Branson, Missouri, is one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations. It’s especially great if you’re looking for a fall getaway, but any time of year it makes for a peaceful yet entertaining respite.
Branson is in the Ozarks, and it’s known as being the Live Entertainment Capital of the United States. There are things to do outdoors and natural beauty, such as expansive lakes, and there are shopping and restaurants.
Branson is a family-friendly destination that’s going to appeal to all generations.
With those things in mind, the following is your complete guide to planning a trip to Branson and everything you need to know.
Reasons to Visit
Some of the reasons that Branson should be added to your travel list include:
- The scenic views: Branson is naturally beautiful, which you might not associate with the destination. Branson has hiking, fishing, paddle boarding and more. There are three clear lakes and dozens of hiking trails. You can soak in the natural tranquility and have plenty of entertainment, which is a rare combination.
- Live shows: Live entertainment is world-class, and whether you like rock, gospel, country, comedy or anything else, you’ll find entertainment that appeals to you.
- Water features: If you visit Branson Landing, there are fountains designed by the same team that created the iconic water feature at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.
- The Food: Branson is known for barbecue and country-style fare that’s unique to the Ozarks.
- Relaxation: Sometimes, going on a trip can feel like work in and of itself, but that’s not the case in Branson. Whether you want to visit a spa for the day, or you just want to spend some time in nature, there are options available to you.
How to Get to Branson
If you’re convinced it’s the destination for you, how do you get there?
- The Branson Airport is located on Highway 65, and this can be one of the easiest ways to get there but there’s limited service. There’s usually only one or two airlines that fly into Branson, but you might be able to get to destinations like Houston, Denver, and Chicago nonstop.
- The Springfield-Branson National Airport is a good option if you’re flying, and it’s served by airlines like Delta, United and American. You will then have to drive to Branson from the airport, which is in Springfield.
- One of the more common ways to get to Branson is by taking a road trip. The benefit of driving to Branson is first that it can be otherwise a little challenging to get there by air. The other benefit is that Branson is somewhere you’re more than likely going to need a vehicle to get around, so if you have your own that saves you the cost of renting something.
Tips for Planning Your Stay
Once you’ve decided how you’ll get to Branson, you can begin considering some other elements of your travels, including:
- Do your research. Of course, any time you’re planning a trip, you want to research it ahead of time, and Branson is no exception. You want to get an idea of what you can expect and begin to prioritize the activities you want to do the most. While Branson isn’t a huge city, there’s a lot to do and you want to make sure you see what’s most important to you and the group you’re traveling with. If you don’t do your research, you won’t be able to maximize your time in Branson, and you may end up spending too much money or feeling generally overwhelmed.
- Budgeting is always a concern when you travel as well. You should set a budget during the research phase and book as many of your activities ahead of time as you can. You can often save money booking things like show tickets beforehand, and it’ll help you stick to your budget more easily than if you do it all when you get there and you’re caught up in the excitement.
- Prioritize your activities. We talked above about researching beforehand so you can prioritize. When you’re going somewhere like Branson, this is incredibly important. You’re never going to be able to do everything because there’s so much, so you should try and pick those things that most appeal to you while being within your budget and ensure that you schedule them in your itinerary. Even being in Branson for two weeks wouldn’t give you enough time to do everything.
- Try to create an itinerary combining both indoor and outdoor activities. It is a beautiful place to visit, and outdoor activities are a good way to stay within the confines of your budget.
Where to Stay
There are a lot of hotels and motels in Branson. There are also lodges and rentals, including condos or cabins.
The following are some of the options available to you:
- Chateau on the Lake: The Chateau is a resort, spa, and convention Center. It’s one of the more high-end options in the area, and you’ll find suites and standard hotel rooms. Many of the rooms have conveniences like microwaves and mini-fridges. The resort is a short drive from the theater district, and there are heated indoor and outdoor pools, plus a marina with boat slips and rentals.
- D’Monaco: Another luxurious option, this resort features a fitness center and a golf course, as well as kayak and paddleboard usage. There’s a private lake beach where you can swim, and the villas are spacious with large living areas and hot tubs.
- The Lodge of the Ozarks: This option puts you within walking distance of some of Branson’s top attractions on the city’s strip. The condos feature king bedrooms with jetted bathtubs. The Lodge features a Midwest-theme design. There is a heated indoor swimming pool and a fitness center onsite.
- The Village at Indian Point: The resort is highly family-friendly, with a wading pool, a playground, and games like tetherball and basketball. Fishing poles are available, and there’s a spa and sauna.
- Still Waters Resort: This property is on the shores of Table Rock Lake, so it feels like a tranquil oasis, yet it’s also just a few minutes from all the activities you’re likely going to Branson for. Amenities include complimentary kayaks, paddleboards, and aqua cycles, as well as gear for fishing.
- The Branson Hotel: This is the oldest lodging in the city, originally having opened in 1903. In recent years, it’s been remodeled into a nine-room inn-style boutique hotel, with a wine bar and a patio featuring live entertainment. The hotel was first for workers who were constructing a railroad nearby. Harold Bell Wright stayed in the hotel later as he wrote The Shepherd of the Hills, the first American novel to sell more than a million copies.
- Big Cedar Lodge: Johnny Morris, the founder of Bass Pro Shops, created this outdoor wilderness resort. It’s located on a private cove on Table Rock Lake, one of the Midwest’s best resorts. There are a lot of coordinated outdoor activities to participate in, and you’re just 15 minutes south of Branson.
- Hilton Branson Convention Center: The 12-story hotel is good if you want to stay near all the action, and balcony rooms overlook the lake and mountains.
What to Do in Branson
We’ve mentioned multiple times how much there is to do in Branson, to the point that your biggest challenge will be narrowing things down based on how much time you have and what your budget is.
Some of the most popular attractions and things to do in Branson include:
- JESUS: This show at Sight & Sound Theatres Branson lets you learn and enjoy more about the history of Jesus, but it also features 3D movie effects and pyrotechnics. There’s typically a show in the afternoon and evening, and it does frequently sell out.
- Dolly Parton’s Stampede: The Stampede show is top-rated in not only Branson but also Pigeon Forge. You can watch the battle of the North vs. the South, and you’ll be served a southern-style dinner while you enjoy the show.
- The Haygoods: The Haygoods is probably one of the most well-known shows in Branson. The Haygoods is a family musical group featuring six siblings. They sing and play instruments.
- Silver Dollar City: An amusement park, Silver Dollar City has thrill rides and roller coasters, and more mellow options. The theme park replicates the history of the Ozarks.
- Reza Edge of Illusion Magic Show: This show has been in 31 countries, and you’ll be amazed by what you see.
- Funny Farm Dinner Feud: This is another family-friendly dinner show at the Shepherd of the Hills Historic Homestead.
- Branson Belle: The Branson Belle is a dinner cruise taking place on Turn Table Lake. You’ll enjoy not only the meal but also a comedy show.
Finally, consider making time for the family-friendly Pierce Arrow Show, which is a veteran singing quartet that’s been entertaining audiences in Branson for 15 years.