The Branson Missouri Blog

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Thousand Hills Branson Golf Course Gets a Makeover for 2013

For twenty years, Thousand Hills Golf Resort has provided their guests with the best golf experience and condo and cabin rentals in Branson. This 18-hole golf course is nestled in the heart of Branson, just off of Highway 76. Over 25,000 golfers visit the course each year, and many guests return to Thousand Hills time and time again.

branson-golf-courseAccording to a press release, Thousand Hills Golf Resort has been making some changes to its course over the past year. In 2012, the resort began offering senior flags to guests who are 55 years old or older. This allows them to drive in the fairways when others cannot. The response to the change was a positive one. Guests liked the convenience of taking fewer steps to get to their ball.

New golf carts and cart paths have also been part of the changes Thousand Hills has made. Because the golf course is situated in the beautiful Ozark Mountains, the terrain can be tricky to navigate. Some holes on the course play downhill, and cart paths were previously situated at the top of these hills. Now the cart paths extend right down to the hole, and golfers no longer have to walk down a flight of stairs during their game. An interview with Chad Hamlet revealed that he and his son Gabe find their golf game much more convenient with the new cart paths in place. Thousand Hills hopes to continue to make their guests’ golf games even better with the newly re-routed course. Hamlet said that a game of golf (18 holes) typically takes 4 to 5 hours. With the route changes, Thousand Hills hopes that a game of golf will now take 4 hours or less.

Additionally, Thousand Hills has given guests options when reserving tee times. Hamlet said that the Thousand Hills website has made reserving a tee time online especially easy, and that their system is user friendly and easy to navigate. While at thousandhillsgolf.com, Hamlet recommends signing up for Thousand Hills e-mails. He said that there are great specials available just by signing up. Guests can also call to reserve their tee time.

Finally, Thousand Hills is having a party April 1 – 6 to celebrate the changes that have been made to the golf course. This will be the first time that guests will have the opportunity to play with all of the new changes in place. Great deals will be available on food, merchandise, and golf throughout that week. Thousand Hills appreciates their guests’ patience as they have worked on these changes for the last couple of years.

Thousand Hills Golf Resort is located just 2 blocks south of the Grand Palace and the Andy Williams Moon River Theatre off Highway 76 in Branson. To reserve a tee time, call 1-877-262-0430 or go online to thousandhills.com/branson-golf.

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The Perks of Living in Branson

Over 2 million people visit Branson each year, and over 10,000 people are living in Branson. Half of its visitors come from over 300 miles away. In the last 10 years, roads have been improved to make for safer travel in Branson. There are over 40 theaters, 3 pristine lakes for outdoor recreation (Taneycomo, Table Rock, and Bull Shoals), 13 golf courses (8 are championship courses), Branson Landing with over 100 retail shops, 2 outlet malls, 125 restaurants, and over 16,000 rooms available in the Branson area. What do all of these things have in common?

They’re all great reasons to visit, and they’re also great reasons to live in Branson. Residents of the area love the proximity to their favorite stores, shows, attractions, and hobbies. Chad, Therese, and Gabe Hamlet have lived and owned a small business in the Branson area for a number of years. Therese sat down and talked about some of the best perks of living in the “Live Music Capital”.

One of Therese Hamlet’s favorite things about Branson is that it has the amenities of a big city, but the environment of a small town. Locals are close to all of the shopping, shows, and attractions that Branson has to offer, but according to Hamlet, seeing the same people in the grocery store week after week is normal, and even seeing some of Branson’s stars isn’t uncommon either. “You realize that they [the stars] are still real people,” Hamlet said. Living in Branson also gets you close to award winning golf courses like the one located at Thousand Hills and the beautiful Table Rock Lake.

Hamlet also said that Branson is one of the only places she knows that offers discounts just for living in the area. Since many of the locals living in Branson frequent small businesses or are even small business owners themselves, shows and attractions offer discounts so that locals have the opportunity to spread the word about new shows, attractions, and even restaurants. Word of mouth advertising is great for small businesses in the area, and locals are usually the first to hear about and try something new. Hamlet said that small businesses feel each other’s pain when business is slow, and they try to help each other by using that word of mouth when tourists ask about the best places to shop and eat.

