Branson Trip Guide | Midwest Living

Branson Trip Guide

The southwest Ozark town brims with entertainment and lakeside fun.
Top of the Rock
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Titanic museum.
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Silver Dollar City
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Big Cedar Lodge
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Lakefront lodging at Still Waters Resort.
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This neon-lit southwest Missouri town is known for its shows—more than 100 playing in some four dozen theaters. But the shows get so much press that the region's natural beauty doesn't always get the attention it deserves. Just beyond The Strip rise mountains of trees and ribboned layers of stone. Lake Taneycomo and Table Rock Lake stretch beside the city, and Bull Shoals Lake is nearby. Another big draw: Silver Dollar City theme park.


Branson Landing Lake Taneycomo’s upscale outdoor shopping center is known for its fire-and-water shows held every hour starting at noon.

Branson Scenic Railway Vintage rail cars journey two hours (40 miles round-trip) into the Ozarks, going through a few tunnels and over trestle bridges.

Branson Zipline and Canopy Tours at Wolfe Creek Preserve Zips, suspension bridges and scenery fill the course north of town. The ¼ -mile, high-speed Blue Streak tour ends with a 100-foot free fall on a device for training paratroopers.

College of the Ozarks Reap the rewards of student work hours by purchasing bags of grain after free tours of an 1880s gristmill. Or visit the Fruitcake and Jelly Kitchen for fruitcakes and free tours. The Ralph Foster Museum houses the jalopy from The Beverly Hillbillies show, plus items about Ozark history.

Dogwood Canyon Nature Park In nearby Lampe, off-road excursions cross into Arkansas and stop to see elk and bison.

Flyboard Branson Two powerful water jets propel thrill-seekers on a flyboard up to 30 feet above Table Rock Lake. New to the sport? A First Time Flyer package includes about five minutes of instruction and 15 minutes of fly time.

Lake Taneycomo The clear, cold waters of the man-made lake are ideal for trout. Cast a line off the banks near Branson Landing. Or stroll the waterfront to see rugged cliffs.

Marvel Cave The Silver Dollar City theme park grew up around this natural cave, a tourist attraction since the late 1800s. Park admission includes an hour-long cave tour, with highlights like the Cathedral Room and Waterfall Room. Be prepared to tackle nearly 600 steps.

Ride the Ducks On either of two hour-long tours, you’ll get a chance to sightsee, a history lesson and a chance to drive (kids, too) a duck once it’s hit the waves.

Showboat Branson Belle A paddle-wheeler glides around Table Rock Lake. Midday and evening cruises offer meals and entertainment.

Shows More than 100 shows take place daily in summer, and the offerings run from hokey to sophisticated. A few of our faves: Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede, The Legend of Kung-Fu, the biblical-theme shows at the Sight and Sound Theatre, and Liverpool Legends. Check for discount packages at the Branson Tourism Center.

Silver Dollar City Start with a cinnamon roll at Eva and Delilah’s Bakery. Check out the 60 Ozark crafts shops and rides like the wooden roller coaster and water gun battles. Round out your visit with a meal at one of the Ozarks-theme restaurants and a cooking class at the Midwest Living Culinary and Craft School. Fireman’s Landing tests firefighter skills with activities like fighting mock fires and tackling an obstacle course.

Table Rock Lake Behind a massive dam, this reservoir serves as the centerpiece of Branson’s outdoors. Known for its clear water and relative solitude, Table Rock provides some of the area’s most consistent bass fishing. In parts, anglers can peer down into ghostly forests still standing from when the White River started flooding the lake in the late 1950s. At Long Creek Marina, rent boats, take a water ski lesson or charter a fishing guide.

The Titanic Museum Attraction Beyond the fake iceberg puncturing the bow of the ship-shape building on the strip, the sober story unfolds about the ship’s construction and sinking. See items salvaged from the ship, and walk the replica Grand Staircase.

Top of the Rock Ozarks Heritage Preserve Watch the sunset from the End of the Trail All-American Wine Cellar patio after a day of golf, exploring a museum that celebrates the geological and biological history of the region, and meals at the two restaurants.

White Water At the 13-acre water park, KaPau Plummet thrills adventurous types with a drop-floor launch into an encapsulated water slide and a looping ride into the pool.


Billy Gail’s Cafe The pancakes at this popular breakfast and lunch spot are delicious and so big they flop over the ends of the platters. Red-checked tablecloths and mismatched mugs inject down-home feel in the former gas station. (417) 338-8883

Black Oak Grill A corner spot in the Branson Landing outdoor shopping mall along Lake Taneycomo turns familiar menu items into conversation pieces, like grilled meat loaf and garlicky mashed potatoes.

Branson Cafe The old-time diner serves simple pleasures, made-from-scratch biscuits and gravy, plate-size cinnamon rolls, fried chicken and breakfast ham.

Devil’s Pool Restaurant At sumptuous Big Cedar Lodge just outside of town, inspired Heartland cuisine satisfies in a dining room filled with antique furnishings.

Dino’s Cake and Coffee Company Pianist Dino Kartsonakis’ flair extends to his baking, too. The star is a three-layer carrot cake.

Fall Creek Steak and Catfish House Fresh-baked rolls fly through the air while guests lunch on hand-breaded and deep-fried catfish and blackberry cobbler a la mode.

Level 2 Steakhouse at the Hilton Perfectly aged corn-fed beef steaks appeal to diners; we also love the chef’s butter cake with vanilla ice cream.

Osage Restaurant Views of a golf course, Table Rock Lake and the Ozark Mountains are the perfect backdrop to meals of tender filet and a creamy Yukon gold Parmesan bake. Save room for the Hazelnut German Chocolate Bomb smothered in house-made coconut ice cream.

Sugar Leaf Bakery Although it’s in a mall on the strip, you’ll feel like you’re in a garden room while eating quiche or a mouth-watering pastry.


Big Cedar Lodge The wooded location on Table Rock Lake is 10 miles south of the neon hustle of Branson. Indulge in spa treatments, a Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course and Heartland cuisine at Devil’s Pool Restaurant. Accommodations range from hotel and lodge rooms to cottages and log cabins.

Cabins at Green Mountain Resort Cabins—some on a wooded stream—give a sense of forest getaway in reach of Branson Strip. Cabins come with fireplaces, large screen porches, cable TVs, kitchens, washers and dryers.

Chateau on the Lake Resort and Spa Suites surround a soaring central atrium. The fine-dining restaurant Chateau Grille, two pools and a marina make the hotel stand out.

Silver Dollar City’s Wilderness Ozark woodlands blanket this immaculately kept property near the theme parks. The 39 cabins range from rustic to posh.

Still Waters Resort A well-stocked marina and easy access to Silver Dollar City attract families and boaters. Lodgings include condos or cabins.

Thousand Hills Golf Resort Tee off at this top-rated 18-hole course with rock formations, forests and streams. Options include 300-some cabins and condos.

The Village at Indian Point Near Table Rock Lake’s shore, the condos have fireplaces, private decks and great views. Enjoy two pools and access to a boat ramp.

For information: Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce and Convention and Visitors Bureau (800) 296-0463;

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