A Weekend at the Ozark’s Big Cedar Lodge

Just a little over three hours from Kansas City sits a gorgeous family-friendly resort that you have to see to believe. Nestled in the Ozark Mountains, on the shores of Table Rock Lake, you’ll find Big Cedar Lodge.

From the moment you drive onto the property, you’re greeted with the beauty of the Ozarks. Your vehicle will weave you through the mountains, take you across a gorgeous lookout point overlooking the lake and property and the road will even have you driving through small waterfalls all before you even check in.

My family and I have been lucky enough to vacation at Big Cedar every year for the last 10 years. From week-long trips over the summer to long weekends in the fall or over the holidays. Every season is a magical one to visit Big Cedar Lodge and to take advantage of all it has to offer.

Resort Lodging Options

Private Log CabinsCabins at Big Cedar

The cozy and charming log cabins at Big Cedar provide a great option if you want all the conveniences of home. They have many floor-plan options to accommodate a family of 4 up to 10 people. Each cabin has “Sleep Experience” beds that may be the most comfortable mattress I’ve ever slept on, wood-burning fireplace, full-size soaker tubs, kitchen and expansive decks with gas grills.

Condos and Timeshares

There are many different ways to stay at Big Cedar. For my family, my in-laws own a timeshare generously bring us along so we stay in the condos at the Wilderness Club at Big Cedar. Because Big Cedar is such a popular destination for these timeshare owners booking your stay must be done long in advance and because life happens you can often find people selling their stays through Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, EBay, VRBO and Redweek because they can no longer make it during the time they reserved.

Things not to miss on property

When I describe Big Cedar to friends who have never been I say “it’s like that resort in Dirty Dancing…but better!” There are many times when we have stayed and never left the property because there is so much to do.

Truman Cafe & Custard

This quaint little spot is in a 1920s tudor style home and is a great place for a casual dining option, sweet treats and your morning coffee. The Truman’s back patio has an amazing view of the lake and trails and is a great way to start your day at Big Cedar.

Fun Mountain

underwater bowling alley, bumper cars, arcade, ropes course and restaurant/bar all in one. This is a great place for the kids to let loose and the parents to hang out. Or if you’re like my husband, you’ll escape to the golf simulator and leave me in charge.

Top of the Rockfamily picture at Big Cedar Lodge

Situated on the highest elevation in Taney County, Top of the Rock offers spectacular views of the Ozarks, golf and The Lost Canyon & Cave Trail. They have great dining options – Buffalo Bar is a great casual spot while Osage Restaurant is finer dining.  Seasonally, they host the Sunset Ceremony, bagpipes play just as the sun sets and they fire a Civil War cannon. Our favorite place to watch the Sunset Ceremony is the patio of the Buffalo Bar. Get there early for a good spot!

Mini Golf

A 9-hole putt putt course with a large-mouthed bass and best of all its FREE!

Swimming Pools

There are heated pools and hot tubs throughout the property you could go to a new one each day. We discovered the lazy river on our last trip and spent a good portion of our day there!

Cedar Creek Spa

if you’re in the mood to treat yourself (and really treat yourself because it is expensive), Cedar Creek is an upscale spa with massages, facials and other services. I treated myself on my birthday to one of their mini samplers which let me do a 30-minute massage and 30-minute facial for a package price. They were both amazing, and I still dream about them.

Buzzard Bar

if you’re fortunate to have extended family with you, leave the kids and head to the Buzzard Bar for a fun date night. The Singin’ Cowboy is a crowd favorite, but again get there early because it does fill up quickly.

Bent Hook Marina

This full-service marina is exclusive to Big Cedar guests only. Here your family can rent a boat to take out and explore Table Rock Lake. Every summer we rent a pontoon boat and a tube and spend the day on the lake. It is here that you can also hop on one of the free paddle boats, canoes or stand-up paddleboards to cruise around the cove.

Daily Activities

When you stay at Big Cedar you’ll be provided with a calendar of all the events you can take advantage of. Many events are included in the cost of your stay, while others may carry a fee. Just to scratch the surface, by day you can take advantage of their awesome workout classes like standup paddleboard yoga and dance classes, your children can take part in daily arts and crafts and games of capture the flag. At night you can enjoy bonfires with s’mores and lawn games and even dive-in movies at one of their many pools.

Area Attractions

Dogwood Canyon

An outdoor paradise of the Ozark landscape. My family chose the Wildlife Tram Tour which was a guided tour with stops throughout Dogwood Canyon. We passed over waterfalls and creeks, the kids fed fish, visited The Glory Hole and even crossed into Arkansas to see elk and bison. Also don’t miss the Treehouse built by Treehouse Masters and the Canyon Quest scavenger hunt. We’ve eaten onsite at Dogwood Canyon and love the unique items like the bison or elk burgers and trout cakes (they have kid-friendly options too).

If you’re looking to wear the kids out, my family has rented bikes and pull behinds for the younger kiddos and biked the gorgeous trail. My kids always love crossing the state line into Arkansas so they can say “I rode my bike all the way to Arkansas!”

Tanger Outlets Branson

A great selection of outlet stores if you’re in the mood for some shopping. Our favorite shops were the Disney Outlet, Under Armour Youth, and Lululemon.

Branson Landing

A lakeside outdoor mall with water features and outdoor shows. Branson Landing is great place to walk around in the evening with fun restaurant options. And if your kiddo “needs” another stuffy, they have a Build a Bear!

Brunch at The Keeter Center

Often times my family visits Big Cedar over my mother-in-law’s birthday and we celebrate by enjoying the brunch buffet at The Keeter Center at College of the Ozarks. It’s one of the best brunches I’ve ever had.

Seasonal Offerings

Winter Holiday Season

Every season is magical at Big Cedar, but the holidays are extra special. Every inch of Big Cedar is decked out for the season with twinkling nights, massive trees, Gingerbread Houses and villages. There are so many activities to create memories from ice skating, Holiday Light tour, gingerbread house decorating, Tree Lighting Ceremony, and stocking decorating. You can also coordinate visits with elves, Santa and Mrs. Claus.

Laura Mulcahy
Laura is wife to Marty, and mom to Michael (11), Joseph (9) and Anna (5). She spends most of her days juggling working from home, shuffling kids to activities and can usually be found cheering on the boys from the baseball stands. She is born and raised in Kansas City, graduated from KU (Rock Chalk Jayhawk!) and has spent most of her career in advertising sales. She loves big Italian family dinners, trying out new restaurants in Kansas City on a rare date night and can never say no to an impromptu dance party with her kids.