Midwest Living Review
The Ozark mountains ripple across southern Missouri. Vast waterways--including two huge lakes--snake between the hills; a national forest preserves the wilderness; and as a bold contrast, neon marquees light the night sky above Branson. Most of the 8.4 million people who pass through Branson every year come for the musical shows, shopping and Ozarks-themed Silver Dollar City amusement park. But if splashy entertainment isn't your thing, take a look at the surrounding area. Branson occupies a splotch of land surrounded by three man-made lakes: Taneycomo, Table Rock and Bull Shoals, which dips into northern Arkansas. State parks and private preserves, plus the Mark Twain National Forest, keep Branson greener than you might expect. Farther north, beyond Springfield (the state's third-largest city), Lake of the Ozarks twists through the foothills. Condos and resorts ring the 92-mile-long lake. Near Bagnell Dam, fudge shops and tattoo parlors line "The Strip," while state parks preserve the verdant landscape that first attracted visitors to the region.