Family Vacations

Choo Choo,  All aboard the Kozy Kaboose.  Over Christmas break, I took my boys on the ultimate little boy staycation.    I gave them clues to where we were going and when they saw the caboose they couldn’t believe their sweet little eyes.  Spring break and Summer break are approaching and KOA’s campground in Eureka, Missouri has just the answer for those wanting a memorable camping experience without battling the St Louis crazy hot/cold weather.  

Kozy Kaboose

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Kozy Kaboose authentic caboose has the original Route 66 nostalgic feel.  It was completely refitted to a modern condition.  If your child is a train enthusiast, they’ll go crazy over spending an overnight in this choo choo delight.  It sleeps four people comfortably; 2 adults and 2 children, with a queen size bed and a bunk that my boys couldn’t get enough of.  My youngest spent almost an hour just going up and down the ladder.  

Kozy Kaboose

 

 

The bathroom has a shower-tub combo.  A small fridge is supplied and is large enough to hold some basic food supplies and drinks.  When eating, or playing a fun game of candy land you sit at a cute booth that seats four.  Also, there’s a TV with over 20 channels, and swivels from the dining area to the bedroom location.     

Kozy Kaboose

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just steps from the back door, which has a porch with furniture, a grill and there is a fire ring that’s ready for roasting hot dogs and making s’mores.  My guys devoured more chocolate bars than anything else, which made bedtime a lengthy process.  Instead of purchasing pricey firewood, you can save yourself a lot of hassle by going to Academy Sports.  They have these convenient tree stumps, which have a core that’s soaked in lighter fluid.  All you have to do is light the middle and you have a toasty fire that lasts around two hours.  We added some Funky Colored Flames, that are also available at Academy, and your kids will be mesmerized by the variety of colors it produces.     

Kozy Kaboose

 

 We stayed for just one night, but given the chance, multiple nights would make for an awesome staycation.  They gave us a scavenger hunt on arrival the kids could hunt for.  When it’s warmer they have a pool, a playground and tons of fun kid-friendly activities.  For more information check them out at Kozy caboose Eureka

Kozy Kaboose

So, gather your family and get on board for an experience that’ll create great family memories!  If you missed our other family-friendly trip ideas check them out here:  

Echo Bluff state park

Bentonville, AR

Big Cedar Lodge

  • This post was sponsored by KOA but all thoughts are completely my own.

 

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Hey guys, I wanted to get you all the details from our amazing weekend at Echo Bluff State Park.  If you love being outdoors this state park needs to be on your bucket list.  It’s only 2 1/2 hours from St Louis and is absolutely beautiful and is great for small children, family reunions, girls weekends, and for couples too.  Here’s the details from my trip.

Where we stayed:

The Betty Lea Lodge has regular rooms, cabins with 1- 4 bedrooms, or large stacked duplex and even camping sites.

Here is our 2 bedroom cabin (they are a year old everything is nice and new)

 

 

Here is the Lodge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where we ate:

We ate at the Creekside Grill in the Lodge for breakfast and lunch.  They had all the typical grill foods.

We also ate at Dos Rio’s a Mexican restaurant in Eminence and had hand dipped ice cream at Dino Mart

 

 

 

 

 

What we did:

Hiking:   Painter Ridge Trail South Loop, Painter Ridge Trail North Loop, Current River Trail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enjoy the crystal clear water at Sinking Creek in front of the Lodge.  Note:  Bring your water shoes, bring floats, nets water toys and buckets for the kids.  You’ll find lots of critters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nature Playground, this playground is top notch.  My boys loved climbing, sliding and running all around the beautiful landscape.

 

 

 

 

Sarah’s Scoop:  

There is little cell phone reception in the area so have a plan ahead of time

The Lodge has board games for use in the main lobby

If you want to roast s’mores let the front desk know and they will make sure the fire pit is lit.

Other Activities in the area:

What to bring:  Water shoes and water toys and floats, water proof case for your phone, s’more supplies or you can purchase in gift shop.

I promise you will not be disappointed but call in advance they were booked months out when I made our reservation.

Hope you enjoy!!  XOXO  Sarah~

Roadtrip part 2.  We started off our trip in Bentonville AR and are now at Big Cedar Lodge.

Big Cedar Lodge– was created by Bass Pro Shop founder Johnny Morris when he purchased the existing property in the area, known as Big Cedar Hollow, in 1987.  Since then, it’s grown into one of the best wilderness resorts in the U.S.  It covers 800 acres that overlooks Table Rock Lake in the Ozark Mountains just outside Branson, Missouri.

If you like being surrounded by gorgeous natural scenery while still enjoying premium facilities and amenities, this is a wonderful destination.  This is one of my favorite places in Missouri.

