Top Things to Do in Branson | Midwest Living

Top Things to Do in Branson

The southwest Ozark town brims with entertainment and lakeside fun. Top attractions include Silver Dollar City, Table Rock Lake and Branson shows. Check out our trip guide for things to do, where to eat and where to stay in Branson.

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.

Top of the Rock

Chapel of the Ozarks at Top of the Rock


The Branson Coaster The double-track Alpine coaster opened last year on Branson’s Strip, letting riders race or glide down the curving track.

Branson Landing The upscale outdoor shopping center at Lake Taneycomo is known for its hourly fountain shows with fire, lights and music.

Branson Scenic Railway Vintage rail cars journey from the 1905 depot in downtown Branson for a 40-mile round trip into the Ozark foothills.

Branson Zipline and Canopy Tours at Wolfe Creek Preserve Zips, suspension bridges and scenery fill the course north of town. The 1⁄4-mile Blue Streak tour ends with a 100-foot free fall.

College of the Ozarks Reap the rewards of student work hours by purchasing bags of grain after free tours of a 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, two-hour tram tours cross into Arkansas and stop to see elk and bison. Also popular: fly-fishing, biking and horseback riding.

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 a 70-minute tour on amphibious vehicles, you’ll get 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: Raiding the Country Vault, the biblical- theme shows at the Sight and Sound Theatre, and Liverpool Legends.

Silver Dollar City In 2018, the spinning steel roller coaster Time Traveler joins more than 40 other rides and attractions. Admission includes an hour-long tour of Marvel Cave, a natural cave that’s been a tourist attraction since the late 1800s (be ready to tackle nearly 600 steps). Check out the park’s 60 Ozark crafts shops, and 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.

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. Also popular: water-skiing, stand-up paddleboarding and cruising the lake in boats like Big Cedar Lodge’s Lady Liberty. At Long Creek Marina, rent boats or charter a fishing guide.

Top of the Rock

Table Rock Lake

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 salvaged items from the ship and walk the replica Grand Staircase.

Titanic museum.

Titanic Museum

Top of the Rock Sunsets look glorious from a bluff-top destination that includes Chapel of the Ozarks, golf courses, a wine cellar, three restaurants and an Ozarks natural-history museum.

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


Billy Gail’s Cafe The pancakes at this breakfast and lunch spot are so big they flop over the ends of the platters. Red-checked tablecloths and mismatched mugs look cheery in the former gas station. Billy Gail's Cafe on Facebook

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

Black Oak Grill

Black Oak Grill

Branson Cafe The old-time diner dishes comfort foods: 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 Guests come for tossed rolls, as well as meals of deep-fried catfish and blackberry cobbler.

Level 2 Steakhouse at the Hilton Perfectly aged corn-fed beef steaks appeal to diners; we also love the Missouri 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 ribeye and roasted fingerling potatoes.

Pasghetti’s A 65-foot-high fork and meatball form the entryway to this Italian eatery, where the food takes a back seat to the decor. Theme dining rooms and an indoor Ferris wheel keep the atmosphere lively.

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 flaky pastry.


Big Cedar Lodge The wooded location on Table Rock Lake is 10 miles south of the neon hustle of Branson. Amenities include a spa, golf courses, a marina and the new Fun Mountain, an indoor play complex with attractions such as underwater-theme bowling. Accommodations range from hotel and lodge rooms to cottages and log cabins.

Big Cedar Lodge

Big Cedar Lodge

Cabins at Green Mountain Resort Cabins—some on a wooded stream—give a sense of forest getaway in reach of Branson Strip.

Chateau on the Lake Resort, Spa and Convention Center Rooms and suites surround a soaring central atrium. 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, three swimming pools, mini golf and easy access to Silver Dollar City attract families and boaters.

Still Waters Resort

Still Waters Resort

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.

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