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Fantastic Caverns

Fantastic Caverns

Caves in Springfield MO

 

A fun fact that most people don’t know: Missouri is FULL of caves. Over 6,000 of them, to be more specific. Only 16 caves in Missouri offer tours, and one of those, Fantastic Caverns in Springfield Missouri, offers a ride-through tour on a tram.

Fantastic Caverns is America’s only ride-through cave. This is a BIG deal – there are only a handful of ride-through caves in the entire world! I love exploring caves but most require visitors to be in pretty good shape physically, since you’re likely to be stooping down to fit through low passages, climbing stairs and inclines, and generally on your feet for around an hour. The pathways are sometimes narrow, low, and inclined in order to preserve as much of the natural environment as possible, but this makes them inaccessible to a lot of people – those with mobility disabilities, elderly visitors, small children who can’t walk through on their own, etc. So while I totally understand why not every cave can offer a more accessible tour, it’s awesome that there’s at least one cave that pretty much anyone can visit comfortably!

As you guys might have noticed, I always try to include as much info as possible to help travelers with disabilities or other special circumstances plan their trips, since I know that can be hard to find. If you have any questions that I don’t cover, feel free to reach out in the comments or email! (And yes, the trams have ramps so they’re wheelchair accessible! You may want to check with them if you have a chair that’s especially wide or tall, though.) I just learned while browsing their Facebook that the tour is even dog-friendly, so this is also a perfect choice for anyone with a service dog or even just a well-behaved furry traveling companion!

As you might remember from my summer posts, this spring and summer have been SO HOT, so I started looking around for local attractions that doubled as a great place to cool off. The Springfield Convention & Visitors Bureau was kind enough to send me a press pass that allowed me to visit Fantastic Caverns so I could report back to you guys with some honest feedback and tips for visiting.

 

Fantastic Caverns Springfield MO

 

Directions To Fantastic Caverns:

Ignore what Siri is telling you to do. She doesn’t know your life. Follow the signs instead. (Basically, if GPS tries to send you on a weird loop to the west of town, ignore that and either take Kansas Expressway up past the fairgrounds or use I-44 exit 77. ALL of the Fantastic Caverns signs say exit 77, so of course my phone yelled at me when I didn’t take exit 75 like it wanted me to.) Just be prepared for the fact that you’re going to feel like you’re heading out into the middle of nowhere and driving a few miles down farm roads. Caves don’t really keep visitor convenience in mind when they’re forming.¬†ūüėā

 

directions to Fantastic Caverns

ūüé∂¬†I saw the sign, and it opened up my eyes…¬†ūüé∂

 

Fantastic Caverns Tours:

The cave is open almost every day of the year (closed Thanksgiving and December 24th & 25th) from 8 a.m. until around dusk (so 4 p.m. in the winter and 8 p.m. in the summer) and tours go out about every 20-30 minutes, so you can arrive whenever you’d like and you probably won’t have much of a wait before your tour departs. I had about 15 minutes, which gave me time to use the restroom, browse the Fantastic Caverns gift shop, and check out some of the educational material in the waiting area. (They have some really cool books that you can flip through!) There’s also a vending machine with bottled soda, tea, lemonade, and water available at really reasonable prices (as in $1 – $1.50). In fact, all of the gift shop prices seemed really reasonable. They had baseball caps for $5, and lots of cool gemstones for around $1-2 each.

 

Fantastic caverns gift shop

These agate pieces in the Fantastic Caverns Gift Shop were $1.50. They also had turquoise and rose quartz (among others) for 99 cents.

 

When tour time rolls around, everyone boards a tram that holds around 30 people. Here’s a peek at what those look like:

Ride Through Caves in Springfield MO

 

The tour guide is also your driver, so sitting towards the front can make it easier to hear, but the cave acoustics are pretty good so I don’t think sitting towards the back will affect the ability to hear what’s being said much, if at all. I sat at the front of the large part of the tram, and I did notice a bit of a fuel smell up there. (The trams are powered by clean-burning propane in an attempt to preserve the cave as much as possible.)

The tour travels a path carved out by an ancient river and makes a loop that goes about half a mile into the cave and then back out in a sort of horseshoe shape. The lower part of the cave system, which is much larger and contains creatures like cave crayfish and tri-colored bats, is not visited during the tour.

