August 4, 2020

Big Cedar Lodge in Branson, MO- Where to stay, What to eat & What to do!

This post is LONG overdue because every time we go to Big Cedar, I get so many messages on my Instagram asking all the questions! We are clearly in love with BC, as we go twice a year. Once in the summer, and once at Christmas. We truly love both seasons there and feel there is plenty to do both times. Before we get into all the deets, I want to answer the questions you all left on my Instagram about Big Cedar:

Your questions answered!

1. How far in advance do you book your visits?

If we are staying on the big cedar side (I’ll clarify this more below), we book at least a half a year in advance. If we are staying on the timeshare side, we book as close to 2 weeks out from the trip.

2. Do you recommend the spa?

YES I DO!!! It is pricey, but what spa isn’t. It’s totally worth the money, in my opinion. If you book any spa service, the spa amenities are included for free for the entire day. Which is the sauna, grotto (an amazing heated pool area with lounge chairs to sit and relax, and many more. I recently got a 90 minute massage on our last trip and paid $250, but there is less expensive treatments to choose from. They do a great job of making you feel pampered from beginning to end.

3. Is it worth checking out going if I don’t have kids?

YES! There are a wide range of guests there. It is a great pace for couples, singles, girls trip, and families!

4. Top of the rock, do you need reservations? Is it worth taking smaller children?

Yes and no to this one. I would recommend reservations to eat, but you can also walk in and sit at the bar without a reservation. The only restaurants that are open at Top of the rock right now are both pricey. Expect to pay about 20-50 per entree and drinks are around 20 each! There are plenty of kids that go, but if you want to get out cheaper, maybe leave them with grandma 😉 As for other things to do at Top of the Rock, I will answer that below, because there is other things that are great to do with kids!

5. Is this a good trip with teenagers? Or just bring hubby?

It’s a great place for teenagers!! There are 5 pools on property and lots of places in the resort for them to go off and be teenagers lol. There’s also lots of outdoor activities that are free. Not to mention renting a boat! I would definitely bring my teens, but also a trip alone with the hubs would be great too 😉

6. How do you book a rental there? Do you have to have a timeshare?

All this info is below under “How to Book” and no, you don’t need a timeshare!


Okay, let’s dive into all the details!!


How To Book

There are 2 ways to visit Big Cedar: Staying in a Big Cedar cabin, cottage, lodge, or staying on the timeshare side of the property in The Wilderness Club. Both come with all the same amenities and there really is no difference, other than price. We stay on the Wilderness side majority of the time, due to price. One plus to the Wilderness side is that they have laundry machines in all their units. The Big Cedar side does not. When we go in the summer, having the laundry is very needed! The cabins look the same on either side of the resort, so there is no difference there.

Big Cedar Side:

To find out about renting on the Big Cedar side, head HERE. If they don’t have any dates listed on their website, you will have to call and their number is (800) 225-6343. A rep can help you further. The lodges on the Big Cedar side are the most reasonable, and the prices go up from there if you’d like a cabin or a cottage. It also depends what time of year you go. The high season gets very pricey, where as the off season has more deals. We have stayed in THIS lodge before and it was very nice and doable! If you’re booking on the Big Cedar side, and are wanting a cabin or a cottage, I would book at least a few months in advance (unless price is no option), but they usually have lodge rooms pretty readily open. We have booked a lodge room a few days ahead of time with no problem. We even got a deal because Sunday nights are discounted!

The Wilderness Club:

This one is more detailed, but definitely worth a small hassle! To rent on the timeshare side, you have to rent it from an individual timeshare owner. To do that you either have to rent from a referral, Craigslist, or Ebay. Owners will rent out their units on those sites and you can find some great deals. We typically pay anywhere from $75-250 a night. We have stayed in both a cabin and a 2 bedroom lodge, and prefer the lodge for our family (and also for the view!) To search on Ebay or Craigslist, just search “Big Cedar Wilderness Club” and dates and units will pop up. It can be a little strange sending a random person money for a rental without knowing them, but if you send it through PayPal, you’re protected against fraud. We have rented 6 times now doing it this way, and have never had an issue. It’s a VERY common way to rent there. You can also talk to the person on the phone, which I’ve done many times, before sending the money. Once you send the money, the owner will set up your dates and you will get an email through Bluegreen Vacations with your rental info. Once you get that email, you won’t hear anything again from Bluegreen until you show up, so don’t be alarmed by that. You can always call (417) 348-4085 and verify your reservation, if you’re concerned.

