The Branson Missouri Blog

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Hiking Options Near Branson

As the snow melts and the weather warms, and trees begin to bud, and tourist season begins, chances are that you are looking for some ways to get out of the house – and out of town!- here in the Branson/Tri-Lakes area. You are in luck! Not only is Branson full of great shows, unparalleled shopping, fantastic food and unique attractions, there are also some stellar Branson hiking options for you to explore and enjoy. So just where are some of these hiking trails hidden? Read on to find out, and then grab your hiking boots and head out for a trek!

Busiek State Forest and Wildlife Area: For some of the best that the Ozarks have to offer, plan a hike at the Busiek State Forest and Wildlife Area. It is rugged, challenging, rocky, and, quite frankly, beautiful! Featuring more than a dozen miles of trails that interchange and loop back into each other, you can spend all day wandering this park. Each trail is well marked and has varying degrees of difficulty. Busiek offers two creeks to admire and splash in – Bull Creek and Woodsfork – and numerous opportunities to see an 1880s cemetery and wildlife, such as native songbirds, whitetail deer, squirrels and more. Be sure to watch out for mountain bikers and horseback riders on the trails as well!

Roaring River State Park: If you like fish and hiking together, head about three quarters of an hour south of Branson for a hiking experience you won’t forget! Experience a beautiful natural spring, intense rock formations, and panoramic views that will take your breath away! After a long hike, cool down by admiring the on-site fish hatchery, and maybe casting in a line or two! You will share the steep, wooded trails of Roaring River State Park with turtles, woodpeckers and other classic Missouri wildlife – be sure to bring a bottle of water and a camera!

Table Rock Lakeshore Trail: For a trail of relative ease that still showcases some of the beauty near Branson, take a stroll along the Table Rock Lakeshore Trail! This paved 2.25 mile trail is situated right on the shores of the famous lake – you will have a view of the waters at all times! Glades, forests and 200 year old oaks are some of the unique landscapes and wildlife habitat you will find along this path. Hikers here often see eagles, hawks and ospreys during their treks!

These are just a few of the great Branson hiking options near the entertainment capital of the Midwest. Any time you hike, be sure to practice a few safety rules that will improve the quality of your hike, as well as your piece of mind: Always inform someone of where you are going and when you will be back, especially if you are hiking alone. Always carry water, a first aid kit, and a cell phone in case of an emergency (if you get service). Always use proper sun protection, whether it is sunscreen, a hat or both. And lastly, always enjoy yourself! Take time to stop and smell the wildflowers and enjoy the great outdoors.

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Asian Food Options Abound in Branson

Branson has hundreds of restaurants serving a variety of tasty cuisines from Mediterranean to seafood. One of the options Branson has no shortage of is Asian cuisines. Visit any one of these great Branson restaurants next time you’re in town and craving Asian.

1. Mitsu Neko Fusion Cuisine and Sushi Bar: This little out of the way sushi place has been open in Branson for a year, but they definitely do more than sushi. Duck, chicken teriyaki, and a succulent steak are on the menu, along with appetizers like shrimp tempura and edamame. Plus, you can have your pick of delicious sushi rolls, like the classic California and Philadelphia, or something a little fancier, like the Blizzard roll, featuring white tuna and mango. Find Mitsu Neko on Facebook and rate them on TripAdvisor and Urbanspoon.

2. Wakyoto Japanese Restaurant: There is a great variety of dishes on the menu at Wakyoto’s, including chicken, beef, and shrimp teriyaki. Udon, yaki udon, and yaki soba are just a few of the noodle options, and the menu only gets better at dinner. With a sushi menu featuring 30 varieties of sushi, you’re sure to find something to tantalize your taste buds. Visit sushibranson.com or call 417-336-1177.

3. Panda House: If you don’t feel adventurous enough to try sushi and the like, then Panda House may be more your speed. With a variety of dishes and a full buffet, you can find chicken, beef, and shrimp, along with American foods. Call 417-335-2770.

4. Lai Lai Asian Buffet and Dining: Much like Panda House, this buffet style restaurant has a variety of dishes. Located in Hollister, it’s a little our of the way from Branson, but it’s worth the trip for fresh, delicious Chinese.

5. Shogun Japanese Steak and Sushi: For lunch and dinner, you get entertained watching the chefs preparing your meal. Chicken and shrimp and steak and shrimp are just a couple of options on the lunch menu at Shogun. And, you guessed it – there’s plenty of sushi variety too. Visit shogunbranson.com or call 417-332-0260.

