I have family coming in from out of state this summer so I’ll be showing off the neat things to see and do in the Ozarks. Lucky for us and just in time for their summer vacations and my personal getaways, some great new outdoor adventures are ready for my family and friends to enjoy.
The first stop on tap is Top of the Rock, a nature-based heritage preserve and golf course that sits on top of a cliff near Big Cedar Lodge and offers majestic views of Ozarks hills and Table Rock Lake. Top of the Rock just re-opened to the public after being closed for about seven years.
A nine-hole, par-three golf course, it recently hosted the Big Cedar Lodge Legends of Golf/PGA Champions tournament. The course is breathtaking with its rolling hills, waterfalls, infinity pool, and the three-story Chapel of the Ozarks. You don’t have to play golf to enjoy the views available by just walking around the course.
|Lost Canyon Cave at Top of the Rock. (Photo: Big Cedar Lodge)|
Even though my family doesn’t participate much in the sport, Top of the Rock offers much more than golf. I’ve made plans to start our Saturday with the two and a half mile ride along the Lost Canyon Nature Trail on site. Along this trail, we’ll see towering, limestone bluffs, rustic creek beds, and an Amish-handcrafted bridge. We’ll be able to breathe deeply and take in the rich smells of the myriad of wildflowers blooming along the trail and the lush, green scent that comes from the woods and being outdoors. The trail leads to the Lost Canyon Cave. I’m expecting lots of oohs and ahhs from the family as they tour this four-story cave that features a cascading waterfall as its centerpiece.
My family loves to eat and we will have worked up a good appetite after the nature trail and cave tour. They will have their choice between a couple of great places to dine at Top of the Rock. Rugged wood beams, iron chandeliers, and native artifacts set the tone for Osage Restaurant which serves American cuisine and a sweeping view of the Ozark Mountains. My favorite, Arnie’s Barn, features Mexican fare housed in an old barn that came from the Pennsylvania hometown of golf legend Arnold Palmer. The barn was reconstructed at Top of the Rock by a local Amish family and features vaulted ceilings and two lofts including one with an outdoor balcony overlooking the Arnold Palmer golf practice facility.
For family and friends that do golf, besides the course at Top of the Rock, near-by Buffalo Ridge (formerly Branson Creek), offers 18 holes plus real live buffalo! Golfers and visitors can see roaming buffalo as they graze on the natural native grasses that surround the golf course.
|Infinity pool and Chapel of the Ozarks a wedding chapel nestled at the edge of Top of the Rock. (Photo: Big Cedar Lodge)|
At the end of the day, we’ll have a treasure trove of beautiful photographs and good memories. We can catch dessert and coffee on the patio at Osage Restaurant and watch the sun set over the infinity pool.
Next time they come to visit, I will take them to the Ancient Ozarks Natural History Museum also on site at Top of the Rock. This unique museum opens later this year and features carbon-dated skeletons of a Missouri mammoth, cave lion, and Missouri ground
sloth. I, myself, can’t wait to see the dioramas of other ancient animals that once roamed the Ozarks—a terror bird, hell pig, short faced cave bear, and a bear dog. My family will love all these displays in addition to the Native American and Osage Indians artifacts and artwork.
All in all, it’ll be a wonderful visit. And, the family will be back for more. I know they will.
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