For young couples and families, Branson has some of the best schools in Missouri. Hamlet said that because of Branson’s tax revenue, the school district has more resources and opportunities to offer its students than some other schools. According to the Branson Public Schools website, the district is home to over 4,500 students divided across 4 campuses located in the Branson area. It’s no wonder that the district is growing. Neighborhoods in the Branson area are also very safe. Hamlet and her family live outside of the Branson city limits, and she said that their neighborhood is very safe. Friends of Hamlet’s live in town, and according to Hamlet, the neighborhoods inside the city limits are just as safe as the one she lives in.

If you’re looking to move, take a close look at what living in Branson can offer you. With the big city amenities and the small town atmosphere, your family just might love it here.

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downtown-hollister-missouriHollister, Missouri Offers Options for Tourists Too

The promise of fabulous entertainment and family fun may bring you to the Branson area, but make sure not to overlook some other options in the surrounding area for an experience you will never forget. Hollister, Missouri, located just over the Hollister Bridge from the Branson Landing has many different options from quaint shops holding unique one-of-a-kind pieces, to restaurants you won’t find anywhere else. Hollister has a lot to offer you during your stay in Branson.

Shopping

There are many different stores and thrift shops in Hollister; Apparel 65, Ye Olde Antique and Flea Market, Green Lantern Antiques, and Downing St. Furniture to name a few. Each shop gives you a little something different. Of course, thrift stores are always waiting with surprise finds, but the thrift stores located in Hollister have been around for years and are established thrift stores hold especially unique items. Downing St. Furniture serves the community in bringing in quality home wares and specialty furniture, all at affordable prices. Apparel 65 is Hollister’s alternative to chain stores; they offer some of the trendiest pieces including Miss Me jeans. All of these shops and thrift stores keep different hours. Call the Hollister Chamber of Commerce for more information at 417-334-3050.

Hook & Ladder Pizza Co.

Completely like what you think a pizza restaurant should look like before stepping into Hollister’s Hook & Ladder Pizza Co. This tasty little stop adds some fun to the trip and the pizza's good too. All of Hook & Ladder Pizza Co.’s pizzas are hand-tossed and made from their own special recipes. Their pizza is made fresh every morning, and made to your own specifications. The owners of Hook & Ladder are volunteer firefighters in the area, and created a fun and unique restaurant around firefighting items. When walking into Hook & Ladder you are greeted by bright yellow and smiling employees dressed in fire department t-shirts and oversized firefighting pants. One wall in the dining room is covered in a giant picture of a fire truck and an old fire truck sits outside, a perfect place for a photo-op. Hook & Ladder allows you to dine in, or you can have your pizza delivered. Hook & Ladder Pizza Co. is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 8.p.m.

Vintage Paris Coffee & Wine Café

Don’t pass through Hollister without stopping at Vintage Paris. Owners Matt and Jessica Farmer bought the little coffee shop from the original owners in 2012 after graduating from College of the Ozarks. Matt and Jessica met, dated, and eventually married at Vintage Paris. The Farmer’s jumped at the chance to buy the coffee and wine shop when the opportunity arose and the rest is history. The Farmers are dedicated to supporting the local arts and culture while creating friendships and memories. Vintage Paris is not your average coffee shop. They offer gourmet coffee, select and vintage wines, taste sandwiches and delicious desserts prepared by local bakers. You can sip a hot cup of Joe inside, or enjoy outside seating in their outdoor patio area and listen to the sounds of local artists on weekends. Vintage Paris offers coffee from Intelligentsia Coffee, Conscious Coffee, and PT’s Coffee Roasting Company. Vintage Paris is open Monday through Thursday from 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to midnight. For more information, call them at 417-593-7952.

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Downtown Branson is an Often Overlooked Gem

With the big city lights and musical stylings of Branson, Downtown Branson can sometimes get over looked. Unfortunately, you will be missing the whole Branson experience if you don’t visit Branson Historic District filled with restaurants, museums, shops and more!