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Visit The Titanic in Branson This Year

Everybody has heard of the Titanic. Whether you think of the movie featuring the immortal characters Rose and Jack, or the hardcore historical details like the ship’s orchestra playing until the she sank, the name Titanic is almost guaranteed to trigger some kind of idea in your mind’s eye. Here in Branson, Missouri, when people hear about the Titanic, they tend to think of the world famous Titanic Museum that anchors in the live entertainment of the Midwest. If you are a history buff, a mariner at heart, or simply looking for a neat attraction to spend some time at, the Titanic in Branson this year! It is a museum that is sure to meet and exceed your expectations.

Titanic Branson MuseumThe Titanic in Branson is hard to miss – located on Highway 76, it is literally a massive ship parked on the edge of the road. If the architecture doesn’t catch your eye, the large water feature at the front of the ship surely will! Once you pull in (don’t worry, there is plenty of parking available at this Branson attraction!) and head to the lines to get your tickets, you will notice something pretty unique – your admission ticket is a passport! Hold on to that passport – it contains information about a real passenger that was on board the Titanic that fateful night. As you wander through the museum, you might find artifacts belonging to your passenger that were recovered, or other tidbits of information. At the end of your self-guided museum tour, you will find a gallery that will reveal your passenger’s fate.

The entire museum is packed with artifacts, interactive displays, galleries that feature authentic replications, video and audio opportunities and so much more – you won’t see it all in one day, so chances are you will want to come back! Some of the most unique and memorable galleries include: the movie gallery, devoted entirely to the 1997 movie, the ‘deck’ exhibit that was created to look like the outdoor deck of the Titanic against a star studded backdrop, complete with frigid temperatures, the Grand Staircase, which is an exact replica of the sweeping grand staircase that was aboard the ship, and the interactive gallery, where visitors can experience the different degrees of tilt on the deck as the ship sank, stick their hand in a bowl of water that was the exact temperature of the ocean that night, and sit in a lifeboat.

The Titanic in Branson also features some neat community building aspects – every year, they host an ice carving competition in the parking lot. Some of the best ice sculptors from across the country to converge and carve beautiful works of art from giant blocks of ice with everything from chisels to chainsaws. The museum will also host traveling/limited time exhibits. In 2014, they have been paying tribute to the eight musicians on the Titanic with a brand new gallery. And if you want to do something memorable with your sweetie on your anniversary, you can renew your wedding vows on the Grand Staircase!

So for an attraction that will leave you awed and amazed, come visit the Titanic in Branson!

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Looking Back – Branson Hits It Big on 60 Minutes

The history of Branson began when the Presleys opened the first theatre on Highway 76, and it’s been 23 years since 60 Minutes visited Branson to chronicle the amazing growth of the small Midwest town.

When 60 Minutes originally broadcast “The Sound of Music” in 1991, Branson had approximately 3000 residents and received four million visitors each year. It was dubbed the “Live Country Capital of the Universe” and only had 22 live music theatres at the time. A number of stars had their own theatres, including Ray Stevens, Boxcar Willie, Christy Lane, Roy Clark and Mel Tillis. In 60 Minutes’ broadcast, Mel Tillis said he came to Branson because it was a place to work and make a living after having been on the road for 34 years. Many stars came to Branson for similar reasons – they came to Branson for a more relaxed lifestyle than touring the country.

The stars who built their theatres on the historic Highway 76 got their own little piece of the pie as well. In “The Sound of Music,” Mel Tillis said he made close to $6 million in only six months, but he had to “work two shows a day and sign autographs.”

Quite a few things have changed about Branson since 1991. The number of theatres in Branson has more than doubled with more than 50 theatres in town. Between all of them, there are over 60,000 theatre seats. The population of the once small town has jumped to over 7,000. There are over 200 lodging facilities and over 400 restaurants, plus more than 200 outlet stores. The whole town is bustling with action.

In addition to growth in size and scope, Branson’s shows have also changed their tune slightly. While country music shows still dominate, there are more variety shows and other acts available for your entertainment. The Texas Tenors deliver a wonderful mix of country, gospel, pop and other music styles. The Acrobats of China amaze audiences with their incredible feats of balance and coordination. Sight and Sound Theatres bring the glory of God to the stage by bringing the Bible to life in productions like Jonah and Noah.

Residents of Branson have something to be proud of as they look back at what the town used to look like. At one time it was a tiny town in the Midwest without any claims to fame. In 1991, it had grown to accommodate four million visitors each year and had 22 theatres for entertaining those guests. Now, the number of visitors has doubled from four million to eight million, and Branson just keeps going strong.

