Last Updated on January 23, 2023
For thousands of Middle Americans, Branson, MO is a great place for a vacation…
Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
By Marcia Levin
For thousands of Middle Americans, Branson, Missouri and the Lakes Area has all the elements of a great vacation site.
I visited Branson after hearing about this popular travel destination for years, but never was able to get there. Wow! It is indeed an eye-opener and I came back a believer.
First of all, its visual setting is beautiful – who can find fault with mountains and lakes? It has more than 1,000 miles of shoreline on three lakes. As you might guess, there’s plenty of fishing, boating, parasailing, jet skiing, scuba diving and swimming on offer.
Its theaters have more than 57,000 seats and produce 100 live shows each season . They showcase everything from pop to Broadway-style productions, comedy, acrobatics and more.
It also has 200+ restaurants with 35,000+ seats and more than 16,000 hotel rooms (in all price points). There are also more than two dozen campgrounds/RV parks with approximately 2,870 sites.
It also boasts a dozen golf courses, some nationally ranked, and seemingly endless shopping venues.
Attracting Senior and Families
While the area is very popular with senior visitors, Branson has been a family destination for many decades. The area combines a Las Vegas vibe with beautiful rivers, lakes, and the lush, rolling Ozark Mountains.
The award-winning theme park Silver Dollar City and diverse live entertainment offerings draw vacationers of all ages and interests. When school is in session, the number of families from great distances goes down during the week, so empty-nest baby boomers and seniors do predominate.
But on weekends throughout the year, and all summer long, Branson is filled with families. Families also make up 36% of its visitors (and nearly 40% in the summer) and the average age of a vacationer is 56.7 years old.
And not all come by motor coaches. Family cars are the most common mode of travel and the charming Springfield/Branson Airport draws many travelers as well.
Branson’s Initial Attraction
The first tourist “draw” in the region was the Shepherd of the Hills Outdoor Drama. In 2007 the show marked the 100th anniversary of the publication of the novel “The Shepherd of the Hills,” one of the first million-selling books in the country.
Harold Bell Wright’s saga of love, loss, power, hardship and the meaning of life is also performed under the stars. It has been a powerful entertainment for many generations of visitors to the region and takes more than 80 actors and actresses, 40 horses, a flock of sheep, several guns and rifles, an actual burning log cabin, and a vintage 1908 DeWitt automobile to make the live action performance what it is – a legend.
Shows Morning Through Night at Branson
Branson show times start in late morning and run through the day. It is possible to see three shows a day. And they are varied. It is a misconception that Branson is only country, but country in Branson is grand.
I saw several shows including the Presleys’ Country Jubilee, which is fun and filled with great tapping-toes music. The show is the kind of timeless American Entertainment you can share with the whole family!
From new country favorites to country classics – from the zany antics of Herkimer and Cecil to the soulful reflection of Southern gospel hits – it’s the one Branson show Regis Philbin said “You’ve got to see.”
The Texas Tenors, the #1 vocal group in the history of America’s Got Talent, has returned this year to Branson’s Starlite Theatre.
Branson’s Patriotic Venue
If you can remember when almost every house on the block showed a flag on holidays, when everyone removed their caps and placed their hand over their heart during the Pledge of Allegiance or if you have a fondness for music from back in the day, and like a mid-America destination, Branson might just be the perfect destination for you!
Silver Dollar City, named America’s Best Theme Park by USA Today Travel’s 10Best.com, is adding an array of elements that present the Celebrate America theme including new red, white and blue inspired food selections, a patriotic limited-edition crafts series, park décor and new wave-the-flag entertainment to each festival.
The all-new festival Star-Spangled Summer takes summer family time to new heights, presenting the new show Flying Ace All-Stars, featuring Olympic athletes and future hopefuls performing amazingly daring stunts on trampolines.
Also new, The Magic of Brad Ross stars the Merlin Award Winner for Best International Family Entertainer, as he dazzles audiences with world-class illusions.
Silver Dollar City’s 30-plus rides and attractions add launch, drop and barrel-roll cool to the family thrill options, with the world-famous, award-winning wood coaster Outlaw Run topping the must-ride bucket lists.
Nature and Neon
Built atop a cave in the beautiful Ozarks, the park sprawls over the Marble Cave, first discovered by the Osage Indians in 1500 and thought to have marble walls.
Branson combines nature and neon has a year-round population of 7,500. It is probably best-known for its variety of musical shows, but it is also a great place to play, fish, golf, enjoy good weather and pick and choose from panoply of budget-conscious hotel accommodations and eateries.
The park has family rides and onsite theaters ranging in size from 150 to 4,000 seats.
If You Go:
Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce/CVB
PO Box 1897
Branson MO 65615
Tel: (800) 96-0463
All photos courtesy of the Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce/CVB