Dicks Five & Dime Downtown Branson

Shops

The different shops in Downtown Branson provide an escape from the traditional retail experience. Downtown Branson is filled with unique shops like ABC Dolls & Collectibles and the Aromatique Outlet Store. Black Hills & Fine Jewelry provides jewelry created in the area by local artists, and Dicks 5 & 10 offers anything you could possibly need, and more. Patricia’s Victorian House can take you back to the time of crinolines and lace, or stop by Plum Bazaar Bead & Jewelry Shop for specialty hand-made jewelry and unique beads. The Copper Coin has items made out of and centered on pennies, and the numerous flea markets and thrift stores, like Main Street Flea Market, Old Town Flea Market, and The Classy Flea, provide plenty of untold adventures.

 

Museums & Attractions

Not only does Downtown Branson provide shopping, but it can provide a little afternoon entertainment as well. The Branson Centennial Museum features different aspects of Branson’s history and has rotating exhibits. It is free to the public, but donations are accepted. The Branson Ghost & Legends tour takes you Downtown Branson and shows you a completely different side of the quaint little historical district. You will hear some legends and stories here you won’t hear anywhere else, and maybe even capture some evidence of the other side. The Branson Scenic Railway is the perfect way to spend an afternoon. “This one hour 45 minute trip takes passengers through tunnels, over trestles, and through the southwest Missouri or northwest Arkansas wilderness that is still home to much wildlife and to the ruins of long-ago communities now named only on railroad maps,” says http://www.bransontourismcenter.com. “America's romance with the vintage passenger train lives on through excursions on the Branson Scenic Railway aboard a collection of unique passenger cars that travel through the foothills of the Ozark Mountains.” The train ride offers a dinner on Saturday evenings, and takes you through beautiful Ozark scenery, and make sure to visit each of the train cars for a different view of railroad history.

Restaurants

Sticking with its theme of originality, Downtown Branson offer dining from family owned and operated restaurants and ice cream shops. Speaking of great little sandwich shops, Clocker’s Café, Hot Hits Café, Loosie Lou’s Diner, main Street Alley Snack & Shop, Smack’s Deli & Ice Cream, and The Shack are all local favorites. Each little sandwich stop has its own feel and will feed you specialty sandwiches. Farmhouse Restaurant & Gifts is a classic Branson eatery, as is Mr. B’s Ice Cream & Deli shop. You won’t find any better meals and ice cream than from these two places. Mr. G’s Chicago Style Pizza has amazing pizza, and Rocky’s Italian Eatery is some of the best Italian food in town. Ruby Lena’s Tea Room & Antiques is a quaint little shop perfect for some afternoon coffee or tea. And while comfortable and relaxed is what Downtown Branson is known for, it also offers some fine dining experiences with Palate Fine Wines & Provisions and Table 22 Restaurant.

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Branson Landing - Big City Shopping in Branson

branson-landingWhile it may not be the Mall of America, Branson Landing is the perfect place to shop, dine, and stay while visiting the Branson area. Located in historic downtown Branson, the Branson Landing is known for its variety of shops and restaurants, along with the $7.5 million water fountain, synchronized to light, sound, music, and fire. You’ll quickly learn that Branson Landing has something for everyone.

Branson Landing offers over 100 shops ranging from apparel to food and specialty gifts to jewelry. Some of the names you can find at Branson Landing are Bass Pro Shops, Belk Department Store, American Eagle, Chico’s, Dress Barn, Lane Bryant, Bath and Body Works, and Rack Room Shoes. Local businessmen and women have also taken up residence in the Landing area. Majestic Gems, Girlie Girl Originals, and Gifts of Distinction are just a few names that have graced Branson Landing. Majestic Gems specializes in high quality jewelry at competitive prices. They carry a variety of diamonds and other stones, so you can almost always find what you’re looking for. Girlie Girl Originals carries apparel for the girls that like to show off a little attitude, along with purses, jewelry and other accessories. Gifts of Distinction has been in Branson for 23 years, and carries a selection of products from Swarovski Crystal, Vera Bradley and Pandora Charms.

