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Family cabins at the Big Cedar Lodge make ideal accommodations for a fall getaway or a Thanksgiving vacation.

Now that I’ve placed an order for my first pumpkin spiced latte of the season (extra hot, no foam), autumn has officially arrived!

The beginning of the autumn also signals time to start planning a cozy rustic getaway to our family’s favorite fall destination – Big Cedar Lodge, one of America’s premier wilderness resorts  just 10 miles south of Branson, Missouri.

The travel industry also agrees with our go-to getaway choice, because Big Cedar Lodge was just named the No. 1 Midwest Resort in Travel + Leisure’s 2017 World’s Best Awards for the second year in a row!

Although this gem of a property is off the beaten track, it’s an easy 5-hour drive from Oklahoma City on I-44 East. Several major airlines also serve Branson Airport, which is 8 miles away from the famed entertainment district.

We discovered the fall months were perfect for a trip to the Ozarks to enjoy the pleasures of the lake and mountain living at this Bass Pro Shops resort.  It also made the perfect destination for one of our family’s most memorable Thanksgiving celebrations.

 That’s because Missouri’s ruggedly serene Ozark Mountains, overlooking the sparkling 43,000-acre Table Rock Lake, makes a tranquil backdrop for a special fall retreat.

It’s an ideal place for reconnecting your family to the outdoors this season, especially when planning a visit while the kids are out of school during fall break, Columbus Day and Thanksgiving week.

At the Big Cedar Lodge we found ourselves surrounded by vibrant foliage, scenic vistas and refreshing mountain air. Plus, visitors enjoy all the creature comforts of a world-class resort with a collection of grand lodges and cottages.

Since my crew is more of an outdoorsy lot, we prefer the country chic log cabins with mom-friendly amenities like rustic-elegant furnishings, spa-like bathrooms with luxury soaking tubs, decks with grills and jaw-dropping wood-burning fireplaces.

The resort also offers four restaurants, an alluring spa measuring 18,000 square feet, five swimming pools, more than 40,000 square feet of flexible meeting space, over 20 breathtaking wedding venues, and dynamic land and water adventures, including hiking, bass fishing, water skiing, and much more.

Although there’s an array of opportunities to create your own fall fun at Big Cedar Lodge, here are some of our favorites.

Fun Halloween, Thanksgiving and Fall Experiences at Big Cedar Lodge:

  • Just in time for Halloween is the first-ever "Haunted Lost Caverns" which made its debut this month at Big Cedar Lodge.  It runs now through Oct. 31 and features the most spine-tingling and immersive haunted Halloween experience to unfold in this amazing resort setting. The Top of the Rock cliff top outpost will be transformed into a spooktacularly ghoulish graveyard and haunted cave experience called Haunted Lost Caverns.  This thrilling Halloween adventure features more than 100 animatronic displays, historical haunts and fun surprises along a bone chilling ride through a 4-story cave with a waterfall.  This adventure runs now through Oct. 31 and is perfect for ghouls and goblins ages 13 and up.
  • Follow my family’s lead and enjoy an unforgettable Thanksgiving at one of the resort’s restaurants.  Arnie’s Barn, Osage Restaurant, Buffalo Bar, Devil’s Pool Restaurant and the Worman House will all offer Thanksgiving buffets. But if you don’t want to leave your lodge or cottage, Big Cedar has got you covered.  They will serve a full meal through In-room Dining called Turkey Baskets.  It’s a whole turkey will all the trimmings.
  • Check out Fun Mountain, a new 50,000 square foot indoor adventure wonderland for the young and young at heart. Fun Mountain an array of activities including Underwater Ocean Bowling, Bumper Cars, Wilderness Fort Laser Tag, Golf Simulator, High-Tech Climbing Wall and more.
  • Create your own adventure – from fishing, archery and 3 world-class golf courses to s’mores around a campfire, sunset dinner cruises on a vintage yacht and serenades from the Singin’ Cowboy.
  • Capture Instagram-worthy sunsets overlooking the lake and hills at the resort’s iconic cliff top outpost, Top of Rock, and an unforgettable two-and-a-half mile ride in an electric cart along the Top of the Rock Lost Canyon Nature Trail that winds through hand-built Amish bridges, dramatic natural rock formations and stunning waterfalls.
  • Hit the links at the Mountain Top Course by Gary Player. This course brings a more accessible experience to families, juniors and golfers who are learning the game. The course routes through unforgettable rock formations and includes some of the best vistas in the region, while delivering a rewarding experience for all skill levels.
  • Take a hike: Outdoor lovers can follow along the trails on the property to enjoy the vibrant fall leaves. You’ll enjoy the rustic harvest décor, all nestled across the resort’s serene wooded hollow overlooking Table Rock Lake.  It’s a great backdrop to get family photos for your Christmas cards.
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