The Branson Missouri Blog

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Only in Branson – Restaurant Edition!

Branson, Missouri, the Live Entertainment Capital of the Midwest, has no shortage of things that uniquely belong to the town. Like Shepherd of the Hills, for example – this beautiful historic site is the birthplace of Branson tourism, and is the home of the one and only Inspiration Tower. The Table Rock Dam is also only found in Branson. If you are looking for an ‘only in Branson’ dining experience, you are in luck! There are a number of great eateries that you can’t find anywhere but here. So bring your appetite – these tastes of the Ozarks restaurants will have you coming back again and again!

White River Fish HouseThe White River Fish House: If you have spent any time at all in the Ozarks area, you will no doubt have heard of Bass Pro Shops. Founded by the legendary Johnny Morris, Bass Pro Shops have given countless people a real taste of the Outdoors, and for many, has set them on a lifelong path of adventure. It is that same spirit of adventure that inspired the White River Fish House, a Branson restaurant that is known around the world. This restaurant, located on the waters of Lake Taneycomo and next to the Branson Landing, is actually a floating barge where visitors can admire the scenic beauty of the lake and its seasons. And that’s not all – guests can actually drive their boats right up to the pier, tie off, and come inside for a cold beverage or a bite to eat! This Branson restaurant features – you guessed it – many different kinds of fish, as well as other delicious food and beverage options.

The Keeter Center: For a great dining experience steeped in Ozarks history and tradition, plan to have a meal at The Keeter Center at College of the Ozarks! Located on the work college campus, overlooking a panoramic view dotted with dairy cows and hardworking students, The Keeter Center features award winning chefs, as well as culinary students, who prepare the outstanding food. The dining room features options like trout, college raised pork and beef, Sunday brunch, and more, while the bakery features treats like cupcakes and cookies, and the Creamery offers guests freshly made ice cream using milk and cream from the campus dairy. The Keeter Center is the perfect choice for dining as a group, or for a romantic evening out. Reservations are recommended!

Sugar Leaf Bakery Café: For delectable sweet treats, be sure to stop in at Sugar Leaf Bakery Café, located on Highway 76! This Branson restaurant won’t disappoint your sweet tooth. Here you will find made from scratch treats like cookies, pies, cobblers, cakes, cupcakes, breads, muffins and more, plus custom orders and catering. For a more substantial meal, order their quiche, salads, soups, Panini’s or other sandwiches. This local eatery is sure to deliver happiness to any palate!

These are just a few of the great dining experiences that you can only find here in Branson. Put these on your list of Branson restaurants, and find some of your own as well!

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Rolling on Table Rock Lake with the Showboat Branson Belle

showboat-branson-belle-exteriorThere are endless ways to enjoy Table Rock Lake from the shore. Fishing, swimming, hiking, bird watching, grilling – the list goes on and on. But what if you want to get a different take on the lake? Well, then this is a perfect time to take a cruise on the waters of Table Rock with the Showboat Branson Belle! The Showboat Branson Belle provides a beautiful look at the Ozarks – plus it provides world class entertainment and a great meal. What better way to roll on the waters of Table Rock Lake?

There is no prettier sight than to be driving across the Table Rock Dam at sunset and seeing the Showboat Branson Belle sailing on the water. If you have ever seen this amazing sight, chances are that you have wondered what it is like to actually be on the cruise! Well, don’t wait any longer – Table Rock cruises pick back up for the season on March 7, 2015! Book your tickets today – or better yet, book a group outing with all of your friends! Be sure to ask about group discounts. Your lake cruise ticket is well worth the price – not only do you get to experience an amazing run on the waters with the Showboat Branson Belle, but you also get an outstanding three course meal AND a show!

This season, the Showboat will feature two brand new shows for cruise guest entertainment. CELEBRATE! will feature two hours of unparalleled entertainment with new star performers, as well as some old returning favorites that have charmed Showboat guests for seasons upon seasons. And to get your toes tapping, the second brand new show is Rhythm - The Fastest Feet West of the Mississippi, featuring the Show Men! You won’t want to miss the great voices, the great dancing, and the great talent that accompanies this fun floating show.