 

A Bit of Fantastic Caverns History:

Although the cave was discovered in 1862 by a farmer and his dog, it wasn’t explored until 1867 when twelve women answered an ad seeking people to investigate the cave. Can we pause and acknowledge how badass those women were? Can you imagine going into a big dark cave with only candlelight and NO idea what you might find in there? The women wrote their names on the cave walls, and those were eventually traced over to preserve them. You’ll see them on the tour!

Fantastic Caverns History

 

The caverns served as a speakeasy during prohibition, and in the 50s it became a popular concert hall due to the awesome acoustics. The room pictured below is known as the Auditorium, and was the site of countless concerts.

 

Caves Springfield MO

 

The jeep-driven tours began in 1961, and have been going strong ever since. I visited once on a school trip in the late 80s or early 90s, but didn’t remember much from that visit , so I was excited to see what was waiting below ground.

 

The Tour!

The cave tour takes approximately one hour and is a fantastic introduction to caves. I thought they did a great job of teaching about caves – how different formations grow, the history, etc – without overwhelming visitors with too much info.

One amusing note:¬† You’re welcome to take as many photos as you like, and the guide mentioned that flash photos are allowed. I tried that in one spot, but I should’ve known better! If you’ve ever tried to take a flash photo in a super humid place, you already know what happened.

Majestic, isn’t it?¬†ūüėā

Here’s almost the same photo without the flash:

Formations In Caves Springfield MO

 

The lighting in the cave is designed to illuminate the cool formations (In 2017 they replaced their incandescent bulbs with LEDs for environmental reasons), so you’re likely to get pretty good photos without the flash, especially when the tram is stopped, which is often. However, the mix of dark cave and lighted formations probably isn’t going to result in phenomenal photos if you’re using your phone or a basic point-and-shoot camera. The pics in this post were taken with my dinosaur of an iPhone 5s. I didn’t get any amazing shots, but overall the quality was pretty decent given that I was photographing things that were usually 20+ feet away in weird light. Also on that note, if you don’t know, caves are wet. Don’t bring in a camera that you’re not ok with an occasional large drop of water falling on.

Take a look at those formations above and then consider this: they grow at an average rate of one cubic inch per 100 years. And those guys above? They’re pretty big. For scale:

Fantastic Caverns Branson MO

Tour guide near formations for scale. 

There is one formation that they know the exact age of! Back in 1941, this concrete cylinder was added to the cave. (We were told why, but I’ve completely forgotten.) Since it reaches through the roof of the cave and allows water in, formations started to grow around it. Sorry for the bad photo, but again, caves aren’t awesome lighting for pics! But the little formations that reach out from the pole are now 3/4 inch long. After 77 years. Just something to keep in mind when looking at the huge ones in other photos!

 

 

Here’s one more to give you the scope of how old some of these cave formations are:

Fantastic Caverns Missouri

 

The smaller stalactites seem unremarkable until you think about how it took them almost a millennia to get THAT big. It was also fascinating to learn that we were 90-120 feet below ground! It never felt like we were descending much, but the entrance to the cave is set into a hill, so you’re a good 30-ish feet? (I’m estimating) underground from the beginning.

Caves in Springfield Missouri

 

Although you’re WAY underground, the cave is high and wide enough in most places that I doubt anyone would experience claustrophobia. You do go under a few low ceilings where taller people need to watch their heads, but there are no tight, enclosed spaces on the tour. (Passages can often be cramped on walk-through tours, so again, this is a great option for those worried about doing a cave tour for that reason.)

 

 

While we’re talking about possible worries, there is one brief part where the tour guide turns off the lights so that you can experience total darkness. There’s so much ambient light now that the only places you can truly experience total darkness with ZERO light is deep within a cave or way down in the ocean. The darkness is maybe 10-15 seconds? There were some small children in our group and they seemed to handle it well (The guide had them count down 3…2…1… to the lights going out, which I think helps), but if you’re traveling with kids you know them best – if they’re hardcore afraid of the dark, just keep this in mind. There are also brief demonstrations of what exploring by candlelight would have looked like, but otherwise the tour has plenty of lighting.

