Log cabins, fall foliage keep families coming back to Branson

7 Oct

Sharon Crawford looked content as she strolled down a  tree-covered drive holding her morning coffee in one hand and her  grandson in the other. The 50-something grandmother told me she came from  Jefferson City, Mo., to The Wilderness log cabins near Branson for a weekend walking in the woods with her family.
“It’s really neat,” she told me. “It’s nice to stay somewhere that’s not your typical hotel, and the kids love this. You can’t have a campfire and roast marshmallows in a hotel. cabin ext 1
Sharon’s grandson, Luke, liked the accommodations The Wilderness at Silver Dollar City offered, too.
“I think it’s neat,” the 6-year-old explained as he ran for a swing. “It’s like Lincoln Logs, and the playground’s fun.” His cousin, Rylee Spencer, 5, agreed. “The playground is so much fun and I like the bunk bed I was in,” she yelled.
After a long day boating on Lake Taneycomo, or hiking around the Mark Twain National Forest or descending into a deep, dark, Ozarks’ cavern, you’re going to need a place for your family to rest their heads … and their feet. I did. For a family wanting to spend quality time together, and avoid the hassles of motels on the Highway 76 Strip in Branson, Sharon said thinks the cabins at The Wilderness fill the bill. “I like the rustic feel,” she said. “We’re more country people than city people, anyway,” she laughed as we talked. cabin extgood

The collection of nearly 40 hand-crafted log cabins off of State Highway 265 near Silver Dollar City, offers cabins crafted with timbers hand-hued by Mark Edwards. They offer families, and singles like me,  unique options when it comes to memorable lodging. Appealing to families wanting to spend a weekend together in the woods is exactly what they had in mind at Silver Dollar City when the started building cabins there almost10 years ago. The cabins at The Wilderness offer several floor plans and various amenities.
Primitive cabins are bare bones. Rustic cabins offer kitchen, bathroom and other modern amenities. cabin stairesLoft cabins can accommodate a small family, or couple, and some come equipped with Jacuzzi tubs. Amish-made furniture and locally styled décor stick to SDC’s 1880s theme, and most cabins come equipped with gas grills, wood-burning fireplaces and, yes, even televisions and wireless Internet.
A simpler time
Jason Bernard, director of attractions for the park, told me the philosophy at The Wilderness is simple. “It’s about families creating memories,” he explained. “The family theme carries over. The expectation with the brand at Silver Dollar City carries over. It’s good wholesome fun.”
The first cabins built were small and primitive. As demand grew, and they wanted to accommodate larger families, the size of cabins expanded and the modern amenities were added. “We wanted legitimate hand-made cabins,” Jason said. “That’s what
we got.”  As Dan Rota, 65 of Phoenix  Ariz. , packed up his SUV after a five-night stay, he laughed when I asked how his brother and their wives liked their time in the wilderness. “We are used to staying in better hotels and this has been a refreshing change,” he told me.

Cabin kitchens come equiped with two-burner stoves, a fridge and a micro.

Cabin kitchens come equiped with two-burner stoves, a fridge and a micro.

“Getting some fresh air is great. It’s a little more rustic than we thought it would be, but that’s been a good part of it. It’s unexpected. We joked about getting a cabin without a toilet.” To his
surprise, and mine, all but a few cabins come complete with indoor plumbing.
“I will recommend it to friends back in Phoenix,” Dan said. In Phoenix he lives near the free way and it’s never quite he growled. Then his tone changed. “This has been so peaceful. I like the peace and quiet,” he added. “It  reminds me of a lot simpler time.”
Talking about a “simpler time” provided Jim and Terry Potter, a 40-something couple from Paola, Kan., a lot to talk about with their adult children during their cabin stay. “It makes you wonder what it was like way back when in pioneer days,” Terry said. “You know, without a fridge and TV and microwave. I’m glad we have them here, but it makes you wonder.”
While many families come to the Branson area for the glitz and glamor of music and comedy shows, some families find in just as fun to set back and relax, or at least take a little time to enjoy what mother nature has to offer. I did.
Here are a few suggestions to keep your family outdoors in the Ozarks this fall:
  * For fall foliage driving tour route descriptions and maps go to www.explorebranson.com. The site offers three different driving tours and a fall foliage meter. canin int2
 * To view fall foliage from Table Rock Lake, check out the Showboat Branson Belle dinner cruises. View the splendor of the Ozarks from the deck of The Belle or take a catamaran cruise on The Spirit of America from the State Park Marina. Go to www.stateparkmarina.com for catamaran cruise information. Is a kayak or canoe tour of Table Rock or Taynecomo more your style?  Go to www.kayackbranson.com for rental information.
 * The Shepherd of the Hills Inspiration Tower offers a birds-eye-view of the Branson area from atop the 230-foot-tall structure. It’s a perfect place for a family to view nature’s fall show. For Go to www.oldmatt.com for tower operating dates and hours.
* Looking for cabins or other family lodging, go to www.bransonvacationcabins.com or check out www.thousandhills.com for options. For reservation at The Wilderness go to www.thewildernesslogcabins.com.
  * Want to Get down in the Ozarks? Way down? Go to www.bransonshows.com and search “caves” for Crystal Cave, Fantastic Caverns, Marvel Cave and Talking Rocks Cavern tour information.

Check out previous Branson blogs.

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