Cedars, pine trees, streams, waterfalls, moss, nature and luxury; adventure and relaxation…..all of these can be found at Big Cedar Lodge in the Ozarks! Just saying those three words invites a sigh of wonder and appreciation from anyone who has had the pleasure of staying at BCL! The best memories are made at this resort–ranging from rustic relaxation to luxury dining, golfing and holiday fun.We discovered Big Cedar Lodge fifteen years ago when our trip to San Diego and Los Angeles had to be canceled because of the events of 9-11 and airports closing down. What was supposed to be a week of Disneyland, Lego Land, Sea World and other California attractions ended up becoming a quick detour to Branson instead. I had heard about Big Cedar Lodge from friends or colleagues and this was a good opportunity to check it out. As we drove down into the resort area, we were astonished at the beauty of this hidden valley overlooking Table Rock Lake.What especially surprised us were all the amenities and activities included there. Our six year old caught his first fish at the marina– a blue gill! We were able to do paddle boats, canoes and fishing for water activities and hiking, exercise room, horseback riding and putt putt golf along with sports and playgrounds. We ended up returning annually for the next 15 years and staying in every lodging the resort offers. So many additions were created over the years; chapels, skating rink, the development at Top of the Rock and more….Currently, they are building an activities center which is going to include laser tag, bowling, go carts, etc.
We didn’t just want to enjoy it alone so we went back with other relatives over the years. From small groups to large family trips, the best memories have been made there. One tradition that has developed is the Thanksgiving buffet at Top of the Rock.
While we’ve been there during every season, I have to say that Fall is my favorite time to go. I like to get my fill of Fall and closure on the outdoorsy time before having to “hibernate” during the winter months. Fall is a perfect time for us to go and do as many outdoor activities as possible. We start the mornings with a walk through the grounds, enjoying all the holiday decor.
Another reason I love going there in the Fall is because there is a combination of Thanksgiving and Christmas decor which is double the fun. Gingerbread houses and Christmas trees everywhere adorn the resort as well as pumpkins and gourds. This gingerbread house is a replica of the resort.
Thanksgiving Buffet reservations at the Osage Restaurant at Top of the Rock has been perfect for our group which is made up of two families of five. We have dined at Buffalo Bar (the lower level of the Osage restaurant) and the upper level. The same buffet is offered at Arnie’s Barn which we also visit for a meal sometime during our stay. The vistas make you want to linger all day….so we do!
A walk through the cave-like cellar of Top of the Rock leads you to wine cellars and a whiskey tasting room.
Outside, there are numerous patios, fire pits, fireplaces and the imposing chapel–all overlooking Table Rock Lake. Mornings at Big Cedar are eerie and beautiful with an immense fog over the lake and dew all over your balcony patio table. The quiet and hidden valley is “just what the doctor ordered” and one of the reasons why we are always longing to return.
all photos by Gina Kingsley