Branson, Missouri--a place where generations can play together!
I mean it. Often, Beyonders find their taste in fun is not the same as their young charges'. That's okay. If they don't
want to ride the Powder Keg with us, we'll understand. After all, not everyone likes roller coasters.
We do, though. We like coasters and water flumes and shopping and music shows and miniature golf and one-of-a-kind museums
WE LIKE BRANSON.
We've been going there for fifteen years. We've taken our kids, our grandkids and our foster kids. I'm not saying you
can't drop a bundle there. I am saying YOU DON'T HAVE TO. There are lots of reasons to go to Branson. Let me share a few.
THE MUSIC-- If you don't like country or western, all is not lost. Branson theaters feature rock and roll, gospel and
Broadway in addition to classic and new country. Take the kids to COUNTRY TONIGHT or THE HAYGOODS, then treat yourself to
JERRY LEWIS AND THE PLAYBOYS at Dick Clark's theater. You can even hear the PLATTERS. JIM STAFFORD puts on a hilarious
show that features special effects and flying dirigibles. But be sure to check out whether the theater has family passes and
special rates for kids.
THE AMUSEMENT PARKS --
1)SHEPHERD OF THE HILLS PARK features an outdoor dramatization of the Harold Bell
Wright book as well as a concert by THE SONS OF THE PIONEERS. Be aware--the drama and chuckwagon dinner are seperate
from the music concert. A ticket for both will set you back plenty. And the park doesn't really open until late afternoon,
so plan something else for earlier in the day.
2) CELEBRATION CITY--a classic amusement park with a touch of a fifties theme. there
is a laser show in the evening.
3) WHITE WATER--Branson's water park has water slides, flumes and wave pools.
4) SILVER DOLLAR CITY
--By far, my favorite. The turn-of-the-century (1800's) theme is carried out in the rides, the concessions and the employees
costumes. There are rides for even the tiniest kids and an old time fair, a pioneer homestead to explore, fun rides and thrill
rides. Rangers guide tours through the cave (around which the park was built) There are also pavillions throughout the
park where musicians of every ilk give performances. And speaking of music, when the rides close down at 7:00, there is a
two-hour concert in ECHO HOLLOW which rivals many of the shows you will see in Branson's theaters. The one-day admission guarantees
a full day of fun, but the two day ticket is only a few dollars more--a heck of a value--and you can even buy a three day
pass which will get you in to Celebration City, White Water and The Branson Belle .
DINNER SHOWS: You're talking DIXIE STAMPEDE--a Civil War theme with audience interaction, musical numbers and a great
chicken/ barbecue dinner. or THE BRANSON BELLE
--A showboat which tours Table Rock Lake and offers variety entertainment. They feature healthy, but gourmet dining.
THE ONE-OF-A-KIND ATTRACTIONS--Branson has a RIPLEY'S BELIEVE IT OR NOT museum, more miniature golf courses
and go-cart tracks than you'll ever play and --my personal choice-- THE TITANIC MUSEUM
. This is a first-class museum disguised as a full-sized model of the ship with artifacts and interactive displays as well
as a lifeboat where you can sit and hear survivors' stories and a night bridge to walk under the cold stars.
THE SHOPPING-- Besides two factory outlet malls and countless specialty stores, there are THE VICTORIAN SHOPPES and the
brand new BRANSON LANDING--
AN ECLECTIC OUTDOOR MALL FEATURING UPSCALE AND VARIETY SHOPS AS WELL AS FINE DINING AND STREET ENTERTAINERS, ALL ALONG A LIGHTED
RIVER WALK. FOUNTAINS AND PYROTECHNICS ADD TO THE EXCITEMENT.
AND, OF COURSE, RIDE THE DUCKS ( DUKW--the military designation for this amphibious vehicle) There are a whole fleet
of them which tour the "strip," then travel up the hill through a military vehicle museum, then splash down into Table Rock
Lake for a cruise. The entire trip takes about 90 minutes and is well worth the price of admission ( about $18 for adults)
IF YOU GO--Summer is when Branson fun is at its best. Wear shorts--the Branson climate is humid and denim doesn't
breathe the way cotton does--and if you go to Silver Dollar City where you will get wet, denim will not dry. Plan to
stay at a hotel which offers a free continental breakfast. We usually stay at the Quality Inn on Shepherd of the Hills
Expressway. Ask to stay in the back building ( the one with four floors) and going to the pool or hot tub is as easy as stepping
down the hall. Rates are around $75 a night plus tax. Breakfast includes fresh fruit, biscuits and gravy, cereals and an assortment
Take good walking shoes--if you go to the amusement parks you'll need them, and traffic on 76 Boulevard is so heavy at
show times that you'll do better walking.
We usually plan one show and an attraction per day. There are free things to do ( The fish hatchery is a GREAT activity--even
our teens enjoyed it) and neat places to tour. ( Try The College of the Ozarks--a top-rated small college where there is no
tuition: all students work their way through school and Bonnie Brook--9 miles north of town, the home of Rose O'Neil
who originated the Cupie Doll. )
And plan to let the kids splash in the pool while you rest at mid afternoon.
If you fish, take your tackle. Table Rock has the 5th best fresh water fishing in the nation. You can parasail at the
marina or rent boats. You can hike miles of nature trails.