On the surface, Branson is a tourist trap. There’s no denying that. As a Midwestern kid, I went on several trips to Branson with my parents, and I have some great travel memories that include visiting Silver Dollar City and seeing some of the shows like The Presley’s and Lawrence Welk. Even though we have not taken our kids to any of the shows, that is something we will definitely do in the future. Don’t let the toothless grins and garish sequined costumes you see on the billboards fool you. There are high-quality shows with some incredibly talented performers in Branson. It’s like Vegas for families.
While there are countless fun shows and activities to do in Branson, here are our top 4 things we enjoy doing right now:
Miniature golf is always high on our to-do list, and we have tried just about every course in Branson.
They are all comparably priced, but the terrain is different. There are several courses that have some spectacular landscaping, but the holes don’t do anything. They are mostly flat, with the occasional bump or anthill. They were fun to do once when the kids were pretty little, but we have outgrown those. Our favorite course in Branson is Pirates Cove. Not only is it clean and well themed, but the holes are interesting. They all do something different, and they’ve really taken advantage of the terrain since it is built into the side of a hill.
Something to keep in mind, however, is that it may not be easy to navigate for people with physical challenges. They offer two courses, an “easy” one and a difficult one, and our family enjoys both. In fact, there is a discount if you come back to play the other course the next night. (Might I also suggest getting yourself a gumball before you play, because specially marked gumballs get you a free game, which happened to me last time)!
Silver Dollar City
Silver Dollar City is can’t miss family fun. It has everything a good theme park should have, but what I love about it are the local artisans. I can remember watching the glass blower when I was kid, and that attraction is still there, along with woodworkers, candle makers, ceramics experts, a blacksmith, and many others. You’ll also find some great rides, and if you are an adrenaline junkie, there are plenty of coasters to get your blood pumping.
If you are someone who hasn’t been to SDC since your childhood in the 1980s, you will find that the rides have greatly improved, but for the nostalgic among us, you’ll still find classics like Fire in the Hole.
Silver Dollar City is also a beautiful theme park with lots of shady walkways; however, like a lot of Branson, it’s a bit hilly. If you have mobility issues, consider a scooter rental. If you get there early before the official park opening, you can grab breakfast in the park and beat the crowds when it comes to parking and some of the more popular rides. At the end of the day, be sure to stop at Eva and Delilah’s Bakery on your way out to pick up some cinnamon rolls for breakfast the next day.
Let me begin by saying that swimming is not my thing, and I despise water parks. My kids, however, turn into fish every summer. We were very happy to discover on one of our trips to Branson that we could get away with a few more years of skipping White Water when we learned that non-hotel guests can pay by the day to use the water park at the Grand Country Inn. Not only is it fairly inexpensive by comparison, but it is also mostly indoors and not as crowded.
The indoor section features a small lazy river, large hot tubs, a small pool with basketball nets and the main attraction: a huge climbing tree house water feature, complete with water slides and a bucket that dumps water on the heads of the waiting children every few minutes.
There are plenty of dry places to sit and watch as well. For me, the water was too cold, but I am a poor judge of water temperatures. As I said, swimming is not my favorite thing, and I really prefer very warm water, even in the middle of summer.
Ride the Ducks – Branson
We put this attraction off for way too long. I never thought it looked like that much fun with all those people squawking their duck calls at every passerby, but I didn’t really know what the tour was all about. The ducks are amphibious military vehicles (which is kind of cool in itself), and the tour that leaves from the strip takes you on a ride through town to an outdoor museum of sorts that features a collection of old military vehicles. Then, it’s off to Table Rock Lake where you drive straight into the water! The kids loved that big splash. Each child on board gets a turn driving the duck on the lake under the watchful eye of the driver, which is great fun for them.
During your ride, you’ll be treated to some tall tales, bad jokes, and a little bit of Branson history. Pay attention and give your driver a quack when you think he’s stretching the truth.
These are just a few of the fun things to do in Branson, and we certainly have much more to explore (I’m looking at you, Dixie Stampede). That’s why we will continue going back for years to come.
Do you have a favorite tourist trap that keeps you coming back?