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Here’s a Chicago Weekend Getaway Idea: The Ozarks

You probably wouldn’t have thought of a trip to Missouri’s Ozark Mountains, but they’re quite nice. Plus: Direct flights to Dubai, the Midwest’s roller coaster revival, and more.

The view from Arnie’s Barn at Top of the Rock   Photo: Courtesy of Big Cedar Lodge

Another downside of a cooler-than-usual summer is that it feels like it’s ending sooner than it should. Stretch the season with a visit to Missouri’s Ozark Mountains, where highs can reach the upper 80s into September and where Big Cedar Lodge (from $129), the rambling wilderness resort founded by Bass Pro Shop Owner Johnny Morris, is showing off a new 462-acre expansion. No ordinary lodge addition, the new Top of the Rock opened in June and features a golf course and a natural history museum, all of it situated high on a cliff overlooking the Ozarks and the 43,000-acre Table Rock Lake.

Guests staying at Big Cedar can hike a 2.5-mile nature trail or ride a golf cart to get to Top of the Rock, the entrance of which is framed by the four-story Lost Canyon Cave: Step into the mining-style elevator, stop at the cave bar for a drink, and watch the waterfall from a viewing balcony. The resort’s new golf course is a stunning beast, created by three golf greats: Jack Nicklaus designed the nine-hole course, Arnold Palmer the 16-target practice facility, and Tom Watson the one-acre putting course inspired by Scotland’s St. Andrews. Inside the Top of the Rock complex, the Ancient Ozarks Natural History Museum contains a range of finds that includes carbon-dated Missouri mammoth and cave lion skeletons, prehistoric animal dioramas, Osage Indian artwork, and Civil War displays.

Top of the Rock also has four dining and drinking options. Arnie’s Barn, a wooden barn reconstructed by a local Amish family, serves Mexican food. The rustic dining room under iron chandeliers at Osage Restaurant looks over the rugged mountains. You can get your small plates at Buffalo Bar, served on a glass-enclosed bar displaying Native American relics. And, at the “End of the Trail” All-American Wine Cellar, you’ll find a tasting room, whiskey bar, cigar and cognac room, and an infinity pool with a Native American tribute statue.

There’s even a romantic retreat for couples: the Civil-War-era Honeymoon Cabin. The two-story cabin, built by local and Amish craftsmen, features a stone fireplace, outdoor shower, covered porch, and sweeping views over the Ozarks. Those looking to tie the knot won’t find anything like the three-story, antique pine wedding chapel, situated at edge of Top of the Rock. The chapel is a throwback to American country style with Gothic arch windows, a copper roof, and a steeple with a bell tower.

Travel News


Now You Can Fly Nonstop to Dubai from Chicago on Emirates

Earlier this month, Emirates launched its first direct flight from Chicago O’Hare International to Dubai International Airport. The daily, 13-plus-hour flight to Dubai will be serviced on Boeing 777-200LR (Emirates is the largest operator of the Boeing 777 aircraft in the world).

Find the Wildest Wooden Roller Coasters Right Here in the Midwest

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New App Makes It Easy to Book a Last-Minute Flight

Available for iOS 7, Hopper’s newly launched Flight Tonight app lets you look for cheap flights leaving in the next two to 24 hours. “Even though the app looks for deals, the prices are unlikely to be better than those available far ahead of departure,” writes Jessica Plautz. “But, as Hopper highlights, sometimes you just really, really need to get away.” Mashable has more.

Drink Wine Above the Vineyards on Michigan’s Old Mission Peninsula

Upper Michigan’s Brys Estate, known for its ice wines and red wine blends, this month unveiled a new “Upper Deck and Bridge Above the Vines.” Just off the tasting room, the deck and bridge—which extends over the vines—offers elevated views across the 93-acre vineyard, picturesque Old Mission Peninsula, and East Grand Traverse Bay. If you go, make Traverse City your home base with Chicago’s Midwestern road trip guide.

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