Weekend in the Ozarks

My husband and I spent three autumn nights at the affluent Big Cedar Lodge. Our days were spent experiencing Branson and taking in the Ozarks.

Wilderness Club at Big Cedar

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by kathyjohanna on November 7, 2007

Regardless of what you’re looking for in a vacation, you can find it at Big Cedar. This 40-acre resort is situated on Table Rock Lake, just 10 miles south of Branson, Missouri. The facility comes with a plethora of activities for everyone to use. Big Cedar has enough to offer to be a destination in itself.

The resort offers rustic log cabins and lodge units, all with a view of the lake or woods. The attention to interior detail is amazing. Each spacious cabin has vaulted ceilings, a fireplace, whirlpool bath, homespun area rugs and a 350-square-foot deck with gas grill. Lodge units feature wood-planked floors, spa-sized tubs (except in studios), patios, hickory sapling furniture and mountings of trophy bucks and game birds. Some also include a cozy fireplace with a split log mantle. We spent our lavish weekend in a studio that came equipped with more than we had anticipated. There is nothing small or cramped about the studio unit.

The 9,000-square-foot clubhouse houses a game room, owners’ lounge, retail store, snack bar and activities desk. The resort also offers a Lazy River, an 875-foot water feature complete with caves, rock grottoes, waterfall and a water slide (only open Memorial Day through Labor Day). Through the Big Cedar Lodge Resort there is a few different restaurants including Truman Smokehouse, Top of the Rock Restaurant, The Worman House and Devil's Pool Restaurant (all of which result in a heavy bill). There are also two pools, massive hot tubs, and a lush fitness facility. In addition there is marina that offers boating, fishing, and water skiing. Plus, horseback lovers can go riding along the wooded trails.

To top it all off, each night a lady (who we coined as the "cookie monster") delieves coffee and fresh cookies for you to enjoy. My husband thought that he had died and gone to heaven.

If you have the opportunity to enjoy Big Cedar, you will not regret the escape.
Wilderness Club at Big Cedar
612 Devil's Pool Rd.
Branson, Missouri, 65739
(800) 225-6343

Bass Pro Shop

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by kathyjohanna on November 9, 2007

The original Outdoor World store, referred to as the "Grand Daddy" is located at the corner of Sunshine and Campbell in Springfield. The owner, John L. Morris has come a long way since his days of selling homemade bait and tackle supplies in the back of his dad’s liquor store. Today his store is a massive 300,000 square feet with two levels. The store is stuffed with taxidermy mounts native to the area. All of the stores have an indoor water feature that showcase fish species that are indigenous to the area. In some of these aquariums professional anglers and store pro-staff hold demonstrations. The stores offer people any kind of outdoor equipment they could ever want in one store.

In addition to the store there is also the Wonders of Wildlife Zooquarium. We opted to forgo the Zooquarium because of time restraints, but it cost about $15/person.

My advise is to take the map that they offer you when you walk in, because the store is actually that big.
Bass Pro Shop
1935 S. Campbell
Springfield, Missouri, 65807
(417) 887-7334

Titanic Museum

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by kathyjohanna on November 21, 2007

You can now experience the Titanic in Branson. A 17,000 square foot, ship-shaped museum is filled with numerous personal items recovered from the actual ship. Some 400 artifacts are on exhibit throughout the attraction. As well as an iceberg out front.

Upon entering the ship you are given an identity as someone on the ship. I was a first class passenger while my husband was a member of the crew. You get to experience the Titanic by walking through the Grand Staircase, the Bridge, the Marconi radio room, Verandah Cafe and the ship's boiler room. Finally at the end of your journey you find out if you survived or if you had an unfortunate death. (I survived while my husband wasn’t as lucky.)
The cost of walking through the museum was $25/person and if you wanted an audio stick to tell you more information that was an additional $8. We opted to go at our own pace and read the material through the exhibit instead of listening. And as far as finding the Titanic, it is the only massive ship located in the heart of Branson. Trust me, you won’t miss it.
Titanic Museum
3235 W State Hwy 76
Branson, Missouri, 65616

Dogwood Canyon

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by kathyjohanna on December 6, 2007

"Heaven" is a good way to describe the beauty of this park - postcard perfection. We visited in late October, on an chilly morning, and took the tram tour with a wonderful guide. He can tell you all about the park's history, from personal experience, and his love for it is infectious - not that you won't fall in love with it at first sight, anyway.