If you are renting a lodge through the Wilderness side, call about a week in advance and ask to have a top floor unit with a view of the lake. You won’t regret it 🙂 They will do their best to accommodate that. Booking on the Wilderness side is great because you can find great deals if you’re flexible and can go within a few weeks of booking. Most of the time the owners will discount their unit the closer it gets to the date, so that is a bonus for you! You can also try and negotiate the rate with the owner. We have had luck doing that twice. It can be more difficult to negotiate rates if you’re going in the summer, since it’s such a popular time, and they have no problem renting out units.

Below is the view from Viney Creek Lodge in Wilderness Club.

What To Do

There is so much offered on the resort, that we generally don’t ever leave, unless we are going to Silver Dollar City. When you are in the resort, there are free shuttles that will take you anywhere you want to go within Big Cedar. You just call the front desk and a shuttle will appear! If you have strollers, that will add a level of inconvenience , but everything is pretty walk-able, as well.


Lets start with the pools. There are 5 pools on the property and each have their own pluses and minuses. Our 2 favorite pools are Devil’s Pool and the Falls pool. Devil’s pool is attached to the Buzzard Bar and it’s a great place to people watch. It’s a smaller pool but the view is amazing and it has food + drink service, which is right up our alley 🙂 Give us a pina colada poolside, and we are some happy campers! The Falls pool is on the Wilderness side and is great because it has a nice baby pool and has a pretty waterfall that separates an upper pool from a lower pool. It’s big, so there’s lot of space for people. There is no food or drink service at the Falls pool, so you will need to bring your own. They also have a lazy river that is really popular with a lot of people! We decided we aren’t lazy river people lol, but people seem to love it.


As I mentioned above, I highly suggest the spa! It’s worth saving up for. Its absolutely gorgeous inside, and every service I have gotten has been top notch. They make you feel pampered from the second you walk in, till the second you leave. If you don’t want to shell out for a treatment, you can always just pay for a day pass, and that gets you access to the saunas and grotto. That alone would be worth it!

Below is the grotto area.

Outdoor activities

There is a lot of free things to do around the property. One of them is mini golf, and my girls live for that. You can find a list of all the free things offered around the property HERE. They always have free events at night year round, that we absolutely love. They have bonfires, outdoor movie nights, and so much more!! There is always something going on 🙂 The girls love doing the paddle boats! There is also a little beach near the paddle boats and the kids love playing in the lake and swimming. There is also a great 5K trail that we love to run on every time we go and is very scenic!

Fun mountain

Fun mountain is fun for kids… and parents hear dollar signs LOL, but it is great because they have a bowling alley, obstacle course, arcade, lazer tag, go karts, bumper cars and a restaurant/bar. Be prepared to hear daily “Can we go to fun mountain?!” 🙂

One thing I highly recommend taking advantage of at Fun Mountain is Adventure Club!!! Its for kids 4 and up, and is essentially a babysitting service, but the kids have SO MUCH FUN! They have different activities every day and it’s for a 4 hour span, so it gives mom and dad some much needed time away 🙂 The girls absolutely love doing this! They get to play in their fun room that has a jungle gym, they eat a meal there, they get to do their build-a-bear activity, they also do whatever activity is planned for that day. Last trip they did fishing, and also camping. They learned how to build a tent + fire and roasted marshmallows! It really is so fun for them!

Boat rental

This is hands down our favorite thing to do here. It is always our favorite day, and we rent the boat for 8 hours and a spend a full day on the water. You can rent from Bent Hook Marina if you’re staying on property, or Long Creek Marina and State Park Marina if you are staying somewhere else. You will pay a premium at Bent Hook, but we love the convenience of it. You can also rent a tube or skis for the boat! Make sure to bring food and drink on board! They will supply you towels and life jackets. We always rent the Regency pontoon boat, and it’s perfect for our needs. You can also rent jet skis, which we did this past time and our girls LOVED it!

Top of The Rock

This is a two part one because I feel differently about the food at top of the rock, versus activities. I would highly recommend going there with or without kids! They have a museum which you can check out HERE, they have a really fun golf cart tour that we highly recommend, and just walking around the grounds is a must! The view is incredible and can’t be missed. You can go take some pics at the restaurant, even if you don’t eat there. As I mentioned above, the restaurants are very pricey, so plan for that if you decide to eat there. There is a church on the property and is beautiful, so be sure to walk in there. You can get there from the basement of Buffalo Bar, and there is also a really cool wine cellar down there! There is also a golf course that is supposed to be one of the best in the country! We don’t golf, so I can’t personally attest to that 🙂

When you arrive at Top of the Rock, you will have to pay a $10 entrance fee and then you park at the gift shop/welcome area and a shuttle will take you over to the restaurant area, where the amazing view is. The golf cart activity is right where you park and it takes about an hour or longer to go through. There is amazing waterfalls and lookout points along the way. They also offer a shuttle from Big Cedar grounds to Top of the Rock.