In addition to shopping, Branson Landing has 19 different restaurants so you can end your afternoon at the Landing with dinner. Some local favorites include Cantina Laredo, which serves authentic Mexican cuisine. Menu items include steak tacos, carne asada, and chile rellenos, as well as many other authentic dishes. Another favorite is Level 2 Steakhouse, located in the Hilton Promenade at Branson Landing. Level 2 is a newer restaurant that is getting great reviews from its patrons. Their menu features a number of options for your meal. Steaks, seafood, soups, and salads are available at Level 2 in an upscale environment. Level 2 Steakhouse is located in the Hilton Branson Convention Center.

Whether you’re shopping, dining, or staying at the Branson Landing, a big city environment isn’t far away. Be sure to check out all of the opportunities Branson Landing has to offer!

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Silver Dollar City Gears up For 2013

Known as a great location for families to spend the day, Silver Dollar City takes young and old alike on a journey into the past. The 2013 season promises to be just as great if not better with the opening of Outlaw Run, the park’s newest roller coaster, and with everyone’s favorite festivals.

Outlaw Run Silver Dollar CitySilver Dollar City’s most noteworthy preparations for 2013 have been with the planning, construction, and opening of Outlaw Run. According to Silver Dollar City’s website, the park has invested $10 million to build the world’s most daring wooden roller coaster. Outlaw Run features the world’s steepest drop (81º, near vertical), is the only wood coaster to turn upside down (a total of 3 inversions), and is the world’s second fastest wooden roller coaster, reaching 68 mph. Outlaw Run is scheduled to open on March 15, 2013.

In addition to roller coasters like Powder Keg and WildFire, Silver Dollar City also hosts 6 festivals throughout the year. These festivals are World-Fest (Apr. 17 – May 5), Bluegrass and BBQ (May 9 – 17), National KidsFest (Jun. 8 – Jul. 21), Southern Gospel Picnic (Aug. 23 – Sept. 2), National Harvest Festival (Sept. 12 – Oct. 26), and An Old Time Christmas (Nov. 2 – Dec. 30).

World-Fest is America’s largest international festival. This festival features performers from all over the world. This year, World-Fest features Amamos Argentina, which is made up of Los Pampas Gauchos drummers and a troupe of dancers; Island Fire, featuring music and dance from Hawaii, Samoa, and Tahiti, and 2 fire knife dancers; and Dearbhail Finnegan, Ireland’s premier harpist.

Bluegrass and BBQ was voted the “Bluegrass Event of the Year” by the International Bluegrass Music Association. This festival features 2 exclusive events, which are the Annual Single Mic Championship and the KSMU Youth in Bluegrass Band Contest. Aside from the great music, the Bluegrass and BBQ Festival also features amazing bar-b-que from all over the United States. The House of BBQ in the Red Gold Heritage Hall offers smoked beef brisket, tender pulled pork, slow smoked chicken, and more. Don’t forget to stop by Bottle Neck Bros. sauce shack, where you can sample over 200 different sauces.

Kids-Fest is America’s largest festival devoted to kids. All of their favorite rides, like PowderKeg, WildFire, and American Plunge, are at Silver Dollar City. Additionally, shows like Chris Perondi’s Stunt Dog Experience, Wacky Science, and Championship Cloggers will be at Silver Dollar City especially for this festival. In 2013, your kids will have the chance to meet their favorite cartoon characters like SpongeBob and Patrick, Tom and Jerry, and Dora and Diego.

Southern Gospel Picnic is the premier southern gospel gathering. Musicians and bands like Guy Penrod, the Booth Brothers, Jeff and Shari Easter, The Hoppers and more will perform your favorite southern gospel songs. Additionally, there will be plenty of fried chicken and southern comfort food for your enjoyment.

