The Opryland Hotel has long been a favorite of ours both for their amazing Christmas light displays and for the general wonder one feels when wandering through the gardens, or taking the boat ride through the Delta. When we heard they were opening an indoor/outdoor waterpark, we were delighted and this past week we finally got to take a staycation and check it out! SoundWaves made a huge splash in our opinion!
To access the waterpark you either have to book a room night and choose the waterpark package, OR you can rent out a party room that includes wristbands. We took advantage of the Davidson County Resident discount and spend the night so we could have two days of water fun! (They also have a TN resident package discount if. you live elsewhere in the state.). We timed our adventure well as kiddos here are already back in school but the summer weather is still going strong. The hotel and park were both virtually empty [one lifeguard said they had only sold 158 passes for the days we were there!] and we felt totally comfortable with the COVID measures in place in the hotel - all the staff were masked and occupancy was so low we barely saw any other guests and it was easy to social distance.
The park itself is immaculately clean, well-laid out and boasts incredible attractions like a wave pool, tons of water slides, a Flowrider surfing/knee board simulator, lazy river and lots of splash pad areas for littles. Stretchy wristbands make it simple to access the park and never loose your ticket and there are lockers and cabanas available to rent to keep your valuables safe if you don't want to leave them in the room.
Our favorite attractions were the "Record Launch" centrifuge tube slide, and the Up Tempo Rapids River. We highly recommend wearing a life jacket in the Rapids so you can pick your feet up and just float along! We probably spent half our time there just floating this thing in circles as our daughter loved it so much! They also have an adults only area with an infinity pool and other relaxing spaces that we didn't get to check out on this trip.
Overall, we give this 5 out of 5 stars and while we definitely want you to stay at The Carriage House while you're in town, you might just want to add a night to your trip to make some waves before heading home!
A distance panorama of the wave pool. They play fun music videos on that huge screen!
The park is so massive that it's impossible to get a photo of the whole thing - but this is the outdoor slide complex with the splashpad. The building to the left is the indoor part of the park including enclosed slides that are open year round, and the giant wave pool is behind me!
Hilton Head Island has long been on our list of places to visit. One dreary day last January, our need of something to look forward to happily coincided with a Southwest Airlines fare sale and we booked our tickets to finally make it happen. We had an amazing trip (so amazing in fact that we've already booked a return trip in September) and I've had a few people ask for recommendations so I thought I'd put together a little Hilton Head guide of all the things we loved!
THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO:
WHERE TO EAT:
THINGS TO DO:
WHERE TO STAY:
Before my parents moved to the quaint little town of Ardmore, TN right on the TN/AL state line a few years ago, I had never in my life heard of the sport or tractor pulling. If you’ve never heard of it either, the best way I know to explain it is Nascar and Monster Truck Jam had baby and that baby was a really strong tractor. Confused? Yeah, I was too. Let me break it down for you a little more.
The tractor pull is a classic test of strength…who can pull something heavy the furthest. Competitors invest lots of time, money and expertise into making their tractor (or pickup truck…there are classes for those as well) the strongest, toughest piece of equipment possible. The tractor or truck is then hitched to the front of a “sled.” No one is going to take this particular sled down a hill in the snow however….these sleds are serious business. They look like a flatbed trailer with a small cab similar to what would be on a backhoe or other heavy equipment on the back. The sled is equipped with weights that are on a track. The weights slide forward as the sled moves forward making it increasingly difficult for the tractor or truck to pull it and eventually they come to a hard stop at the end of a straight dirt track.
The contest is divided into classes depending on the size and type of the vehicle doing the pulling and the sled is loaded with different amounts of weights depending on the competitor class. Competitors must pull the sled from one end of the track to the other end without swerving outside the boundary lines. The one who pulls the sled the furthest wins.
Now that’s you’re all well-educated on how the sport works, I’ll throw it out there that I’m honestly not into cars or car-racing. I’m not really into farm equipment and I kind of hate loud engine noises. I’m basically the least-likely candidate to enjoy this particular event but it’s one of the most fascinating things I’ve ever attended and every time I go, I absolutely can’t look away. While the Ardmore Pull is the only one I’ve ever been to, The MidSouth Pullers Association puts on a whole long list of events through the year and by all accounts from people I know that have attended, they do a really great job on all of them.
