Thanksgiving at Big Cedar Lodge

What are the highlights of a Thanksgiving vacation at Big Cedar Lodge? They are PERFECTION! The unique combo of holidays during the gorgeous Fall season makes it a double whammy at BCL—Thanksgiving and Christmas all in one!

I personally like this particular time at Big Cedar because the weather can be as warm as 60 degrees and as brisk as 29 degrees. You can enjoy all the outdoor activities while still enjoying the fireplace in your lodging and at restaurants.  We have stayed in each type of lodge there except for the Spring View lodge. The lodges we’ve stayed in include:

  • private log cabin
  • Wilderness log cabin
  • Falls Lodge
  • Valley View Lodge
  • Knotty Pine Cottage
  • Fishing cabin
  • Wilderness Club condo

I love  the Wilderness Club cabins and condos area and it has a great proximity to the wilderness walk trails which end up at the main “village”, marina, etc. The private log cabins are quite a bit farther away from everything but quite stunning. Both Big Cedar and Wilderness Club have courtesy shuttles to transport you around but the walk is very accessible and short. The extra walking is worth it so you can indulge in the delicious food on site. Wilderness Club, with its Brushey Creek Clubhouse nearby, has another new feature !!- FUN MOUNTAIN! (with Uncle Buck’s Fishbowl and Grill) 

Fun Mountain is located where the old horse stables and hiking trails were. You might be asking yourself,  “Why would they add this to a wilderness resort where kids and families should concentrate on outdoorsy activities? fresh mountain air? valley views, etc.??”  Once I checked it out with my teenage son and saw families interacting there, I understood! Fun Mountain is a great added feature for family reunions, destination wedding trips, etc….I realized that it gives families another option of indoor activities once they’ve no doubt enjoyed all the outdoor adventures. Personally, I’d just focus on the outdoor activities but this feature can certainly extend your stay here. Also, during the colder months, this feature gives an indoor option. When our other two college sons arrived, we showed them Fun Mountain and it seemed like nirvana to them after being immersed in a college class presentation and lab report that were due that very same day that they drove out to Big Cedar Lodge from University of Kansas. You definitely burn off steam when you can drive bumper cars that flip AND spin when they bump!

The activities at Fun Mountain include:

  • bowling
  • billiards
  • restaurant and bar
  • laser tag
  • golf simulator
  • flip and spin bumper cars
  • regular bumper cars
  • climbing wall
  • big screen tvs
  • Nature Discovery Center for kids
  • 30 foot slide
  • playground
  • archery (coming)
  • go carts (coming soon)and much, much more!

Examples of cottages and cabins:

Wilderness Club log cabin
private log cabin

With the week off of school this year, my teenager and I came up on Monday, the rest of our family met us on Tuesday and Wednesday due to work and college classes. Staggering our arrival came in handy in various ways. My teenager and I got some one on one time on the road trip up. Also, since he didn’t have his brothers to interact with, he and I spent time at an old favorite—the Lincoln Log table! (We’re never too old for Lincoln Logs–a beloved BCL tradition). He ventured from there over to the 500 piece puzzle; something he had never really done. When you have a break from school, extra-curricular activities and jobs, time for a 500 piece puzzle suddenly becomes available and enticing.

We followed a chipmunk to its habitat, walked across the Devil’s Pool swinging bridge and enjoyed the touches of Americana decor.

Walking the trails and paths of the resort, I heard pealing laughter of children ice skating on the rink, kids playing shuffleboard and others playing football.

All the Fall, Thanksgiving and Christmas decor and activities led us up to the Thanksgiving Buffet at Top of the Rock.

Traditionally, we’ve been celebrating Thanksgiving and splitting a cabin or condo with our cousins at Big Cedar. This particular year they couldn’t attend but we ran into several other families we knew from back home. We hope to resume our tradition again next year!This year, the boys rode the golf carts again on the Lost Canyon Trail and did the Natural History Museum on the same day as our Thanksgiving Buffet. That’s what I LOVE!! Everything is still open to enjoy on Thanksgiving Day so we purposely scheduled our feast for dinner time so we could enjoy the BCL mini golf and Top of the Rock activities. A little shopping at the General Store, a little happy hour on the balcony of Arnie’s Barn while the boys were off enjoying the nature…..

Lost Canyon Trail golf cart

On the last day, we checked out and visited our beloved Dogwood Canyon a half hour drive away. Our sons look forward to their bike race through the canyon. This year, all of us enjoyed the wildlife tram ride together.

After several days of “pre-Hygge” cocooning together at Big Cedar Lodge as a family in this idyllic Ozark valley, an afternoon at Silver Dollar City and a day at Dogwood Canyon, I feel a little prepared to hunker down for winter hibernation now. I first have to get this “wilderness” pilgrimage out of my system. In the last 16 years, I’ve watched these boys go from infants and little boys catching their first fish to grown, young adult men driving their own golf carts and knowing the geology terms on the wildlife tram tour. We hope to keep returning and eventually going with our future grandkids to enjoy the journey all over again…. from playgrounds, canoe rides, kiddie park at Silver Dollar City, first roller coasters, and much more! Read these two blogs below for more features:

Big Cedar Lodge

Lost Canyon Trail at Top of the Rock

all photos by GIna Kingsley

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