National Harvest Festival is the home of “The Pinkerton Man”, a thrilling western stunt show. New to National Harvest Festival in 2013 is the Texas Trick Riders, a stunt show that focuses on trick riding, trick shooting, and whip acts. Silver Dollar City is known as “The Home of American Craftsmanship”, and over 125 craftsmen visit the park during this festival. Individuals are invited to demonstrate their craft; for more information, visit festivals.bransonsilverdollarcity.com and click on the link to National Harvest Festival.

An Old Time Christmas is a favorite festival among locals and was named one of the top 5 Holiday Events in the Country by Good Morning America. Brave the cold and see over 4 million lights draped across nearly every surface of the park. The main attractions are the 5 story special effects tree that is coordinated to classic Christmas carols, the Gifts of Christmas Light Parade, and the Living Nativity. An Old Time Christmas also features the musicals of “It’s A Wonderful Life” and “A Dickens Christmas Carol.”

Plan to visit Silver Dollar City sometime in 2013 to check out one of the fabulous festivals and the brand new roller coaster Outlaw Run. Season passes are available now. For more information, visit bransonsilverdollarcity.com or contact the Thousand Hills Concierge.

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It’s Not Too Early To Plan for a Branson Memorial Day Getaway

With Memorial Day just around the corner, it might be a good time to start thinking about how you and your family will spend your holiday. Memorial Day is a day the country takes to remember those who valiantly fought and died for our freedom, and just to remember those we have lost over the years. Sometimes, this can be a dreary day for many, but this year take some time to celebrate the passing of those loved ones with a relaxing family experience!

The Branson Veterans Memorial Museum

Branson Memorial MuseumWhat better way to honor those who gave their lives for our freedom than to spend a little time this year learning about just what it is they did for us. The Veterans Memorial Museum in Branson covers the stories of the men and women who fought for our liberties during the 20th century. “The vast array of exhibits causes reflection and creates an intense curiosity about the personal experiences of the men and women who lived in these uniforms, fired these weapons, lived as a POW, wrote these letters home, wore these medals, played this battlefield organ, flew the planes, rode the motorcycles, and served our country so well,” states The Veterans Memorial Museum website, http://www.veteransmemorialbranson.com. The Museum features ten different halls circulating through World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Dessert Storm, and more. The main attraction of the museum is a 70 feet long, 15 ton bronze sculpture, which is the world’s longest war memorial sculpture, created specifically for The Veterans Memorial Museum in Branson. This sculpture is made up of 50 different combat soldiers storming a beach, capturing the image of one man from every of the 50 states. On the walls in this room are written all of the names of those killed in action while serving in WWII. The website encourages visitors to take lots of time going through the museum to read the literature and truly appreciate the entirety of what these brave men gave up for our freedom. The museum charges 14.95 for adults, $13.00 for Veterans and Military members, $10.00 for students 13 to 17 years old, $5.00 for child 5 to 12, children 4 and under enter for free, and has a group rate of $11.00 for 15 or more people. For exact operating times, visit the museums website or call them at 1-877-554-8387.

The Dobyn’s Dining Room the Keeter Center at College of the Ozarks

Another great tradition to start this Memorial Day is visiting the Dobyn’s Dining during your Memorial Day stay. With Memorial Day being on a Monday, take some time on Sunday to enjoy the Keeter Center’s famous Sunday brunch. The Brunch starting at 10 a.m., and running to 2 p.m. features buffet selections including: hot entrees and side dishes, salad and cold cuisine, carved meat, breakfast selection, made-to-order waffles and omelets, wide variety of desserts, and highlighting entertainment from the wide range of student musical talent. The Dobyn’s Dining Room, in true College of the Ozarks tradition, is staff almost completely by students. Students will greet you when entering the Keeter Center, served by students at your table, and eat food cooked by students and culinary majors. Reservations are recommended and can be made by calling the reservation line at 417-690-2146. After eating a filling meal in the Dobyn’s Dining Room, check out the Veterans historical museum located at the Keeter Center featuring different artifacts and information collected by the college.

