It’s time the family got together on a vacation. When it comes to fun for families there are some obvious choices–Disney World and other family-friendly destinations might be among your first choices. But if you’re looking for something a little closer to home, or just a shake up from the usual beach vacation, you might try the small town of Branson, Missouri.
Deep in the Ozarks, Branson boasts more than a few activities for families, and even more for those looking for a quick getaway. Outdoor adventures, theme parks, even a scenic train ride–you’ll find Branson full of surprises, and you won’t be lacking in things to do, either. Here’s our suggestions for things to do in Branson worthy of the photo album.
Fish and Hike Table Rock Lake
Table Rock Lake reigns as one of the top things to do in Branson, a gorgeous vista spanning 50,000 acres with roughly 800 miles of scenic shoreline. Visitors can swim the lake, bask in the sun and sand, boat from shore to shore, go para-sailing or even catch a few trout. It’s worth a visit to watch the sunset over the lake, or an all-day trip for sun and surf.
When you’ve had your fill of sunning and swimming, you can strap on your hiking boots and take to the Lakeshore Trail, a flat but scenic 2.2 mile trail leading hikers through Table Rock State Park, providing ample scenic views of the Lake.
Try your Hand at Caving
With 6,000 caves and caverns, it’s no wonder that Missouri is known as the caving state. Even if you’re more of an amateur spelunker, an hour-long tour in Silver Dollar City’s Marvel Cave is well worth your time. If you’re looking for a few more underground haunts (and we mean literally underground), then you might take a trip to Branson’s Talking Rocks Cavern, for a low intensity tour of the cave’s incredible natural formations.
For the adventuresome, there’s Mud Cave, a nearby set of caverns and caves in nearby Springfield’s Fantastic Caverns meant to challenge avid cavers. Whether you’re exploring Talking Rocks, Marvel Cave, or any of the geological sights around Branson, you’ll want to be sure to block off plenty of time to ooh and ahh (and scrabble around the rocks).
Visit the Titanic Museum
For a few more cultural sights and things to do in Branson, it’d be hard to beat the Titanic Museum. Built as a replica of the original ship, visitors can climb the Grand Staircase, dip their hands into 28 degree water, and try to stand on sloping floors—many of the conditions and experiences of the original Titanic passengers.
If you’re looking for more local sights nearby, you’d do well to make a stop at Branson’s Hollywood Wax Museum to spot a few starlet look-alikes. Afterwards, be sure to check out the Grand Village Shoppes, with a stop at the incomparable Mel’s Hard Luck Diner, home of the singing server, -and my old stomping grounds : ) – for dinner and a show (if you do go, tell Matt and Kelly I said hello)
Experience Silver Dollar City
One of the most unique theme parks in the U.S., Silver Dollar City offers rides and attractions set in the 1880s. Lovers of the Old West and roller coaster fanatics will find plenty to love about the theme park, from its 40 rides (including the thrilling American Plunge, a log flume ride featuring a five-story splash) to its shows, hosting gospel singers, old-time bluegrass pickers and musicals. If you’re looking for the full Silver Dollar experience (and not a nickel less), make sure you ride the City’s signature Fire in the Hole coaster. Also coming in 2018! Silver Dollar City’s newest attraction – Time Traveler-The World’s Fastest, Steepest and Tallest Complete-Circuit Spinning Roller Coaster
But even if you’re not much for rides, walk along Silver Dollar City’s stretch and you’ll find down-home vendors selling everything from hand-woven rugs to delicious candy. And if you’re looking for a few more views of Table Rock Lake, you can always board Silver Dollar City’s Showboat Branson Belle and enjoy beautiful views and a three-course meal. Text me and I might can hook you up with tickets 😉 If you’ve been looking for some more old-fashioned eats (and family-friendly grub) on the shore, you’ll find jumbo pancakes, rustic decor and Southern comfort at my favorite place to eat in all of Branson, Billy Gail’s, a must-stop diner roughly a mile from Silver Dollar City. Always a wait but the best breakfast and coffee in town. FYI they do not take credit cards!
Make a Splash at White Water Branson
There’s more to explore at Silver Dollar’s sister “City”—White Water Branson, a 13-acre water park with a South Pacific-themed lazy river, drop slides, private cabanas and more. If you’re looking for more ways to cool off during your summer trip, you’ll probably spend more than a few days at White Water, racing your family members on the mat-racing slides, rafting Ohana Falls, and splashing the day away at the Surf’s Up wave pool. Grab a raft or a float, the water’s fine!
After you and your family have worn yourselves out splashing, sliding and surfing, you’ll undoubtedly have growling tummies. Try some real Ozarks barbeque at local haunts such as Danna’s BBQ and Burgers, a family-owned Missouri favorite, or Gettin’ Basted, a go-to spot for retro atmosphere and competition-tried barbeque located inside the Starlite Theatre on Hwy 76.
What Are The Best Shows To See?
We’ve covered lots of things to do in Branson. But we haven’t even touched on one of the questions I get asked all the time as a former entertainer here. “What are the best shows to see?” I will save that for another blog coming soon! ; ) Or just call/text and I’ll be happy to give you the scoop!