I’ll leave you with some photos and videos from this year’s pull. If you’re looking for a family friendly event, we highly recommend. Just bring some earplugs for yourselves and some headphones for your littles.
One of my favorite parts about traveling is stumbling across unexpected fun things and seeing what is down the side roads. We headed about 3.5 hours up the road this past weekend to a friend’s wedding in Columbus, IN - a town I had never visited and knew nothing about. Saturday morning we woke up and did a Google search for “Best Brunch near Columbus, IN” (as one does in a new town). Several options popped up and the first on the list that seemed to meet our location & non-chain criteria was called Blackerby’s Hangar 5. We thought we were heading to a downtown storefront with an industrial vibe and aviation-themed decor. However, as we drove through cornfields and over cute bridges it became obvious that our predictions were wayyyyyy off, but what was waiting for us was much more fun than what we had pictured.
The GPS took us straight to the parking lot of the Columbus, IN Municipal Airport - a tiny building that seemed to cater only to private planes and possibly small charter flights or regional airlines. A polite teenager clad in a “Flying Fords” tee-shirt flagged us down as we pulled in - they were having a free airshow that weekend; we could park in the field, the restaurant was straight ahead in the main building. Blackerby’s itself is actually inside the airport itself - through the front door and to the left. It has a fantastic retro-diner vibe and while the airshow had obviously brought a few extra customers with it, we were immediately seated at an empty booth with a great view of the runway and all the airplanes on display. The “Flying Ford” it turns out was the headliner of the weekend - an 1928 Ford Tri-Motor plane nicknamed the “Tin Goose.” 200 of these planes were originally built and only 5 are still in flying condition. Festival attendees could take a 20 minute ride on the antique aircraft for $77 per person and although we didn’t have time to take flight, we loved watching it take off and land while we ate.
Bartleby’s food did not disappoint either. My husband ordered a classic breakfast of eggs, bacon, hash browns and toast and I had a sausage and bacon omelette that was absolutely out of this world. Our waitress was quick and kind…all around a great dining experience. They were celebrating their 40th year in business and with food that delicious, it’s no surprise that they’ve been around that long.
The rest of our weekend took us to Brown County State Park, home of the oldest covered bridge in the state of Indiana, which was beautiful and well equipped with hiking options, a swimming pool and camping/cabin/lodge accommodations to meet anyone’s needs. We also dined at Upland Brewery and attended an event at Factory 12 Event Loft - both fantastic spaces in downtown Columbus. We also passed a million adorable antique shops and coffee spots on the drive from Columbus to the state park (which was located in Nashville, IN) that we didn’t have time to check out but wish we had. If you find yourself in Southern Indiana, we’d definitely recommend checking out some of the places we had the opportunity to visit. You never know where the road may take you!
This weekend we took a quick trip to see my parents that live on the Tennessee/Alabama line. For lunch we decided to head a few miles down the road to Elkmont, AL and I thought I'd share a couple of great photos from three worth-the-stop local spots.
Our first stop was for lunch at The Red Caboose Cafe and everything was delicious Southern cooking. Our waitress was very kind and helpful (dining with a 15-month-old is always an adventure, right?) and the sweet tea was just as it should be. The cafe itself was adorable, and kiddos will love being able to see an actual red caboose just across the street. You can check them out on their Facebook Page where they post daily specials and menus.
Next we headed across the street to Fromagerie Belle Chevre, a goat-milk creamery. We stopped in their tasting room and picked up some fantastic goat-milk hand cream and were amazed at all the ice-cream & cheese products available to taste and purchase. While we didn't have time to do the tour (which includes getting to meet and pet some of their herd of goats), it's definitely on our list to go back and do that soon. (see more info in the yellow box below)
Hwy 65 Exit 361 - Elkmont, AL
bETHANY, YOUR HOST
AirBnB Superhost Bethany has lived in Nashville since 2006 and loves finding fun things to do at home and on the road!