Don’t forget the great meal that comes along with your Showboat ticket! Lunch and dinner cruises feature tasty choices like salads, homemade bread, roast beef, sugar snap peas, glazed chicken, mashed potatoes and lemon berry torte. Be sure to ask about Premium Seating – dinner guests in this section can choose from options like pork chops, sirloin steaks, Mahi Mahi, pan seared chicken breast, praline pie, turtle cheesecake and more!

The Showboat Branson Belle has been delighting cruise guests of all ages for many, many years. Book your ticket and board the ship for yourself to see why people from all walks of life love rolling on Table Rock with the Showboat Branson Belle!

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Branson, A Great Place to Retire

At some point in their lives, most folks will consider retirement. For many people, retirement is a well-earned status – but with the decision to retire comes many different questions. New retirees often wonder about things like where to live, hobbies to take up, and whether or not they should volunteer their time. If these are questions that YOU have as a recently retired member of society or as someone who is starting to consider retirement, there is an easy answer – retire in Branson! You won’t find a better community to spend your time and dedicate yourself to. What makes Branson retirement so great? Well, for example, when you choose to retire to Branson, you can…

Have a Safe, Healthy Environment: Ideally, retirement is all about peaceful living. With a Branson retirement lifestyle, you can have that peace of mind. Branson is a community driven city with a low crime rate, and many opportunities for growth, both on a city-wide and individual scale. Branson wants its citizens to be involved with each and every aspect of the community, which is why the city often asks for residents to participate in projects like The Spirit of 76. Branson also offers great real estate options for retirees, whether you are wanting a smaller housing option like a condo, with less cleaning and maintenance, a quiet residence on the edge of town, or a piece of land in the woods to finally build your dream home.

Enjoy Your Free Time: With retirement comes more free time – but with a Branson retirement, you will never find yourself asking what you should do with that time! There are enough activities in Branson to keep you busy for years to come. This time in your life is a great one to take up hobbies like fly fishing, hiking, golfing, horseback riding, crafting or learning to play musical instruments – Branson has the resources for all this and more. If you are an outdoorsy retiree, check out Branson’s famous lakes, complete with boating and fishing docks. Or, take advantage of the areas many hiking and biking trails. There are many great nature parks and preserves that are great for birdwatching too! If indoors is more your Branson retirement style, consider taking a bead crafting class with the Plum Bazaar in downtown Branson, or learning to paint or quilt!

Give Back: Some retirees just can’t imagine life without some sort of productive job – but they don’t want to go back into the daily work force either. The answer to that dilemma is easy – volunteer! Branson retirement gives you numerous options to volunteer your time, and help you give back to your community in a positive way. Places to volunteer include special city-wide events, the Branson library, the Branson school district, the National Tiger Sanctuary, the Veterans Memorial Garden, and the annual NAIA Tournament at College of the Ozarks.

With all of these great benefits, it’s clear that Branson retirement is a great choice for those entering that stage of life. For more details about why Branson is a great place to retire, come visit and see for yourself, or contact the Branson Chamber of Commerce!

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Table Rock Lake Has a Vacation’s Worth of Activities

Table Rock Lake in BransonIf you are like some folks, you might like your vacation with your family to have a theme, or to be centered around a certain destination. Some people like to center a family trip around Disney World, or Disney Land, for example. Some people might want to make it a point to hit every museum in a big city during their vacation. And still other folks like to plan a fun time around outdoor activities. And when you come to Branson, there is no better outdoor landmark to center your trip around than Table Rock Lake! Table Rock has enough activities to last your entire vacation – so don’t wait to get started!

Fishing: If you have spent any time near Table Rock Lake at all, chances are that you know it is a real fishing hotspot. It’s such a monumental fishing spot that national fishing tournaments are often held here! Don’t worry – you certainly don’t have to be a professional fisherman to cast a line here. Table Rock Lake caters to all skill levels of fishermen and women! Many public areas along the lake allow fishing, and there are several tackle shops in the Branson area where you can get your gear. Some of the fish you might find on the end of your line include bass, catfish, walleye, sunfish and bluegill.

