A popular tourist destination, Branson, Mo. bills itself as the "Live music show capital of the world." While it's true you can treat yourself to a different type of show every night of the week (country music, religious theatre, variety shows, comedy, and more), you are missing out on the other parts of Branson if you don't at least resolve to do these activities:
Experience the Titanic Museum
Become a passenger on the Titanic and see if you survive. The Titanic Museum in Branson is expertly done and engages adults and children in the story and plight of the doomed passenger vessel. Upon entering the museum, you are given a boarding pass with the name of one of the passengers on the original Titanic. Throughout the museum, you may pick up clues on your new identity and at the end, will discover if you survived. A very engaging and artfully curated museum.
Take a tram ride through Dogwood Canyon Nature Park
This is a piece of natural paradise outside of Branson, and one of my favourite places. Dogwood Canyon Nature Park has so many outdoor activities (fishing, horseback riding, hiking, biking, tramway tours, Segway tours, private jeep tours) that you can keep going back to experience a different outdoors every time. However, the sheer beauty is what will overwhelm your senses. Where else can you see American bison, elk and longhorn cattle play together well? Plus, you can watch, up close and personal, from the comfort of the tram.
Dine at Top of the Rock
At Top of the Rock, Osage Restaurant is located within what was once the home of Dr. M. Graham Clark. The food is American cuisine and the panoramic views are equal to none. Artwork and artifacts are omnipresent, as if you are eating in a museum. Our glass-topped table had buckskin shirts, arrowheads, and Native American pottery to gaze at while dining. Of course, the best view at sunset is the replica of the Native American chief on horseback with his head looking downward. It's breathtaking.
Feast on the best Sunday brunch at College of the Ozarks
This is easily the best brunch in the Ozarks. Who could have ever guessed you would find it at a college? At College of the Ozarks, all the students receive a tuition-free education in exchange for working on campus. Students man the buffet stations, from soup to desserts, including their wonderfully hand-crafted ice cream. It's even made with fresh milk from the on-campus dairy. Support the students, the college, and your stomach by trying their farm-to-table Sunday brunch. The cost at US$25 is reasonable given all the premium choices. Reservations are a must!
Catch a dinner show on the Showboat Branson Belle
Built in the style of 1890s paddle boats that were once prevalent on the mighty Mississippi River, the Showboat Branson Belle is a beautiful river boat reminiscent of the luxury of yesteryear. You'll be greeted by a most friendly crew and then entertained with wonderful varied performances on a three-tiered stage. Food was a notch better than expected, but it's really the experience that is special.
Watch Raiding the Country Vault at Starlite Theatre
The newest production in Branson, Raiding the Country Vault, was the best show I saw while in Branson. It comes from the producers of the Las Vegas hit, Raiding the Rock Vault. I loved the montage of great country artists through the ages. As singers belted out country favourites, facts about the various legends were highlighted on a big screen. Tickets start at US$39 for this country "not-to-be-missed" extravaganza.
Bring your appetite for the best barbecue in Missouri
After the show, head for the best barbecue in Missouri at the Gettin' Basted Restaurant, inside the Starlite Theatre. Whether ordering the Burnt End Plate or the Judges' Plate (brisket, pulled pork, ribs, 1/4 chicken, sausage, four sides and Texas toast) you can't go wrong. The owners are very affable — some of the nicest people you would want to meet. And since Gettin' Basted is inside the Starlite Theatre, it makes either a pre- or post-dinner meal very convenient. If you have any room left, try the Candy Bar Cheese Cake.
IF YOU GO:
American Airlines and United Airlines offer daily flights from Vancouver (YVR) to Springfield-Branson Regional airport (SGF). Branson is about an hour's drive from the airport.