Southwest Missouri: Spontaneous Family Fun Awaits

Missouri-based photographer Aaron Fuhrman has long been a VisitMO superfan. He’s shared some of his work on the VisitMO Facebook page and frequently showcases his love for #Missouri on Twitter. Recently, Aaron and his wife, Amy, loaded up their four children for a week-long vacation to Southwest Missouri. This is their story – the second in a three-part series. 

Read Part One Read Part Three

Sometimes, the best plans are the ones you don’t make.

When our family set out for Southwest Missouri, we had very specific goals. First, we wanted to explore Silver Dollar City and the Tracks Family Fun Parks in Branson. Then, we hoped to check out the happenings at the first ever Big Cedar Lodge Legends of Golf tournament. Finally, we wanted to take some time to reconnect with one another.

Bass Pro Shops_Springfield_SW-8 comp

Crossing the first three items off our list was pretty easy. I had no idea how to accomplish the “reconnect” thing, though.

That’s when spontaneity stepped in.

Although our home is close to a zipline ride, we found adventure at the Branson Zipline Canopy Tours at Wolfe Creek Preserve, located just a few miles north of downtown Branson on Highway 65.

It was amazing.

Although our youngest couldn’t participate, she enjoyed seeing her brother and sisters – not to mention Mom and Dad – soaring among the trees in the Missouri Ozarks. We had two awesome guides; both were excellent working with the kids (and with us grown-ups) and they added a great level of enthusiasm and enjoyment to the journey.

There’s always a bit of trepidation when you try something like this, but the kids were excited and ultimately, we were, too. While the zips from platform to platform obviously are the focal point of the experience, what really sticks with me is the beauty of the setting.

Taking in your surroundings from 100 feet in the air offers a great perspective of nature’s beauty and – despite screams of excitement – riding a zipline really can be a serene experience.

Back in Branson, we popped in at Grand Country, a resort where features include a water park, restaurants, music hall and hotel. There’s a lot to see and do at Grand Country, but one of our funniest bonding moments happened quite unexpectedly.

And it started with goofy glasses.

Grand Country Buffet_Branson_SW-6 comp

Inside the gift shop at Grand Country, one of the kids stumbled upon these really funny glasses – the kind with big eyeballs painted on the lenses. We took a lot of photos during this stop and while I know other parts of the trip will stick with them longer, I’m not sure anything we did generated more laughs – or selfies.

During this Southwest Missouri vacation, we also decided – somewhat spur of the moment – to rent a boat on Table Rock Lake.


Full disclosure: I’d never driven a boat before.

But after getting some guidance from the marina staff, along with my Missouri-borne instincts kicking in, I soon was piloting the pontoon like I’d been doing it for years. Capt. Jack Sparrow would have been proud.

I think each of us was struck by the surroundings of Table Rock Lake. And talk about a peaceful setting.

The hum of the engine and sound of waves splashing created the perfect atmosphere for my son to catch a nap. As any parent can attest, seeing one of (or all) your kids sleeping is a beautiful thing.


Even though we only were out for a couple hours, at the end of the trip, the family agreed it was our favorite part of the week-long getaway.

Yes, we all agreed on something.

Funny, I hadn’t planned on that.

Aaron Fuhrman travels around Missouri with his wife and kids, a trusted camera and an appreciation for spontaneous fun.

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