Outdoor-loving families, take note! Big Cedar Lodge in the Missouri Ozarks boasts a lot of fun things to encounter any season of the year!
If your family loves the great outdoors, then the Big Cedar Lodge Resort in Missouri is the ticket. Beautifully nestled on 800 sprawling acres amidst the foothills of the lush Ozarks and hugging 43,000-acre Table Rock Lake, Big Cedar caters to the great outdoorsperson in everyone.
Big Cedar was built in the 1920s, and Bass Pro Shops acquired it in 1987. All throughout you will see strokes of the Bass Pro stamp, from the giant open-mouth bass at the ninth hole of the property’s miniature golf course to the keen attention to decor inside every room. Speaking of rooms, you can opt for six different varieties, ranging from a traditional hotel-like accommodation to a private log cabin. Each cabin contains a full kitchen (with cookware and dishes) and a private deck out back overlooking the lake (also equipped with a gas grill). All of the cabins are strategically nestled amidst the property’s flora in order to maintain privacy — exquisite to say the least!
Fun Things to Do
Big Cedar is certainly BIG on activities; no worries about kids whining of boredom here! Of course, the huge attraction is bass fishing on the lake (where you can also find a variety of crappie, sun fish and catfish). Take a complimentary shuttle (a nice perk that runs 24 hours a day all over the property) to the Bent Hook Marina and Market where you can rig up with all the gear you need. Your family can rent a boat, or to find the best spots for bites, consider going with a professional guide. While folks fish the lake year round, the best time for catching bass is in the spring.
The resort does offer a variety of free activities including canoeing and paddle boating, horseshoes, a nine-hole miniature golf course, a lush nature trail, several hiking trails, basketball, shuffleboard, sand volleyball, tennis, several swimming pools, a lazy river (open seasonally) and more. In the event you encounter a rainy day, take advantage of the free DVD library!
For an additional fee, your family can saunter up to the Cedar Mountain Stables where kids 10 and younger can embark on pony rides daily from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Ages 8 and older can set out on a one-hour guided horseback trail ride, and the whole family can enjoy a leisurely horse-drawn carriage ride around the property.
When you get hungry, the resort offers four distinct eateries, spanning from soup and sandwich café fare to elegant dining, all within a casual environment.
Just for Kids
Big Cedar engages kids with outdoor fun through its unique Little Cedar Kids’ Club. During peak season (Memorial Day through Labor Day), activities are available every afternoon; off-season, activities are available on weekends and special occasions. For ages 4 – 12, the three-hour Kids’ Club and the four-hour Kids’ House (which includes dinner) — both require reservations and additional fees — start off in the Little Cedar Kids’ Club building and revolve around specific nature and outdoor themes based on the season. Activities include games, crafts and other activities specific to the program’s topic. Kids loves heading to the bonfire pit on Friday and Saturday evenings where they can have fun roasting marshmallows and chowing down on complimentary s’mores while taking a break from playing assorted lawn games. Free activities for youngsters throughout the year include fishing programs, campfire activities, remote-controlled car racing and beyond.
Dogwood Canyon Nature Park
Should you decide to explore away from the resort, make the 15-mile trip to Dogwood Canyon Nature Park (also owned by Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris through his Dogwood Foundation). There are several fantastic ways to embrace the great outdoors in this 2,200-acre site that stretches into nearby Arkansas. Choose activities á la carte, or better yet, go for the Adventure Pass which allows you to enjoy several activities for one price.
The hour-and-a-half tram tour takes you deep into the park where you’ll see waterfalls and get up close encounters with wildlife including deer, elk, bison and Texas longhorns. Enjoy trout fishing (catch and release or catch and keep), learn skills in a fly casting clinic, take a leisurely bike or horseback ride, stroll the trails or hit the back woods on an ATV tour.
During the summer, kids 4 – 12 can have fun on a four-hour Kids’ Camp excursion at Dogwood every Saturday (arranged through Big Cedar). For $50, they’ll get to do activities like hiking and learning outdoor skills like archery, firing (BB/pellet guns), compass reading, fire building and pitching a tent.
Regardless of what time of year you may go, Big Cedar will certainly provide huge fun and unforgettable family memories.
Chad Young is managing editor for this publication.