

Choosing between Downtown Nashville or Opryland depends on your interests. Opryland has a great hotel and a huge mall close to the Grand Ole Opry. Downtown offers history, museums, bars, the Ryman Auditorium, and Bicentennial Mall. First, decide what you want to do, which should guide you where to stay.

Suppose you're interested in exploring Nashville's famous nightlife, like Roberts Western World or Tootsies Orchid Lounge on Honky Tonk Highway, or visiting the Ryman Auditorium or one of the many museums. In that case, you're better off staying downtown, where it's a short drive or a walk to all these destinations.

What is Downtown Nashville Like?

Staying in downtown Nashville places you within walking distance or a short drive from iconic landmarks such as the Ryman Auditorium, the original home of the Grand Ole Opry, and the Musicians Hall of Fame. The area is also famous for its vibrant honky-tonk bars and bustling live music venues that line the streets, providing endless entertainment options.

While downtown Nashville is the epicenter of excitement, it's important to note that it can also be quite rowdy and noisy. This part of the city is a magnet for tourists and is particularly popular for drinking, partying, and hosting bachelorette parties, which contributes to its lively atmosphere.

However, if you prefer a quieter stay while still having easy access to the main attractions, consider areas like the Gulch, Midtown, or the Vanderbilt neighborhood. These areas offer a more relaxed vibe but are still conveniently located close to downtown's hustle and bustle. Additionally, if you're interested in visiting the Opryland and the Grand Ole Opry, they are only a 20-minute drive from these quieter neighborhoods, making them an excellent choice for accommodation.

Opryland Hotel

What is Opryland Like?

Opryland, located about a 20-minute drive from downtown Nashville, offers a distinct and immersive experience. Walking from Opryland to downtown isn't practical, as it would take approximately four hours. However, the Opryland area itself is rich with attractions, featuring acres of indoor gardens, pathways, waterfalls, and extensive dining and shopping options, making it a hub of activity.

The Opryland Hotel, adjacent to the Grand Ole Opry, is a vast complex with its own southern village and a neighboring mall, providing a self-contained experience. This makes it an ideal choice if your primary reason for visiting Nashville is the Grand Ole Opry or if you're attending a conference. Throughout the year, Opryland hosts various events, enhancing its appeal as a standalone destination.

A key highlight is the hotel's spectacular Christmas decorations, including events, lights, and shows, making it a magical time to visit. Although the area is somewhat isolated without a car and surrounded by chain restaurants catering mainly to tourists, it remains a convenient and appealing option for those attending nearby events.

If your interests lie in experiencing live music, nightlife, and the vibrant downtown atmosphere of Nashville, staying downtown is advisable, as Opryland is just a short drive away. Conversely, for families seeking a quieter stay with easy access to the Grand Ole Opry and family-friendly activities, Opryland is an excellent choice. It provides a more relaxed setting while still being close enough to downtown Nashville to enjoy its many attractions.

Is Opryland Open to the Public?

Opryland is open to the public, and visitors can enjoy its many amenities, shops, and restaurants. In addition, the resort offers complimentary parking vouchers to those who dine at its restaurants, making it convenient for guests to explore all Opryland offers. 

The nine-acre resort also features Soundwaves, an upscale water attraction open to non-hotel guests.


Is Opryland the same as Music Row?

No, Music Row is the historic district and home to major record labels and recording studios. Music Row is just a 10-minute drive from downtown Nashville and is still the beating heart of the business side of music in Nashville. Opryland is a hotel and resort near the Grand Ole Opry, the famous country music venue.

Can you Walk Around Opryland for Free?

There is no admission fee to enter Opryland. However, access to some of its attractions, such as the water park, requires you to purchase a ticket. Visitors can walk around Opryland's indoor gardens and public areas for free; this includes the Delta Atrium, the Garden Conservatory, the Cascades Atrium, and the indoor river that runs through the hotel.

Does Opryland Validate Parking?

If you eat at one of the restaurants at Opryland, remember to ask your server for parking validation. A well-kept secret is that you can get free parking if you eat at the resort. Otherwise, you'll be required to pay a $33 parking fee.

Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center

Gaylord Opryland Resort

The resort has a glass atrium and is has 9 acres of indoor gardens, winding rivers, and beautiful waterfalls. You'll be just a short distance from the Grand Ole Opry when you stay here. With 15 restaurants, 4 bars, and a variety of retail stores, there are plenty of options for dining and shopping. The rooms are comfortable and come with a compact refrigerator and interior balconies for your convenience.

Top Downtown Hotel Recommendations

Holiday Inn Express Downtown

Holiday Inn Express Downtown

The Holiday Inn Express is a more cost effective option, starting at around $149 per night. The hotel is surrounded by all the major Nashville attractions like the Country Music Hall of Fame. The Hard Rock Café, the State Capital and other landmarks are just steps away from its front doors.

Cambria Hotel Nashville Downtown

Cambira Hotel Nashville

Located close to the Ryman Auditorium, Johnny Cash Museum, Musicians Hall of Fame. The Nashville Airport is only 10-20 mins away.

They have a terrace, private parking, a restaurant, and a bar. There's a 24-hour front desk and an ATM available, as well as free WiFi throughout the entire hotel. They also have an outdoor swimming pool, fitness center, evening entertainment, and shared lounge area.

Comfort Inn Downtown Nashville

Comfort Inn Nashville

Close to Vanderbilt University and 1.2 nukes from Downtown Nashville. The Grand Ole Opry is a 15 minute drive away. Included is an outdoor pool, breakfast, and WIFI.

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