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In addition to exploring Kansas City proper, we also desire to discover what lies a few hours away from the city as well. When a friend sent me a coupon for 25% off at Big Cedar Lodge in Ridgedale, Missouri, I jumped at the opportunity to book a room for a little mini-getaway before our families descended upon us for the holidays.

top of lodge and mountains


back of lodge

Located a little over three hours outside of Kansas City, Big Cedar Lodge is a gorgeous wilderness resort in the Ozark Mountains. Nestled in a stunning cove the lodge retains its historic appeal in a rustic, yet refined setting. Throughout our stay I just kept uttering “it’s so freaking charming…” And it was. I didn’t want to leave.

lodge and mountains

bird house



no shipping

me walking through stream

Had we been able to stay a few days at Big Cedar we would have ventured outside the resort into nearby Branson, MO to catch some live entertainment, or ride a zip line, or explore some underground caverns (which were advertised excessively on billboards during the ride down there).  However, with only one day we wanted to fully immerse ourselves in the resorts amenities so we stayed put.

We started out the day with some breakfast at the Truman Café, a charming (I want to find another adjective, but it was so…freaking…charming) little cottage which serves soups, sandwiches and pastries. The forecast was slightly cloudy so we decided to head to the top of the resort and hike their nature trail before we hit up the marina to do some paddle boatin’.

me @ truman

nature trail

nature trail map

cub trail

me and nature trail

My fuzzy vest will act as camouflage to protect me from wild beasts.

wrong way

me and wrong way sign

jurg taking pictures

rocks close up

us on nature trail

big horse

bent hook marina

me and paddle boat

jurgs feet

my feet

us on paddle bpat


more cove pictures

water 2

After some time on the water we took to the green for a rousing game of miniature golf.

mini golf

me in fishes mouth

After putt-putting our way to failure (the course was deceptively hard…no really) we needed to relax so we threw on our suits and chilled out in the hot tub, which overlooked the lake. Not a bad gig, that’s for sure.

After another quick bite at Truman’s we retired to our…I’m gonna say it….charming little cabin in the woods for a little siesta. I mean how cozy and adorable is this.

cabin interior 1




view of marina

The view of the marina from our back deck

Now, just so you know my philosophy on travel and money spent on lodging: In general I ascribe to the school of “spend less money on a room and more money on experiences.” If I am taking a trip where I am going to be out and about all day, I don’t need to shell out extra bucks for a crash pad. I would rather have spare change lying around to go to a nicer restaurant or buy another Christmas ornament. However, if I am going to be traveling to a locale where it’s more about relaxation and rejuvenation I am a little more inclined to spend money on higher thread count sheets and a jacuzzi tub.  But I always appreciate discounts…always.

Refreshed from my nap, we cleaned up and walked down to the guest services lobby (which housed a very impressive model chapel composed entirely of gingerbread), to embark on a wagon ride around the property to view all of the Christmas lights.

gingerbread house lit up

gingerbread house

gingerbread chapel close up

lights on bridge

me and lights

colored lights

The event culminated with a bonfire, s’mores and some live music by Ted Emmons, the Singin’ Cowboy.

You know, I am going to confess something, I have never been big on s’mores because I don’t love graham crackers. I prefer to give all of my attention to the marshmallow itself. I strive to roast it to a perfect golden brown color where it has a somewhat crispy outside and a soft and mushy inside. I haven’t given this any thought….none at all.

jurgen and smores

We then headed over to the Devils Pool restaurant for dinner.  Seated by the fireplace we started with a heart healthy serving of fried pickles, along with smoked Rockbridge trout accompanied by horseradish cream cheese, caper berries and Lavosh.  For dinner I went with a simple house salad while Jurgen opted for the 28 day aged filet.  I decided to drink my calories by ordering a Makers Mark on the rocks. I have become my mother.

After dinner we retreated to our adorable cabin where we lit the fire (Big Cedar provides you with all the wood and starter materials you need) popped open a bottle of 2009 Frogs Leap Rutherford Cabernet, and watched the Alastair Simms A Christmas Carol…which is my favorite cinematic rendition of the holiday classic. The Muppets Christmas Carol runs a very close second.

jurg starting a fire


Not long after Tiny Tim declared God Bless Us Everyone we were asleep like little church mice in the glorious king sized bed. You guys, I think King Sized beds could save all marriages.  I woke up at one point in the evening and Jurgen was so far away from me. So much space. It was delightful.

Sometimes all you need is a day to really get away.