Branson is no longer the sleepy little Midwest town everyone remembers from the 90s. It’s a mecca of live music, unique shops, delicious dining and family atmospheres. You can bring your family and never worry about hearing profanities or anything else. You just get to enjoy the beautiful Ozark mountains and the environment that continues to bring visitors to Branson, Missouri.

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Living in Branson – The Branson School District

If you’re considering moving into the Branson area with your family, the school district is probably a big factor that will help you make choices. However, it’s probably one of the factors you’ll have to worry about least. The Branson School District has four school locations in the area to serve you. The district is dedicated to providing your children with a great education. The Branson School District spans 111 square miles and is located in a bustling tourist community. In 2013, it was home to 4,540 students in grades K-12, and student enrollment continues to rise at a rate of 2-6 percent each year. The four-year graduation rate for the district is 85.6 percent, and the majority of Branson’s graduates (43.1 percent) enter a four-year college or university. 27.8 percent of students enter a two-year college, and 2.5 percent entered a technical college. Branson has also been accredited by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, DESE, for the last four consecutive years.

Students at Branson also get the opportunity to have a close one-on-one relationship with faculty. In 2013, classes had a 20:1 student to teacher ratio, the lowest since 2010. Branson faculty also have an average of 11 years of experience and 44 percent have advanced degrees. The Branson School District is also working to make their schools even better with the School Improvement Plan. They are working to make even more positive connections in the Branson community and encourage good character in their students. Teachers also attend bi-weekly meetings to help further their goals for improvement.

In addition to the Branson School District, parents who are considering moving their family to the Branson area also have a great park system to look forward to. With 15 parks scattered throughout Branson, you’ll be able to enjoy the coming spring days on swing sets and see-saws. Plus, Branson Parks and Recreation also has plenty of opportunities for your kids to enjoy sports during the summer and outside of school.

So if you’re considering a move, think about the opportunities Branson has to offer you and your kids. To get more information about the Branson School District, visit www.branson.k12.mo.us.

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Branson Restaurants: Easy On Your Budget

Everybody knows what it is like to be a little tight on cash. Maybe you have taken a pay cut, maybe you are in between paychecks, or maybe you have just made a big investment. Regardless, everyone will experience the feeling of a sparse budget at some point or another in their lifetime. During those times, though, it can still be nice to have a treat like a meal out on the town. Luckily for those in and around the Tri-Lakes area, there is always a Branson restaurant that is easy on your budget – no matter what it is! So bring your appetite to one of these tasty eateries.

Steak n Shake: Steak n Shake, located off of West Highway 76, right across from the old Celebration City, is a great family friendly Branson restaurant that will leave both your stomach and your wallet full! Featuring old (and a few new!) fashioned favorites, Steak n Shake has something on the menu for everyone. A popular choice at this neat diner is the $4 meal, featuring one of several burger options, like the Garlic Burger and the Jamaican Jerk Burger, and their famous French fries. If you like a little bit of tang with your burger, try the Frisco Melt – it is two beef burger patties, topped with Swiss cheese and a tangy Frisco sauce. For folks who like hot dogs more than burgers, Steak n Shake has beef franks available too – these come topped with guacamole, chili and more. Don’t forget the milkshake! Red Velvet, Cookie Dough and Strawberry Banana are just a few of the delicious shake options – be sure to watch for seasonal shakes too!

Applebee’s: For a variety that is out of this world and won’t break the bank, take a meal at Applebee’s on Highway 76 across from Dixie Stampede! For a cheap date, or a meal with a friend, try their two for $20 menu option – you will get two entrees and one appetizer to share, all for just twenty bucks! You can pick from items like Creamy Chicken Parmesan, a seven ounce sirloin, Oriental Chicken Salad, and more. Kids can pick from their own menu, with healthy and tasty choices like Chicken Grillers, Quesadillas and Grilled Cheese Sandwiches. Try some Dessert Shooters to top off your meal with a sugary finish that will linger on your taste buds!

Charley’s Grilled Subs: Looking for an inexpensive lunch option? Make a trip to the Branson Landing and grab a sandwich from Charley’s Grilled Subs! With an award winning Philly Cheese Steak Sub and crisp, tasty, old fashioned lemonade, it is a great place to grab a bite without dropping a lot of cash. The authentic, fresh, healthy ingredients used by this Branson restaurant will make you feel good about spending your hard earned and well-budgeted money there. Don’t forget to add some fries to your meal!

These are just a few of the places where you can treat yourself – and your wallet – to a meal in Branson. Look around, experiment with what you like and can afford!

