You may very well have the same preconceived notion about Branson, Missouri that we did. Namely, that it is a tourist Mecca with hundreds of live music shows. Well, there is plenty of live music in Branson and you can look forward to seeing some very professional shows featuring every kind of music imaginable. Definitely check out the shows at the Mickey Gilley Theatre as it’s an amazing, comfortable location with great shows. But music is not all that this charming little town tucked away in an idyllic location in the beautiful Ozark Mountains has to offer.
Branson itself was a delightful surprise but Silver Dollar City literally astonished us. Expecting a run-of-the-mill amusement park, we were amazed to discover a beautifully landscaped area with gently rolling walking paths, an incredible array of delicious foods, local artisans who have been affiliated with the park for decades, a historic cave, a cooking school, and regular festivals that made us want to return as soon as possible.
Surrounding the town of Branson are the soaring Ozarks and incredibly beautiful scenery which includes lovely Table Rock Lake. Created in 1954 by Table Rock Dam, the lake sprawls over more than 50,000 acres and is a fisherman’s paradise. For a wild water adventure, try the Ride the Ducks aquatic vehicles which splash down into the lake without stopping for a heart-stopping few minutes, and then cruise around the lake a little more quietly. Plenty of fishermen dot this quiet lake, trolling for the plentiful trout that love the cold water discharged by the dam.
Take a cruise right from the Branson Landing Waterfront with Main Street Lake Cruises on the historic Lake Queen Paddleboat along Lake Taneycomo. A 100 feet long modern day replica of the grand riverboats that used to ply the rivers of Missouri, it’s a great, relaxing way to see the riverfront homes and view the amazing fountain and light show at the landing. Take some time to stroll around the many shops and restaurants which fill the renovated and restored landing, a popular location for tourists and residents alike.
When you have had enough water experiences, check out the Branson Scenic Railway for a 30-mile roundtrip excursion through the Ozark Mountains and tunnels. The town of Branson, like many other towns, is a product of the railroad which built a line through the area in the early 1900s. The nearly two hour trip is a great introduction to the history of the area as you cross the high bridges and trestles to view the beautiful scenery.
Don’t leave Branson without stopping by for a tour of the College of the Ozarks, where no tuition is charged, like our very own Berea, but students are expected to work their way through “Hard Work U.” Enjoy fine dining at the Keeter Center and stay for the night in one of the beautiful suites upstairs.
Forget whatever you thought you knew about Branson – and pay a visit!
By Jan Ross, Staff Writer