Raise your hand if you had to cancel your summer vacation due to COVID-19. Unfortunately, that’s the norm for 2020. Many of us have had plans altered or called off, and we are all ready for life to return to some semblance of normalcy. We had our annual beach trip to 30A all planned out only to cancel it a few months after the COVID-19 lockdowns were happening all across the US.
But every cloud has a silver lining; even if you have to search for it! I have found that I’m spending more time outdoors and making memories with my family. Thankfully, we were even able to go on an unexpected vacation, despite the circumstances. It ended up being such an incredible trip that I wanted to share with you how we were able to adhere to social-distancing rules, keep our family and others safe, and still experience the beauty of Big Cedar Lodge and Table Rock lake in Branson, MO.
A Perfect Vacation Spot
Everyone has their own idea of the perfect vacation. For some, it’s jumping on a plane and flying to the other side of the world while others may prefer exploring different parts of the U.S. in an RV. For me, it’s a low-key getaway with my family not too far from home, which we made happen just a few weeks ago.
Big Cedar Lodge was the ideal locale for us: not only is it just a few hours away, but it offers plenty of outdoor activities for the family and provides lots of space to enjoy nature. We packed enough food so we could cook most of our own meals, and we let the kids pick different movies to watch each night.
The Big Cedar Lodge Story
While Big Cedar has been around for over 100 years, Johnny Morris, founder of Bass Pro Shops, purchased the property in 1987, restored the existing buildings, and expanded the property to create a large wilderness resort. Fast-forward to today, the resort spans over 4,600 acres in its own wooded hollow. Johnny Morris is a bit of a legend for all that he has done in the area, and the rumor is that he is a very down-to-earth guy sometimes spotted around the resort.
It’s long been said that the key to a good life is to enjoy the simple pleasures. My simple pleasure is being in the Ozarks enjoying time outside, and Big Cedar Resort provides an ideal setting to do just that. It is right near Table Rock Lake, a pristine lake that sits on the AR/MO border. You can’t beat the fishing, and the scenery is absolutely stunning.
I hear more and more families talking about their trips to Big Cedar or asking us for details about what to do there. Our family has been going to Big Cedar for over 10 years now, and we love escaping to this picturesque resort when we can. If you’re looking for a closer-to-home spot to take a vacation during the coronavirus pandemic, here are some fun details about the resort and what we did while visiting.
Top of the Rock Golf Course
While you won’t be bored at Big Cedar, my top pick out of all of their activities is golfing! There are a number of fantastic golf courses to choose from, but one takes the cake: Top of the Rock Golf Course, a fabulous par-3 Jack Nicklaus course that every golf enthusiast must play at some point in their life! The course is challenging and the scenery is beautiful, with waterfalls, creeks, ponds, and views of Table Rock Lake to admire. I have played this course a number of times and it’s always a great experience. Fun fact: This particular course is the first par-3 course to be included in a professional championship!
Payne’s Valley Golf Course
If one course isn’t enough for you, you’ll also enjoy Payne’s Valley Golf Course. This course was designed by Tiger Woods himself, along with his design firm. Known for its 19th hole, the Big Rock at Payne’s Valley™,this course also has plenty of water features, expansive fairways and greens, and views of the Ozark Mountains. Fun fact: The clubhouse is quite spectacular with incredible views and is one of my favorite spots to get a fantastic lunch.
A Day On The Lake
Because of the size of the resort and its focus on relishing the great outdoors, you won’t have trouble maintaining social-distancing standards, especially at the lake for a day of swimming, skiing and tubing.
You have your choice of Jet Skis, paddle boats, and really any kind of boat your heart desires. Fishing is prevalent on Table Rock Lake, and if you know how to find the good spots, you can have a successful day catching some fish. I won’t share any of my fishing stories but can assure you there are some massive fish in Table Rock Lake. The greatest thing about the lake is that you can step away from busy society and crowds of people to enjoy the breathtaking beauty of Mother Nature. If you feel like the four walls of your house are closing in, a day at Table Rock Lake could be the key to restoring your sanity! Fun fact: An instructor led paddle board exercise class is available out on the lake, but be sure to make reservations if you are interested.
The Lost Canyon Cave Tour
The cave tour at Top of the Rock is a must! The Lost Canyon Cave Tour boasts a two-and-a-half-mile electric cart adventure, taking you along the Top of the Rock Lost Canyon and Nature Trail. Not only will you see unforgettable rock formations, waterfalls, and views, but you’ll also experience the amazing bridge built by the Amish without power tools. My family has done this tour several times and every time it feels like a new adventure. We especially enjoy the bat bar which provides fun and refreshing drinks for the whole family. There are several places to stop and take breathtaking pictures, so do not forget to have your camera ready to preserve your precious memories. Fun fact: Be sure to book your trip earlier in the day to avoid the big crowds.
Food To Savor
There are plenty of places to grab a quick casual bite or a more formal dinner around Big Cedar. In the age of COVID-19, dining out can be tricky and we prefer eating outside when we can. One place that we frequent every time we are at Big Cedar Resort is Osage Restaurant [bigcedar.com]. The restaurant has an upscale feel but is very down-to-earth at the same time. In addition, the views are nothing short of amazing, and the food will leave you satisfied with your choice. If you do decide to visit Osage, reservations are required and sometimes may take a couple weeks out to get your desired time. I highly recommend going at sunset to see the spectacular views and experience their sunset celebration where there is a reenactment of the firing of an old civil war cannon. There are several other great dining establishments in and around the big cedar properties but Osage is probably our favorite. Be sure to head downstairs and check out the wine cellar and bar. Fun fact: Beneath the restaurant is a private Bourbon tasting room.
Take A Chance On Big Cedar Resort!
Whether you are looking for a traditional vacation spot or a quick getaway for a day or two, Big Cedar has it all. It’s simply a great family-oriented place with countless things to do. Some other family faves are Fun Mountain (Big Cedar’s version of Dave & Buster’s…only better), Bass Pro Shops Shooting Academy, Cedar Creek Spa and Salon, Dogwood Canyon and The Wonders of Wildlife National Museum. And more great news: Johnny Morris recently announced that he purchased the abandoned Dogpatch USA property located in Marble Falls, AR. There is no doubt that it will be spectacular once it’s updated.
In these times of anxiety and uncertainty, it’s even more important to have something to look forward to and find ways to relieve stress. If you want to hear more about our trip or have any questions for me, schedule a phone call now!
About Rocklin Senavinin, CFP®
With over 20 years of experience in the financial planning industry, Roc has dedicated his career to helping individuals live comfortably in retirement and enjoy the assets they have spent their career building. He is co-founder of Fiduciary Wealth Management, a fee-only registered investment advisory firm in Little Rock, Arkansas. As a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional, he has advanced training in the holistic process of creating a personal financial plan that addresses a person’s comprehensive needs for the short and long term. To learn more, connect with Roc on LinkedIn or visit www.fidwm.com. If you have questions, feel free to schedule a phone call using this link.
The views expressed represent the opinions of Fiduciary Wealth Management, LLC and are subject to change. These views are not intended as a forecast, a guarantee of future results, investment recommendation, or an offer to buy or sell any securities. The information provided is of a general nature and should not be construed as investment advice or to provide any investment, tax, financial, or legal advice or service to any person.
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