Branson, Missouri
Branson, Missouri

We Rove. We Assess. We Write.

And our schedule is anything but routine. Sometimes we’re in far off out of the way places snapping photos, shooting videos, and chatting with sources to develop stories. Other times, we’re on whirlwind weeklong press trips shuffling from events to excursions to custom wine and food pairings at 5-star restaurants with barely a minute to spare throughout a given day.

What’s a press trip? It’s a familiarization or FAM tour. Many are all expense-paid arrangements providing us with the opportunity to collect the information we need to create compelling stories about the destinations, events and personalities.

Yes, the travel writer's life is fun and rewarding. But it isn’t all play. It’s a lot of work to find, create and publish those compelling stories. If we don’t do so … no one will invite us on FAM trips.

We thought we’d share with you our schedule from a weeklong press trip between April 22-29, 2018 through Northwestern Arkansas and Branson, Missouri to help you get a feel for the travel writers life. This trip was set up via our affiliation with the North American Travel Journalists Association and their annual conference. You’ll see our stories stemming from this trip here, on our RoverTreks Facebook page, Food, Wine and Travel and Travel World International magazines, and a host of other travel and non-travel publications.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

We begin with a visit to Mother’s Brewery in downtown Springfield, Missouri to sample local brews. It’s a great example of local brewing at its best. Want to try something different? Try their MILF.

Mothers Brewing Company
Mothers Brewing Company

Then we stop by The Order Restaurant at the Hotel Vandivort, in Springfield, Missouri for a 2-hour, 5-star customs pairings dinner extravaganza. The purveyors of food for the restaurant are local. All courses were prepared by local chefs and are sources of scrumptious sensory overload.

A blue corn taco with black walnut dressing and Arugula
A blue corn taco with black walnut dressing and Arugula at The Order Restaurant, Hotel Vandivort, Springfield, MO

Monday, April 23, 2018

We head south on a 2-hour drive to Bentonville, Arkansas, home of Walmart and former stomping grounds of its amazing founder, Sam Walton.

11:00   Lunch — Crystal Bridges Museum 600 Museum Way, Bentonville AR 72712

Art from the Crystal Bridges Museum
Art from the Crystal Bridges Museum

12:00 -13:30   Tour of Crystal Bridges Museum and the “Soul of the Nation” display.

14:00 – 1500   Check-in – 21c Museum Hotel, 200 NE A Street, Bentonville, AR.

15:00 – 1700   Walton Museum Guided Tour (walk from 21c Hotel) 105 N. Main Street,
Bentonville, AR.

The Walmart Museum, Bentonville, AR
The Walmart Museum, Bentonville, AR

17:00 – 1900   Dinner at the Preacher's Son Restaurant 201 NW A St, Bentonville, AR.       You'll note from the photo's below, this place is a former church converted into a restaurant.

Inside the Preachers Son Restaurant
Inside the Preachers Son Restaurant
The Preachers Son Restaurant
The Preachers Son Restaurant

19:00   Self-guided Tour of 21c Museum Hotel.

Art in the 21c Museum Hotel, Bentonville, AR
Art in the 21c Museum Hotel, Bentonville, AR

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

08:00-09:00    Tour the Brightwater Center for the Study of Food and 8th Street Market. Brightwater is a next-generation culinary center of excellence backed by the Walton Family Foundation and other sources. It's a tuition-free community college that confers degrees on students following one of four specialty tracks. For those who attend and teach at Brightwater, it's all about excellence, not degrees. Some students never pursue degrees — they just want to be great at what they do.

First rate culinary facilities at Bridgewater
First-rate culinary facilities at Bridgewater

09:00-11:00    Travel to Branson, MO

12:00-13:30    Lunch

1400-1700      Attend Meetings

18:00-22:00   Dinner: Showboat Branson Belle dinner cruise. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

08:00-10:00   Attend meetings

10:00-16:00   Visit Silver Dollar City, a mock late 1800's era western town entertainment venue with functioning late 18thcentury businesses (locksmithing, glassblowing, pottery making, etc.). And the main attraction? A tour of Marvel Cave.

A view toward the entrance of Marvel Cave, Branson, MO
A view toward the entrance of Marvel Cave, Branson, MO

18:00 Dinner at the L2 Restaurant, a 5-star dining venue in the Hilton in downtown Branson, Missouri.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

08:00-10:00    Attend meetings

10:30-1600      Visit the Sight and Sound Theatre, Branson, MO. Tour with and interview the principal actors for the show Samson. Then tour the College of the Ozarks, known as “Hard Work U”, where students work to pay for their tuition.

18:00-21:30     Dinner at the Big Cedar Lodge.

Friday, April 27, 2018

0800-10:00      Breakfast or free time

11:00-13:00     Lunch at Arnie’s Barn at Top of the Rock

13:00-14:30     Visit the Ancient Ozarks Natural History Museum at Top of the Rock

From the Ancient Ozarks Natural History Museum
From the Ancient Ozarks Natural History Museum

14:45-16:00       Snag a golf cart and take the Lost Canyon Cave Tour at Top of the Rock.

16:30 – 20:00     Go to Dolly Parton’s Stampede Wild West Dinner show.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

08:15-9:30pm    Breakfast at Center Stage Grill

10:00-11:30       Wolfe Mountain Branson for Snowflex tubing. See a video here.

12:00 – 13:00     Lunch at Getting’ Basted BBQ

13:45-16:30       Bigfoot on the Strip  for monster jeep ride exploration, games and rides

16:30-17:15       Downtime

17:30-18:45       Dinner at Big Whiskey’s

19:00-20:00       Visit Parakeet Peet’s Waterfront Zipline in downtown Branson.

Sunday,April 29

06:00-07:50        Breakfast

08:00-12:00        Kayaking on Lake Taneycomo

Afternoon trip to Ripley’s Believe it or Not!

What To Do

As you may infer, our whirlwind trip took some time and money for our hosts to set up. We don’t recommend dashing from event to event like we did.

Checkout our hyperlinks and pick a several destinations or activities that interest you and take your time seeing them. Here’s a few of our favorites.

Our Favorites

Food Preparation, Bentonville, AR

Tour the Brightwater Center for the study of food. It’s a world-class community college experience for those seeking culinary excellence.

Dining – Springfield, MO

Go to Dinner at The Order at the Hotel Vandivort, Springfield, MO. This is a 5-star dining experience and a must do activity for foodie’s!

History – Branson, MO

Visit the Ancient Ozarks Natural History Museum. It contains 25% of all American Indian artifacts and memorabilia in the world.

Explore The Old West, Branson, MO

Visit Silver Dollar City and take the Marvel Cave Tour.

See A Show, Branson, MO

Take a night off for some foot stomping blue grass music, great food, and a night out on the town watching Dolly Parton’s Stampede wild west show.

Outdoor Fun, Branson, MO

Go Flex-Tube sliding down Wolfe Mountain. It’s an easy and fun activity for the whole family.

How to Get There

Air transportation into Springfield-Branson is a snap from many areas of the United States. Kansas City is about a 3-hour drive from Branson. From these areas, you’re a quick rental car drive from Branson.

When To Go

Visit anytime of year!

LINKS IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER

Bentonville, AR

Branson and Springfield, MO

SHOUTOUTS & THANKS

A shoutout and thanks to so many cited below who made our FAM Tours experiences possible.

The Missouri Division of Tourism 
Twitter: https://twitter.com/visitmo
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/VisitMO

The Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism
Twitter: https://twitter.com/artourism
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ArkansasStateTourism/

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