We just got back from a week in Branson, Missouri, and let me tell you — we loved it! I’m going to spend the next week really breaking down our trip for you in case you ever want to visit. From shows to restaurants to attractions to lodging — I want to hit it all. As you’ll see from my impending posts, I highly recommend the area.
It’s a funny story how we even ended up in Branson. I was complaining to a friend about how expensive Florida is during spring break, yet I really wanted to go somewhere and do something during the week-long vacation. As fate would have it, this friend belonged to a vacation club and offered to book a room on our behalf. After perusing the possibilities, we settled on Marriott’s Willow Ridge Lodge in Branson, Missouri.
I’ve never been to Branson, but I’ve heard good things. I figured it would be relatively warm, and I knew there was a ton to do in regards to shows and attractions. We are definitely a show kind of family, so I hoped this would be a winning situation.
I knew right away that we made a great choice as far as lodging was concerned. Marriott’s Willow Ridge Lodge pleased me from start to finish.
First of all, our suite met our every need. We had a huge, fully furnished kitchen, a gigantic table, laundry machines in the room, a wonderful walk-out balcony, a master bedroom for my wife and I, and a sofa bed for my kids. The suite had ample closet space as well as several empty cabinet drawers. Once we packed our clothes away in drawers and closets, we felt like we were living in an apartment!
The lodge itself had so so many activities that we honestly could have simply stayed there the whole week and been sufficiently entertained. Though their outdoor pool wasn’t yet open, their indoor pool area was enormous and also offered a large hot tub. We made a point to wake up and go swimming every morning between eight and nine, and every single time we were the first ones in there. To have that entire room to ourselves — it was amazing.
They also had a gaming room with board games galore, a full billiards table, a foosball table, a pinball machine, an arcade machine, a ping-pong table, an air hockey table, and even a claw machine! The claw machine and arcade games cost fifty-cents to play, but the rest was free. My oldest daughter would have been quite content to stay in that room the entire time. My youngest loved the claw machine — we even managed to snag two critters out of it.
Furthermore, the lodge had a small baseball field, a basketball half-court, a tether ball pole, a horseshoe pit, and a shuffleboard court! These were not old, rundown areas, either. These spots were kept up and fun to use.
Willow Ridge also made sure to have an activity available for its guest every hour on the hour. We were given an itinerary when we checked in that basically detailed the entire week’s worth of activities. Every night they showed a movie on a mammoth big screen TV in their den. They also organized weenie roasts and s’mores at the fire pit. At various points during our stay they had Italian soda samplings, local brew tastings, ice cream socials, blackjack games, three-point contests, craft time, home-run derbies, campfire stories, and several other things. In short, there was always something going on.
I’d also like to mention that every single employee that we bumped into could not have been more friendly. From the workers at the front desk to the cleaning staff, everyone greeted us with a smile on their face and a positive word to say. They also made a point to ask us how our stay was going and if they could help with anything. I’m telling you, from the top down, it was excellent customer service.
Best of all? The place was quiet. We learned from our stay at the Wilderness in the Dells to request top floor suites. But even though we didn’t have anyone above us, we could not hear any of our neighbors at all. We saw people going into the rooms next to us, and from the parking lot I saw people on their balcony below our room, but I never heard anyone. In fact, I worried our six-year-old was the local rabble-rouser!
Though it wasn’t an issue for me at all, be aware that the Willow Ridge website makes it look like it’s in the middle of a forest. This is not the case. While they have an extensive area of land that is surrounded by trees, they are pretty much smack dab in the middle of everything. We loved it because we could get anywhere we wanted to go in minutes. However, from our balcony we could see the touristy areas of Branson, not the depths of a beautiful wilderness. Like I said, I had no problem with the location whatsoever, especially because we were far enough off the main road that we couldn’t even hear car noise. It was pretty astounding.
Honestly, I have no idea how you book with the Willow Ridge Lodge if you’re not a member of their vacation club, and I’m not even sure if you can, but because our friend helped us out, we were able to stay there for an entire week for less than five hundred dollars. Yes, you read that right. We were able to stay an entire week on what would have cost us a single night in Florida. You can’t beat that!
If you’d like to visit the Marriott Willow Ridge Lodge website, click HERE.
(Did you enjoy this article? Check out Scott William Foley’s Dr. Nekros e-book series HERE)