Below is the view from Top of the Rock. It was a cloudy day when we last went, but still beautiful!

Where to Eat

This would be our only complaint about coming here: the food. It’s not the greatest, in our opinion. It’s also pricey everywhere you go. We joke that we can’t get out of a restaurant without spending a hundred dollars every time. On property they have Truman, which is a cafe and it’s great for coffee and breakfast + lunch and opens as a custard shop at night! There’s Devil’s Pool + Buzzard Bar in the same building and we typically eat at Buzzard Bar if we are eating out. Then there’s Uncle Bucks in Fun Mountain. The food is good, but it’s not great. We typically bring food and make meals in our room. We will take lunches to the pool or on the boat, make  breakfast and dinners in the room, and maybe eat out a a few times a week


That’s a Wrap!

That pretty much sums up all the info! It really is hard to explain how special it is, but once you get there, you will totally get it! The grounds are so beautiful and there is so many cute little nooks to explore. I will be doing a seperate post about Christmas time at Big Cedar, because that is the most magical time to go!! If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask! You can always DM me on Insta, or email me

Thanks for reading!!


August 7, 2019

A Weekend In KC – How to get there, What To Do, and Where to eat.

There are few things in life better than a weekend getaway, exploring a new city with your girlfriends. Am I right?! Bonus, it’s your birthday weekend, too! To say Meghan, Emily, and I had a great weekend in KC, would be a major understatement. I absolutely fell in LOVE with this city and all it has to offer!! It’s such a gem that is so close to STL, that it basically makes it a no brainer to make a trip there.

I had only been to Kansas City once, 12 years ago celebrating my one year wedding anniversary. We stayed at the The Rafael in Country Club Plaza, and we loved it, but we never ventured into the city. I was so happy we got to stay in the heart of the city this time, but we did make our way to Country Club Plaza twice, because you gotta eat and shop while on vacay!

Let’s get this party started, shall we?!

How to get to KC:

This one was an easy decision because we have Amtrak right at our doorstep, and it’s such an easy and comfortable ride. From Kirkwood, MO to KC it was a 5 hour trip. The train is very comfortable, clean, and you are able to drink, #YesPlease! You sit 2 to a row, and there is plenty of leg room. I had taken the train to Chicago once before and loved the ease of it. You can bring as much luggage as your heart’s desire (hell yeah!), bring any food or drink you like, and most of the time the train isn’t at capacity, so the chances of having an empty seat next to you are pretty good.

A few draw backs to the train: You are on a train track, so if there is delays, there is literally nowhere for you to go. On the way there, we had a train break down on the tracks in front of us and we were delayed about an hour. The second drawback is the WiFi is pretty spotty. It may just be there route to KC isn’t the best for signal, but it was not very reliable. If you plan on working on the train ride, just keep that in mind. Another thing that was a little unnerving, there is no security whatsoever. No one checks your bags, or you, for anything. You literally get on the train with no hassle at all. That is nice, but at the same time, kinda strange. Me being paranoid for safety when I travel was a bit uncomfortable with that aspect. However, everything was completely fine, and I felt totally safe. There are Amtrak workers that are walking through the trains constantly.

Kikrwood, MO Amtrak station

Are you even a blogger if you don’t do this pose?! 😉


Where to stay:


Since our trip was in collaboration with VisitKC, they set up our accommodations at the Marriott Kansas City Downtown, and we could not have been happier about that. The hotel was in the perfect location, felt very luxury, and had everything we could have wanted or needed. It was close to shops, restaurants, the convention center, and local transit. This hotel gets a lot of convention guests, since the convention center is literally right at their doorstep. They recently underwent a $65 million dollar renovation, and the hotel is absolutely beautiful! They thought of every detail a guest would need or want. Dustin Holcumbrink, the director of sales & marketing, set us up with one of their suites on the 20th floor, and we were in heaven!! 3 mom’s away without the kiddos in a gorgeous hotel suite…. are ya kiddin me?! One of the things I loved about the room was the technology. We all know you go to hotels and watch movies, am I right?! They have Netfilx built in, so you just enter your login info and voila! You can catch up on your shows while away. Brilliant!! The bed was also super comfy. I am slightly high maintenance when it comes to sleeping, and this girl slept great there!