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The Heart of Branson – ‘The Strip’

What does ‘The Strip’ in Branson, Missouri, live entertainment capital of the Midwest, mean to you? For locals, it means traffic jams during tourist season, and the opportunity to take advantage of strategically placed alternate routes to get back and forth to work. For repeat Branson visitors, it means a wealth of shows, shops, hotels and restaurants all within a few blocks of each other. For business owners, it means having a prime location to market their wide variety of venues. For Branson newcomers, it may not mean anything. So what is The Strip, you ask? Read on for some history, facts and future plans for the Branson Strip!

So what exactly is the road referred to as The Strip, and where is it? The Branson Strip is the local name given to Highway 76, or 76 Country Music Boulevard, that runs east to west right through the heart of Branson. This road goes as far east as the Branson Landing, and as far west as, well, Branson West. All along the way, you will find stores, shows, eateries, places to stay and so much more that adds to the aura of one of the biggest vacation hotspots in the United States. Many of all of these great venues are within walking distance of each other – many visitors will simply walk from their hotel, to dinner, to a show and then back! Despite the millions of visitors that cruise The Strip each year, having everything in such close proximity helps keep a small town feel and charm that people love to experience.

The Strip first became popular in the 1950s to 1960s. It was around this time that the Presley family moved their bluegrass themed show, Presley’s Country Jubilee, onto Highway 76. They were followed shortly after by the Baldknobber show, and then the Plummer family show in 1968. All of these shows featured a bluegrass twist, which really attracted a lot of folks, since bluegrass was virtually unheard of anywhere but the Ozarks. The Branson Strip continued to grow, and in the late 1980s, commerce on this now famous highway exploded. The outlet mall was established, the first Ozark Mountain Christmas festival took place, and the Inspiration Tower at Shepherd of the Hills opened, and quickly became a landmark on the west end of The Strip for all of Branson to see. Today, The Strip is one of the most traveled roads in the United States!

Since The Strip is such an integral part of Branson, the mayor and the city are preparing to take on an exciting project to revamp the famous Highway 76 even more. The Spirit of 76 Project will reconfigure the street to be safer, more attractive, and more accessible to all travelers, whether they are motorists, cyclists, or travelers afoot. The community is strongly encouraged to participate in sharing their ideas for the Spirit of 76 Project. The city wants to have fun with the design process, and to be creative while coming up with realistically possible ideas that will improve The Strip for the better. Want to get involved? Visit www.bransonspiritof76.com to play your part in the process and leave your mark on The Branson Strip!

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Spend Your Best Christmas Moments in Branson

 

Branson gained its popularity by being dubbed as the Live Entertainment Capital of the World. The best live music shows and theater plays can be found here. Aside from this, Branson also has lots of family friendly attractions and activities in its theme parks, nature parks, museums, lake areas, and a lot more. This Christmas season, Branson is your winter wonderland by giving you the best Christmas experience.

Christmas time is the best time to visit the ultimate vacation destination in the Midwest. Christmas in Branson starts as early as November. As you visit Branson this December, you are in for more treats for the whole family. If you are looking to tour the city of Branson in December, you can take part in the Branson Festival of Lights and the Shepherd of the Hills Trail of Lights until the 31st of December. See the beautiful lights display around the town as you tour the whole city. You have several options for the tour. You can opt to take your own car, take Ride the Ducks, hop on a Trolley, or tour the city aboard a grand limousine. The Shepherd of the Hills Expressway also becomes a drive-through where you can see marvelous lights dioramas and other Christmas displays. You can also get a ride to the top of the Inspiration Tower to have a breathtaking view of the Branson night lights.

Silver Dollar City, Branson’s most famous theme park, also joins in the Christmas fun in Branson. it hosts the Old Time Christmas festival where guests can get to celebrate the holidays in an old school way. The park also has several shows and musicals like It’s A Wonderful Life, The Nativity, and a lot more. Take a stroll around the park and take a break with a nice cup of hot chocolate. You can also tick off some items in your Christmas shopping list by visiting the shops in Silver Dollar City, too. The Old Time Christmas festival in Silver Dollar City runs from November 1 to December 31.

Other events to look forward to if you spend Christmas in Branson is the 66th Annual Adoration parade and Lighting Ceremony which will be on December 7. This event is a local favorite because it signals the beginning of the holidays in Branson. The shows in Branson are also in line with the Christmas theme so you can expect the hundreds of live shows and theater plays in Branson to uplift anyone’s Christmas spirit. Aside from these, shopping in Branson may also be considered underrated but the holidays will give you more reasons to make shopping a priority in Branson because of the big discounts and great finds. Watch out for the pre-Christmas sales in Branson’s outlet malls!

