If you have ever been to Branson, you can attest that Branson is all about God, Family, and Country. Myself, I get that feeling of coming home, every time I go. The people are so friendly, polite, and hospitable. It is a wholesome environment, where parents can feel comfortable in taking their children to any activity in town, as there is no swearing anywhere and limited alcohol. At the shows, you will see the spirit of Branson shine as you will hear Gospel in some form and performers honoring their family members and all Veterans.
Not only is Branson’s culture humbling, but the scenery is absolutely beautiful. You can expect breathe taking views of the Ozark Mountains and Hills from the scenic outlooks, as well as Inspirational Point at the Shepard of the Hills. Experience the curvy roads as you drive through the walls of limestone which were drilled thru to construct the roads. You will see lots of signs for Caverns to explore, and they are amazing. And, in the Spring, you get the pleasure of seeing the Dogwood Trees (Missouri State tree) in bloom amongst the many shades of green throughout the countryside. Finally, hopefully, you will get the chance to sample the pure crisp taste of fresh Ozark water straight from an artesian well. And, if that’s not enough to spark your appetite for adventure, Branson is loaded with things to do and see, as well as a wealth of history to explore.
During my last trip there, I had the opportunity to take a very informative historical tour with local residences Nancy Town (Tour Conductor) and Roberta W (Driver). And, here’s what I learned:
- In 1884, John & Ann Ross (a/k/a Old Matt & Aunt Molly) first settled in the Ozark Mountains close to the White River on top of what is now known at the Shepard of the Hills. They took in people passing by when the river would flood. And, one of the people that they took in was “Preaching Bill” a/k/a Harold Bell Wright, who wrote the book, Old Matt’s Cabin (a/k/a The Shepard of the Hills), which started tourism for Branson. The original cabin can still be toured at the Shepard of the Hills.
- In 1912, most of Branson was burnt down by a great fire that started at the Commercial Street Hotel, which is currently a Pawn Shop.
- The Historical Downtown Branson, located just above The Landing by the River, is intriguing as it only allows family owned business and local commerce.
- The Baldknobbers (from good to bad) started as a league of businessmen, or the Justice League, to provide law and order (good) to the area. However, when Nate Kenney took over, the group became Outlaws (bad). They were finally disbanded.
- Bootleggers were abundant.
- The Presley Family was the first show in Branson and the west ward expansion.
- Table Rock Lake is a man-made lake. The Army Corp of Engineers created it between 1954 and 1957. It is a hydro lake of approximately 800 miles of shoreline. Two (2) cities where evacuated and are now under the water. It’s a great place for bass tournaments, which are held often.
- The Henning’s donated 1,500+ acres to Missouri Park and Wildlife to form the Ruth and Paul Henning Conservation Area to insure there would be an area left like the original pioneer times.
- Chateau of the Lake was the first conference center and is still great location of weddings and conventions,
- Branson’s sister town, Hollister is a quaint little English town. It has a Downey Street – 10 Downey Street like the United Kingdom.
- The Beverly Hillbillies, Petticoat Junction, and Green Acres were all started in the Ozarks.
- The College of the Ozarks, also known as Hard Work U, is an amazing place that any student would be truly blessed to be able to attend. But, that’s another blog.
Now, how to get a round. Route 76 is the main drag for majority of the touristy stuff and shows. It starts at the river, down by the historical section of Branson, and expands westward. The Blue, Red, and Yellow routes are used to bypass the hustle and bustle.
Now, I know you want to know all about the normal stuff there: food, lodging, things to do, shows, and shopping. Honestly, there is so much that I am only going to scratch the surface. But hopefully, it’s a large enough scratch to entice you to add Branson to Your – Must See List. Here we go:
Food & Restaurants:
Branson has excellent hometown country cooking. Yes, biscuits and gravy. I will warn you, the restaurants do close a lot earlier than other areas in the USA, most around 8:00 p.m. I’m assuming that is for two reasons: (1) people can go home to their families; or, (2) the shows start around that time too. Here’s some of my favorites and others in town:
- Mel’s Singing Waiters with fabulous ice cream Sundays and sandwiches.
- Branson Café
- Pasghettis – Giant Meatball with a fork in it just outside the front door.
- The original Outback (according to the them)
- Dolly’s Stampede (Diner & Show)
- Old Time Ice Cream Shoppes downtown
- Chains: Olive Garden, I-hop, Denny’s, Bob Evans, Red Lobster, Montana Mikes
There is a gamete of lodging to choose from. Hotels and Resorts everywhere, as well as Time Shares, Cabins, RV Sites, and Camping. The Cabins at Green Mountain are my all-time favorite!
Things to Do? There is an abundance. Take your pick:
- Silver Dollar City (Another blog to come)
- White Water waterpark
- Putt-Putt Golf (a bunch of different types)
- Museums – take your pick
- Ripley’s Believe It or Not – one of the largest in the Country
- Bumper Cars and Boats
- Race Car Tracks
- Ferris Wheel
- Butterfly Palace
- Promise Land Zoo
- Fish Hatchery (where brown & rainbow trout are raised for local lakes) [FREE]
- Dewey Short Center [FREE]
- Helicopter Rides
- Branson Belle Showboat (which was launched into Table Rock Lake via sliding it on bananas to protect the environment of the lake)
- Water fountain show down by the River [FREE]
- Branson Scenic Railroad Express
- Ice Cream Socials by the Pool
- Vigilante Zip line
- Outdoor activities:
- Boating, Boating, Swimming, Waterskiing
- Hiking and Exploring Caves
Branson is like a little Nashville. You can see everything from Country, Bluegrass, Gospel, Rock & Roll, Tributes, to Broadway Musicals. Many shows like to get the audience involved too. So, get ready. Here are only a few:
- Six – same concept as Pentatonix
- Baldknobbers – Variety Jubilee Show (Comedy, Dance, Music)
- Bucket N Boards (Top Disney Cruise Line Act)
- Shrek the Musical
- Shepherds of the Hill (The best way to see the history of Branson – a must see!)
- Reza Edge of Illusion
- Dick’s 5 & 10 Store – full of nostalgic items of all eras – games and books and crafts. to kitchen gadgets
- Tourist Souvenirs
- Antiques Galore – Collectors
- Amish (Jams & Apple Butter)
- Indian jewelry, pottery, artifacts, moccasin
- Normal everyday shopping mall too.
So, if you want a fantast trip and a good dose of remembering Faith, Family & Freedom, Branson should be right at the top of your Bucket List. I hope you have enjoyed exploring Branson with me and utilizing my four (4) phase technique of exploring the world: Explore, Discover, Learn & Inspire. And, remember, I need your input to know if I have accomplished the 4th one!
See you again soon!