11 Days, 7 States and 3,000 Miles (Part I)

I arrived back home late last Thursday night from an 11-day trip to the Midwest, my first time in that area. I visited seven states and traveled over 3,000 miles as shown in the route map below.

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The trip’s scope was so large I’m posting about it over a number of weeks. And rather than use a typical chronological format, I’m going with a “theme” approach.

This week’s theme is “grand hotels” and there were three of them. The first grand hotel was the Opryland Hotel, in Nashville. This hotel has almost 3,000 rooms, 17 restaurants, and nine acres of indoor gardens with waterfalls.

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Cascades dining area

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View from one of the outdoor bars

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Atrium

But the Opryland Hotel paled compared to the French Lick Resort, which I had never heard of before and is located in….French Lick, Indiana. This resort began as two separate hotels in 1845 which attracted visitors to their mineral health springs spas. The French Lick Hotel burned, was replaced, and then restored. The West Baden Springs Hotel was replaced and then restored.

The $500 million restoration and development brought the two hotels under one management and the 3,000 acre complex includes stables, a casino, and three golf courses. The French Lick Hotel, listed in the National Register of Historic Places, has about 700 rooms. The West Baden Springs Hotel, also listed in the National Register of Historic Places and a National Historic Landmark, has about 250 rooms.

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French Lick Hotel

The French Lick Hotel’s interior has the ornate look of a European royal estate.

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French Lick Hotel lobby

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West Baden Springs Hotel, with red domed atrium

The West Baden Springs Hotel is known for its 200 foot atrium dome, which was the largest in the U.S. from 1902 to 1955.

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West Baden Springs Hotel library

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“Winner, Winner” at the French Lick casino

The last grand hotel is so special that I will devote an entire post to it next Sunday.  So y’all come back then!

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