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Celebrating Fall at the National Crafts & Cowboy Festival at Silver Dollar City

Celebrating Fall at the National Crafts & Cowboy Festival at Silver Dollar City

I grew up in Branson, MO, so long days of water rides at Silver Dollar City were a fixture of my childhood summers. This was long before cell phones were a thing (except those giant Zach Morris phones that were bigger than your head), so it was a huge deal when my best friend and I were finally old enough to go off by ourselves for several hours at a time and then meet up with mom when it was time to go. The ultimate tween version of freedom!

It’s been several years since I’ve been to the 1800s themed park, so I was thrilled to be invited to visit and check out the National Crafts & Cowboy Festival, just one of many festivals and events offered at the park each year.

National Crafts & Cowboy Festival at Silver Dollar

Thanks to US Family Guide and Silver Dollar City for providing complimentary admission in exchange for sharing my experience with you guys!

My original plan was to arrive a little before the park opened at 10 a.m., but then Mother Nature was like, “Those are nice fall plans you have there. It would be a shame if anything… happened to them.”

Note the lovely temperatures the rest of the week. Boo-urns. Sadly that 67 degrees at 3 pm turned out to be an overly optimistic forecast. It never got above about 56.  Felt more like the Christmas festival than fall!

 

One Big Tip for Visiting Silver Dollar City: Arrive Early. To get the most out of your visit, plan on arriving

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Relaxing at Bar M Lake Resort Near Branson

Relaxing at Bar M Lake Resort Near Branson


Have you ever had one of those weeks when life gets so busy and overwhelming that nothing sounds better than escaping for a few nights in a quiet cabin in the woods? I’ve had so much going on lately that a day off relaxing near the lake sounded beyond amazing, so when Bar M Resort & Campground offered to host me for a night, I was super excited! With a variety of cabin sizes and gorgeous natural setting, this lake resort near Branson is the perfect escape!

A-frame cabins on Table Rock Lake near Branson

Table Rock Lake Cabins

I stayed in one of the resort’s A-Frame cabins, which has two bedrooms and two fold-out sofas, sleeping up to 9 people total. With rates starting at $125 in low season, it’s a crazy good bargain, especially since it also has a kitchen with full-sized appliances, dishes, silverware, etc. I know how hard it can be just to find a hotel room for a family of 5, so this is basically the jackpot if you’re traveling with multiple kids or doing a friends getaway where you don’t want to splurge on multiple hotel rooms!

Want the tour? Let’s go!

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Feeling Spoiled at Ameristar Kansas City

Feeling Spoiled at Ameristar Kansas City

You know you’re totally on top of your blogging game when you’re writing about your February adventures in mid-May! I attended a horse convention/event/shindig thing in Kansas the end of February, and decided to spend a couple of nights in Kansas City on my way there, both to get in some relaxation and sightseeing, and to break up the drive a little bit. The absolutely awesome people at Pinnacle Entertainment, (who you might remember let me check out their River City Casino & Hotel in St Louis last year!) hooked me up with two nights at their Kansas City location, the Ameristar Casino Hotel. This place should totally be on your list of where to stay in Kansas City!

 

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I’m not a big gambler, but I love staying at casino hotels, and I think you’ll get why by the end of this post! Having my room, lots of dining options, as well as entertainment all under one roof is awesome, especially when I’ve been traveling all day and just want dinner & relaxation without having to find my way around a new city!

I asked on my blog’s Facebook and Twitter accounts just how many photos were TOO many when it came to a hotel post, and everyone who responded said there was no such thing as too many pics, so get comfy because I have a LOT to share! Let’s start with…

 

The Room:

You guys probably know that I’m a huge hotel nerd. I worked front desk and concierge for 7 years, with jobs ranging from a small independent 100 room hotel in Branson to Disney’s All Star Resorts, which comes in at over 5,000 rooms. Hospitality nerdiness aside, I just love a good hotel room! You get to step totally away from your usual life and relax in a beautiful, cozy little getaway that you don’t even have to clean yourself. Yes, please!

My contact at Ameristar went SO above and beyond this time – instead of the regular hotel room I was expecting, she got me an absurdly awesome King Suite that was larger than most apartments I’ve lived in!! (Actually, I just looked it up on their website – the Deluxe King Spa Suite is 1104 sq ft! So it IS bigger than any apartment I’ve ever lived in!!!) I only got lost in there a couple of times.

 

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Hello, kitchen!

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I love that all of this company’s hotel rooms come with free bottled water! These were so convenient to grab before I went out on adventures!

 

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Living room area. I had some glorious times on that sofa with pizza & cable news.

 

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I never got around to actually using the dining room area, but how awesome would this be for playing board games?

 

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Yeah, I’d say that’s ample counter space for all of my makeup and skin care stuff! (Although there was actually a totally separate vanity with awesome lighting for doing makeup!)

 

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Is there any person alive who doesn’t love hotel soaps? That shampoo smelled awesome, btw.

 

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And, of course, the bedroom!

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You guys know I made excellent use of the bath robe and slippers!

 

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I arrived at the hotel just before sunset, so everything had a sort of dreamy pink and blue glow.

 

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My room had a ginormous wrap around balcony with a view of the Missouri River. 

 

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Yeah, I could get used to this!

