My family received most of their country music education when we visited the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum on a recent trip to Nashville. However, no education would be complete without a trip to the Grand Ole Opry. The backstage tour gave us an insider’s perspective to what it’s like for one of the 64 living, active cast members who perform at the Opry. Since its inception, the Opry has invited (invitation is a must) 215 musicians to become members, 74 of whom are women.
The Opry started as a barn dance in 1925 and provided radio music to rural areas of the south. In 1943, the Opry moved to the Ryman Auditorium, known as the “Mother Church of Country Music” where it stayed until debuting at its current location in 1974. In 2010, the 4400 seat Opry was devastated by over four feet of flooding, but was quickly rebuilt and reopened in September of 2010. It’s located about fifteen minutes north east of downtown Nashville.
Traveling with Kids:
Younger children might not be super engaged in this tour. There is a lot of listening to a tour guide, but not a lot of interaction (guides are friendly and will answer questions anytime). My 8 and 10 year old enjoy the tour, esp. when they got to go on stage.
Use the restrooms at the ticket office or right before the tour officially starts- restrooms are located in the spot where you’ll watch the first video.
The tour lasts one hour and ends in the gift shop.
Strollers are allowed on the tour and the entire tour is on one floor.
Ten Can’t Miss Spots on the Backstage Tour of the Grand Ole Opry:
Photo opt spots outside the Opry, like the two giant guitars and wooden doors.
Blake Sheldon’s video introduction of the history of the Opry.
Star Walk, the entrance performers take into the Opry before nightly shows.
Sound Stage, where the television show “Hee Haw” was taped. Your tour guide will quiz the group on their old television show knowledge.
US Post office for each member of the Opry- all fan mail gets delivered to those mailboxes (Alan Jackson got his start as a mailroom attendant!)
6. Eighteen dressing rooms, each with a different theme for decor.
7. Green Room, with areas to relax before a show- check on the flood water marks.
8. On stage pews, where special guests of performers can seat and look out to the audience.
9. The six foot “circle” of wood in the center of the stage where all musicians stand when they perform- it’s from the original Opry. There is a photographer to take family photos inside the circle, which will be available at the end of your tour.
10. Gift shop, filled with clothing, ornaments, and souvenirs of your visit. Read about why we like collecting souvenirs from our trip here.
Parking , Eating, and Staying Nearby: Literally across the road from the Opry is the Opry Mills Mall, with a Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum, Aquarium restaurant, Dave and Buster’s, and Mission BBQ. We ate at Mission BBQ and liked the laid back atmosphere; the company’s commitment to honor soldiers, police and fire officers and first responders; and, of course, the yummy food. It’s best to park for the Opry at the mall and walk through the crosswalks. You could drive around the mall, about a mile, and on McGavor Pike there are popular restaurants like the Caney Fork and Opry Backstage Grill, attached to the Inn at Opryland. We stayed at the Marriott property (read about why we love Marriott here), Inn at OpryLand, which is centrally located, and has a great indoor pool in the center of the hotel.
For our list of top 10 spots in Tennessee, check out our post here