Here is a new twist on the blog! I used to LOVE to write but time always gets away from me! There is something about just sitting down and gathering your thoughts that is so soothing. Between setting up the cake smashes, emailing (this takes hours a week) and planning for each session, some how I need to find time to share our get aways! Parents ask me daily how we manage to ride in the car for 15 hours at a time, or how we manage to get away so often while running a business as demanding as mine. To be honest, I wing it all! But I hope that by sharing my expiriences, other parents get out there and travel more.
For example, the first time I went to Disney World, I didn't have anything booked! I didn't think to join any Disney World Moms groups, or even look up food etc. I figured it was probably like World's of Fun and we would just walk up and buy a ticket and enter! Eeeek, now that we have been several times, that would make me so anxious! But again, I wing most of what I do in life. And that day was as magical to my kiddos as the days that I overly planned for.
So I'll start off by sharing our little Branson Getaway! We have been to Branson so many times and we always find something new! This time we had NO plans of anything. I booked things on the way down while my husband drove. Three hours in the car without stopping comes easy for my kids now that they have driven to and from Florida multiple times a year which leaves me with lots of uninterrupted free time in the car to plan or email clients.
We left Friday and stopped at one of our favorite Korean BBQ joints in Springfield. They do a great all you can eat style pricing. Our family loves all the vegetables that come with the meal including the Dakon radish wrappers. We got a few bowls of those :) Then we headed to the hotel which is one we have frequented a lot over the years, Chateau on the Lake. This hotel is close to Silver dollar city and is great for kids. It has a free movie theater that plays a few movies a day, a great pool, lots of beautiful sunsets over the lake, and great food! I book this hotel for holidays about a year out on various websites and then I check it as the months go by, to score a good deal here! By doing this, you can usually get a really nice room here on a holiday for about the same price as some of the really run down hotels in Branson. What I like about booking hotels is that most websites allow you to book really far in advance without deposits, this helps keep costs low when traveling. For example, the hotel I booked for another holiday in Chicago is now 4 times the price if I were to book it just 2 months out. Planning ahead is key to saving money on hotels.
Our hotel room wasn't quite ready yet so we hit up the outlets! I LOVE the Tanger outlets in Branson. The simply southern store has SO many items for just a dollar and I stocked up on cardigans hehe! We also love the Disney outlet there! We sure miss the one that used to be at the mall in town! Our Friday night was really chill! We found a cool diner that has free drive in outdoor movies! We got the strawberry funnel cake to share! This place is a must stop for families! You just park and either listen from your car or at one of the picnic tables.
We woke up early Saturday morning and off to the pool we went! The pool at the hotel is always a huge selling point for me! Here pictured is my favorite cold brew I pack on all our vacations! I prefer it to most cafe coffee and it saves money! Win for all! I get free ice from the ice machines and pop it in the ice bucket over night so its nice and chilled by morning!
Also snacks are life! an Ikea bag of snacks keeps the kids content for a few hours!
And of course I make them pose for a few cute photos before hopping into the pool!
Later that night we went to see Queen Ester and oh my gosh, it was so incredible! The Sight and Sound theater is AMAZING!! I have paid way more for tickets to shows that were so far from this level of a performance. If you get a chance, go check out a show there!
On Sunday, we ate breakfast at Starvin Marvins (so good!!), we hit up Ripleys. It was neat for my oldest who is obsessed with breaking world records etc. Their favorite part was all the interactive things kids can do there. Check out their fun germ free creation below! I cannot believe they stuck their faces all over this thing! eeeek!
Next stop was our favorite for sight seeing- Big Cedar Lodge Top of the rock. The sights are incredible! We have done the museum there and it is one of a kind. So many cool artifacts and the kids spent hours learning about history. For this trip, the goal was a late lunch at Osage (not that we needed to eat again hehe) and to enjoy all the memorial day festivities they had! The brunch was fabulous and I ate tons of oysters and shrimp and the unlimited mimosas was a perfect way to unwind before all the hot outdoor activities.
There was face painting, balloons, all kinds of activities for kids there to kick off the holiday! In hind sight, I wished I would've brought my camera to snap some more professional photos in this field of flags. It was really cool!
We walked around Big Cedar and Top of the rock for hours! I should mention, they have a really cool cannon ceremony they do at dusk with fireworks. At sunset, we headed back to the hotel for more fireworks
We had ice cream and watched the sun go down on the porch until it was time for the fireworks to light up the sky!
Sunday it was time to head home after breakfast at the delicious Billy Gayles (portions are incredibly huge there so share food!) but not without a stop to my brothers home in Conway Missouri. He treated the kids to a trip to their private creek on gators. I got to photograph his family while the kids threw rocks in the river. I have had the honor to photograph their wedding, their babies, and now I got to photograph their family on their new land! It was a short visit but I am always thankful to do what I love most, photograph families!
On the way back, we stopped in Bolivar to get boba tea... yep the Boba tea in Bolivar Missouri was great! They had a neat little cafe called Lotus Tea with things for kids to do so we spent time playing games before we headed home.
I came back to an inbox full of sessions to be booked, lots of babies arrivals, and lots of new inquiries, but our short Branson getaway was exactly what we all needed after a crazy school year and before we get back to the hustle and bustle of summer!