Stockstill Park

And what better way to end your Memorial Day weekend with a pinic at Branson’s Stockstill park. You can reserve the picnic table areas, or just show up and set up a BBQ extravaganza. The park has a baseball diamond and lots of playground equipment for the kids to run around in. A small creek runs through the park which in great for taking a little dip in, and a walking trail also runs through the park available to take you through some beautiful Ozark Mountain scenery. However you decide to spend your Memorial Day, it is sure to be a great and memorable experience when spending it in Branson, Missouri.

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The Top 5 Branson Attractions

Silver Dollar City

Silver Dollar City Wildfire Roller CoasterPossibly the most popular attraction in Branson is Silver Dollar City. The City has a little bit of something for everyone. They have crazy rollercoasters like WildFire features “high-flying, multi-looping, cobra-rolling coaster that will leave you breathless,” boasts the Silver Dollar City website, http://www.bransonsilverdollarcity.com. This coaster travels up to 66 miles per hour, and drops a vertical drop of 15 stories with five full upside down loops, a cobra roll, cork screw and high-speed spiral. If this ride is a little too intense for you could spend some time in The Grand Exposition. This part of the park features 10 different family focused rides with swings, a mini-roller-coaster, and classic teacups. While at the City, be sure to take in some traditional American delicacy – skillet potatoes and funnel cakes. While you are sipping your frozen lemonade and munching on poke salad, stop by and see one of the City’s many shows, which change with the six different festivals Silver Dollar City features. Operating hours for Silver Dollar City change from month to month, so be sure to check http://www.bransonsilverdollarcity.com for ticket prices and times.

Dixie Stampede

If you are looking for a one-stop attraction where you can enjoy a great show and delicious food look no further than Dolly’s Parton’s Dixie Stampede. “Visit Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede Dinner Attraction in Branson, MO for a family feast and fantastic show fun for all ages,” states Dixie Stampede’s official website, http://www.branson.dixiestampede.com. “Filled with friendly North and South competition, thrilling horse riding stunts, spectacular special effects, phenomenal musical productions plus a mouth-watering four-course dinner complete with a delicious dessert!” Start the night out with a pre-show entertainment in Dixie’s world famous Carriage Room with rotating opening acts to get you all riled up before the big show in the Stadium include many different animals, performers, and comedy. Dixie’s scrumptious down-home cooking with corn, a full chicken, potato wedges, and apple turnovers will leave you absolutely stuffed.

Titanic Museum

Titanic The Museum Attraction allows you to interact with history and become a passenger or crew member of the Titanic ship. With over 400 different artifacts from the ship, it is an amazing way to fit in a little history with your trip to Branson. Not only will you be assigned a person from the original ship, but also you can explore how your passenger lived, what they would have done on the ship, and see what it would have been like during the sinking of the Titanic. This self-guided tour through this over four and a half million-dollar collection ends with you discovering whether your passenger made it out or not, but you will surely be returning to this Branson classic.

Sight & Sound Theatres

The Sight & Sound Theatre has not been in Branson, Missouri as long as some of the other attractions on this list, but has certainly made a huge impact on the community and the visitors. The Sight & Sound Theatres started in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The Eshelman family, creators and operators of the Sight & Sound Theatres Experience, opened a theatre in Branson in 2008 with the production “NOAH – The Musical.” The Theatre is currently playing “The Story of Joseph,” which tells the biblical story with amazing sets, many different animals, original songs, and experienced actors. Some of the animals used in the shows currently include: “Vietnamese potbellied pigs, Angora goats, Barbados sheep, baby doll sheep, Corriedale sheep, llamas, camels, Scottish Highlander cattle, Jersey cattle, donkeys, miniature donkeys, goats, horses, ponies, dogs (Saint Bernard and Welsh Corgi), Himalayan cats, skunks, macaws, rabbits, chickens of various breeds, doves, white pigeons, Peking ducks, geese, Crescent ducks, turkeys, alpacas, and zebus.” Check the Sight & Sound website, http://www.sight-sound.com, for specific times and ticket prices.

