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These late winter months can be tough for parents and kids. The holidays are over, and the days are cloudy and cold. Let’s face it: we’re just hanging on until spring.
For families who need to escape the doldrums and find excitement, Gaylord Hotels are bringing a bit of magic to these cold months with their family-friendly Winterfest at locations around the country. Gaylord recently treated our family to a staycation weekend at Winterfest, and we discovered that it’s the perfect getaway for wintertime fun.
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Our family loved seeing Pinetop Village at Gaylord Opryland in Nashville. The village is festively decked out with lights, winter-themed decor, and cozy fire pits. There are huts where families can purchase warm drinks or even buy mittens and hats to keep the cold away.
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One of my favorite activities in Pinetop Village was ice bumper cars. Honestly, I wasn’t sure they would be worth the price, but our entire family had a blast! I was dying laughing while trying to steer a spinning bumper car on ice. My youngest son even decided to use some of his birthday money to pay for another ride.
I tried ice tubing once and quickly decided to leave it for more daring visitors, like the group of 8-year-old girls who were in line behind me. It was definitely the most popular activity with the tween and teen crew, who returned to slide down the ice again and again.
The outdoor ice skating rink was hands down our favorite part of Winterfest. Here in Tennessee, outdoor rinks are usually tiny or made of fake ice. We were delighted to see Winterfest’s huge rink made from real ice, plus the winding skating paths that take skaters all around Pinetop Village. Once you buy a wristband for ice tubing or ice skating, you can return again any time during the day, which makes them a great value for the day’s entertainment. And don’t worry if you don’t know how to skate – you can even schedule lessons!
While in Pinetop Village, don’t miss the Fire & Ice Skating Show, which is exclusive to the Nashville Winterfest location! Visitors can watch the show for free, but you also can pay to reserve seating ahead of time to guarantee a seat. The show was filled with talented skaters who performed stunning lifts and jumps. And yes, there is fire involved.
We had so much fun ice skating that we didn’t make it to many of the indoor Winterfest activities, but there’s plenty for families who would rather avoid the cold. The hotel’s beautiful atriums are covered in winter lights and themed decorations, and even some of the restaurants have been transformed into small winter wonderlands. Jack Frost’s Scavenger Hunt, which is offered at all five Gaylord locations, is the perfect way to keep little ones busy on cold days.
Of course, don’t forget the other resort amenities, like the Soundwaves water park in Nashville and Cypress Springs water park at Gaylord Palms in Orlando. There’s also live music as well as fountain and light shows at each of the resorts.
Make It A Date
Want to leave the kids at home? Winterfest is a great place for a romantic getaway. Plan an ice skating session just for the two of you, enjoy a couples massage at Relâche Spa, and then end your evening with a carriage ride through the lights on the resort grounds – you’ll be a Valentine’s Day hero!
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Booking Your Stay
Our family loved staying in a hotel room with a balcony that looked out over one of the resort’s lush atriums. My kids kept walking out onto the balcony just to take in the views of the waterfalls and koi ponds. However, do note that live music in various atrium locations goes until 10 p.m., so if you’re traveling with younger kids, consider an interior room instead.
The best way to experience Winterfest is to book a Winterfest hotel package, which includes wristbands good for unlimited skating and ice tubing on the day you check-in. Or you can purchase the Chill & Thrill Winterfest package to add admission to the Soundwaves indoor water park. (Don’t worry, the water park and the hotel are kept delightfully warm, even in winter.)
Can Locals Attend?
Local families who want to experience Winterfest for a day are welcome to buy activity tickets without a hotel stay. In fact, we enjoyed our experience so much that we’re planning to go back for a day of ice skating in a couple of weeks. Buy tickets for unlimited ice skating or tubing and then stay for one of the Fire & Ice Skating Shows for an unforgettable day out.
Winterfest Around the Country
We had a fantastic time at Gaylord Opryland, but Gaylord Hotels all around the country are putting their own special spin on wintertime fun. I’m totally jealous of Gaylord Rockies and their S’mores Lawn and Snow Park, where families can build snowmen and have snowball fights.
Gaylord Hotels are bringing a bit of magic to these cold months with their kid-friendly Winterfest at locations around the country, with skating, tubing, scavengers hunts, and plenty of family fun.
Winterfest activities are available at Gaylord Palms in Florida, Gaylord Opryland in Tennessee, Gaylord Texan in Texas, Gaylord Rockies in Colorado, and Gaylord National in Maryland. Choose a nearby location for a quick weekend getaway, or plan an exciting vacation to try somewhere new. But hurry – Winterfest ends February 27!
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