Opryland resort offers a full slate of summer food, music events

Whether you're looking for a summer vacation or a quick getaway, Nashville's Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center could be your ticket.

The famed Opryland hotel with 2,881 luxurious guest rooms offers plenty of eating and entertainment options.

Just look at what you can do right inside the hotel:

Dispersed among the hotel's three atriums are several restaurant options, including a steakhouse, seafood and sushi, home-style cooking and Italian. You can take a five-mile Delta Riverboat ride, swim in any of three pools, hike the trails that meander through nine acres of indoor gardens or be pampered at the resort's world-class spa and fitness center.

Evening activities at the hotel give guests choices ranging from an Irish pub to a party lounge, or from Jack Daniel's Saloon to a traditional sports bar featuring more than 20 television sets, including a giant 9-foot big screen.

That's a lot of choices when it comes to food and fun - and all these offerings are within the walls of the largest nongaming hotel in the United States. You don't even have to step outside.

Just next door to the hotel, music fans can toe-tap to the biggest names in country music at the legendary Grand Ole Opry

But these are the year-round, "routine" offerings visitors find at the Opryland hotel. To make summer special, the folks in Nashville have added more activities and amenities.

Gaylord Opryland's SummerFest celebration runs each weekend through Sept. 29, and includes special food, wine and music events throughout the resort. SummerFest vacation packages start at $107.

Ongoing SummerFest events include:

•HydroponiX: As you stroll through the Cascades Atrium, look and listen for the living garden band HydroponiX. Dressed as flora and fauna, these musicians use the sounds of water and their instruments to create unique, "new-age" sounds from within the vegetation. It's something to see - and hear. (Shows are at 7, 8 and 9 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday in the Cascades Atrium.)

•Cooking Under Glass: Gaylord Opryland's talented chefs will teach guests how to make their most sought-after recipes. (Classes are held on Saturdays in the Delta Atrium. This is a paid event.)

•Songwriters Under the Stars: Listen to the work of some of Music City's rising talent. They'll be performing their own work - up close and personal. (Shows are on Fridays. This is a paid event.)

•DiVine: Opryland takes its garden theme to the next level with this new feature. DiVine is part vine, part actress and part moving art. Watch as she gracefully moves through the gardens. Keep a sharp eye out, though. She blends right in with the vegetation.

•Aqua!: This water show uses synchronized fountains, lights, music and sound to thrill the audience. Don't stand too close, you might get wet.

•Resort and Garden Tours: Sure, you can roam about on your own, but you'll get more history and learn interesting trivia about Opryland with a guided tour. (Tours are offered on Saturday afternoons.)

Dated events

for SummerFest include:

•Music City Hitmakers: Spend the weekend hobnobbing with some of Nashville's top songwriters and learn the tricks of the trade. (July 20-22. Paid event.)

•Celebrity Chef: Food Network star chef Alton Brown takes the stage for the Cooking Under Glass cooking show. (Aug. 18. Paid event.)

•Fiddlin' Brewin' Bar-B-Q'N Cook-Off: One of the largest barbecue competitions in the country. See famous chef Bobby Flay in action. (Sept. 28-29. Paid event.)

•Motorcycle Jubilee: The resort hosts a major all-brand motorcycle rally. (Aug. 31 to Sept. 2. Paid event.)

Other Nashville

attractions include:

•General Jackson Showboat: Take a cruise upstream to downtown Nashville aboard the General Jackson paddlewheel riverboat. Midday cruises boast a Southern buffet and a country music show. Evening rides feature a three-course dinner and Broadway-style variety show.

•Wildhorse Saloon: Downtown on Second Avenue, the Wildhorse is a three-story entertainment with five bars under one roof. Visitors can listen to the music or get out on the floor and learn some new dance steps at the Wild Horse.

If you go