Viva NashVegas: Nashville's Opryland Gardens

It's easy (and totally justified) to associate Nashville with country music, jolly folks and strong southern accents. Yet, the city definitely has some Vegas in it: the Opryland Hotel Gardens in the outskirts of town sparkle and glitter, and shine in their over-the-topness.

The Opryland Hotel Gardens encompass several indoor gardens that bring in the outdoors: cascading waterfalls, ten thousands of tropical plants, an indoor river (including river boats) and wooden walkways will make you believe that you're actually in some kind of subtropical Disneyland. And when the Christmas lights are switched on between November 15 and January 1, it really feels as if Avatar's Pandora has just descended upon earth – in Nashville, to be precise.

Christmas at Opryland's Hotel Gardens ©Maaike
I guess this is the place where a lot of proposals have been made... ©Maaike
The Shining-esque hallways ©Maaike
But there's more. Apart from the lush gardens, the Opry Hotel hosts six enormous ballrooms that are worth exploring. If there are no events going on during your visit, just try and open one of the doors – with a little bit of luck, you might be able to get in and have the whole ballroom to yourself  (don't tell anyone!). Just to keep the film analogies going: ever seen The Shining? Well, picture these very same long corridors, candelabras and big paintings, and you will have some idea of what the hotel looks like. If this image nonetheless instills some fear in you: let me reassure you that there won't be any Jack Nicholsons attempting to kill you with an axe.

The indoor river ©Maaike
The Opryland Gardens in winter time ©Maaike
A guitar-playing zebra wearing saint-like clothes floating down on a parachute ©Maaike
The Opry Hotel and Gardens will leave you awestruck, simply because of their sheer size and grandeur. It would be a shame to skip this sight when you're touring Nashville, so hop on a bus that leaves from downtown and you'll be in Nashvegas a mere half an hour later. Viva Nashvegas!

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