Netflix intro’d us to to the Ozarks via their smashing success, Ozark (if you haven’t seen it, queue it up for a binge), and now we’re all uber curious to check out this gorgeous part of the country that’s the backdrop for insane storylines. With many of us opting for road tripping vs jet setting, it’s the perfect time to make that 8-hour-ish drive to Big Cedar Lodge from Chicago. Read on to see what you’ve been missing in Missouri and why it should top your 2020 travel agenda.

 

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Accommodations

The Ozark Mountains are stunning and play a central character in the Big Cedar Lodge experience, with the property built to compliment and blend with the natural landscape. The 302 private accommodations encompass grand lodges, cozy cottages, private log cabins and camp-style units—all with the comforts of home. If social distance travel is what you’re looking for, the sprawl and sheer size of the property gives your family the opportunity to stay a safe distance from other travelers.

Glamping

Big Cedar Lodge’s newest addition, Camp Long Creek, sits along the 43,000-acre Table Rock Lake and offers a chic new way for non-campers to pretend they’re rugged and not-at-all rough it. Camp Long Creek’s accommodations include 42 luxury glamping tents, stylish camp cabins and camp huts with lake “beach” access, an infinity pool with loungers and s’mores kits upon arrival. Paying a $15 resort fee gives guests access to all Big Cedar Lodge amenities.

 

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Hungry campers can fill up at Canteen, a vintage Airstream offering easy breakfast, lunch and dinner options, as well as drinks (including canned cocktails to go!).

 

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Dining

Having fun can be exhausting and Big Cedar Lodge has many come-as-you-are refueling options if your mid-adventure or wrapping up a full day of activity that will keep kids from reaching hangry status. Restaurants on property offer selections ranging from southern home-style fare, pizza and burgers, Mexican cuisine, and baked goods in a rustic, regional-inspired setting.

 

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If you’re feeling fancy, head to Top of the Rock’s Osage Restaurant for upscale cuisine, mountain views and a glimpse of unique artwork and Native American artifacts.

 

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The Lady Liberty will make you feel like the rich and famous when you step aboard this 62-foot luxury yacht dripping in vintage charm for a two-hour brunch, lunch or dinner cruise.

 

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Sometimes it’s hard to find the motivation to pull the family together to dine out. In those moments, tap the room service team to deliver breakfast, lunch and dinner to your room. If you’re holed up in a cabin or cottage, they can bring Backyard Baskets, which include everything you need to prepare a meal yourself. Options include KC strip steak, all-natural chicken, burgers, hot dogs or breakfast.

 

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Entertainment

Some of the country’s best fishing can be found at Long Creek Marina, where you can also rent boats, jet skis, skiing, tubing and wakeboard equipment, and hire a fishing guide to help you snag an impressive catch.

 

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The kids will lose their minds when they see Fun Mountain, a 50,000 square foot entertainment behemoth that year-round offers a full arcade, bumper cars, underwater-themed bowling, laser tag, ropes course, rock wall, pirate ship play structure and a golf simulator. Fun Mountain can even host a birthday party, if you have a birthday kid in your group.

 

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Don’t forget your camera when you head to Top of the Rock, because the uninterrupted views of the Ozark Mountains are stunning. For a small fee, you can take a shuttle to check out the magnificent views, explore the Lost Canyon Cave, the Ancient History Museum, which has one of the most significant collections of Native American artifacts, Catherdral of Nature, a sinkhole that was naturally formed in 2015, and golf and dine with a sweet view.

Kids will enjoy the 2.5-mile electric cart ride at Lost Canyon Cave that showcases stunning rock formations and views of Table Rock Lake and waterfalls.

 

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Dogwood Canyon Nature Park covers 10,000 acres of Ozark Mountain landscape with miles of crystal clear trout streams, Insta-worthy waterfalls, ancient burial caves, hand-built bridges and bottomless pools. The area lends itself to hiking, biking, trout fishing, horseback riding and tours can be arranged via segway.

 

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Relax your muscles and mind at the luxurious Cedar Creek Spa & Salon. Each of the 11 treatment rooms features its own cozy fireplace and the full-service salon is equipped with massaging pedicure chairs and sofas. Kids ages 10-18 can come along for the spoiling and kids treatments.

Wonders of Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium has received much recognition and makes for a pretty unforgettable family day. It spans 350,000 square feet and has more than 1.5 miles of trails to explore, taking you on an educational journey through immersive habitats. The Aquarium Adventure is home to 800 species of live fish, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds and transports the mind to some of the wildest, most inspirational places on the planet.

 

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If you want to hit the spa alone, the Kids Adventure Club at the Kid’s Nature Discovery Center buys you a few hours kid-free, Mon.-Sat., 9 a.m.-1 p.m. or 4 p.m.-8 p.m. The Activities Team leads kids through badge-earning adventures while they make new friends and hone new skills.

 

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Check out Big Cedar Lodge’s Events tab for daily activities that speak to all sorts of interests and ages. If you’re not the best at planning, Big Cedar Lodge helps with recommended itineraries.

 

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Furry Friend Policy

Big Cedar Lodge is a pet-free resort, however, dogs are welcome when staying at Camp Long Creek, which also conveniently has a dog park.

COVID-19 Impacts

As of press time, Big Cedar Lodge was fully operational, with the exception of one restaurant at Top of the Rock and segway and private wildlife tours at Dogwood Canyon Nature Park. Stay up-to-date on what’s open, what’s not and any COVID-related safety requirements and procedures on Big Cedar Lodge’s Coronavirus page.

 

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Social Media

Fall down the rabbit hole of researching Big Cedar Lodge’s offerings by doing a deep-dive on these Instagram pages: @bigcedarlodge, @topoftherockmo, @dogwood_canyon, @wondersofwildlife,@golfbigcedar.

— Maria Chambers