Best Things To Do in Branson
Branson's top to-dos could best be described as family-friendly with a country western bent. Think Disney World meets Nashville. There's Silver Dollar City, which attracts kids with its thrilling rides and keeps parents happy with its "good, clean fun" atmosphere. There are also ample educational opportunities, from the history of the "unsinkable" ship at the Titanic Museum to animal and environmental science lessons at the Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery. What's more, Table Rock Lake affords a picturesque place for swimming and boating, while an array of performance venues like the Sight & Sound Theatres will entertain the whole family with singing, dancing and music.
Updated April 29, 2019
- #1View all PhotosfreeTable Rock Lake#1 in BransonBeaches, Natural Wonders, FreeTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPENDBeaches, Natural Wonders, FreeTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPEND
Table Rock Lake covers more than 50,000 acres, with nearly 800 miles of shoreline, in southwestern Missouri. Visitors enjoy the natural diversions of swimming, boating, fishing and even scuba diving at the lake, especially since they're so different than the rest of Branson's activities.
Recent travelers, which ranged from avid fishermen to families with young children, said Table Rock Lake is clean, peaceful and altogether lovely. The fishing, swimming and sunset cruises earn particular high praise among travelers.
- #2View all PhotosfreeBranson Landing#2 in BransonEntertainment and Nightlife, Shopping, Sightseeing, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDEntertainment and Nightlife, Shopping, Sightseeing, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
Branson Landing is an outdoor shopping, dining and entertainment center located along a 1.5-mile stretch of Lake Taneycomo. Along with shops and restaurants, the area also boasts a lakeside boardwalk and a series of water fountains set to lights, fire and music (the feature was designed by the same company responsible for the fountains at the Bellagio in Las Vegas).
Recent travelers enjoyed shopping at the more than 100 storefronts in the center, as well as eating at its restaurants, including Cantina Laredo and White River Fish House. More adventurous visitors highly recommended Parakeet Pete's Waterfront Zipline, which allows visitors to zip line across the lake.
- #3View all Photos#3 in BransonAmusement ParksTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPENDAmusement ParksTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPEND
Silver Dollar City is a unique theme park in that it contains both thrilling rides and entertainment, and it embraces a down-home, late 19th-century vibe. Even while guests scream their heads off on the newest ride, they'll still feel like they've been transported to the 1880s. Attractions like the Frisco Silver Dollar Line Steam Train, which travels through Ozarks country, and the signature Fire-In-The-Hole roller coaster, which mimics a coal mine caught ablaze, help foster the old-time feeling. A range of shops that carry homemade candies and handwoven rugs, among other eats and wares, also lend themselves to the homespun theme. Along with its rides and shops, Silver Dollar City is known for its shows, which range from bluegrass pickers and storytellers to gospel performers and musicals.
Although Silver Dollar City is family-friendly, some say that the park is best for kids who are 36 inches or taller since there's a height requirement for most rides. Recent travelers also mentioned the hills inside the park, recommending that future visitors be prepared to walk. Some also warned that the dining options could stand to improve. If you don't want to purchase snacks in the park, pack your own; Silver Dollar City allows visitors to bring in food and nonalcoholic beverages.
- #4View all Photos#4 in BransonNatural Wonders, Tours, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDNatural Wonders, Tours, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
The Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery is a trout-rearing facility operated by the Missouri Department of Conservation. Travelers can tour the hatchery, which produces between 350,000 to 400,000 pounds of rainbow and brown trout annually. Visitors can also take a hike on one of four trails – which provide fishing access to Lake Taneycomo – pack a picnic to enjoy at the picnic tables and pavilions, and take a peek at the hatchery's nature center.
Families traveling with kids said they enjoyed feeding the fish, but they suggested future visitors bring quarters to pay for the fish food and a cup to collect the fish food. Others highly recommended making time to view the video in the visitor center and speak to the friendly and knowledgeable docents.
- #5View all Photos#5 in BransonSightseeing, Tours, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDSightseeing, Tours, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
A college visit might not usually be on a traveler's must-do list, but the College of the Ozarks is unique. Nicknamed "Hard Work U," this college allows students to graduate debt-free if they work campus jobs while they attend. In addition to being an innovative educational institution, the campus also offers travelers a handful of interesting attractions, including the Ralph Foster Museum, which tells the history of the Ozarks, and Edwards Mill, which grinds whole-grain flour and meal that visitors can purchase.
