Big Cedar

Our February adventure was a bucket list experience for me.  We spent President’s Day weekend in a cabin at Big Cedar Lodge.  It is definitely a summer destination, but we were able to book a large cabin with the winter rates. Luckily, we ended up with a gorgeous 70 degree weekend.  It could not have been more perfect.

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If you are going to Big Cedar, and have never been before, I highly suggest arriving in the daytime.  When you turn off 86, and drive under the sign, the entrance is surprisingly quite far down a windy poorly lit road.  To top it off, when you enter the complex you drive through two narrow streams before you get to resort check-in. Finding our cabin in the dark also took a u-turn and several “where on earth are we” moments.   It certainly was an interesting start to our adventure.

Our cabin was two bedroom, two bath, with a large common dining/living room/kitchen area.  The kitchen is fully stocked, and you could cook all your meals there if you wanted.  The decor is log cabin feel, with quite a bit of taxidermy on the walls.  The back deck was gorgeous with a winter lake view, a grill, and rocking chairs.

Saturday night after the adventure of finding our cabin in the dark, we ordered room service.  The prices were actually fairly reasonable for room service, and the food was tasty.  I would say we enjoyed the pimento cheese dip with caramelized onions the most.


Sunday morning we went to explore Top of the Rock.  Interestingly, you have to drive all the way back out of the complex to take a different route at the entrance.  We started by walking around the grounds and exploring.  The sinkhole excavation is impressive in stature.


We walked through a wine cellar, the chapel, and took in the breathtaking lake views.


Brunch at the Osage breakfast was our next stop, and it is worth the trip.  The restaurant has large windows with sweeping views of the golf course and lake.  Addie was excited to see swans in the golf course water hazards.  The brunch had a carving station, traditional breakfast foods, fancier lunch fare like pastry wrapped beef tenderloin, salad bar, and dessert table.  Our favorites were their bacon, Carmel topped French toast, Nutella and banana cake pops, and Addie’s favorite was the carved roast beef.


After brunch we took the golf cart tour of Top of the Rock.  It is a self guided tour, and you can stop anywhere along the route and take pictures.  This was our favorite part of the whole weekend.  The tour takes you through a cave with an impressive waterfall.  The tour also takes you past several rock formations and waterfalls.  It seemed that every few minutes there was something worth stopping and seeing.  A 90 minute tour, it was fun for all four of us.  Lydia is still talking about the tour.  “Cave, wa-wa!!”



We decided to head back and relax and the cabin and take a nap.  When we started thinking about dinner, we thought it would be a beautiful day to grill.  You can order a grill basked through room service, but they were $42 per person for a steak basket and $18 per person for a hot dog basket.  So, we made the smart choice and drove to Country Mart and bought steaks, sides, and breakfast food for under $40 total.  Yeah… I’d suggest bringing your own food.  Combine the grilling with a walk down to the lake to throw rocks in (well, Lydia throws the rocks and Addie skips the rocks) the lake, it was a perfect evening.


Monday morning we returned to Top of the Rock to go to the Ozarks Heritage History Museum.  When you buy your ticket for the golf cart tour, you can buy a combo ticket with the museum.  Definitely the best price deal, we also learned that you can return and do the museum any time within a year of purchasing the tickets.  This museum was excellent.  Full of Native American artifacts native to the Ozarks, it also had taxidermy, Civil War, and dioramas in it’s expansive collection.  The massive size of the collection is quite impressive.  Addie LOVED the museum, but she is a 6 year old who is fascinated by artifacts of all kinds.  Lydia on the other hand, let’s just say we’re still learning appropriate museum behavior.  It’s a good thing we went right at opening and only saw one other person while we were there.



Before we left, we drove around Big Cedar to see everything the resort had to offer.  It looks like it would be an incredible summer destination with a marina, putt putt golf, walking trails, swimming pools, etc.  But honestly, the summer prices would double and make it cost just as much or more as our Disney vacations.  It is a gorgeous corner of the Ozarks, and I see why it was named one of the top resorts in the midwest.  But the prices are why is was a bucket list weekend, and not a whim adventure.  I think we would all love to return to Top of the Rock though, since you do not need to stay at Big Cedar to enjoy this portion of the activities.


Legoland, Kansas City

This year we are trying to do one new adventure every month.  The only stipulation is that it has to be local (southwest MO), or within a weekend trip. We were already planning on going to Kansas City to visit family and go to IKEA in January, so we decided to add something we’ve never done. Legoland!