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I thoroughly enjoyed having a beautiful hotel room all to myself! My kids have trained me to be an early riser, as much as I don’t want to haha! So both mornings I woke up around 7am and headed down to the hotel’s coffee bar and enjoyed my Americano in peace and quiet. It was amazing 🙂

My morning coffee in the hotel lobby


We had planned on taking the city’s free transit that is a few blocks from the hotel, but it was super hot the weekend we went and wanted to be pampered to the max, so we decided to Uber the whole weekend. We were there from Friday afternoon till Sunday afternoon and we spent 76$ in Uber charges. I don’t think that’s bad at all! I feel like we did a lot too, so it’s definitely reasonable. That’s one of the things I loved about the city, was how close it all is for food and activities. I didn’t feel like we had to drive 30 minutes just to get to a destination. The city felt so safe too. It was also so clean, which was so nice! They have done an incredible job making the city feel clean and safe. Those are two major things I look for when visiting a new city.

What to do:


KC has no shortage of things to do. We were there 3 days, and I feel like we still had so much left to see and do. That just means another trip is in store 😉 We got in to KC around 4pm on Friday and went straight to the hotel to drop off our bags and luggage. From there we went to The Crossroads Hotel, which was incredible. I highly suggest checking out that hotel, if only for the decor. They have a rooftop bar called Percheron, and the view is incredible. They have great cocktails and apps, too. From there we went to a new restaurant called Fox and Pearl. You guys. incredible food!!! The decor was gorgeous too. The overall vibe was just so me, and I loved it. I cannot wait to go back there sometime. I got the ravioli and it was divine. It was the perfect spot to celebrate my birthday! Thank you to Fox and Pearl for the meal ♥

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Dream morning at the Marriott!


We made our way to The Country Club Plaza ( a must do in KC) and had brunch at Gram & Dun, which was delicious! Something to note: the plaza was only a 10 minute drive from our hotel, which wasn’t bad at all!


Country Club Plaza


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From brunch we did a little shopping in the Plaza. They have pretty much every large retailer you’d want. You can find a list of their shops HERE. One store we really enjoyed at the plaza was a store called Made in KC Marketplace. It’s a marketplace for all locally owned KC small businesses. We loved it! You could even go in to sit and have a beer at their cute little bar section.

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After we left the Plaza, we headed to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art to play mini golf! Sounds interesting, huh? It was SO fun. The art inside, inspired each hole of the 9 hole course. You can play the course and then go inside to learn about the art that inspired each hole. So cool right?! It was very hot the day we went, but thankfully they had a bar cart and a misting station to cool us off. You can check out the course info HERE and schedule a tee time!


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After the museum we headed back to the hotel for some much needed rest before we headed to dinner. We didn’t have anything specific planned for dinner that night, so we tried to find a restaurant with open reservations and came across The Reserve in The Ambassador Hotel. It was the perfect spot for what we wanted that evening. The decor was very chic and they had a great band playing. It was just the vibe we were looking for.

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The next morning (our last day), we really wanted to check out an area called West Bottoms in KC with lots of vintage/antique shops, but they were all closed on Sundays, unfortunately. We should have planned that one out better, but now we know for next time. We decided to head back to the Country Club Plaza for brunch and a little shopping before we headed back home. We ate at the Parkway Social Kitchen and loved it.

Parkway Social Kitchen


We walked around a bit more, got our kiddos some presents (maybe a few for me lol), and headed back to the hotel to get our things. We headed to Union Station, which is something to note because it’s gorgeous!! The interior is incredible and a definite must see, even if you aren’t taking the train. You can stop in for some ice cream and see grand central hall to people watch 😉 They even have something called Science City inside Union Station, that the kiddos would love. You can check it out HERE.

Union Station KC


We had such a great weekend in Kansas City, and will absolutely be back!! I would love to bring the family next time and go to LegoLand. My kids would love taking the train, too!

A HUGE shout out to Derek with VistKC. He was incredible to work with and set us up with the best KC has to offer! He also gave us the best recommendations for the weekend, which is now being passed on to you for your trip to KC 😉 Big thanks to the Marriott KC Downtown, as well, for hosting us in luxury, and pampering us all weekend!! Our trip was one for the books!!

Please reach out with any questions, or if you want any more info on a particular thing we did. Thanks for reading, and hope this was helpful!!


Mary ♥