It is great to get away with your family and make wonderful memories together! Branson, Missouri is one of the most family-friendly cities in the U.S. From kicking back and relaxing to being fully entertained every minute of the day, there are so many fun things to do in this town. Whether cost is no object or whether you’re looking for free entertainment, there is something for everyone here. Exploring Branson doesn’t have to bust your budget. It’s great to visit any time of year but truly the fall and springtime are the best with more comfortable weather and lower crowds.
Many of our contributors have enjoyed visiting Branson, so we wanted to share our favorite spots with you. We would love for you to share your favorite spots with us too!
Many of our favorite spots are free or have less expensive options. Check out Groupon anytime you travel to see what extra deals you can get either for eating out or attractions. They have many deals in the Branson area!
Things to Do (many are free!)
At Branson Landing there is so much to do. For free you can enjoy some great window shopping, ride the trolley, let your kids enjoy the playground, and watch the fountain & lights ‘dance’ to the beat of the music. They also have some wonderful place to shop and great places to eat as well.
Ride the Ducks
Have you ever ridden in an amphibious vehicle? Ride the Ducks and you will get a tour of the city on the street as well as on water! There are several different locations that you can tour. It’s always such a thrill to use the same vehicle to drive on pavement and then cruise on the water. Plus, you get a fun duck whistle so you can quack at everyone you meet for the next few days. Your kids might even get to captain the vehicle when it splashes into Table Rock Lake!
From Branson’s Landing and many other locations you can catch a free trolley to take you around the historic downtown area. Use the trolley to explore this area and hop on and off at your leisure.
Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery
The Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery is a fun place to go for some more free fun (feeding the fish does cost a small amount). This is located at Table Rock State Park. You can go to the Dewey Short Visitor Center to learn about Table Rock Lake. They have interesting exhibits about hydroelectric power, animals of the area, water/boating safety, etc. There is also access to several hiking trails of varying difficulties.
Bass Pro Shops
There is a Bass Pro Shops at Branson’s Landing, but the largest Bass Pro in the States is located not too far away in Springfield, MO. Full of fun things to buy as well as free activities to enjoy.
The Grand Village
The Grand Village shopping area is model after a little village. It’s so quaint and cute, it has become a traditional stop when we are in Branson. There is a giant rocking chair near the fountain and of course, pictures must always be taken as a way to mark the growth of the kids and families throughout the years. The Grand Village has many beautiful shops including a Thomas Kincade Art Gallery and Kringles Christmas store. It also is home to two of our favorite eateries – Mel’s Diner & Sugar Leaf Bakery!
The Butterfly Palace
At the Butterfly Palace, you walk into an open observatory of all different kinds of butterflies. You are given an identification chart and can learn about each butterfly along the way. It’s fun to play “I Spy” with these butterflies. You can also feed the butterflies as well as watch them release newly emerged butterflies. The Butterfly Palace also has a reptile/amphibian exhibit and a mirror maze.
Silver Dollar City
Walking into Silver Dollar City is a theme park unlike any other. You can spend the whole day “living” in the past and learning how to do so many things like they did in the olden days. Or you can mix it up and let your senses take in the rides, food, and music that fills the park too. With so much to do at this park, one of your best options is purchasing a two day pass.
Exploring the Natural Beauty
God created something marvelous when He created the Ozarks. This area is beautiful and calls to be explored. Whether it’s hiking, fishing or enjoying the lakes, nature lovers will not be disappointed.
Hiking, Fishing and Water Sports
Table Rock Lake
For a very small fee, spent the entire day playing at Table Rock Lake.
Places to Stay
In Branson there are so many resorts, hotels, condos, motels, and bed and breakfasts from which you can choose to stay. These are a few of the places some of us have stayed. The nice thing about the majority of the places to stay is that you can relax and enjoy a good time without ever having to leave the property. If you just want to kick back and relax, you can. If you want to go out all day and night, they are close to the activity too!
Grand Country Inn
Do you have kids? Then you may well enjoy staying at Grand Country Inn, which has an indoor waterpark! Having the water park available for the kids was awesome. We didn’t do much else in Branson since we already had access to the water park in our free time.
Big Cedar Lodge
Big Cedar Lodge has tons of on-site activities, including hiking, horseback riding, pools, exploring caves plus more!. There are also restaurants located at the resort. You could easily stay on-property the entire time and have plenty of entertainment and things to do.
