We started off our trip in Bentonville, AR and are now at Big Cedar Lodge in Ridgedale, MO.
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 my 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.
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. The 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 only time we left Big Cedar Lodge, was to go to 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.
If you’re a working mom like myself, then finding quality time-savers are worth every penny. A common perception, is personal shoppers are a pricey luxury. However, the girl I use at Nordstrom- West County Center is outstanding, and free! She’s up with all current trends, and always takes into account your budget.
Here’s her contact info if you want to make an appointment:
This dress screams summer fun, and it even has pockets! Even though I wouldn’t technically wear this for work, it’s great pick if attending a summer BBQ, brunch with girlfriends, or a day at the wineries.
Gingham is a very popular pattern this summer, and this particular print is timeless. This dress serves double duty, because with heels it’s makes a great statement at work, or you can dress it down on the weekend with sandals or fashion sneakers. This dress really has you covered for any outdoor event.
Green Tahari dress (This dress is not online but call Amber @Nordstrom if you’re interested.)
I’d wear this for work. It would also be fun if your headed to a summer wedding or a night out dancing. It features some great details with the tie at the waist and its so light and comfortable.
Classic is the word for this selection. Rotate it into your wardrobe to wear at work or even church on the weekend. You could also throw on some sandals and a white denim jacket for a more casual look.
If you’re looking for a fun date night or GNO that’s a new concept in going to a bar, then the new Tapped should be on your short list. Tapped allows you to taste over 40 craft beers, ciders and wines, without the commitment of purchasing a whole bottle. Plus, all of the selections are regionally and locally produced.
When you arrive, the hostess opens your tab by giving you a bracelet which contains a computer chip. This chip activates the self-serve taps, and detects when you have started and completed your pour. You pay per ounce, so you can try all you want until you find the one you love.
When we visited, I opted for some of their fruit-based beers.
My favorites were:
O’Fallon’s “Daze of Summer”
Bur Oak Brewing Co.’s “Lilly Ale”
O’Fallon’s “Pineapple Wheach”
Of their 48 taps, 8 feature wine.
Their menu has a variety of shareables, salads, pizzas and sandwiches. The Bavarian pretzels will melt in your mouth. Yum!!!
Since Tapped is self-serve, they don’t accept tips. However, if you leave any gratuity, it’s donated to charity which changes every week.
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.
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.
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 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.
Happy Sunday Funday! I am always looking for ways to spend quality time with my kids. My son Logan and I had a blast at Companion’s Teaching Kitchen making Mixed Berry Lemonade, Lemon Crinkle Cookies, and Strawberry Tea Bread. Companion offers classes for both adults and kids, and we took their “Kids in the Kitchen” tea party. This class is geared toward giving children the lead in the kitchen.
All food items are prepped, making it fun and easy for the kids to follow each recipe. Logan enjoyed using all the restaurant-grade equipment, including the powerful blender.
They have adult classes too. My next trip to the Teaching Kitchen I make, will be the pizza class as a date night with Todd. The chocolate class sounds like a great night with some of my girlfriends.
We booked our class through the Kidzxplor app (which is a better price). Also, you can book through Companion directly.
Hello! Here’s a breakdown of all the dresses I wore on my vacation to the Virgin Islands. These are snap shots I also share on Facebook and Instagram, created by mixing and matching items I already have in my closet. I hope this gives you ideas that maximize your wardrobe, and add new things for the summer.
We flew from St Louis to Charlotte, and because airplane temps are unpredictable, I layered for comfort. These drawstring cuffed linen pants worked perfectly. They’re light-weight and don’t wrinkle.
I’m always cold, so my denim jacket was a lifesaver. I used a cross-body to keep my necessities (credit card, phone and lip stick) handy and it fit into my tote come boarding time.
I’m a huge hat fan! I narrowed my hat choices to two, and wore one on the plane. With a long day of traveling I didn’t have to worry about styling my hair.
Taxis are very pricey in St Thomas, so we decided to rent a car. There were tons of shops close by in the main downtown area, so I changed into this cute open-shoulder ruffle romper. It was a beautiful day, making this a good fit for outdoor shopping. My beach bag doubled as my shopping tote, and I accented it with my “go to” hat, that shaded me from the bright Virgin Islands sun.
One morning we took the gondola up to one of the highest points in St. Thomas to check out the views. It was absolutely gorgeous! I threw on this casual and cool halter drawstring dress, again using my beach bag as a tote, and wearing my wedges I can walk in for days.
In St. John (a short ferry ride from St. Thomas), we went from shopping to hiking, to beach activities. This green dress worked like a charm. It’s so light-weight and cool with the razor back cut in the back. This dress folds up to the size of a cell phone! I paired it with the statement necklace from Target.
This blue dress is not only chic, but flattering, especially after all the frozen drinks I had on the trip. It comes in many colors and was great when going from around town and getting a little sun on my shoulders, to dinner with my husband. The statement clutch added a pop of fun, and the earrings scream vacation.
On our last day I picked this Maxi dress. We went from the beach, to lunch, to the airport. It feels like wearing pajamas, but looks like the ultimate long flowing dress. I knotted it on the side for a more casual look while walking on the beach with flip flops. After lunch I had my denim jacket handy for the airplane, and the hat disguised my messy hair.
I hope you got some outfit inspiration. I’ll be sharing my beach and pools looks along with more details of our trip soon. If you have any specific questions, please leave them, and I’ll address them in upcoming posts. If you’re heading a vacation yourself, don’t miss my “Top Packing Tips” video. You’ll never over-pack again!
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