Nashville - Should We Stay Downtown?
October 15, 2013 11:52 AM   Subscribe

Should we stay at Opryland during this conference, or should we stay downtown and commute?

I am going to a conference at the Gaylord Opryland Resort, and will be bringing a plus one who isn't attending (but will be remote-working some of the time). Looking at previous askmes, it seems like there isn't much to do around Opryland besides a mall. We are not fans of malls.

But we ARE fans of music and art and cocktails and walkable cities. Should we get a hotel downtown and pony up the money to get a car to get me to the conference each day? Is there a more fun/easy neighborhood near downtown we should stay in? Will the traffic or other considerations make one area/hotel better than another? Or is the Opryland Resort so much nicer than I think that we should stay there?
posted by ldthomps to Travel & Transportation (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The Opryland hotel is huge and has some neat atriums and stuff, but isn't cool enough for multiple days of amusement. The mall next door is an outlet mall, and has a lot of stuff, but I don't find it that entertaining. For the sake of the person who isn't attending the conference, I'd recommend staying downtown or thereabouts. My favorite places to stay in Nashville are The Hermitage, The Hutton and the Hilton. The Omni just opened and is probably nice, but I haven't stayed there so I can't vouch for it. The Hutton isn't smack dab in the middle of downtown, but it's not too far, and it's within walking distance of a lot of good places to eat and drink. The other two are actually in downtown. The Hermitage has much more character, and is my favorite, but the Hilton will be cheaper.
posted by primethyme at 11:59 AM on October 15, 2013 [4 favorites]

I stayed at a timeshare resort that's across the street from Opryland about 2 years ago. I found it really boring. We spent a lot of time driving back and forth between our hotel and downtown. Given what you've said about your interests, I think it would be worth it to spring for the car and stay downtown. The downside for you will be that you won't have a place to take a break during the day while you are at the conference.
posted by OrangeDisk at 12:06 PM on October 15, 2013

Downtown. Having been there several times for conferences, as primethyme says, once the novelty of the Opryland wears off, it wears off (it's like a giant cruise ship beached itself in the outskirts of Memphis in the middle of nowhere). Indeed, aside from the outlet mall and the nearby Waffle House there is basically.... nothing.

And most of the downtown places have good transportation options to get you back to the Opryland.

So stay downtown.
posted by kaszeta at 12:24 PM on October 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

The Opryland area sucks unless you like huge malls and chain stores and don't want to do anything else. It's not near any of the things that are interesting about Nashville except for possibly Andrew Jackson's house, The Hermitage (not to be confused with the Hermitage hotel, mentioned above).
posted by ghharr at 12:34 PM on October 15, 2013

What if you stayed a hotel near the airport and caught a shuttle to your respective destinations? I'd have to do some research to see what hotels offer that (typing on phone right now), but surely such a thing exists.

If that's not an option, then choose downtown. More options overall --- dining at night, stuff during the day, etc. Shouldn't be a big deal to rent a car and drive.
posted by mrfuga0 at 12:53 PM on October 15, 2013

One thing to do out at Opryland is, of course, see the Grande Ole Opry. Which I actually highly recommend if you have time.
posted by primethyme at 1:00 PM on October 15, 2013 [3 favorites]

There's apparently bus service (scroll down to route 34) from downtown to the Grande Ole Opry. I've never taken the bus in Nashville so it may not be terribly convenient, though certainly it will be cheaper than renting a car. You won't need a car if you just stay in downtown. There are free shuttle bus routes that go to or get near most everywhere and downtown Nashville just isn't that big. You can easily walk the width from the river to Vanderbilt if you wanted to go out there for a restaurant or the Parthenon or something. Maybe the right hotel would have shuttles to farther away places like The Hermitage or the Belle Meade plantation.
posted by sevenless at 1:17 PM on October 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

The Opryland sucks so much it is indescribable how much it sucks. And that's from someone who was attending. OTOH I stayed in downtown Nashville the subsequent year (the conference moved) and it was delightful.
posted by bq at 1:27 PM on October 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yeah, the bus system in Nashville totally sucks. I wouldn't count on them. If you can afford a car, just do that. Downtown is nice but you'll also probably want to go to East Nashville and maybe even out to The Loveless for breakfast or something.

Go to the main library, it's beautiful and there is usually some good art to see there. Also, if you can catch a show at the Ryman, it's a great place to see some music. Have fun!
posted by dawkins_7 at 2:41 PM on October 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

Nashville native here. I strongly recommend the Parthenon at Centennial Park and The Station Inn.

And yeah, stay downtown.
posted by michellenoel at 3:49 PM on October 15, 2013 [2 favorites]

I attended a conference there recently and was thankful to have stayed downtown because it was very walkable.
Also, I had the pleasure of eating at Etch and it was fantastic.
posted by Dr. Zira at 4:06 PM on October 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

Former Nashvillian - downtown without question. Downtown has great music, the Country Music Hall of Fame and lots of people watching.
posted by 26.2 at 4:37 PM on October 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

Nashville native echoing stay downtown. Opryland hotel isn't near anything interesting.

Also, I hate the Gaylord corporation for tearing down the Opryland theme park, site of many fond memories, and building a mall in its place. A mall.
posted by Fleebnork at 4:57 PM on October 15, 2013 [4 favorites]

Another +1 for staying downtown. As an out-of-towner myself who travels there frequently for business, I would say Nashville is one of the more drivable cities that also has a walkable downtown. You won't have much trouble driving around and parking downtown for the night (although it won't be free) and then driving out during the day for the conference. I am usually able to rent a car for ~$25/day through Priceline, but if work is paying, then I would recommend paying a little more and renting from anywhere but Hertz - more than once they haven't had a car ready for me (or the 20 other people ahead of me in line at BNA).

I would recommend against staying anywhere near the airport. I work in the airport area. There is absolutely nothing to do anywhere near the airport, no walkability, etc. I have stayed at 6 of the Nashville airport hotels and none of them wins a prize.... I have actually considered staying in the Opryland area to keep me closer to work than downtown would be but away from the airport area.
posted by Tandem Affinity at 7:32 PM on October 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

As another Nashville native and as someone who used to work at the (Gaylord) Opryland Hotel (Resort Convention Center Etc) I will add to the "downtown" pile. It's a nice place, and they do offer shuttle service to a lot of tourist destinations, but you'd be paying hotel amenity prices for the privilege.

If you are looking for other things to do (including perhaps something "off the beaten path") the Nashville Scene's Critics' Picks might help.
posted by pianoblack at 12:48 PM on October 18, 2013

Fleebnork is right! Gaylord is evil for ripping down that Opryland Theme Park. Stay downtown if for no other reason then to stand with us in mourning for the loss the Hangman roller coaster.
posted by 26.2 at 5:18 PM on October 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Thanks so much for the recommendations, all! We stayed downtown and while there wasn't much to do right by the capitol, we were close to the happening areas, and were glad to have a car to drive around to the neighborhoods.

I also wanted to note that previous askmes about restaurants and bars got us to several of our favorite food and drink stops there, include No 308 and Mas Tacos Por Favor. Thanks, askme!
posted by ldthomps at 12:44 PM on December 3, 2013

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