Travelers highly recommend visitors try a meal at either Dobyns Dining Hall or the Keeter Center, saying the food was delicious and the student employees were kind and professional. The homemade ice cream, made from the fresh milk at the on-campus W. Alton Jones Dairy, is another big hit among recent visitors.
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When visitors enter the Titanic Museum, which is built to look like the actual ship, they're given a boarding pass with a real Titanic passenger's name on it. At the end of the self-guided tour – which winds through a recreated grand staircase and past more than 400 artifacts preserved from the sunken vessel – visitors see if the passenger on their ticket survived the infamous sinking.
Recent visitors said the experience, though a bit pricey, was mostly worth the hefty admission fee. Parents, in particular, said their kids enjoyed the various interactive experiences. Museumgoers can touch a real iceberg, plunge their hands into 28-degree water (the temperature of the ocean on that fateful night) and try to stand on the sloping decks, which mimic the incline of the ship as it was sinking.
- #7View all Photos#7 in BransonEntertainment and NightlifeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDEntertainment and NightlifeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
The 2,000-seat Sight & Sound Theatres – with locations both in Branson and Lancaster, Pennsylvania – is one of the top things to do in Branson. The theater has been called the "Christian Broadway" since it stages shows with Biblical themes. Some of the recent musicals include “Samson,” "Jonah," and "Miracle of Christmas." Billing itself as family-friendly, Branson's Sight & Sound outpost even has a glass-encased family room, which allows parents to care for young children and watch the performance on a TV without serving as a distraction to the audience.
But it's not just families that enjoyed the choreography and elaborately costumed performances. Reviewers of all ages consistently described the shows as "amazing," praising the high level of talent, as well as the special effects and overall atmosphere. Thanks to the stadium-style seating, many visitors said there's not a bad seat in the house (though some recommended booking a seat in the back half of the theater in the center section for the best view). Recent visitors also enjoyed the one-hour Behind the Scenes tour, which is currently offered from mid-March to mid-December. Travelers said the tour guides were friendly, informative and gave theatergoers a better understanding of the show’s spectacle.
- #8View all Photos#8 in BransonAmusement Parks, Swimming/PoolsTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPENDAmusement Parks, Swimming/PoolsTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPEND
Visitors to White Water Branson, Silver Dollar City's sister attraction, will get the opportunity to splash in more than 2 million gallons of water. Along with a lazy river and a speed slide, White Water Branson also contains a 500,000-gallon wave pool.
Most travelers say the water park afforded a great time, while others said that while staff members were friendly, the park's attractions were average when compared to other water parks. To avoid wait times, reviewers recommend arriving at the park when it opens in the morning.
- #9View all Photos#9 in BransonZoos and AquariumsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDZoos and AquariumsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
Branson's Promised Land Zoo is the perfect destination for animal lovers. The faith-based zoo was founded in the 1990s by the Sanders family who wanted to preserve and rescue endangered animals. Current critters include sloths, kinkajous and kangaroos. It also employs a number of biologists and conservationists who are responsible for the animals. Like the rest of Branson, the zoo gets into the Christmas spirit and hosts a drive-thru lights display in November and December.
Recent visitors recommended purchasing the VIP experience. With the VIP experience, visitors have the chance to feed, hold and interact with several of the zoo's creatures. Other features include a guided tram tour and a foot safari, among other attractions. Reviewers say the interaction with the zoo's animals make the pricey ticket well worth the money. Travelers also warn future visitors about the zoo's religious postings throughout the space. Though the postings did not detract from their visit, it could be jarring to those unfamiliar with the zoo's religious affiliation.
- #10View all Photos#10 in BransonSightseeing, ToursTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPENDSightseeing, ToursTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPEND
You can catch a ride on the Branson Scenic Railway at the historic depot in downtown Branson, and take a winding train ride through the foothills of the Ozark Mountains. November and December are particularly popular times since the train transforms into The Polar Express, riffing off the beloved children's book of the same name. The experience includes a live reading of the book, hot cocoa for all and a visit from Santa Claus.
Recent visitors said the train ride was enjoyable and that they learned a few things along the way about the towns that used to lie along the tracks. Others said that there wasn't too much picturesque scenery to enjoy during the 40-minute trip, but parents mentioned their kids loved the Polar Express experience.
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