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Branson, Missouri

Branson

Great Destination:

4

Value for Money:

3.5

Total Stars:

7.5

Personality Types that Like it Best

Mid-Authentics, Centric-Authentics and true Authentics, in that order, like it the most

Did You Know….?

  • Branson’s tourism business dates back to 1907.
  • Eighty-two percent of the town’s visitors arrive in their personal vehicles.
  • Branson boasts around 58,000 theater seats, more than are in New York’s Broadway district.
  • The first theater was built on Highway 76 (Branson’s Strip) in 1967.
  • Branson is within a day’s drive of more than one-third of the U.S. population.

Music in lake country

Branson is a small town (2000 census: 6,050) with a big name in the world of music, particularly country music. Several million tourists converge each year on this southwest Missouri community, drawn by the scores of shows on offer and the local hospitality.

However, Branson has morphed into a shopping destination, as well, and the opportunity to max out the credit cards in the outlets is slightly more popular than the shows. A third attraction is the setting amidst the Ozark Mountains with access to a number of lakes that are also popular with tourists.

Although Branson has been prominent nationally only since the early 1990s, it has been a tourist destination for most of its existence. It was founded in 1882, and the first touristic boomlet came after the 1907 publication of a best-selling novel, “The Shepherd of the Hills,” which praised the surroundings and the local people. Today, the book’s tale is remembered in the outdoor “Shepherd of the Hills” pageant.

Creation of new lakes provided another boost. A 1913 dam created Lake Taneycomo, which flows through historic downtown Branson. Then came the Table Rock Dam in 1958 creating Table Rock Lake and turning Taneycomo into a cold-water lake and one of America’s best trout fishing areas. Today, these lakes provide opportunities for water sports as well as dream conditions for anglers.

Then came the entertainment component, beginning in the early 1950s. Succeeding years have seen a continuing addition of theaters and shows that run the gamut from country, pop, rock ‘n’ roll and swing to gospel, from classical and Broadway-style music to comedy and magic shows.

An area that attracts millions fosters all sorts of complementary developments. So, tourists have access to a dozen golf courses, all types of dining experiences, spa options — and shopping, lots of it. Branson is home to three outlet shopping malls. In addition, Branson Landing, on Lake Taneycomo, launched in 2006 with more than 100 retail shops plus dining, nightlife, marinas and luxury lodging.

Finally, locals are cordial, the setting is lovely and the weather is comfortable enough to make this a year-round destination.

Things to do for Venturers

  • Go jet skiing, parasailing or waterskiing, or try scuba diving, at Table Rock Lake. Or, take it nice and easy. Go kayaking on one of the area lakes
  • Travel down nostalgia lane. See shows at Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Theater, then shake, rattle and roll, and taste other ’50s fun at the Jim Stafford Theatre. Or, see the Liverpool Legends in a Beatles tribute show that re-creates the original Beatles sound and experience.
  • Enter a fishing tournament at Table Rock Lake, which is famous for its bass.
  • Drive in the Super Summer Cruise, a car rally that draws more than 500 vehicles which can be vintage and collector cars or street rods or “special-interest” cars. Those special cars include vehicles made from scratch or from kits.
  • Ride a swing. This swing is dubbed the Giant Swing and found in the new Silver Dollar City 1880s theme park. Board this swing, and you’ll fly more than seven stories in the air, nearly upside down, at roller-coaster speeds.
  • Rent a bike to wander through the Ozark hills. Or, take a hike. Or travel horseback.

Things to do for Centrics

  • Snorkel in the pristine area lakes.
  • Buy samples of traditional Ozark handicraft items, but first, watch the craftsmen ply their trades.
  • Participate in a car rally, or be on hand to admire the vehicles. Branson is home to the new Hemmings Branson Vintage Car Rally, an event that features nothing more recent than 1948 models. If you love cars, another option — in this case, for buying, selling or watching — is the Branson Collector Car Auction.
  • Make a houseboat your way of life while in the Branson area.
  • Go wine tasting at Stone Hill Winery’s Branson facility. The vintner makes a wine based on the Norton grape, one of the few red grapes indigenous to America.
  • Fish for bass or trout. Table Rock Lake and Bull Shoals Lake are noted for outstanding bass fishing. Lake Taneycomo, with its cold waters, is noted for its trout.

Things to do for Authentics

  • Plan a girlfriends’ getaway. Branson offers some natural ingredients for such an outing: entertainment, good food, shopping and spas.
  • Shop at the new Branson Landing, which is located on Lake Taneycomo in historic downtown Branson. The complex offers more than 100 specialty shops and restaurants.
  • Dine at the Candlestick Inn, and get a great view of the Branson Landing water fountain show on Lake Taneycomo. This production synchronizes light, music, sound and fire.
  • Get to the Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Museum in Branson to see a 1982 Cadillac stretch limousine with a heart-shaped Jacuzzi tub that accommodates four. And, oh, yes, the limo also has a TV and electric bar.
  • See the four-decade-old “Shepherd of the Hills” outdoor pageant, based on the best-selling 1907 novel of the same name that helped trigger the development of tourism in Branson.
  • Board the 700-seat Showboat Branson Belle for a dinner cruise with entertainment, on Table Rock Lake.

Additional Resources

For more information, consult the Branson/Lakes Area Convention and Visitors Bureau at www.explorebranson.com