Swimming: If you are vacationing in the Branson/Tri-Lakes area during the summer, Table Rock Lake is a blast to swim in! Many public areas allow swimming, but the spot that takes the cake is Moonshine Beach – it’s the only spot on Table Rock that boasts real sand! Moonshine Beach also offers picnic tables and grills, bathrooms, showers, and a play area for the kids. Wherever you choose to swim in the lake, remember to keep safety first. Always be on the lookout for motor boats and fishermen, be aware of the current, and keep little ones in some type of flotation device. Don’t forget the sunscreen!

Boating: Table Rock Lake is a beautiful setting for boating – it’s a great way to get a fresh perspective of the scenery! There are several boat slips along Table Rock – notable ones are at Table Rock State Park, and the State Park Marina. If you don’t own your own boat, never fear! The marina offers boat rentals, tubing, water skiing, waverunners and more! They have everything you need to make your vacation on the lake memorable.

Scuba Diving: If you don’t feel like staying up top, consider making scuba diving an activity on your agenda! This uncommon vacation activity will give you an amazing look at the world below the lake’s surface. Make plans to patronize the White River Dive Company in Branson – whether you are a first time diver or a seasoned one, the White River Dive Co. will set you up for scuba success. Classes, equipment rentals and training courses are all available here.

These are just a handful of the activities you can participate in when you plan your vacation around Table Rock Lake – hiking, picnicking, bird watching, visiting the Table Rock Dam- the list goes on and on!

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Farmers Market of the Ozarks Comes to the Branson Landing

Farmers markets have always held an appeal for folks who want the food they put on their table to be fresh. Recently, with the help of the local food movement that has swept the nation, farmers markets are exploding in both their popularity and number of locations. Here in the Ozarks, there are a number of great farmers markets to attend. One of the largest markets around is Farmers Market of the Ozarks (FMO), located in Springfield, MO – and now, FMO is launching a brand new farmers market in Branson!

Farmers Market of the Ozarks LogoFMO first opened for business in 2012. Today, it has grown into the largest farmers market in the Midwestern United States, and is rated #6 out of all farmers markets in the nation by Food52 Magazine. FMO is located off of Republic Road within the Farmers Park complex, a development centered on sustainability, local businesses, and community partnerships. The facilities at Farmers Park allow FMO to stay open year round –something truly unique for a farmers market! In the warmer months, customers can find FMO vendors in the open air pavilion, underneath the covered promenade, or lined up in tents on the sidewalk. In the winter, the pavilion features drop down sides and heaters so that customers can shop in comfort! FMO boasts more than 100 local vendors, all from within 150 miles of the market. The market is open Saturdays year round (8am-1pm April-October, and 9am-1pm November-March) and Thursdays evenings from 4pm-7pm April through October.

FMO is now expanding their local food community to Branson – and what better location for a farmers market in the Live Entertainment Capital of the Midwest than at the Branson Landing! The Branson Landing Market, powered by FMO, will be located at the farthest southern end of the Branson Landing parking lot, located on Branson Landing Boulevard. The market will kick off in September of 2015, and will run through the end of October. The Branson Landing Farmers Market will be held on Tuesdays from 3pm to 7pm. In 2016, the market will run from April through October, on Tuesdays from 3pm to 7pm.

The Branson Landing Farmers Market, powered by FMO, will feature local meat and vegetable producers, bakers, artisans, and more. FMO’s mission has always been to “operate a vibrant farmers market that contributes to the success of local food growers and producers, strengthens the local food economy and serves as a community gathering place for the Ozarks region,” and now, they are extending this mission to Branson. FMO hopes to help foster community pride in Branson with a market that will appeal to both locals and visitors to the Branson area.

In just a few short weeks, the people of Branson with have the opportunity to shop local and ‘love their farmer’ with the Branson Landing Farmers Market, powered by FMO! Be sure to like the Branson Landing Farmers Market Facebook page to keep up to date with the latest local market happenings.