Still Waters Resort
Still Waters Resort (fun pools, free kayaks and water toys to use on their waterfront, fun to walk around the docks too),
Chateau on the Lake
Chateau on the Lake (for that one time romantic getaway splurge). This 4-star resort is perched on a hill overlooking Table Rock Lake. The views are spectacular!
Seven Gables Inn
Our new fave low budget inn is family-owned by a Christian family. The proprietor makes homemade breakfast for her guests–her egg casserole is the best! It’s called Seven Gables Inn. It’s very clean and kept up. Our room was across the street from the Segway course, where they play Christian music over their speakers around the course. We would leave our door open while we waited for show time and had great music wafting in!
Favorite Places to Eat & Drink
With over 250+ places to eat in Branson, we can’t list them all but will list some we think you shouldn’t miss!
Hemingway’s is an upscale restaurant located inside Bass Pro Shops in nearby Springfield. Sunday brunch at Hemingway’s is amazing and definitely worth splurging on ($18.00 for adults, $6.00 for children under 10).
College of the Ozarks
Eat at College of the Ozarks, tour the campus and watch the kids at work (we haven’t done the tour yet, but it’s on our list to do). This college is a culinary school where the students milk the cows and even process the milk to use to cook with in the meals they serve you. If you haven’t read about their motto, it’s pretty cool. Every student graduates debt free!
The Fudgery at Branson Landing
Indulge your sweet tooth here with a variety of flavors of fudge at The Fudgery. While fudge is the specialty here, you can also purchase a variety of other tempting treats!
BBQ is a staple in this area and Dana’s BBQ serves it fresh and delicious.
Vintage Paris Cafe
Just a few minutes from Branson’s Landing, you will find the small town of Hollister, which is home to our favorite coffee shop. Vintage Paris Cafe is run by an amazing christian couple who open up this spot as a place to wrestle with ideas and form friendships. Enjoy many different beverages here including hot chocolate either inside in a comfy chair or outside on the patio. Many of their options are even organic!
Sugar Leaf Bakery
Located in The Grand Village, Sugar Leaf Bakery will not only engage your taste buds but your senses will be thrilled with the pleasant environment.
Mel’s Hard Luck Diner
Eating 50’s style food at Mel’s Diner is a great way to get a show in while you are eating! Some of Branson’s most talented performers wait tables while singing the night away at Mel’s Hard Luck Diner!
With 52 theatres and 100+ shows, choosing one is difficult and can be expensive. If your willing to sit through a 2-3 hour sales pitch, you can usually get tickets to one show or attraction for free, but we would encourage you to plan which show(s) you want to see ahead of time and budget for it. There is no need to waste your valuable time, when you could be relaxing or having fun! So of course, here are our favorite shows and ones we are willing to pay to see!
Sight & Sound Theatres
The Sight & Sound Theatres in Branson is amazign! Take The Behind the Scenes Tour and learn how they put the show together and see the animals they use in their performance. Then sit in awe as the entire theater comes to life with biblically based stories.
(The behind the scenes tour is a budget friendly option that allows you to see the spectacular things they do and how they accomplish them.)
Currently showing at the Branson Sight & Sound Theatres is Moses, which follows Moses’ life from birth to crossing the Red Sea. Describing this amazing show will not do it justice. Just know that you do not want to miss any of their shows! All our families, including the youngest of kids to the wise seniors, sat riveted throughout the entire performance. Moses will run through October 20, 2017! If you can only choose one show, we highly recommend this one!
The Dixie Stampede
The Dixie Stampede is a dinner theater style show. Before the show starts, enjoy walking through the stables at Dixie Stampede. (It’s free to walk by all the horses, so even if your budget doesn’t allow for you to enjoy the show you can still enjoy the horses and scenery before each show time.)
The show is fun too. It has horses, buffalo, and longhorns routines mixed in with a friendly competition and Dolly’s music. (Hint: Seating is first come first serve, so when you are in the pre-show area, sit/stand near the actual stadium entrances so you can have your choice seat.)
SIX (6 brothers who sing a capella)
The Haygoods are a talented family of 4 brothers and a sister. They have a special Christmas program planned this year and it runs from November 1st to December 31st. They also have great shows through the spring, summer and fall, so no matter when you’re there you can enjoy them.
Acrobats of China
The physical feats that the Acrobats of China perform are impressive.