All aboard the holiday lights tram.

By Perri Ormont Blumberg
November 20, 2019

Maybe it's the mountain air. Maybe it's the festive lights. Maybe it's St. Nick himself. Whatever it is, the holiday season in Big Cedar Lodge in Ridgedale, Missouri, is extra special.

If you make it to this slice of the Ozarks this winter, here are five things you must do.

1. Go for a Spin at the Winter Wonderland Ice Rink

Whether you're a guest of the resort or in town for a day trip to Branson—about 15 minutes away from Big Cedar Lodge—pony up the $15 for skate rentals and glide over the ice as you take in scenic views of Table Rock Lake. Stick your tongue out and you may very well be rewarded with a peppermint-flavored snowflake fluttering over the rink.

2. Take the Holiday Light Tour

We're Southern, so "competitive holiday light displays" is as valid a sport as any. This $15 activity is open to the public and features one million shimmering Christmas lights. Savor a cup of hot cocoa aboard a 25-minute tram ride as you take in the lights and festive holiday music, all followed by a warm-up session at the campfire.

3. Partake in the Sleigh Bell Scurry

Best holiday-themed scavenger hunt ever. For $70, create a team of up to six people and energetically roam around the Big Cedar Lodge grounds as you play detective to collect wreath decorations. This event is open to the public and concludes with a campfire, hot chocolate, and s'mores as you decorate your holiday wreaths for a memento.

4. Splurge for the Happy Holidays Package

This Big Cedar Lodge special starts from $174 (excluding nightly room rates) and comes with a Christmas photo session, one 8x10 family photo keepsake, the Sleigh Bell Scurry scavenger hunt (see above), a breakfast buffet at the property's Devil's Pool Restaurant, and a personalized Christmas gift.

5. Immerse yourself in nature.

How does your very own heartland safari to see bald eagles, icicles, and more sound to you? The answer should be "pretty darn amazing." This winter, head to Big Cedar Lodge's sister nature park, Dogwood Canyon Nature Park (single-day tickets from $15), a little-known 10,000-acre oasis. When you're not gasping at the limestone bluffs covered in dazzling icicles, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for members of the animal kingdom. Our favorite way to soak up the sights? On a wildlife tram tour (prices start from $15 per child, $25 per adult) where you'll see bison, elk, whitetail deer, Texas longhorn cattle, and bald eagles.

For more event details, dates, and times, click here.

Will you be headed to the Ozark Mountains this holiday season? If a stop at Big Cedar Lodge is on your itinerary be sure to share a picture on Instagram with #SLTravels for a chance to be featured on our account.