On Friday morning, we hit up the Waffle House. Frank has a love for Waffle Houses, since they remind him of his childhood vacations, so the fact that he already researched the locations of both Waffle Houses in Springfield was no surprise to me.
By mid-morning, we were in Branson, but our hotel room wasn't ready yet, so we decided to explore the town. We had heard about Branson traffic, and I had kind of pictured Chicago-type traffic. Instead, it's more of a Myrtle Beach-situation where there are cars lined up bumper to bumper down a two lane highway. The kids learned the word "infrastructure," as in, "the infrastructure isn't equipped for this kind of traffic."
As it was also raining, we found an indoor play place that had an arcade, laser tag, and bumper cars.
It also had this awesome ball area where you could load and shoot foam balls from pneumatic air guns. This entertained my kids for a solid two hours, and by then the rain had cleared.
We unpacked our things at the hotel and then walked (no more traffic for us!) down the street to play mini golf. Mini golf is to my vacation experience what the Waffle House is to Frank's-- I love it!
Carter is my mini golf buddy, and he's a riot to watch since the club is almost as tall as he is. He's also a huge cheater! :)
The place where we played mini golf was part of an outdoor fun center, and we told them they could choose one additional activity each. Jacob chose the go-karts. and he thought he was hot stuff being able to drive a real, motorized vehicle.
Carter chose the bumper boats. Each boat had a water cannon, and they were soaking wet when they were finished!
I'm not sure who had more fun- Carter or Frank!
We stayed at the Grand Plaza hotel, which is an older, non-chain hotel on the strip. It was really lovely, and I would definitely stay there again.
After a quick dinner at the RibCrib, we went back to the hotel to swim the rest of the evening. Both kids are all about hotel pools, even Carter who had, by that point, declared himself done with swimming lessons. They splashed until waay past bedtime and came back to the room and ate snacks (because it's vacation, of course, and vacation = junk food) before finally crashing around 10pm.
The next morning was Silver Dollar City! Call me a wet blanket, but I was very unsure of how the day would go. Historically, Jacob loves rides, but Carter doesn't. Also, it was 95 degrees, and I wasn't sure how long the kids would last with the walking and the heat. I'm happy to report that that both kids enjoyed the rides, and we didn't hear one complaint of being tired or hot. (I'm still shocked as I type this!)
We went full speed ahead from 9:45 until 5:30, and it was insanely hot and insanely fun. Frank's watch tracked our steps at just over 6 miles that day.
I felt like we went at a good time on a few different levels. At 37", Carter was just tall enough to ride almost any ride with an adult and many rides he could ride alone. Also, we rarely waited in a line. I'm not sure if that was because of the heat or what, exactly, but it was definitely a quicker wait than I've had at places like Six Flags.
We had a brief break for lunch. No idea why Carter is so snarly, but I love his face here!
Then we were back at it.
(Frank is in the white shirt)
Obviously, I couldn't get pictures of all the rides since I was riding most of them! Carter's favorite was the spinning teacups, and I don't have a picture of that. Jacob's favorite ride was the roller coaster pictured just above.
One of my favorite pictures of the day was this one below, after I told Jacob to look after Carter on a ride that the two of them would be riding alone. I don't think I've ever seen them hold hands before, but it was certainly cute!
By 5:30 we were d-o-n-e! We had dinner at an awesome Mexican restaurant where I had a cactus tostada (sorry, no pic!). It tastes like a mild green pepper. After inhaling his dinner, Jacob finished mine, and he even thought it was good!
We thought we would go back to the hotel and maybe watch a little TV before going to bed, but the kids thought we needed to swim again. Honestly, they were so sweaty and dusty that I thought maybe a little "pre-bath" might not be a bad idea. (Sorry, other pool-goers, but it's the truth!) So they swam for another hour before calling it quits.
The next morning over breakfast, we enjoyed our last view of the Ozark Mountains from the top floor of our hotel.
On our way home, we made a pit stop at the St. Louis Science Center to stretch our legs. We also thought having a fun activity at the halfway point of our drive might made us less sad to leave. :)
Digging for fossils
It was a great little getaway, and, as the saying goes, "That's What I Did on My Summer Vacation!"