Most people have heard of Branson, Missouri as a thrilling place to visit in the Heartland of America, but what they don’t know about is the natural beauty and adventure of Big Cedar Lodge, a wilderness resort just a town over in Ridgedale. Big Cedar Lodge is a destination resort created by Johnny Morris, the founder of Bass Pro Shops, and it is wild!
There are many activities and places to dine, miniature golf to play, pools and spas to relax in, and breathtaking cabins and lodges for accommodation, but here are just some of my favorite highlights of the resort.
Stay in a log cabin at Big Cedar Wilderness Club
There are many options for your stay at Big Cedar Lodge and Big Cedar Wilderness Club, but staying in a log cabin has to be one of the most enjoyable experiences. Walking into your accommodation gives a sense of wonder and class. There are beautiful countertops with all of the kitchen amenities, showers and large bathtubs that make you feel like you’re in a spa, and incredibly comfortable beds that make you question whether you’re staying in a log cabin at all.
The cabin is full of preserved animal life and old-timey photos from the 1800s, and electric fireplaces which give the cabin a rustic feeling of warmth. If the rest of the resort wasn’t so enticing, you might be tempted to stay inside your whole vacation.
Float down the Lazy River
If you are staying in one of the log cabins in the Wilderness Club, make sure you walk down to the Clubhouse where the lazy river is located. You’re going to want to either float by yourself or bring the whole family (your choice), but either way, it’s going to be so relaxing, you won’t want to leave. Grab an innertube, a Bubba cup with your favorite beverage, and float in bliss!
If the kids get bored of all of the adults’ floating euphoria, there are two water slides, an arcade, a heated pool, a hot tub, and even a waterfall cave that they can lure their adult companions into for their own amusement. Hungry? The clubhouse has food and beverages available for sale. You can easily spend a whole day here, so make sure you pack for it and enjoy your day at the Lazy River!
See Clay Self at Buzzard Bar
Clay Self, the Cowboy, is the regular performer at the Buzzard Bar. He is an absolute riot with his fun jokes teasing youngsters, singing classic and pop country songs, and even bringing some of his very talented children to perform with him every now and then. He has been performing at the Buzzard Bar for years, yet his charming wit never gets old. He will get the whole restaurant slamming their fists and drinks on the table to the song “Sweet Caroline,” wow you with his rendition of “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” but he will definitely NOT play “Free Bird” for any of the wacky audience members who request it. All in jest. Clay Self is the local celebrity at Big Cedar Lodge and definitely a must-see during your stay.
Rent a boat at Bent Hook Marina
If you haven’t been to the Midwest in the summer time before, floating is something the local Lake folk do to pass the time. You can hop down to the Bent Hook Marina to rent sea-doos, canoes, and paddle boats, but there is nothing quite like renting a boat for the day on Table Rock lake. Feel free to try out inner tubing or water skiing for a while, and then eventually make your way to a nice cove where you can float in the lukewarm water of the lake. It’s an absolute blast for whole families to soak up the sun and just hang out for a couple of hours.
We always bring our Bubba cups because they are buoyant and refillable! You can have your own personal floating bar out in the lake and enjoy a seltzer or nice, cold beer. You will probably get hungry, so make sure to pack a lunch and some snacks, and don’t forget a football to throw to your nieces and nephews.
This area is close to the Arkansas border – for more ideas to continue your Ozarks road trip, check out this post.
There is plenty of outdoor activity to partake in when the weather is great, but if there is a rainy day, take the kids to Fun Mountain! Fun Mountain has everything from a Go-Cart track, arcade, bumper cars, and even a sky-high obstacle course. There is a restaurant in the building in case the family gets hungry from playing laser tag or climbing the rock wall. Fun Mountain has a magical interior of an under-water theme with mermaids, pirates and lots of fish, including bowling lanes for all to enjoy. To truly enjoy the experience, check out the live alligator and anaconda under the high ropes course!
Big Cedar Lodge has much more to offer that these highlights, including the Top of the Rock Ozarks Heritage Preserve which you can read about here. It is a vacation your family will never forget and will certainly want to experience again!