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Art in the Ozarks

Someone was once quoted as saying “Art=Life.” For many people, this quote is very true. Happiness, love, sadness, fear, and almost any other human emotion can be channeled into artwork of any kind. Many different regions have their own special twist on art – Broadway, for example, is all about the music! Western cowboy states feature talented leather artists and silversmiths, while coastal regions usually incorporate the sea into the art that is created there. Branson, Missouri, located in the heart of the Ozarks, also has their own art style that gives folks a true taste of the Ozarks. Read on to learn about some unique Branson area art!

Bluegras Music at Silver Dollar CityBluegrass: There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that music is an art form, and the Ozarks certainly sings to their own tune! Bluegrass music is a sound all its own that is quite localized to the Ozarks area. One of Branson’s original shows, Presley’s Country Jubilee, had a lot to do with this. The Presley family, each member a talented musician with a unique Ozarks sound, used to perform for their local community in underground caves, making good use of the natural acoustics! Folks from all over would come to hear the Presley’s play, and soon the family decided to buy an actual theater to perform their bluegrass music in. Today, Presley’s Country Jubilee, complete with Ozarks bluegrass, is still one of the most popular shows in Branson. Bluegrass music can also be heard at Silver Dollar City, and other great Branson shows and attractions.

Chainsaw Art: When people think of sculptures, they often think of patient artist chipping away at blocks of marble with delicate tools. Well, you can make a sculpture using a chainsaw too! S & S Chainsaw Art, located on the shores of Table Rock Lake, makes some pretty amazing Branson area art with Ozarks flair. S & S is a proud member of the United Chainsaw Carvers Guild, and it is no wonder why when you look at their beautiful pieces! Whimsical black bears, bed frames, benches, personalized name signs, lamps, toilet lids and more are all crafted right here in the Ozarks!

Leather Work: Leather work is quite a craft, and an art form that has been practiced for centuries. For some beautiful works of art, and to see this unique pastime in action, check out Crooked Sky Trading Post located in the Branson Mill Craft Village! At Crooked Sky Trading Post, ‘Rattlesnake Eddie’ can be found hard at work crafting beautiful guitar straps, holsters, belts and more. Only U.S. leather is used in Eddie’s art projects.

There is no doubt that the Ozarks is a unique region unlike anywhere else in the world. It’s only fitting that some of the Branson area art found here is the same way!

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Furnishing Your Branson Condo

You have just purchased yourself a Branson condo. Congratulations! With such a great Branson real estate option in your hands, you are now in a prime location for great local jobs, live entertainment, an amazing variety of food, unparalleled shopping, top notch schools, fabulous recreation options, and breathtaking natural beauty. With all of these great resources, it is no wonder that a condo in Branson was your first choice. Now that you have your condo, it’s time to make it home, and fill it with things that make you happy and comfortable. Luckily for you, there are some great Branson furnishing options around town for you to check out!

Neill’s Home Store: Neill’s Home Store, located on Gretna Road, is your one stop shop for any and all Branson furnishings. You can find everything you need to liven up your condo in just one trip! With amazing prices and discounts, it’s great for your condo, but easy on your pocketbook. Pick up a Broyhill Bedroom Set, featuring everything you need to make your bedroom cozy, and then shop from a great collection of Serta mattresses to round out a good night’s sleep in your condo. You can also pick out appliances here from brands like General Electric, Maytag and Samsung. Neill’s proudly offers many American products AND has customizable condo furniture packages just for you!

Downing Street Furniture: This quaint furniture store, located in downtown Hollister and just south of Branson, is a great option for furnishing your new condo. With a great mixture of name brand and lesser known brand furniture, you are sure to find all the furniture here to fit your needs. And it’s not just furniture that you can get here – you can also purchase numerous décor items to give your condo a signature style and flair!

