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.
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.