Ride the Ducks

A fun and unusual Branson attraction is Ride the Ducks. Get but by the adventure bug and take a riding tour of Branson in an amphibious vehicle. “Ride through the scenic Ozarks, Climb to the top of a mountain (aboard our Duck, of course) and Splash down and Cruise Table Rock Lake,” states the Ride the Ducks website, http://www.branson.ridetheducks.com. “While on the lake you can drive the duck, if you want.” Ride the Ducks has been operating for 33 years, has had over 14 million passengers, and completed over 700,000 tours. Ride the Ducks has two ticket locations; one is located at 2320 W Hwy 76 near Wal-Mart, and another at the Branson Landing next to Arvest Bank. Each tour location offers a different experience for visitors, so if you gone on one, go on the other! Its sure to be a great time for all.

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NAIA Division II Men's Basketball National Championship

This year College of the Ozarks will host the 22nd Annual NAIA National Tournament for the 14th time.

The NAIA tournament is a single-elimination tournament featuring the champions of the Division II conferences, regional tournaments and at-large berths.

The tournament will run from March 6 to March 12 in the Keeter Gymnasium starting at 8:30 a.m. for three days of rigorous competition for the NAIA Division II Men’s Championship. The championship final will be on March 12 at 8 p.m. and will be televised on the CBS Sports Network.

Tickets for the tournament are priced at $10.00 for adults, $5.00 for college students with a student ID, $5.00 for children ages 12 -18, $3.00 for children ages 5-12, and free for children under 5 years old. It is $65.00 for a 31 game tournament pass for general admission, and $95.00 dollars for reserved seating. If wanting reserved seating it is $15.00. The NAIA tournament is not just about sporting events. In 2000, the NAIA added Champions of Character, to enhance the character-building aspects of sports, Chad Waller stated.

The NAIA tournament involves 60,000 student-athletes, has 13 sports and 23 national championships. It involves close to 300 colleges, universities, and conferences, and gives out $450 million in athletic scholarships every year.

NAIA began in 1937 when Dr. James Naismith and other local leaders formed the National College Basketball Tournament. The first tournament was played at the Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, Missouri, and in 1938, the tournament expanded to include 32 teams, which the tournament still includes to this day. In 1980 the NAIA became the first collegiate athletics association to sponsor both men’s and women’s championships by adding women’s basketball, cross county, gymnastics, indoor track and field, outdoor track and field, softball, swimming and diving, tennis and volleyball championships.

C of O is tied as the second longest host of the tournament, stated Chad Waller, NAIA director of communications and sports information in an article titled “Ozarks to Host 2014 and 2015 DII MBB Championships.” They are tied with Avista-NAIA Baseball World Series in Lewiston, Idaho. Sioux City, the longest national championship hold host, has been hosting the NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball National Championship since 1998.

The NAIA is dedicated to developing character in all of its student-athletes. “In the NAIA, a dedication to leadership development is balanced with sports accomplishment,” stated the NAIA official website, http://www.naia.org. “A trailblazer in providing equal opportunity for all student-athletes. An expectation of ethical behavior, fairness in competition, access to athletic scholarship, sportsmanship and leadership development.”

The NAIA tournament is not just about sporting events. In 2000, the NAIA added Champions of Character, to enhance the character-building aspects of sports, Chad Waller stated.

“Since 1937, the NAIA has administered programs and championships in proper balance with the overall educational experience,” Chad Waller stated. “Through Champions of Character, the NAIA seeks to create an environment in which every student-athlete, coach, official, and spectator is committed to the true spirit of competition through five core values: integrity, respect, responsibility, sportsmanship and servant leadership.”

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Five Vital Branson Vacation Tips

Improving Your Branson Vacation With Help From The Locals

Traveling anywhere can be difficult. Branson is no exception, especially during the summer when many families are taking their trips. If you’re unfamiliar with the area, your Branson vacation can be stressful. To keep your Branson vacation hassle-free, here are 5 travel tips that may come in handy when planning your vacation.

1. Find out about alternative travel routes.
Navigating the Branson area can be difficult, especially when shows are starting and ending. Before you come to town, familiarize yourself with the alternative routes through the city. These routes allow you to avoid Highway 76 when traffic tends to get a little congested. The three routes are defined by color on maps, and all can take you right to many of the shows that are located in the Branson area. To get a map, visit our Branson Maps Page.

