Branson is a family vacation destination in southwest Missouri. This Ozark town is best known for its theaters and family attractions. However, you will find plenty of activities to entertain you regardless of your personal tastes, and there are things to suit all ages. The strip is where you will find most of the live entertainment and attractions. Other parts of the town boast excellent eateries, museums, and much more. On the outskirts of the town, you will also find scenic locations and places to enjoy outdoor activities. To help you plan your vacation so that you do not miss out on the best that this town has to offer here are the 20 best things to do in Branson, Missouri, for first-timers.
20. Play a Round of Golf
Branson is an up and coming golf destination with multiple golf courses from which you can choose. There are also plans to develop more golf courses around this town. Therefore, it is an excellent place to visit for golf enthusiasts or those who want to try golf for the first time. Some of the golf courses where you can play in Branson include Branson Hills Golf Club, Buffalo Ridge Springs Golf Course, Holiday Hills Golf Club, and Thousand Hills Resort & Golf Club.
19. Explore Dogwood Canyon Nature Park
If you want to get away from the busy and lively entertainment for which this Ozark town is famous, then a great place to spend some time is Dogwood Canyon Park. This 10-thousand-acre park consists of evergreen and dogwood trees, limestone bluffs, streams, and waterfalls. There are paved walking and biking trails so that you can explore the park. You can also opt to take a tram or jeep tour of the park. These take you out into the pastures so that you can see the longhorn cattle, elk, and bison. Alternative ways to explore the park are by segway or on horseback.
18. Ride a Golf Cart Along the Lost Canyon Cave and Nature Trail
An interesting way to admire some of the natural beauty in the area surrounding Branson is to take the Lost Canyon Nature Trail. This is a two-and-a-half-mile trail, and there is the option to ride a golf cart. It is an interesting trail as it takes you past waterfalls and rock formations, through underground caves, and over covered bridges.
17. Go to the Ancient Ozarks Natural History Museum
One of the best museums to visit in Branson is the Ancient Ozarks Natural History Museum, says Travel Awaits. This museum has interesting exhibits that include collections of Native American artifacts, prehistoric creatures, and artwork. There are also galleries that showcase the American West and Civil War. Some other museums to consider visiting include the World’s Largest Toy Museum, the Celebrity Car Museum, and the Ralph Foster Museum at Lookout Point.
16. Have Fun Along the Branson Strip
The Branson Strip is where a lot of the action takes place as it is home to some of the biggest attractions in the town, including Silver Dollar City. However, there are plenty more things to enjoy beyond the major attractions as there are smaller places where you can enjoy family fun. Along the strip, you can enjoy a vast array of family fun activities, including crazy golf, go-karting, and amusement arcades. The activities vary in price and some are suited to younger children, while others offer fun for all the family.
15. Visit the Butterfly Palace and Rainforest Adventure
An interesting activity to enjoy is the Butterfly Palace and Rainforest Adventure, which is on the west side of the city overlooking the Entertainment District. The main feature of this attraction is the Butterfly Palace, which is home to thousands of live butterflies that are imported from across the globe. There are plenty of educational opportunities and fun adventures, although the highlight for many people is the daily butterfly release. Other great features are the Rainforest Science Center, the Emerald Forest Mirror Maze, the Great Banyan Tree Adventure, and the Butterfly Atrium.
14. Hike Around Lakeside Forest Wilderness Area
Just outside the Entertainment District lies the Lakeside Forest Wilderness Area, and there is a stark contrast between these two parts of Branson. The Lakeside Forest Wilderness Area spans 140 acres, and it is a popular spot for hiking. Most of the pathways are smooth, but they lead to extensive staircases that pose a challenge. The park has many Ozark formations for which the region is famous, and there are small underground caves that are safe and fun to explore. This is a free place to visit on a day with good weather.
13. Explore Table Rock Lake Park
This park has been described as the natural gateway into the Ozarks. Most of the park is covered with second-growth oak forests, and these are intertwined with multi-use trails. Therefore, it is a popular spot for people who enjoy outdoor activities, such as hiking and cycling. As it sits on the shores of Table Rock Lake, it is also a popular spot for fishing. It is a wonderful place for nature lovers to spend their time, and there are many great photographic opportunities throughout the park.
12. See the Animals at Promised Land Zoo
One of the many family-focused attractions to enjoy in Branson is the Promised Land Zoo. Founded in the 1990s by the Sanders family, the aim of this zoo is to preserve and rescue endangered animals. The animals are cared for by biologists and conservationists. Visitors to the zoo learn about the animals, their natural habitat, and the conservation of the various species. Some of the animals you will see at this small zoo include kangaroos, kinkajous, and sloths. There are bottle-feedings and animal shows to enjoy during your visit. If you are visiting Branson in November or December, you can enjoy the lights drive-thru at this attraction.
