5 Things Not to Miss in Branson, Missouri

by Sandra Scott

I love the city of Branson. Renowned for its music scene, it’s possible to catch a show morning, noon, and night in this lively city. Today music lovers can enjoy all genres from country to pop to soul. But when I visited, I was surprised to learn that Branson has much more to offer than just great music. It is a diverse destination with something exciting for everyone.

1. Silver Dollar City

It would take several days to see and do everything at this extensive theme park. In addition to thrilling rides, you can explore Marvel Cave by lantern, visit artisans creating traditional crafts, and experience storytellers, music, and food.  I took a culinary class where I learned how to make a local version of succotash (not at all like the creamed corn and lima beans my mom called succotash). The Missouri version is a hearty meal of corn, chicken, onions, and peppers. Yummy!

2. Sightseeing rides

The free trolley service that loops through the heart of Branson makes for a great orientation tour. For a longer tour, the Ozark Zephyr is a 40-mile scenic ride on a vintage train through the foothills of the Ozarks. Taking you over trestles, through tunnels, and past small communities, the scenic ride teaches you about the local history. The Branson Belle, a Mississippi-style paddlewheel showboat offers dining and great shows.

3. Nature

I fell in love with the beauty of the Ozarks at Dogwood Canyon Nature Park where I went hiking, but it is also possible to enjoy the outdoors by biking and horseback riding. The 2, 200-acre nature park sprawls across the Missouri-Arkansas border, just south of Branson. Fly fishing lessons and guided fishing trips are available. Big Cedar Lodge just a few miles from the centre of Branson on Table Rock Lake is a beautiful full-service resort tucked in the wooded hills with a variety of nature-related activities on offer.

4. Bonniebrook

Bonniebrook is the home of Rose O’Neill, creator of the Kewpie doll. One hundred years ago O’Neill was a well-known artist who created the Kewpie comic strip. She later created the Kewpie doll which was the must-have doll at the beginning of the 1900s.  It is thought to be the first time someone made something to sell based on a comic strip character. Her house is open for tours and the adjacent museum has hundreds of Kewpie paraphernalia.

5. Shows

Of course music is Branson’s mainstay with shows that range from tributes to the likes of Patsy Cline and John Denver along with Chinese acrobats and other unique presentations.  I thought one of the best shows was on the Taneycomo lakefront where there is a $7.5 million water fountain display that shoots up 120-foot spouts with fire, lights and music. I was dazzled. It was spectacular. It is free and displays its grandeur several times during the day and evening.