(I’m trying co cover all of the bases for anxious adventurers, but if I’ve left anything out feel free to ask!)

 

Cool caves in Springfield Missouri

 

It’s about 60 degrees inside Fantastic Caverns year-round, so keep that in mind when planning your visit! It’s a perfect way to cool off a bit on a super hot summer day. I wore jeans and a 3/4-sleeve top and was perfectly comfortable. I almost brought a jacket since I worried I’d be cold, but it never felt chilly in there – just pleasantly cool.¬† (Maybe the lack of wind helps?)

Beautiful Caves near Branson MO

Caves near Springfield MO

caverns in Missouri

This was one of my favorite spots. It’s called the Breakdown Room, because the ceiling has fallen in several times. It looks pretty sound now- look at that super sturdy column holding things up on the left!¬†ūüėā

 

Caves near Branson MO

 

Souvenir photos of your tour group are taken inside the cave, and are available at the end of the tour for $12. (I believe they were 5×7’s in a cardboard folder-style frame.) Afterwards, you’re free to wander the visitor’s center, and there’s even a 1/2 mile trail down to a spring that I really wish I’d had time to check out! (There was a huge storm rolling in around the time my tour ended, so I was hoping to make the hour drive home before it hit. I totally failed at that!)

 

As you’re leaving, there are again signs to point you back towards I-44 and Kansas Expressway, which I appreciated since you really are kind of in the middle of nowhere. There’s also a really nice park called Ritter Springs Park just down the road. I stopped for a few minutes and found that there’s some great playground equipment and what looked like a gorgeous trail that I sadly didn’t have time to explore due to the aforementioned impending storm.

 

Fantastic Caverns Admission Prices

As of Spring 2022, Fantastic Caverns Tickets are $30 for adults, $17 for children, and kids under 5 are free. This is a little higher than most other local caves I’m familiar with (Talking Rocks Cavern in Branson West is $23 for adults, Onyx Cave in Arkansas is $12 for adults, and Cosmic Cavern in Arkansas is $20), but I think the perk of getting to ride through is worth the extra cost, especially if it means your whole travel group gets to do something together vs. some family members or friends having to sit it out.

Fantastic Caverns is just a few minutes from Dickerson Park Zoo, which I wrote about a little over a year ago (that post is here!) so if you’re visiting Springfield, the two would be a perfect combination for a day of educational fun!

Check out the Fantastic Caverns Website for more history and updated info on hours, visit their Facebook page for lots of great info and videos, and of course, Instagram for pretty pictures. You can also find more Fantastic Caverns Reviews and photos on TripAdvisor.

Feel free to ask me any questions that I missed answering down in the comments I’m planning to write about some other caves in the Ozarks soon, so if there’s anything you’d like to know, just ask!

An Evening Aboard the Showboat Branson Belle – Updated for 2023

An Evening Aboard the Showboat Branson Belle – Updated for 2023

Are you considering a dinner cruise on the Showboat Branson Belle? This cruise on Table Rock Lake combines gorgeous scenery with on-board entertainment and a hearty meal.

I live right on Table Rock Lake (as you probably know since I’m always Instagramming lake sunsets) but it’s been ages since I’ve seen it from the perspective of being out on the water instead of standing on the shore.

Showboat Branson Belle entrance

Thanks to Silver Dollar City Attractions for inviting me to check out the Showboat Branson Belle! I received a complimentary dinner cruise in exchange for sharing my experience with you guys. Some links on this page may be affiliate links, which help to support this site at no extra cost to you. These go a long way in helping me to bring you first-hand experience and reviews!

I’m a fan of dinner shows when you’re visiting a city like Branson for two big reasons:

1) It eliminates the hassle of picking out a place to eat, figuring out how much time you need to get there, eat, and get to your show on time, and dealing with the traffic on your way from one to the other. Nobody wants to cut an awesome meal short because you’re running late for your evening entertainment plans, and nobody wants to miss the beginning of a show because your waiter was slow bringing the check. Having both in one place saves so much stress!

