Branson, Missouri, is a fun vacation spot. You can spend a lot less there than you would if you visited Los Angeles, New York, or some of the more extravagant vacation destinations. It prides itself on being family-friendly, and there are several world-class shows and venues that appeal to folks from all walks of life.
Branson is the spot for you if you like kitsch. Many of the shows are full of slapstick entertainment and larger-than-life characters. This is Dolly Parton’s domain, and you can also find Yakov Smirnoff and other entertaining acts of yesteryear.
If you go to Branson, though, you can have dramatically different experiences depending on the choices you make. Let’s look at four ways you can customize your trip if you’re thinking about checking it out this summer.
Where You Want to Stay
Before you look at things to do in Branson, it makes sense to pick out where you and your family want to stay. You can lodge at some of the more popular hotels, such as the Hampton Inn Branson on the Strip, the Radisson, or the Grand Plaza Hotel. If you want opulence, you can certainly get it in Branson, though you’ll pay more than if you opt for something less flashy.
There are more inexpensive motels, like the Motel 6 or the Red Roof Inn. You can often find lodging there for less than $100 per night. You can fit four people in one of their rooms, especially if you get one with two beds.
You can camp out if you like. There are several hospitable campsites that will let you set up a tent and park a trailer if you choose to bring one. You can enjoy nature that way, with walks in the woods during the days and campfires and singalongs at night.
You can also get cabins, which split the difference between rustic and modern conveniences. Some of them feature rocking chairs, fireplaces, and sitting areas full of doilies and tea cozies.
What Shows You Want to See
It’s not likely you’ll want to visit Branson without checking out at least a couple of shows. There is the aforementioned Yakov Smirnov, who is permanently in residence at his theater. Adults of a particular age will remember him fondly, though young children might find his act a little perplexing.
The Dolly Parton’s Stampede Dinner and Show is a way to feed the kids, and if they love horses, they will enjoy watching them gallop around, jump through fiery rings, and other daring feats. You can also find several magic and illusion-themed shows, such as the Reza Edge of Illusion Magic Show and Chris Stanley’s Comedy Magic Hour.
Maybe you don’t have any kids, and you plan on going to Branson with just your spouse or partner. There are certainly some things just the two of you can do as well, such as heading to Silver Dollar City. It’s a theme park with shows, rides, and restaurants.
Where to Eat
Branson has some great food, whether you’re looking for cloth napkins and tablecloths or peanut shells covering the floor. Mel’s Hard Luck Diner has some exceptional sandwiches, and the price won’t clean out your wallet. The Farmhouse Restaurant has some of the best country cooking in all of Missouri, and the chicken-fried steak smothered in gravy is a local favorite.
The White River Fish House is a top pick if seafood is more your speed. McFarlain’s Family Restaurant has enormous portions, and Danna’s BBQ and Burger Shop has some of the best smoked BBQ plates in town.
If you want something more upscale, Level 2 Steakhouse on East Main Street is probably your best option. They have an impressive cocktail list, and you can find steaks and seafood cooked to perfection. This is one of the most expensive restaurants in all of Branson, but it’s well worth it if you want to treat yourself.
What Other Entertainment Appeals to You
Apart from shows, there’s plenty more to do in Branson. There are some excellent gold courses if you feel like hitting the links. The Branson Hills Golf Club offers day passes, and the Pointe Royale Golf Course often attracts celebrities.
There’s the Hollywood Wax Museum, where you can pose with Madonna or Elvis. The Butterfly Palace and Rainbow Adventure lets you walk through a thriving butterfly habitat, where you’ll see some of the most colorful and entrancing species up close.
The Titanic Museum attraction is a replica of the doomed ship that’s not quite as enormous as the original, but it does boast some impressive period details. You can climb aboard and view several exhibits that show what it was like on the ship before it sank beneath the waves.
There’s the Branson Scenic Railway. If you love trains, or you have some kids in your family who do, you can hop on board one of several vintage passenger trains and ride the rails for a couple of hours. The conductor will steer you through scenic vistas while regaling you with tales about Branson and its railway history.
Maybe you’d prefer to get away from all the hustle and bustle for a bit and enjoy a pleasant walk in nature. Table Rock State Park affords you that opportunity, as you can see natural waterways, bird and animal species, and you can get some exercise as well.
If you decide to visit Branson this year, be sure to book your lodgings in advance, as they fill up fast when the summer rolls around. It’s likely that the city will see a resurgence this year, as most people are vaccinated and ready to enjoy some vacation time again.
Be sure to bring sunscreen since it can get hot in this part of Missouri during the days. Also, keep your purse zipped up and keep an eye on your wallet and other valuables since pickpockets sometimes ply their trade where the crowds are thickest.
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