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.
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.
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
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,
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.
19:00 Self-guided Tour of 21c Museum Hotel.
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.
09:00-11:00 Travel to Branson, MO
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.
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
13:00-14:30 Visit the Ancient Ozarks Natural History Museum at Top of the Rock
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
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
17:30-18:45 Dinner at Big Whiskey’s
19:00-20:00 Visit Parakeet Peet’s Waterfront Zipline in downtown Branson.
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.
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
- Brightwater Center for the study of food: http://www.brightwater.org/
- The 21c Museum-Hotel: https://www.21cmuseumhotels.com/bentonville/
- The Crystal Bridges Museum: https://crystalbridges.org/
- The Preachers Son Restaurant: http://www.thepreachersson.com/
Branson and Springfield, MO
- Arnie's Barn Restaurant: http://www.topoftherock.com/dining/arnies-barn-en.html
- Big Whiskey’s: https://bigwhiskeys.com/location/brandon-landing-mo/
- Bigfoot on the Strip: https://www.bransonbigfoot.com/
- College of the Ozarks:https://www.cofo.edu
- Dolly Parton’s Stampede: https://dpstampede.com/branson
- Eighth Street Market: http://8stmarket.com
- Lost Canyon Cave Tour: topoftherock.com/attractions/lost-canyon-en.html
- Mothers Brewing Company https://www.mothersbrewing.com/
- Parakeet Pete’s Waterfront Zipline: https://www.bransonlandingattractions.com/
- Sight and Sound Theatre: https://bransonshows.com/SightSound/BransonSamson
- The Ancient Ozarks Natural History Museum: topoftherock.com/attractions/natural-history-museum-en.html
- The Order Restaurant, Hotel Vandivort (https://www.theordersgf.com)
- Top of the Rock: http://www.topoftherock.com
- Wolfe Mountain Snow Tubing: https://wolfemountainbranson.com/snowflex-park/
SHOUTOUTS & THANKS
A shoutout and thanks to so many cited below who made our FAM Tours experiences possible.
The Missouri Division of Tourism
The Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism
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