2) Dinner and the show are both included in your ticket price, which can be a big money saver if your’re traveling as a family or group. The average live show in Branson currently runs around $30-40 per adult, so the Showboat’s prices are really reasonable for both dinner and entertainment! (The prices below were from my cruise towards the end of 2017, but I’ve updated the bottom of the post with current showboat Branson Belle ticket information. Surprisingly, prices haven’t gone up much in 5 years, only a few dollars per person!)

Showboat Branson Belle ticket prices adults children priority

 

Showboat Branson Belle Location:

The Showboat Branson Belle is located a little bit outside of the main tourist area of Branson, right on one of my favorite walking trails. (The one that runs from the Dewey Short Visitor’s Center to State Park Marina literally cuts right through the Showboat’s parking lot. I’d recommend allowing at least half an hour for a scenic lakeside walk before or after your cruise if the weather allows!) It’s also just a few minutes away from Chateau on the Lake, one of the most luxurious hotels in the area. If you’re staying in a hotel along the 76 Strip, it’s about a 15-25 minute drive when there’s no traffic.

 

Showboat Branson Belle Tickets

 

I was on the 4 o’clock dinner cruise, for which boarding begins at 3 p.m. Arriving early not only means times to check out the cute shops and lake views near the dock, but means you can be towards the front of the line to board the boat, which means a bit of extra time to look around and snap some selfies with the lake in the background. (A souvenir photo is taken when you board, but nobody ever brought mine to the table so I sadly can’t offer feedback on the pricing or quality.) Seating is assigned on your ticket, so there’s not a big hurry, but the boat does depart on time, so don’t be late!

Boarding takes awhile (I think I was in line around 20 minutes), but the water in Table Rock Lake is usually really clear, so a lot of the people around me in line were entertained by watching the fish as we waited. There were some MASSIVE ones visible just below us, and I finally figured out why – there’s a little machine selling fish food there! Those guys are pretty smart to hang out beneath a regular food source instead of venturing out into the rest of the lake where they might get caught!

 

The Showboat Branson Belle Menu

Shortly after boarding, dinner is served!

 

Showboat Branson Belle Menu

Everyone is served the same meal unless you make special requests (see note about vegetarian and vegan options on the Showboat Branson Belle below), which consisted of the following for my cruise:

  • Salad
  • Dinner Roll
  • Pot Roast
  • Honey Citrus Chicken
  • Sugar Snap Peas with Carrots
  • Garlic Mashed Potatoes

I’m not much of a meat eater but I tried a little of each dish so I could report back, and both the beef and chicken were moist and tender. (Confession: I took them home to my cats.) If I return, I’d definitely try out the vegetarian option.

The only real menu change since my cruise is that it now features rotisserie chicken thighs instead of the honey citrus chicken and “Ooey Gooey Butter Cake” with a raspberry drizzle instead of my dessert below.

 

Showboat Branson Belle lemon cheesecake dessert

My dessert was a frozen lemon berry pie, which was quite good even though I’m not usually a fan of lemon.

 

The Showboat Branson Belle Kids Menu offers child-friendly options like chicken nuggets, mac & cheese, green beans, and apple sauce.

If you purchase the upgraded Chef’s Menu tickets, you get to choose from a selection of entrees including dry-aged angus ribeye, pan-seared trout, breaded chicken breast, and pork chops and have four desserts to choose from, so this may be the way to go if you have picky eaters in your group. The Chef’s Menu for Kids lets them choose chicken tenders with mac & cheese or grilled pork loin with parmesan baked potatoes, with side dishes including hot rolls and salad. Adults and kids have the same dessert options on the Chef’s Menu: Caramel Pecan Cheesecake, Ooey Gooey Butter Cake topped with Raspberry Drizzle and Powdered Sugar, Lemon Mousse Cake, and Chocolate Lovers Cake.


 
 

Vegan and Vegetarian Menu for the Showboat Branson Belle:

Alternate dinner options are available for those looking for vegan, vegetarian, or gluten-free meals.

The vegetarian meal is a lasagna cheese roll with marinara sauce and vegetables, and the vegan option is a baked potato with Tuscan vegetables. Yes, sorry vegans, I know being offered a veggie plate gets old, but given that they have to prepare everything on the ship, I kind of get why they don’t offer something a little more interesting.

(I forgot to get details on the gluten free meal and what the vegan dessert is! Sorry!)