It is tucked away like a quiet little (big) secret, and once you "discover" it, you'll be telling everyone else that they have to visit. If you're wondering what the big deal is... and wonder what's so great about riding a tram in a park?? You'll be impresseed with the peaceful and comforting feeling that engulfs you inside the canyon.

Quoting from their website:
"Aside from a few amenities to make Dogwood Canyon Nature Park more accessible to our guests, the rugged landscape has been left untouched and, with just a little imagination, you can travel backward to a time when European settlers first entered the area or, even further, to explore the mark that native Americans left on these Missouri hills and hollows.

The first parcels of the property were acquired in 1990 by Johnny Morris, the founder of Bass Pro Shops. It was his dedication to conserving our natural environment that has become the cornerstone for development of this spectacular wilderness experience. So many opportunities await you at this incredible 10,000-acre parcel of unspoiled Ozarks landscape…"

In addition to the tram ($20/person) - the canyon also offers jeep tour, biking/walking trails, kayaking, etc - and a Christmas program. Regardless of which option you choose, you will not be disappointed.
Dogwood Canyon Tram Rides
2038 West State Highway
Lampe, Missouri, 65681
+1 417 779 5983

Stone Hill Winery

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by kathyjohanna on December 7, 2007

This is a great Branson Attraction. More for adults though, they will let children go through the tour and stand in the tasting room but smaller children get very bored watching the film and listening to the guide talk about wine. The tour is very interesting for somone like me, who next to nothing about making and storing wine. However, the best part comes last. Everyone gathers in the tasting room and gets to taste A LOT of different wines. They just give you a couple of sips of each kind but after a couple of sips from 15 different wines you can feel why they don't fill your cup up. Needless to say I was feeling pretty good when we left. I'm not a big wine fan but it's fun to try all the wine without paying for it. They have a nice gift shop with alot more than wine to buy and the prices vary from very inexpensive wine to very expensive wine. They also sell the grape juice in wine bottles and its not that expensive. All in all its a nice attraction and what makes it even better is its a Free attraction. Overall, it's worth a couple hours of your vacation time.
Stone Hill Winery - Branson
601 State Highway 165
Branson, Missouri, 65616
(417) 334-1897

Dixie Stampede

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by kathyjohanna on December 10, 2007

The overall Dixie Stampede experidence was very entertaining. You need to get to the show a good hour ahead of time. Before the show you walk past the stables and see the horses. Once inside, they take your picture and walk you through the gift shops, get you your free drink in a plastic boot mug, and seat you in a room for the preshow. The preshow juggler was good and kept everyones interest with a combination of stunts and jokes.

After the preshow you move into the area for dinner and the main event. Seating is an arena around a large central area where a series of animal and human performances take place with a theme of North vs South. We saw the Christmas show which focused on the North Pole vs the South Pole with Christmas scenes sprinkled throughout. My favorite was a beautiful nativity scene with live animals. Horse are used in most stunts. The horses are perfectly choreographed. There were the expected dance numbers plus a variety of amusing activities including pig races, ostrich races, and audience participation.

There are assigned sections and rows but not specific seats. The food was very good and plenty of it. You eat with your hands and can only drink coffee, Pepsi, or ice-tea.

Overall, a great show, very highly recommended.
Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede & Dinner Show
1525 West Highway 76
Branson, Missouri, 65616
(800) 520-5544


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