Amish Country Store: The Amish Country Store, located on Gretna Road, is not just a fun place to shop for specialty food items and gifts, it’s also a great place to find Branson furnishings for your condo! Quality rocking chairs, dressers, tables, cabinets, and a selection of other handmade wooden furniture items await you here. You won’t regret purchasing on of their handmade furniture pieces for your home – it will last for generations to come!

These are just a few of the great Branson furnishing options around town. Don’t forget to also shop local garage sales and Craigslist – you just might find that perfect furniture piece you’ve been waiting for!

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Late Night Branson – Where to Go After the Show?

Branson, Missouri, the Live Entertainment Capital of the Midwest, is a great place to be any time of the day. But what about at night? If you are in town for a vacation, a weekend getaway, a reunion, or any other occasion, chances are that you want to spend every possible moment getting the most out of Branson. That includes making good use of the nighttime hours as well! So what late night Branson hotspots should you hit after catching a show? Read on to find out!

Hollywood Wax Museum EntranceLate Night Eateries: Looking for a good meal after watching one of Branson’s many live shows? Or maybe you are looking for an evening cocktail and a little more entertainment? Look no further than The Lake House on Indian Point! This beautiful lakeside restaurant is open Monday-Saturday from 4pm to 1am, and Sundays from 11am to midnight. Enjoy drinks and good food on their outdoor deck during good weather! Entertainment is offered on Fridays and Saturdays starting at 9pm. For a real late night Branson experience – and a good time! – come visit Ernie Biggs Dueling Piano Bar on the Branson Landing! Open until 1am on Mondays through Saturdays, and till midnight on Sundays, Ernie Biggs is a great place for music, drinks, appetizers, or even a full meal to the sound of pianos. If you are looking to grab a quick bite to eat on your way back to your hotel, condo or cabin, swing by one of the Branson Steak n Shake locations. Open all night, they are your go to for your late night Branson cravings!

Late Night Shopping: Got the urge to do a bit of shopping after seeing a show? Maybe you need to pick up a couple of things to make it through your trip? Run into the Branson Khol’s store, located on Branson Hills Parkway and open from 9am to 10pm. They have all your affordable clothing needs met! Or, check out Target, also on Branson Hills Parkway and open until 10pm, for clothes, home furnishings, and even some staple grocery items. And don’t forget Walmart – with two locations in Branson and all night hours, you have the convenience of getting everything you need no matter what time it is.

Late Night Fun: Looking for a bit of active, late night Branson fun after your show? Take the family mini golfing! Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf, located on Green Mountain Drive just off The Strip, is ‘swashbuckling fun for the whole family!’ And with late night hours (Monday-Thursday till 9pm and Friday-Saturday till 10pm), you and your family can have an adventurous experience on into the night! Want to get your picture taken with some of Hollywood’s most famous celebrities? Luckily for you, Branson’s Hollywood Wax Museum is open daily until 11pm! Swing by to ‘meet’ famous figures like Johnny Depp, Elvis, John Wayne, Jamie Foxx, and dozens more!

There is plenty of excitement to be had after hours in Branson. So make the absolute most of your stay, and check out all that late night Branson has to offer you!

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Family Reunions in Branson – Fun for All

family-reunion-checklistAlmost everyone knows how much fun a family reunion can be, especially when you have family that are spread out and scattered across the United States – or maybe even the world! Family reunions draw people together to share memories and make new ones. Reunions can provide the place to get reacquainted, or maybe even meet distant family for the first time. Whatever your reasons for holding a family reunion, getting the family together is always a good thing. And there is no better place to host a reunion than Branson, Missouri! Rest assured Branson family reunions never disappoint – young and old alike will be talking about this gathering for years to come! This town has all the components for making great memories.