Christmas in Branson is one where you can make the special moments with your family and loved ones. Whether you are with the family, or with your special someone, or you are going single, Branson is the perfect place for your Christmas this year.

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Ride The Ducks this Holiday Season

 

The holidays in Branson Missouri is sure to be fun and exciting because of the many activities and new attractions in the area. The Christmas season in Branson is most definitely the most festive of all the seasons. Branson transforms into a Christmas heaven with all the lights and Christmas displays all over the town. You can see malls, restaurants, theme parks, museums, and homes embellished with colorful Christmas lights. With all these eye candy treats in Branson, wouldn’t it be nice to take a tour around the area so you can see every Christmas display there is to see?

If you visit Branson without your own car, you can still take a tour around Branson. In fact, Branson offers you a unique and fun way to get around the area and to see the magnificent night lights in the town. Ride the Ducks is one of Branson’s unique attractions which enables you to take a tour around Branson – by land and by lake. Ride the Ducks uses a marine vehicle that will take you across the landscapes of the Ozarks and let you explore the lakes area of Branson, too. The vehicle was called a “duck” for its amphibian nature because it can thrive on both land and water. This vehicle is proven to be very safe for tours. Its speed in the water can reach up to 7 mph to make sure that you have a peaceful ride.

The duck tours in Branson typically lasts for about 60 to 70 minutes long, and each tour spends 25 minutes in the waters. Tickets for the Ride the Ducks are mostly bought in advance because of the high demand for this attraction. Get $3 savings when you book a tour before 11 AM. You can also have your Ride the Ducks tickets bundled with tickets for Dixie Stampede or the Titanic Museum for more Branson fun. For advanced ordering of tickets, just visit www.branson.ridetheducks.com or call 1-877-887-8225. You can also get your tickets personally by visiting Duck Central on the Strip or the ticket kiosk at Branson Landing. Ride the Ducks also accommodates groups, so you can make your reunion or field trip to Branson even more memorable. A duck vehicle can board up to 35 people, and there are 18 duck vehicles available. Some Branson restaurants also offer a meal package along with your duck tour.

If you are planning for your Branson tour to last for more than a day, then you need a lodging place that is close to the heart of Branson. Book your stay in Thousand Hills Golf Resort, as it is very near the city of Branson as well as the Ozark Mountains too. You get to have convenience by being near all the main attractions, plus you get to have a very relaxing ambiance. For inquiries and reservations, dial 1-877-262-0430. 

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Now is the Perfect Time to Be in Silver Dollar City

 

All year round fun is Branson’s promise to its guests and locals. True enough, Branson has lived up to its promise of giving the people world-class fun and entertainment with its spectacular live music shows and thrilling theme parks. Branson is also known for its year-long lineup of festivals that will surely make the people come back for more fun.

One of Branson’s greatest asset in drawing a large number of tourists is Silver Dollar City. This 1880’s themed amusement park is a staple destination for most of the tourists of Branson. Silver Dollar City has been thrilling people since the 1960s, and up to the present, it never fails to give that jolt of excitement to everybody. This family friendly attraction in Branson features more than a dozen thrill rides and attractions, demonstrating craftsmen, more than 40 shows, and lots of shops and restaurants.

Silver Dollar City’s season runs from mid-March up to December 31. This December, you can experience the Silver Dollar City kind of fun by paying a visit to this amusement park and craft village. If you visit Silver Dollar City now, you are just in time for the Old Time Christmas festival. This Christmas festival features magnificent Christmas lights display and other attractions and activities. The park is also adorned with a giant Christmas tree, and Christmas carols resound all throughout Silver Dollar City.

If the weather permits during the winter season, you can also enjoy most of the rides in Silver Dollar City. There are more than 30 rides and attractions in the park for you to enjoy. Try the world-class roller coaster, steam engine train rides, giant swings, and a lot more. To ease yourself from all the excitement brought about by the park, Silver Dollar City also lets you in free shows that typically last for 20 to 25 minutes. This winter, these shows are mostly about Christmas. You can also do your Christmas shopping in Silver Dollar City’s shops. Find unique and personalized gifts for your loved ones from the crafts in Silver Dollar City. This theme park also offers you great food to provide you with more energy for exploring the park. In fact, Silver Dollar City is known to have the best theme park food in America. Some of the restaurants that you must try are Eva and Delilah’s Bakery, Buckshot Annie’s Skillet Cookery, The Ribhouse, and Aunt Polly’s.

Whatever month or season you may decide to visit Silver Dollar City, you are in for a treat with the exciting activities and attractions waiting for you. For more information about Silver Dollar City, just visit www.bransonsilverdollarcity.com.

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