Matching world-class entertainment with kid-friendly attractions like the Silver Dollar City and Ripley’s Odditorium, Branson is the mecca of family fun in the Midwest. The town boasts that it’s the "Live Music Show Capital of the World," and with more than 50 live performance theaters it certainly gives Broadway a run for its money. But aside from its indoor attractions, visitors to Branson will also want to explore the Ozarks and the scenic Missouri countryside. There are several lakes in the area, and a bunch of waterways that are perfect for boating and fishing. Located 45 miles south of Springfield, MO, and three hours from Little Rock, AR, Branson is a perfect destination for an American road trip or a family weekend escape. In fact, one third of Americans are within a day’s drive of Branson. For those who aren’t, the Branson Airport is served by Southwest and Frontier Airlines.
Photo by David Schook via Flickr.
The Haygoods are a family of musicians who have been playing together since old fuzzy-film Texas days of matching vests, cowboy hats and red bandanas – the youngest was 2 years old and the oldest 15 when they moved to Branson and drew crowds performing daily at Silver Dollar City. Twenty years later, they’re still playing in Branson, sadly without the cowboy hats, but with an elevated level of craftsmanship and stage presence. But if a family Americana country rock band doesn’t suit your fancy, no worries, as Branson offers close to a hundred shows per year in their Entertainment District.
Photo by Missouri Division of Tourism via Flickr.
Built around the Marvel Cave, a National Natural Landmark, Silver Dollar City has become one of the country’s most celebrated amusement parks. Silver Dollar City tells the story of early-American settlers to the Ozarks, with staff walking around dressed in 1880s-style period costume and blacksmith and wood carving demonstrations. Of course, the story deviates a bit from the actual history, as we’re pretty sure that early-American pioneers did not have high-flying, multi-looping roller coasters and 50-foot drops. But with names like The Giant Barn Swing and High-Low Silos, the theme seems no less relevant.
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Admittedly, it looks pretty cheesy. After all, it’s a giant Titanic reproduction jutting out into a stretch of highway next to an unconvincing concrete iceberg. But inside, it’s an educational playground – in the best way possible, especially when talking about a deep-seated historical tragedy. As soon as visitors arrive, they’re given a boarding pass with the name of an actual passenger from the Titanic. From there, it’s an interactive journey: they get to tap out messages on the ship’s telegraph, shovel coal into a heated furnace, touch an iceberg (a real-ish one), sit in an actual-sized lifeboat, and stroll around the decks and passengers quarters, decked out with over 500 real artifacts. At the end, each visitor goes through the Memorial Room to find out the fate of their passenger. The details of this experience are what make it one of the most impressive museum attractions in the world, from their million-dollar Grand Staircase to the personalized biographies of each of the passengers. Parents can even go on the website before they embark to print out educational information and activities relating to the Titanic for their kids.
Photo by Dustin Holmes via Flickr.
Mel’s Hard Luck Diner is just like any other 1950s-themed American diner, with one notable exception: singing waiters. Sit in your booth long enough and you’re bound to hear almost every employee in the restaurant bust out into a rousing rendition of 1950s classics. And the singing’s pretty good too, with some patrons swearing that it’s better than many of the live music shows in Branson! Oh, and the food’s pretty good too!
Photo by Carrie Higgs via Flickr.
This lakeside lodging, tucked away in the woods just west of Branson, is minutes from the Silver Dollar City, conveniently close to excellent fishing, as well as all the fun attractions Branson has to offer. Inside the Village at Indian Point’s condo-style hotel and conference center, visitors can chill by the multiple pools, busy themselves in the game room, relax in their totally decked out luxury sunlight sauna, or work out in the fitness room – or, of course, hit Table Rock Lake.