Holidays in the Ozarks

With the holiday season fast approaching and the search for the perfect festive destination ensues, families hoping to experience both impeccable luxury and the wonderment of the great outdoors should look no further than the stately Ozark Mountains, where Big Cedar Lodge, an award-winning wilderness resort, Dogwood Canyon Nature Park, and Wonders of Wildlife await. This year, Big Cedar Lodge will transform into a winter wonderland adorned with millions of twinkling holidays lights for its “Home for the Holidays” festive season. From November 6 to December 31, the sprawling Midwest resort offers an unmatched experience with activities and programming for the entire family to enjoy including:

  • Skating into the Season: Big Cedar Lodge offers ice skating on the property’s seasonal outdoor ice rink featuring a towering, light-adorned tree with a musical feature in the center, and after-dark skating is magically lit with holiday lights.
  • Giving Thanks at Big Cedar: In November, Big Cedar Lodge will host a Gobble Wobble 5k, special Thanksgiving menus at each of its restaurants.
  • Special Visits from Holiday Friends: This winter, Santa, Mrs. Claus, and their elves will make appearances, including breakfast with Santa, baking workshops with Mrs. Claus, to letter deliveries and bedtime storytelling with Santa’s elves, weekly tree lighting ceremonies, and more. The Grinch is even slated to make an appearance at Fun Mountain with Cindy Lou Who each week, and he’ll host an Ugly Sweater Party with green pancakes, green hot chocolate, grouchy crafts, and more.
  • Crafts & Cookies: Guests of all ages can tap into their creative and crafty side with a gingerbread build-off holiday wreath making workshop, stocking decorating, ornament making, and more. Grown-ups can also cozy up with a craft cocktail class featuring seasonal spices, coffee, and tea.
  • Holiday Light Tours + Scavenger Hunts: Grab a complimentary cup of hot cocoa and hop in Big Cedar’s tram for a tour of the resort’s spectacular lights display while enjoying holiday music. Big Cedar Lodge also hosts weekly tree lighting ceremonies, with an appearance from Santa and special gifts for the kids. Families and friends can also engage in friendly competition with a 12 Day Christmas Light Scavenger Hunt, with riddles leading them around the resort’s groups to find holiday light displays with prizes!

Nearby, at America’s #1 Aquarium, Wonders of Wildlife offers its holiday-themed activities with its SEAson of Wonder, featuring festive events and activities such as:

  • Story Time with Scuba Claus: Get in the holiday spirit with Wonders of Wildlife’s on-site Santa Claus, where guests can sip on hot cocoa, listen to Santa read children’s Christmas stories and watch him go for a festive scuba dive, decked to the nines in his jolly red suit and spreading Christmas cheer to The Great Barrier Reef exhibit!
  • Chill out with the penguins: Experience Wonders of Wildlife’s cutest and most chilled inhabitants at Encounter Penguins at Penguin Cove. Guests immerse themselves in the penguin’s environment and feel what it’s like to be face-to-feather with a penguin!
  • Sip & Sea: Guests can experience the very best of the Wonders of Wildlife’s exhibits for an after-hours affair paired with local snacks and alcoholic beverage. Additionally, participants are able to chat with keepers about exhibits and enjoy live music while tooling around the aquarium!

Finally, for the quintessential backdrop for holiday Christmas card photo in front of its stunning water fall or space for snow ball fights and snowman building, Dogwood Canyon Nature Park’s 10,000 acres offers more than enough room for activities year-round:

  • Bald Eagle Watching: Bundle up for a thrilling encounter of America’s majestic national bird in the wild with Dogwood Canyon’s bald eagle watching program this winter. Wrap up an exciting day of bird watching with a cozy meal at Mill & Canyon Grill Restaurant, featuring stunning views of the waterfall and further opportunity to view the nature park’s magnificent wildlife.


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