Monday, May 4, 2015

Branson Vacation

We had our first family vacation this last week. All of our vacations before this have been planned by our parents and we just went along with them (and they were all fantastic!).  But we decided it was time for us to do something with our little family, especially because soon we will have another addition and things may be a little harder. We did a timeshare thing where we sat through this timeshare presentation and then got a great discounted rate on a hotel for four nights. It was fantastic. 

On MONDAY, we drove out to Branson. We left right after lunch, so Hailey fell asleep almost immediately. Driving during naptime was the best idea ever!
On the way there, we noticed a few of these signs.
Fun eh? Then all of a sudden we saw a buggy and I whipped out my phone so fast and barely got the shot.
For some reason, passing those signs and then actually seeing some Amish was very very exciting to me. haha

 We checked into our hotel around 4 pm. Hailey made herself right at home.

We went to dinner and then Walmart to pick up breakfast and lunch foods for the week. We were going to save as much money as possible by eating our own food for everything but dinner.

On TUESDAY, we had our timeshare presentation to attend in the morning. It only took a couple hours. After that was over, we headed back to our hotel for lunch and a nap for Hailey. We hated splitting our days in half, before nap activities and after nap activities. We felt like we weren't able to maximize our time there by spending a few hours in the hotel in the middle of each day. But it made Hailey the happiest, so I'm glad we did.

After Hailey's nap, we set out to Ride the Duck. It's a bus/boat that tours a little of Branson and the Ozarks, with a splash into Table Rock Lake. It was a super entertaining, historical tour. Our tour guide was hilarious, singing, dancing, and telling jokes the whole time.

 The view on top the mountain was beautiful.
 Hailey got a chance to drive the "boat" once we were in the water.
 After that tour, we went to the World's Largest Toy Museum. It seemed SUPER fun online. "Over 1 Million Toys!" I for sure thought Hailey would enjoy this one. But we were a little let down once we got there. I feel like it wasn't worth what it cost. It was set up like an old antique store, with different sections and rooms. Everything was behind glass and it was full of vintage toys. There were a few displays of Disney toys or horses, but Hailey wasn't interested in much more than that. I wish it were more interactive for kids, but you live and you learn!

We ate dinner and returned to our hotel for the night. Hailey and Travis went swimming every night after dinner. Hailey giggled each time, for three nights straight.
The hot tub was under construction, so don't mind the tarp.

On WEDNESDAY, we hit up Wild World in the morning. It was AWESOME! It was like an indoor zoo of exotic animals. Venomous snakes, sharks, crocodiles, piranhas and other fish, birds, dingoes, and even WOLVES! Hailey LOVED it!

 These creepy snakes are Vipers. Eeeeek!
And that's a Python. Eeeeeek again!

 Aren't the dingoes so cute!?
We bought our tickets on Groupon and I guess those tickets included a round of mini golf. Yes please! Hailey loved that as well. She didn't really understand the game and kept retrieving everyone's ball for them after they hit it. haha

Then back to the hotel for lunch and nap time. After naptime, we went to a show, The Amazing Acrobats of Shanghai. Now that was awesome!! When we bought our tickets off Groupon, the person said to arrive 40 minutes early because it gets packed. So we did. Then Travis spent that whole time following Hailey around, trying to burn some energy before we had to sit still. And it was sooo empty. Actually all week was pretty dead in Branson. There weren't many vacationers that chose the same week as us. It was lovely!! Anyway, the show was amazing and captured Hailey's attention for the most part. Hailey took a beastly wipeout on the sidewalk outside the theater. But recovered quickly and was happy to watch the show.

 Then dinner and back to the hotel to swim and go to bed.

On THURSDAY, we started off with the Dinosaur Museum. This museum was muuuuch better than the Toy Museum the other day. It was awesome. Hailey has been into dinosaurs lately, so I figured she'd enjoy it- and she did! She even went into the theater room and sat and watched a documentary-type movie for as long as I'd let her. I couldn't sit long in there, BORING! I had to pull Hailey out, whining and crying. It was a great museum though.

Then, you guessed it, nap time. Hailey took an extra long nap that day, so we didn't get out of the hotel for like 3 hours. Gee wiz. We set out to Dixie Stampede that night. IT WAS AMAZING!!! Hailey was in awe the whole time. The food was fantastic, and our server was hilarious. Hailey was technically a lap child, so we were planning on sharing our meals with her. But the stadium wasn't filled, so our server gave us an extra plate for Hailey and piled on the food. We got a whole rotisserie chicken (each!), a slab of pork loin, corn on the cob, baked potato, biscuits, soup, a drink, and a slice of apple pie. And you had to eat it all with your HANDS! It was so so so so fun. Pretty pricey, but very worth it.

We walked along the stables before the show.

After, back to the hotel for swimming and sleeping.

On FRIDAY, we went to the local outlet mall and spent a few hours there. We both got some new running shoes at the Asics Outlet Store. Now I'm REALLY itching to get active again. So excited! We had lunch and then headed home.
Branson was soooo fun. We only visited a small percentage of what Branson had to offer. They have so many stores, restaurants, and museums that we didn't even get a chance to try out. And they have TONS of awesome things for older kids. We kept saying, "Oh if Hailey was older we'd totally do that!". Things like go cart racing, water activities, and amusement parks. Super fun place to take your family.

To save money, we looked up everywhere we wanted to visit on Groupon and bought tickets in advance. It saved us about $75. We also ate breakfast and lunch in the hotel every day. I got so sick of powdered donuts and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. But we saved TONS by doing that. Overall, I'd say our first family vacation with just the three of us was a SUCCESS!! And if you're thinking of visiting Branson- DO IT!