Branson Has it All

Branson is a patriotic and faith-filled town with shopping, entertainment, and outdoor beauty making this a visit that has it all! The first week in April I had the chance to visit this wonderful place as the guest of Sara Broers of Travel with Sara.

A stay at the beautiful Chateau on the Lake offered a lovely view and perfect amenities. With over 300 rooms available, the hotel staff greeted us while entering and exiting, providing a welcome feeling not often found.

Downtown Branson is filled with fun stops for browsing and fascinating Branson history at the Branson Centennial Museum. There I learned that the city was incorporated in 1912. After a dam was constructed creating Table Rock Lake, tourists flocked to the area and the dam allowed electricity to bring entertainment to town.  The Mabe brothers put together a variety act and in 1969, the Baldknobbers built a theater bringing the first of many.

I shopped in several flea market shops, in historic downtown, and enjoyed perusing the iconic Dick’s 5 & 10 that has been open since 1961, as well as Peter Egler Designs where artists’ creations are on display. Downtown murals also add a splash of color and atmosphere.

On a previous visit, I stopped at the Branson Auto and Farm Museum where I saw cars and farm equipment galore! This time we visited the amazing Celebrity Car Museum and saw vehicles from movies past like the Ghostbuster mobile, the car from Miami Vice, the Flintstones car, and the vehicle from the movie Twister to name a few. What fun.

When it comes to entertainment, Branson can’t be beaten. During our visit, we saw the Dolly Stampede where entertainers played out stories on horseback while we dined on great food. Legends in Concert provided star coverage of Elvis, Michael Jackson, Pat Benatar, and more! Then we also saw the amazing first family of Branson the Presleys in the Presley Jubilee, which offers a combination of country and gospel. Then there was my favorite, The Haygoods a family comprised of five brothers and one sister that light up the stage. They have been performing together for the last 31 years since they were kids.

Every performance we attended took a moment to honor our nation’s Veterans and all had a patriotic section in the show. One of my favorite patriotic stops in Branson was Ripley’s Mobile Military Marvels.  This free display is a “tribute to all who serve in the fight for freedom by presenting mobile equipment that has helped these brave men and women in this all-important mission.”

While we didn’t have time to visit the Branson Veteran’s Museum, we did stop to see the “Storming the Beach” sculpture by Fred J. Hoppe.  This stunning sculpture portrays 50 soldiers of actual WWII infantrymen from all fifty states. The statue is supposed to be the largest life-size bronze military sculpture in the world. It is 70 feet long and weighs over 15 tons.

Big pancake – I could only eat a small section of this BIG pancake at Billy Gail’s!

Dining options are many. We ate breakfast at the famous Billy Gail’s, and it didn’t disappoint. I had a HUGE pancake. I could only eat a small portion of this delectable meal! The folksy décor only added to the visit.

Another fun dining experience was on our last morning at Clockers Café.  We had the pleasure of meeting up with friend and fellow NATJA member Lynn Berry, who is the Director of Communications at the Branson Visitor Bureau. Besides the great food selection, the clock displays add interest to the café, which is in the historic downtown!

The scenery in Branson and the surrounding countryside are postcard lovely.   We stopped in at Dogwood Canyon Nature Park, which covers 10,000 acres of the pristine Ozark Mountain landscape.  The property was purchased by Johnny Morris, the CEO and founder of Bass Pro shops in 1990. Today it is run by the Dogwood Canyon Foundation, a non-profit organization that protects plant life and the natural environment. During our visit, we took a tram tour which is open year-round. The tour takes visitors from Missouri, across the Arkansas border where the tour may mingle like ours did with herds of American bison, elk, and Texas longhorn. We even saw a bald eagle during our visit.

Hearing about the beauty of Top of The Rock located just outside of Branson, we decided to stop. You pay an admission fee to enter the area, then park, and board a shuttle! There are lots of things to do on Top of the Rock, we chose dining at Arnie’s Barn, which offered another astounding view and great lunch!

Other activities at Top of the Rock are outlined on the website, “Located on a bluff overlooking the Ozark Mountains and Table Rock Lake, Top of the Rock preserves Missouri’s rich history and intrinsic beauty. Top of the Rock features world-class activities and attractions, including Top of the Rock Golf Course, Top of the Rock Lost Canyon Cave and Nature Trail, and the Ancient Ozarks Natural History Museum.”

Branson is the king of rides!  We tried the fun Shepherd’s Adventure Park’s Copperhead Mountain Coaster. They advertise “Our downhill ride is over 3,350ft long! This is the longest downhill ride in Branson. The uphill is 1,450 ft making the total coaster nearly a mile long!”

Thankfully there are brakes, so this scaredy cat could EASE down the mountain. Probably my favorite “ride” was the Pink Jeep Tour. The tour is relatively new to the area, but our experienced guide Billy took us to see beautiful views and on a fun offroad adventure! The tour lasted two hours and provided a chance to view Branson’s natural and man-made wonders.

Rides, shows, art, and food are available at the award-winning Silver Dollar City which was just named the Best Theme Park in the United States by USA Today’s 10 Best Reader’s Choice Awards. Our visit to the theme park was short and focused on artisans. My favorite sight was the Living Garden with moving plants! Girls dressed in flower costumes swirled throughout the garden filling it with color. 

More entertainment and fine dining can be found on The Showboat Branson Belle, which offers a cruise, dinner, and meal all for one price.  It was relaxing to glide over the water, sit back, and be entertained!

Water was on our minds when we made our last stop of the trip to the Aquarium at the Boardwalk.  Joining in with the kids, we were thrilled by the fish, sharks, stingrays, seahorses, and so much more. What a fun way to end our trip to this fun-filled, spiritual city that restores your faith in entertainment for all ages!

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