2. Save some money by finding lesser known shows and attractions.
Many of the widely known shows in Branson have higher ticket prices than some of the lesser known shows and attractions. These shows and attractions can get you more bang for your buck. Some of them are:
• National Tiger Sanctuary – this facility was built with private funds to teach about Earth’s ecosystems. The focus is on the world’s big cats and the goal is to teach about preserving the environment. The tiger sanctuary is open year round and tickets for this attraction are only $20 for adults (ages 13 and up) and $10 for children (ages 3 – 12). For more information, call 417-587-3633 or visit nationaltigersanctuary.org.
Hollywood Wax Museum Branson VacationHollywood Wax Museum – at this attraction, you can get up close and personal with some of your favorite stars, including Marilyn Monroe, Johnny Depp, and Charlie Chaplin. The Hollywood Wax Museum is open year round until midnight. Adult tickets (ages 12 and up) are $20.03, and child tickets (ages 4 – 11) are $9.99. For more information, call 417-337-8277 or visit hollywoodwaxmuseum.com.
• Smoke on the Mountain – located in the Little Opry Theater, this show chronicles the Sanders Family Singers through a uniquely entertaining story set in North Carolina in 1938. Shows begin in April, and tickets are $30.13 for adults (ages 12 and up). Children 11 and younger are free.

3. Check out Branson’s city parks to have some inexpensive fun.
Branson Parks and Recreation has worked hard in recent years to make Branson’s city parks as beautiful as people have come to expect of the Ozarks. For your Branson vacation, check out one of Branson’s 15 parks located throughout the city, including Alexander Park, Cantwell Park, Lakeside Forest Wilderness Area, and the popular Branson RecPlex with its 12,000 square foot aquatics center. For more information about Branson Parks and Recreation, visit bransonparksandrecreation.com.

4. Support local restaurants.
One of the decisions that you’ll have to make while you’re on your Branson vacation is where to eat. It seems simple enough, but some of the best eateries in Branson are harder to find and well worth the hunt. Here’s a quick run-down of restaurants to visit while in Branson:
• Danna’s Bar-B-Que and Burger Shop – as the name suggests, this out-of-the-way restaurant specializes in the best barbecue and burgers in the area. Their menu features everything from BBQ Nachos to classic pulled pork sandwiches and ribs to fried catfish. And leave room for dessert – Danna’s also has decadent desserts like Bourbon Brownies and ice cream sundaes. Danna’s is located at 963 State Highway 165. Call ahead at 417-337-5527 for to-go orders.
• The Farmhouse Family Restaurant – this eatery, located in downtown Branson close to the Branson Landing, specializes in home-style cooking. Fried chicken, chicken fried steak, and mashed potatoes are just a sampling of the offerings on the menu. The Farmhouse is famous for its rich blackberry cobbler and other desserts. The restaurant is open 7 days a week from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. excepting Fridays and Saturdays (open until 9 p.m.). The Farmhouse Family Restaurant is located at 119 West Main Street.
• Sugar Leaf Bakery Café – this quaint café, located in Branson’s Grand Village, is the perfect place to get a fabulous sandwich, salad, or slice of quiche. Sugar Leaf also specializes in the best sweet treats in Branson. Sugar Leaf Bakery Café is located at 2800 West Highway 76. Visit sugarleaftreats.com to view their full menu and product offerings.

5. Schedule your meal times around show times.
Many of Branson’s shows have show times at 2 p.m., 7 p.m., and 8 p.m. If you’re going to a show, keep in mind that it is advisable to get to your show 30 to 45 minutes early. Doing so can help you get better seats. It also allows you to get your tickets early if you haven’t already ordered them. Even if you’re not going to a show, make sure to eat earlier than show times or later, or plan to wait around in the restaurant until the show traffic dies down.

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Resources
www.explorebranson.com
www.bransontourismcenter.com
www.bransonparksandrecreation.com
www.dannasbbq.com
www.restaurantsinbransonmo.com
www.sugarleaftreats.com

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