What to Do: Most Branson family reunions have a fantastic schedule of fun things to do – and yours will too! Branson is packed with amazing shows, attractions and activities; you’d have to move in to see and do everything here. But there are always a few ‘musts’ for any family reunion or gathering that everyone will enjoy. Silver Dollar City is always a crowd pleaser – with craftsmen, shopping, shows and thrilling rides, there is something here from great-grandparents down to the littlest members of the family. Group ticket discounts are sometimes available for the park as well. A visit to Table Rock Lake for a day of fishing, swimming, exploring, and grilling should also be included on the family roster – this historic and beautiful emblem of Branson is always pleasant to visit. You’ll also want to make sure that the family gets the best possible view of Branson from the top of the Inspiration Tower at the Shepherd of the Hills Historic Homestead and Old Mill Theater. And if they’re feeling brave, ride the Vigilante Extreme ZipRider down to the bottom! Sometimes the ladies get an urge to go shopping, while the guys need to burn some energy – so send the girls to the Tanger Outlet Mall to shop name brand items at outlet prices, and have the boys head over the golf course at Thousand Hills to play 18 holes!

Where to Stay: Chances are, you’ll want the family to all stay together – but you’ll want to do it in comfort, without breaking everyone’s bank. Luckily for you and your family, Thousand Hill’s Hotel and Golf Resort offers roomy, affordable options! If you want a typical housing style for your family’s comfort, check out their four bedroom, four bathroom condo that sleeps 10 people; you also have the option of renting a five bedroom, five bathroom townhouse that comfortably sleeps 12 people. If a cabin setting is more your family’s style, Thousand Hills has a 12 sleeper cabin option, and even an enormous cabin that will sleep 16 people! All these great lodging options come with great amenities, and all are in close locations to the best of what Branson has to offer visitors.

Branson family reunions are a fun, affordable way for loved ones to spend some quality time together – so start planning your get-together today!

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Volunteer Opportunities in Branson

The word ‘volunteer’ means ‘a person who performs a task willingly and without pay.’ Being a volunteer for any activity or enterprise is a noble act, and in today’s society, volunteering is more important than ever. Being a volunteer fills a need for many charitable and non-profit organizations, and provides a valuable service to your community. Volunteering is a good, productive use of your time, and can often times help people or animals who are in need. Want to be a person who really makes a difference? Volunteer in Branson! There are many great organizations around town that can use an enthusiastic Branson volunteer like you.

Taneyhills-Branson Community Library: If you like books and helping out your community, consider being a volunteer at the Taneyhills-Branson Community Library! This great library, located near downtown Branson, is operated almost completely by Branson volunteers – they are the spokes that keep the library wheel turning. The library does not receive any federal, state or local funding – instead, their funding comes from the Friends of the Library group, who support the library through donations, a used book store, a thrift shop, and special events. The Branson Community Library provides many valuable services to the area, such as access to great books, children’s programs, meeting space, free Wi-Fi, use of public computers, proctored test taking, copy and fax machines, and more!

Veterans Memorial Garden: There is no better Branson volunteer opportunity than honoring our nation’s veterans. When you choose to volunteer with the Veterans Memorial Garden, you can do exactly that. This beautiful living tribute, started in 2008 by a nonprofit gardening group and located at the intersection of Roark Valley Road and Highway 76, is just one of the ways that Branson honors veterans. The garden features flowering trees, shrubs, and annual and perennial plants of all varieties, and has been visited by hundreds of veterans and their families since its opening. Friends of the Garden volunteers are always needed to keep this beautiful memorial in tip top shape – weeding, mulching, pruning, fertilizing and planting are all important Branson volunteer duties that you can give time to.

The National Tiger Sanctuary - White TigerNational Tiger Sanctuary: For one of the coolest volunteer experiences in and around Branson, donate some of your time to the National Tiger Sanctuary! This great facility, located just a few miles north of Branson, is home to lions, tigers and more – oh my! NTS is dedicated to protecting and preserving big cats both at the sanctuary and in the wild, as well as providing educational and personal encounters for the public with these amazing animals. You can be a part of the action by becoming a volunteer. Volunteers at NTS will help with facility maintenance and upkeep, big cat observations, assist tours, and interact and educate the public about NTS.

These are just a few of the opportunities for Branson volunteers to give back to their community. Branson also hosts dozens of 5Ks and sporting events that require volunteers, as well as veteran events, many different kinds of festivals, and parades. The ways to help are endless – start making the Branson community an even brighter place today!

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