11. Have Fun at White Water Branson
If you are visiting Branson as a family, then an excellent day out is at the White Water Branson water park. This is the water-based sister attraction to Silver Dollar City. The main feature of the water park is a huge wave pool. There is also a lazy river and a speed slide to enjoy. It is a fantastic place to cool off on a bot day.
10. Go to the Titanic Museum
An interesting and popular museum to visit is the Titanic Museum. There is a great atmosphere as soon as you enter the museum, which is designed to look like the Titanic, as visitors are given a boarding pass as though they are ship passengers. Visitors can enjoy a guided tour that allows them to see more than 400 artifacts that have been rescued and preserved from the doomed vessel. The tour also takes them down a recreated grand staircase. At the end of the tour, visitors read the name on their boarding pass to find out if they were one of the passengers that survived.
9. Take a Cruise Across Table Rock Lake
US News recommends taking a cruise across Table Rock Lake. This lake is a significant natural feature of southwestern Missouri as it covers more than 50,000 acres, and it has nearly 800 miles of shoreline. Branson is just one of the towns that sit on its shores. The lake provides opportunities for a variety of activities, including swimming, fishing, and boating. Tourists visiting the area also enjoy cruises across the lake as this is a fun activity that gives you a different perspective of the lake and its shores. There are many cruise packages available that take place at various times, and some involve food and drink.
8. Spend the Day at Talking Rocks Cavern
Talking Rocks Caverns is an entertainment venue that offers a variety of above-ground and subterranean activities. The activities above the ground include nature trails, gemstone mining, and mini-golf. There are also two wooden-box mazes for visitors to navigate. These are intended to replicate the tight conditions experienced by people exploring caves. Underground, the main attraction is the one-hour guided tour of the Talking Rocks Caverns. Take you down a series of stairs to explore the caverns, and you will learn how the caverns have defined Branson and the surrounding area for thousands of years.
7. Surprise Yourself at Ripley’s Believe It or Not Branson Odditorium
If you want to see unusual items that you are unlikely to see anywhere else in the world, then the place to visit is Ripley’s Believe It or Not Branson Odditorium. This odditorium displays unusual artifacts from across the globe that will amaze you. It is hard to believe that many of the items on display are real. After visiting this museum, head along the strip to the Hollywood Wax Museum. This has a large collection of wax replicas of various pop icons from different eras.
6. Visit the Veterans Memorial Museum
There are multiple museums that you can visit during your time in Branson. One of the top-rated museums in this town is the Veterans Memorial Museum. Inside the museum, there are 10 show halls that feature exhibits covering American combat throughout the 20th-century. The exhibits are interesting, and there are many excellent learning opportunities.
5. Eat, Drink, and Shop at Branson Landing
Branson Landing is somewhere that you will probably visit on more than one occasion during your stay, depending on the length of your vacation. This is a shopping, dining, and entertainment venue that sits on the shores of Lake Taneycomo in Historic Downtown Branson. The charming promenade boasts more than one hundred shop fronts There are also multiple dining options in Branson Landing. A notable feature of this destination is the Branson Landing Fountains, which stand proud at 120-feet. Every day, the fountains become part of a show that includes music and pyrotechnics.
4. Take a Ride on Branson Scenic Railway
A fantastic way of seeing the sights is to take the Branson Scenic Railway. To board the train, head to the 1905 depot in the Historic District on the east side of Branson. Although there are different routes, with one heading north and one heading south, both will take you through the Ozark foothills, through lush scenery, under tunnels, and into the Ozark wilderness. The classic railcars have been fully restored, and passengers are encouraged to explore them during the trip. Each round trip covers 40 miles and takes approximately two hours.
3. Explore the Wonder of Marvel Cave
Sitting below Silver Dollar City is Marvel Cave. It was the discovery of this cave that initially drew attention to the area and led to the development of the town and its attractions. V9isitors can pay a fee to take a guided tour of Marvel Cave before heading back to ground level to enjoy the amusements.
2. Have Lots of Fun at Silver Dollar City
Located between Branson and West Branson, Silver Dollar City is a huge amusement park and entertainment space that has something for everyone. It covers over 100 acres and features more than 40 rides and attractions. The park has an 1880s theme that adds to its appeal. In addition to the rides and amusements, the park boasts shows, shops, and restaurants, Furthermore, various events and classes are held within the park throughout the year.
1. See a Music Performance
Branson is famous for its music performances, so Planetware recommends seeing a music performance as one of the best things to do in Branson, Missouri for first-timers. Music is such an important part of this town that it has been named as the Live Music Capital of the World. No matter what time of year you visit this town, you will find the theaters along the strip have a jam-packed schedule of performances form which you can choose.
Written by Liz Flynn
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