 

Deluxe King Spa Suite

Oh, did I forget to mention the giant jetted tub? As soon as I saw this, I knew it was going to feel a-mazing after my horseback riding lesson the next afternoon!

 

 

Relaxation:

Between work and health stuff and taking care of my mom, I was SO READY for a couple of days to just hang out and relax!

One of the first things I did after arriving was run downstairs to purchase a pizza slice the size of my head and a decadent dessert, and then settle in on my sofa to watch larger-than-life Chris Hayes. 

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There is no vacation from my cable news obsession!

 

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Yes, I’m wearing my beloved “Socktopus” socks here. Because they are the best.

 

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No, for realsies, it was the size of my head. And only like $3.

 

The problem with working from home is that it’s hard for me not to work ALL the time. Just kicking back on the couch with pizza and TV is something I NEVER get to do! It felt totally indulgent. 

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And yes, that bath felt as great as it looked.

 

And I may have spent like 90% of my time in the room wearing these little slippers. Because vacation.

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I even had bonus relaxation for falling asleep! I went to stick my phone on the bedside iHome to charge while I slept and discovered that it was equipped with nature sounds! Happily fell asleep to gentle rain for the next 2 nights.

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Yes, I keep weird night owl hours no matter where I am. Don’t judge me.

 

Entertainment:

First, let’s discuss that this is what you see when you enter through the main Ameristar doors heading towards the casino:

Ameristar Kansas City lobby

Yes, that’s a train. No, it isn’t Platform 9 3/4. Yes, you’re indoors – the whole complex has a gorgeous painted sky ceiling.

 

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The actual casino is SO PRETTY, you guys. My photos don’t do it justice. But check out this big light…fixture? Ceiling thing? What do you even call this?

 

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This photo from Ameristar KC’s Instagram account captures the awesomeness way better than I did:

 

 

Pro tip: I’m the kind of person who carries a ginormous purse most of the time. I need room for my multiple notebooks and eighty thousand lip glosses and a spare pen or fifty. I have no desire to lug all that around a casino with me, though, so I brought this cute little bag that I picked up in Mexico for $5 several years ago:

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I tucked my room key, players club card, drivers license, and some cash inside to take downstairs to the casino with me. Way easier! And I just wore the bag’s strap across my chest like a crossbody style so I didn’t have to worry about it, since it wouldn’t surprise me at all if I spaced out and left behind a purse I had to remember to pick up any time I moved to a different slot machine!

I also discovered a new slot machine that I like. I think I only broke even, but the excited little bonus fish cracked me up, so it was worth it!

 

 

 

There’s plenty of non-casino entertainment here, too, though! Live music on some nights, an arcade for the kids (or big kids), and an on-site movie theatre! On my second night there, I took the opportunity to FINALLY see…

Movie Theatre Cinema Times

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Yesssss. If you’re keeping track, my Thursday included horseback riding, Star Wars, and cake. I have no idea how they ever got me to leave.

 

Eating All The Things:

Look, let’s just skip to the important stuff here.

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There’s a solid chance that I ate my weight in tasty things from the Falcon Bakery. But there were so many tempting looking things that I felt like it was my duty as a blogger to sample them for you! You know, in the name of research and journalistic integrity and all that. Right?

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I still have dreams about this passion fruit mousse dome thing.

 

Cheesecake on a stick

Cheesecake + chocolate + “on a stick” = Very yes.

 

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That chocolate mousse cake, though…

 

I’m guessing that a magical little Ameristar fairy Godmother saw my tweets about all of the desserts I was buying, because when I got back to my room after riding on Thursday, I had a note that I had a message at the front desk. When I got there, they handed me my “message”.

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Sorry I ate you, little birdie, but you were delicious!

 

One thing that I meant to check out but never got around to was Ameristar’s fancy fruit beers, which are available at their Amerisports Bar & Grill. (In the city of the KC Royals, you MUST have a sports bar!)

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Something for next time’s to-do list!

 

If you happen to be one of those people who can’t survive on pizza and cheesecake alone (weirdo), there are also plenty of “real” food options.

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There’s a steakhouse (above), a traditional buffet, a food court, a deli, you name it!

(Confession: I just had to take a break from writing this blog post to go make lunch. Writing about food makes me hungry!)

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Just me, or does Pearl’s Oyster Bar look like it was designed with being Instagrammed in mind?

 

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And, of course, room service! I had originally planned to order myself the big kids grilled cheese after riding, but ended up just doing pizza 2 nights in a row. Oops.

 

I’m pretty sure that if I hadn’t been super excited to get to Equifest that weekend, they may have had to literally drag me out of my room. I had cool horse stuff to do, though, so I waved goodbye to my awesome bathroom (literally…)

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…and set off towards Topeka. Definitely looking forward to staying at the Kansas City Ameristar Casino Hotel again the next time I’m in the area! I mean, did you SEE all of the desserts I didn’t get to sample yet??

If you’d like to learn more about Ameristar Kansas City so that you, too, can hang out eating cheesecake in bath slippers while trying to decide if you’re in the mood for a movie or some blackjack, you can find them on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and, of course, their website! You can also find my review of their gorgeous St. Louis area River Ctiy Casino & Hotel here! So much love to Ameristar for taking awesome care of me, and letting me hang out in this gigantic suite for 2 nights in exchange for sharing my experience with you guys!