After our trip to Missouri at the end of July, I knew I wanted to make our way back up with E & B for E’s birthday and one last fun trip before the end of summer! I did some research and decided that I wanted to visit a few places near Springfield and maybe spend a day or two in Branson, so I kept an eye out for a great Airbnb that we could rent. We decided on one in downtown Springfield and I started planning out our drive. I have to note, that because this was a birthday trip for E that it was our most expensive trip of the summer. Knowing that there were several things that we knew would cost extra, we planned ahead and watched Groupon for deals on activities that were on our list (and the kids list) of possible activities.
We left early on Thursday morning. The drive to Springfield was about seven hours, so we loaded down with snacks, lunch & dinner in the cooler so we could stop for fun, but we wouldn’t need to stop for meals. While all six of us had been to Oklahoma before, we hadn’t been together, so we did plan some stops through the state while we were driving.
We stopped to see the Praying Hands at Oral Roberts University and picnicked by the largest concrete totem pole (who knew that was even a thing).
We stopped at the intersection of Oklahoma, Kansas, & Missouri for another photo op too 😊 and then had a picnic dinner by Grand Falls in Joplin!
Our Airbnb was amazing. It reminded me of a house right off of Fixer Upper and the kids enjoyed that there were plenty of rooms for everyone to spread out (and I appreciated that I got to have my own room instead of sharing with the girls for a change 😉)!
On Friday, we headed towards Branson. One of the things all of the kids agreed they wanted to do was visit the National Tiger Sanctuary. We timed it right in ordering military discounted tickets and ended up there when they were starting a feeding tour, so we got to tag along without paying the upcharge. Despite the hot morning, the hour-long tour was incredible. The kids got to see all the tigers up close and watch them eat. They heard stories of how they were rescued and how they are cared for. We got to see some lions and a few other animals they have taken in as well.
After the Tiger Sanctuary, we stopped at the Creation Experience Museum. The museum is on the small side, but free. Even though we have visited the Creation Museum in Kentucky and the ICR Discovery Center in Dallas, we still really enjoyed this stop. We got a private tour and bought a few dvds for the car ride. Our tour guide told us they are working on moving to a larger location that will allow for them to expand the exhibits that they have in the future!
The next stop was one that B requested, and all the kids agreed with. We bought tickets on Groupon for the World’s Largest Toy Museum. This was fun for all of us as we saw toys that we grew up with and that we remember seeing in our grandparents houses as well while we were growing up. The kids enjoyed seeing the massive collections of Jurassic Park toys, matchbox cars, Barbies, and pretty much every McDonald’s toy ever made.
From there we made our way to the Snowflex Park at Wolfe Mountain. While we did lots of sledding when we lived in NY, and played in lots of snow in Ohio, I had never taken the kids snow tubing. While this wasn’t exactly the same thing, it was a blast (even at 90 degrees outside) and everyone wished we could have stayed longer!
Our second full day was supposed to be spent in Springfield and Sunday in Branson again, but as a last minute surprise E’s brother decided to fly out for E’s birthday and we decided to head home a day early.
So when E and I were talking about how to spend Saturday, we both decided we wanted to head back to Branson. While searching separately, we both came up with Dogwood Canyon and decided it was a sign that we should head there for the day. We had originally planned to do some hiking, caves, and an animal safari so when E found the tram ride through the Canyon we decided that it combined all the things that we were hoping to do in one and went ahead and booked it.
We packed a picnic lunch and made plans to explore and picnic before the tram ride. Dogwood Canyon is breathtaking. Pictures do not do it justice.
We spent the morning doing some hiking, exploring and then ate lunch outside of the nature center underneath the Treehouse Masters Treehouse (from Animal Planet) before boarding the tram for our tour.
The 2+ hour tour took us through the entire canyon. We stopped by waterfalls, the Wedding Chapel, Glory Hole and numerous bridges and stone crossovers.
The tram then crossed over into Arkansas entering Bison-Elk Country where we were able to see American bison, elk, whitetail deer and Texas longhorn. The animals walked right up next to the tram and the kids were able to see them up close and personal!
On the way back, the tram stopped crossing over a waterfall so that the kids could see the fish swimming right up next to us. The beautiful clear water was definitely something to see!
Upon arrival back at the Nature Center, we were able to see some animals up close and personal, like a couple of tarantulas and snakes!
We finished the evening with Hibachi Grill and packing up to head back to Texas!
Our trip home was uneventful since we wanted to make it back in time to visit with family! If your travels and budget allow, I highly recommend a visit to Dogwood Canyon in Branson! Everyone agreed that while Missouri was not our most “affordable” trip of the summer, we can’t wait to go back to Branson again!