Be sure to let your server know if you want one of the alternative meals as soon as they greet you and offer drinks – things move pretty quickly and that’s really the only time to get a request in. I’d been considering requesting the vegetarian dinner, but felt like I missed my chance and didn’t want to inconvenience my super-busy server.

 

Showboat in Branson MO

 

The showboat’s house band plays instrumental music during the dinner service, which was a little different from the style of dinner show I’m used to where you eat while the main show is happening. (I worked at Dolly Parton’s Stampede, when I was in my late teens/early 20s, and the cues for various courses to be served are pretty much built into the show there.)

 

The Showboat Branson Belle Entertainment:

I grew up in Branson at a time when being a local meant free admission to pretty much any show, so I’ve seen a whole lotta Branson shows in my day!

The show aboard the Showboat changes on a pretty regular basis, which is fantastic if you visit Branson often, since there’s always going to be something new to see. In addition to the standard dinner cruises, there are Pirate and Princess cruises for kids, Southern Gospel Cruises to correspond with the dates of the Southern Gospel Picnic at Silver Dollar City, and a whole new show for the Christmas season.

For my cruise, the show rotated between a few different acts: A singer named Cassandre who started off with Carol King songs, a five piece male group called The Showmen who did a medley of Billy Joel songs, comedy magician Christopher James who also served as Emcee, and Rhythm, a dance group with super fancy footwork. Towoards the end there was a huge medley of songs from movie soundtracks and Broadway shows that involved every performer and countless costume changes. So much fun! (Sorry my show photos aren’t spectacular – Being about a dozen rows back in a dark theater makes it hard to capture crisp images.)

 

The Showmen

 

Rhythm

 

It was clear that whoever put the show together understood how to appeal to a wide range of people. It’s hard to go wrong with famous movie songs, for example, and a good magic act appeals to any age group. I give this show a thumbs-up if you’re looking for something that will entertain everyone in your travel party.

Seating for dinner and the show is divided into three levels, but the boat is small enough that you’re going to have a good view from pretty much any seat. I was down on the floor level, but I went up to the top during intermission to see how it looked from there:

 

Showboat Branson Belle seating

Branson Belle Showboat

 

Stunning Table Rock Lake Views:

One of the highlights of the cruise is intermission, when the show takes approximately a half hour break and you can take the opportunity to wander around the boat and take in the scenery. The boat moves very slowly, so you don’t travel all that far during the cruise, but this area of Table Rock Lake is so picturesque that there’s not really a need to go very far.

Showboat Branson Belle deck

View from the deck of the Showboat Branson Belle dinner cruise

 

 

I cruised in October, so by the time we returned to the dock it was almost sunset. It looks like there’s an 8 p.m. cruise in the summertime, so that would probably work out where you caught the sunset during intermission. That would be stunning!

Sunset from the Showboat Branson Belle

 

What to Wear to Showboat Branson Belle: 

Like most shows in Branson, MO, the dress code here is pretty casual. Some guests dress up a little (think casual dresses or nice pants and a button-down shirt for men), but there are plenty of people in jeans, too. A souvenir photo is taken of your group right after boarding, so you may want to keep that in mind when planning your outfits. The most important thing to plan for is the portion of the cruise that you’ll be walking around out on deck taking in the stunning lake views. You may want to bring along a light jacket, especially for evening cruises, since even in the warmer months the lake breezes combined with the moving boat can make things a bit chilly.

 

The Showboat Branson Belle Tickets for 2022

The 2022 Showboat Branson Belle cruise season has begun!

Regular seating is $61 for adults, $34 plus tax for children 4-11, and kids under 3 are free.

The Captain’s Club seating, which comes with an upgraded menu, is $91 plus tax for adults and $54 for kids 4-11.

The entertainment changes fairly often, and sometimes they offer special events like Christmas cruises or breakfast cruises for kids. You can find the current Showboat Branson Belle Schedule here.

 

Looking for even more info?

You can find even more recent Showboat Branson Belle reviews on TripAdvisor!

Love the beautiful lakes that surround the Branson area? Want to see the water from dry land? I have a Branson Hiking Trail Guide that will point you towards the Branson hiking trails with lake views!

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!

 

ameristar-kc

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!