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celebrating OU seniors and Bartlesville and Tulsa families through photography.

Hey, y’all! 

I’m Melanie, the girl behind the lens at Melanie Foster Photography. Whether you’re getting ready for your upcoming OU senior or your Bartlesville or Tulsa family photography experience, I hope you’ll stay a while, pick up a few tips, and be inspired for your own MFP photo session! 

What to do at Big Cedar Lodge in the Fall


Last October, we took our first big “getaway” since having Ruth! I had been dreaming about this first trip the entirety of Ruth’s life so we were excited for our two night stay at Big Cedar Lodge! When you’re in the throws of newborn life, you feel like you’re never going to have a normal night of sleep again. It is all consuming and the responsibility is weighty! The thought of having a night or two to ourselves was a dream. (I did get to go on a girls trip just a month prior with my mom and sisters! We explored Porstmouth, NH & Kennebunkport, Maine – read about that here!)

We booked our trip early in the summer, and landed on a Thursday – Saturday in late October! I was surprised at how far out we had to go to find availability at the Lodge. That said, we were also working around a pretty busy fall photography season! I took note for our next trip to plan well ahead of time! (I also hadn’t done much research for activities and food until a few days before our trip. A quick google search of “What to do at Big Cedar Lodge” brought up a few blogs (like this one!) that helped.)

Our drive from Bartlesville was a little under 3.5 hours! While this wasn’t bad, I probably wouldn’t have wanted to go any further for two nights! I think that is one of the things I struggle with the most in this part of the country. We are very limited on resort-style vacations within driving distance.

Our recommendations for what to do at Big Cedar Lodge Resort – Day 1

Top of the Rock Lost Canyon Cave Golf Cart Tour

We opted to stay at Falls Lodge. It had a luxurious lodge-feel to it and both Jonathan and I loved it! After we got checked in we drove up to Lost Canyon Cave for a golf cart tour! It took about an hour or so to make it all the way through the tour. We enjoyed going at our own pace and the waterfall views. We also loved having so many other people available to take pictures. This was the only one I got of the two of us during our trip on my “big camera”. Another bonus? It wasn’t “hike-y” so I could wear nicer clothes and flats. Parking (which wasn’t something I really thought about beforehand!) was free if staying at Big Cedar.


Dinner at Devil’s Pool

After our tour, we drove back to the main part of the resort for dinner at Devil’s Pool. While we didn’t need a reservation on a Thursday night, that may not be the case on a weekend! We loved the pimento cheese grits – amazing!

Things to do at Big Cedar in the Fall – Day 2

Big Cedar Spa

When looking for things to do at Big Cedar Lodge, I knew the spa was a non-negotiable. We planned that for Friday morning. We took a short and scenic walk through the property to grab coffee first. Then, we went next door to the spa for a couples massage. We opted for a regular relaxation massage. Both Jonathan and I agreed we would go for the therapeutic (deep tissue) next time! The co-ed Gratto Pool and ice rooms would have been where we camped out the rest of the morning. Unfortunately, neither of us brought swimsuits, so we ended up back in the divided men’s/women’s sides to enjoy the saunas, outdoor showers, and hot tubs. We both said we would plan to schedule our appointments a little earlier in the morning. That way, we can stay later in order to take full advantage of the experience! It was relaxing, serene, and luxurious! Everything I want in a spa experience!

The Shoppe and Uncle Bucks Fun Mountain

Friday afternoon was partially spent in The Shoppe – right next door to the spa and registration. While pricey, it had so many unique gifts, fun Christmas decor, and clothing. I was so excited to get Jonathan a golf pullover that he now wears a couple times of week to work. It’s the perfect weight and colors for him! We lucked out with beautiful weather and decided to walk up to lunch at Uncles Bucks in Fun Mountain. A nice surprise – there were not nearly as many kids as we expected! And we actually said it would be fun to go back and bowl or play a few games for a date night! Another nice surprise – this was one of my favorite meals! I got a double cheese burger and fries. We loved sitting out on the patio overlooking the resort!

Top of the Rock and Osage Restaurant

Of course, I don’t think it’s a complete trip to Big Cedar if you don’t have dinner at Top of the Rock/Osage! Check out these views of Tablerock Lake! We made a Friday night reservation. I was excited to have the opportunity to dress up a little bit. I wore dress jeans, boots, and nicer sweater. Definitely recommend getting a reservation for sunset so you can catch the bag pipe performance! We got the salmon and rotisserie chicken!

A note about parking for Top of the Rock – we parked over by the Lost Canyon Cave (where the golf car tours were) and took a short bus ride over, instead of valet. Anyone can take the bus over from the parking lot, so crowds of people often do so in order to catch the sunset bagpipe performance outside! The areas surrounding the restaurant were packed!

Truman Cafe

Before we checked out on Saturday morning, we did breakfast at Truman and grabbed a burrito, sausage biscuit sandwich, and quiches! Truman was a great casual and quick spot for breakfast, lunch, or a snack. Perfect if you’re with littles, too!

A couple of our takeaways from our experience:

  1. If you can swing it, go on a Wednesday or Thursday! We loved being there mid-late week with less people.
  2. Fall was beautiful. They had some Christmas stuff set up already in preparation for the holiday season, which I’m sure would be equally as beautiful!
  3. Restaurants were not nearly as busy as I anticipated – this could have been because of our late-week arrival.
  4. This was not an inexpensive getaway by any means. J and I don’t prioritize frequent travel, so when we do go somewhere it can lead to quite a bit of sticker shock at the end of a trip. We obviously plan ahead but I definitely left with spend-guilt.
  5. It seemed like we were the youngest people there, hah!
  6. A super relaxing, low-key, and cherished getaway. We would love to make this an annual tradition with our family once our kids are more elementary age – there’s enough to keep everyone happy!


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