Legoland is located in Crowne Center Plaza.  This area includes shopping, restaurants, and Sealife Aquarium.  Legoland costs $19 per adult, but you can get discounted tickets online.  You can also get a package deal if you buy tickets to both Legoland and Sealife.  These tickets were a great price, and I would recommend these tickets if you have the time.  We have done the aquarium before and enjoyed it.  Today we only had time for Legoland, as we had done some serious damage at IKEA already that day. The entrance to Sealife and Legoland are in the same location, so while my husband was buying tickets my daughters and I were looking at fish tank in the lobby.  A teenager and her father (!!) were both sticking their hands inside the tank and touching the fish.  Naturally my six year old said , “Mommy! Can I touch the fish too!”  So, I pointed to a large sign and read it to Addie that said “PLEASE DO NOT PUT HANDS IN TANK.”  I got a dirty look, but right then an employee yelled “DO NOT TOUCH THE FISH!” They had an attitude.  Oy.  Some people.  Rules are there for a reason, people.  Ok… rant over.


The first section of Legoland teaches you how to build a 3D model.  A video explains how to use graph paper to design your model, and then has a room with stools and bins of legos for you to build your design.  It was too advanced for my 2 year old, but my 6 year old took her time to draw a boat, and then carefully laid her legos on top of her paper to build it.  If your child loves to build and design, then they will love this portion.


When you leave this area you are taken to the que line for the first ride.  This ride was for all ages.  You each have a gun, and the ride moves you to different screens where you shoot the targets and get points.  Everyone in my family enjoyed it.

When you leave this ride, the rest of Legoland is open and you can walk where you wish.  There was a Lego Model City you could walk through.  They had models of KC, the Royals and Chiefs stadiums, and a Wizard of Oz section.  There were buttons you can push to make things move and/or light up.  The displays are impressive, and make my own lego efforts look puny.



There is a netted indoor play area with slides and things to climb.  The next attraction is a second ride.  This ride is a similar ride to Dumbo, but this one is bicycle shaped and you pedal to make your bicycle go up or down.  This one had height restrictions.  Lydia barely made it, and she rode but could not reach the pedals.

Past the ride is a lego house, with a kitchen set up to make lego pizzas.  There were premade “pizzas” in the fridge, and then buckets of different colored toppings.  The living room of the house was set up with lego movie karaoke and a microphone.

Earthquake tables were set up so you could build a house, then turn to the knob to see if your house would withstand an earthquake.  We purposefully built a tall tower to see it fall down… and then it didn’t.  It defied logic.



Our favorite section was the cars section.  Large bins of legos with parts to make cars were placed around different racing tracks.  My whole family loved building different cars and racing them.


We had so much fun at Legoland.  I highly recommend it for kids of all ages.  The adults in our group enjoyed it as much as the kids.  It is a great afternoon adventure.  My only recommendation is that you bring hand sanitizer/wipes.  I kept thinking to myself, “I bet a thousand kids have touched these legos.”  Germs, bleh.


I will also mention that we ate at Jack Stack BBQ on the way home.  The hubs is a KC native, so it wasn’t new to him but it was for me.  I had a French dip sandwich that was, by far, the best I’ve ever had.  I loved their cheesy corn for a side, but wasn’t thrilled with the beans.  It was a great experience, albeit an expensive one.  It’s more of a “fine dining” BBQ experience.




A Year of Adventure

One day I was driving my usual commute, and discovered a car accident was blocking my exit from the highway.  In a slight panic, because I had left at the last possible minute of course, I was asking Siri for new directions to work.  Now there are multiple routes I can take, and I do switch it up frequently since I have a 40 minute commute everyday.  I thought I had taken all of them, and honestly was surprised when Siri suggested a new route.  Good ‘ol Siri, to the rescue.

Siri took me farther down the highway, and had me turn on BB highway.  This took me past the Tiger Sanctuary.  I’ve always wanted to go there, I thought to myself as I was driving to work.  I started to think about how there are probably lots of cool things I haven’t done in my area, even though I’ve lived here for 16 years (whoa…) now.

I love new adventures.  In fact, I love it so much some times I struggle with being content with the everyday.  I long to travel the open road, try new foods, explore museums, and discover the unexpected.  But sometimes I need to be reminded that there are grand adventures right here in our corner of the Ozarks.  So I decided right then and there as I was driving my new route to work, my New Years resolution for 2017 was going to try something new in our area at least once a month.

My rules for my resolution:

  1. It has to be something brand new for me, my husband, and my kids.
  2. I has to be in our area or within a weekend excursion trip.
  3. I will record each of our adventures in my new blog
  4. It can by anything new such as a museum, festival, restaurant, etc.

So there’s my plan.  Here’s to a new year of adventures, of local foods,  of wanderlust, of the unexpected, and a renewed appreciation of our Ozarks.