Branson Travel Guide
Hollywood Wax Museum © momwriter
Nestled among three picturesque lakes, the year-round holiday town of Branson is a live entertainment capital that has become known as a family-friendly Las Vegas or 'Ozark Disneyland'. With dozens of theatres and more than 100 daily shows all firmly geared towards families, as well as a number of exciting theme parks and family entertainment centres, Branson attracts thousands of visitors in search of a commercialised celebration of the American spirit. In fact, more than seven million visitors holiday in Branson annually, and added to the local population of about 7,000, the town has gained recognition as the country's 'biggest small town'. At night the main road, known as 'The Strip', becomes a huge parking lot that is crammed with cars lining the gaudy conglomeration of theatres and theme parks.
Branson's best-known attraction is Silver Dollar City, a combination of craft village and theme park. Branson Landing offers world-class shopping and dining options along the waterfront and features a nightly water show. The beautiful area around the lakes, particularly Table Rock Lake, and the hills and valleys of the Ozark Mountains, allows for a peaceful escape from the town, providing excellent opportunities for fishing, hiking, camping and water-based activities.
Branson is a paradise of outlet malls and factory shops, but the most popular place to shop is Branson Landing, a pedestrian waterfront on Lake Taneycomo with more than 100 shops and restaurants. There's even a 'town square' with synchronised fountain and fire shows. Apple Tree Mall is a huge flea market with plenty of antiques. For the biggest bargains though, head to the Tanger Outlet Center or Factory Merchants Branson.
There is no shortage of family-friendly restaurants in Branson, ranging from steakhouses and barbecue joints to Mexican cantinas and seafood restaurants. A good budget option for families with picky eaters is the Grand Country Buffet, while Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede Dinner and Show is great for a special night out. Another popular restaurant is the White River Fish House, a seafood and steak restaurant with good views and interesting local foods like alligator and catfish.
While Branson is primarily a family-friendly resort, there are a few bars and nightclubs in town. A number of restaurants, including the perennially popular Outback, offer pub and bar sections with live music in the evenings that become party hotspots for adult visitors to Branson, and The Club at Lodge of the Ozarks is popular with younger crowds, with entertainment like comedy shows accompanying supper.
One of the most popular attractions in Branson is the plethora of live stage shows ranging from Chinese acrobats to musical Bible stories. The Presleys' Country Jubilee offers bluegrass, gospel and comedy, while the Moon River Theatre hosts everything from magic shows to comedy and Johnny Cash tributes.
Branson is also a favourite theme park destination. Silver Dollar City is the largest theme park, and visitors can easily spend at least two days here; the theme park boasts a separate water park called White Water. Branson also has some interesting museums: on the slightly tacky end is the Hollywood Wax Museum and Ripley's Believe It or Not; however, there are some fascinating educational experiences to be had in the Ozark history exhibits of the Ralph Foster Museum and the stunning replicas and multimedia attractions of Titanic, displaying all sorts of exhibits from the famous ship. Children of all ages can enjoy the World's Largest Toy Museum as well.
There are plenty of outdoor attractions and activities in Branson too, including horseback riding, river cruises, wine tasting, golf, parasailing, zipline canopy tours, berry-picking and kayaking.
Visitors should note that some of the attractions are seasonal.
Branson can get uncomfortably crowded in peak season, and travellers without children looking for nightlife may be disappointed.