Big Cedar Lodge offers plenty of outdoor activities for all ages.  Having two very active little boys, this is music to many parents’ ears.

The main lobby is tastefully decorated in a rustic theme.  While I checked in, my boys played with the Lincoln Logs on a game table, which would’ve kept them busy for hours.

For dinner we ordered some pizza from a local place, while playing some of the board games you can check out.

For dessert, we headed to the campfire area for s’mores.  They had several fires going and each family got a s’mores kit.  The weather was fantastic, and we were serenaded by the sound of hundreds of tree frogs croaking.  To cap off our evening, we hit the links at the fishing-themed mini golf course located next to the campfire area.

When we returned to our room, the “cookie lady” had left us some treats: “wishing” maple leaf cookies.  They’re gingerbread in the shape of a maple leaf.  They get their name because when you hold one in your hand, you make a wish and then tap the cookie’s center.  If it breaks into three pieces, your wish will come true.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 2-

When I woke up the next morning, I headed to Big Cedar’s fitness gym.  This facility has a lot of machines of all kinds..  After lifting weights, I went outside to get some cardio in.  I quickly found the 5K walking/ running trail on site.  Well-marked and paved, it took me all around the amazing property, where I was surrounded by the sounds of nature (waterfalls, frogs, birds, etc.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The lodge had organized a kids fishing rodeo, so we hopped on the shuttle and headed to the lake.  Just like at the s’mores night, don’t worry about bringing your own supplies to Big Cedar, you’re already covered.  The staff gave my boys fishing, rods, showed them how to put a worm on the hook, and off they went!

After fishing, we headed over to the marina for the paddle boats.  We toured the lake and cove, where there’s a beautiful waterfall.  They boys enjoyed spotting ducks and turtles that were out sunning.  When we got back to the marina, we headed to the outdoor café for lunch, where we saw even more turtles on the banks.  There were several turtle families with babies, so the boys were very excited to see them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Top of the Rock

The only time we left Big Cedar Lodge, was to go to The Top of the Rock, which is a short drive north on Hwy 65 from Big Cedar.

They give you a golf cart, which an adult drives around the property on very scenic paved trails.  Waterfalls, bridges and other breathtaking nature scenes surround you during your journey.  The highlight of the drive comes when you drive into a cave with a gigantic waterfall.  After leaving the cave, we drove over several covered bridges and saw more waterfalls.  The drive lasts between 45 mins and a hour, but when done, we all wanted to go around again!  It was AMAZING!!!  Tickets are($25 for adults/ $12.50 for kids), but we all thought it was well worth it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I just read this week that Big Cedar opened a new activity center called Fun Mountain on property.  It looks amazing.

Overall I would describe our trip to Big Cedar Lodge magical.  If you love being outdoors I would highly recommend this place to anyone.

Happy Travels to you.  Sarah

 

A goal I have for my family, is visiting all 50 states before our two boys (Logan, 6 and Mason, 3) graduate high school.   Right now we’re focusing on hitting all of Missouri’s border states.  Arkansas is a reasonable distance away (less than 5 hours), so off we headed to the “Natural State”. This was a two part trip.  First, we went to Bentonville, AR.  After that we traveled to Big Cedar Lodge, which is just outside Branson, Missouri.  More details on Big Cedar Lodge in a future post.

Bentonville is a cute mountain town with a Wal-Mart on every corner.  No surprise, because Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton is from Bentonville.

Amazeum: 

Our first stop in Bentonville was the Scott Family Amazeum.  And it was true to its name, because it’s an amazing kids museum.  Some of the hands-on exhibits included:  Load-and-Haul (simulated an assembly line-like factory), art studio, cave exhibit, cardboard box mazes, and Nickelodeon Play Lab featuring Sponge Bob Square Pants.  Our visit wrapped up around closing time, and they give all the kids streamers for a parade out the door.

 

Crystal Bridges Art Museum: 

Founded in 2005 by the Walton Family Foundation, Crystal Bridges Art Museum is a great and free destination for art lovers.  After viewing some of the art exhibits, we spent  a lot of our time exploring the trails that wind around the 120-acre grounds; which was absolutely beautiful!  It has two spring-fed ponds, with a glass-enclosed bridge overlooking them.

Downtown Bentonville:

Downtown Bentonville features the Wal-Mart Five and Dime Museum.  The gift shop is a fun stop, because it sells a lot of unique and historic items which were sold there in previous decades.  My boys chose a package of Peeps to satisfy their sweet tooth.

After a brief playground stop in Eureka Springs, we hit the road to Big Cedar Lodge in Missouri.  Stay tuned for more details on this excursion, as it’s truly one of the gems of the Ozark Mountains.