Things to Do in Branson MO

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  • Things to do in Branson, Missouri from a frequent weekender. The best Branson Missouri attractions for people of all ages including free things to do in Branson MO.

    things to do in Branson with kids

    A couple weeks ago we spent a week at our lake cottage near Branson, Missouri. It occurred to me that while we frequent the area, I’ve never shared anything about it!

    Branson is a family friendly destination filled to the brim with fun things to do! There are so many Branson Attractions that you’ll never find yourself bored whether you spend a day or a week!

    Where is Branson Missouri?

    Branson in Southwest Missouri in the Ozark Mountain region. It’s nestled near the Arkansas border and not far from Oklahoma. Branson attracts visitors from all over the United States, with most visiting spring through New Year’s.

    The area is known for beautiful sunsets, outdoor activities, caves, shows, and family friendly fun.

    I grew up visiting Branson, a kitschy getaway nestled within just 4 hours of Kansas City, St. Louis, and Tulsa. It’s lined with live entertainment, over-the-top attractions, thrill rides and restaurants. It’s like a family friendly Vegas – sans gambling.

    Things to Do in Branson Missouri

    There are so many things to do in Branson Missouri, that we still haven’t seen and done them all, though I grew up frequenting the area. These are our favorite things to do in Branson with kids on a hot summer day, cold winter day or a rainy day. For any occasion, I hope you enjoy them, too!

    Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery {free} – see the fish ladder and trout pens that raise 400,000 pounds of rainbow and brown trout each year!  Bring quarters to feed the fish.

    Tiger Sanctuary – tour and feed big cats or go behind the scenes to learn about their care. They rescue and release animals into wildlife as well.

    things to do in Branson MO animal park

    things to do in Branson Missouri with kids

    Wild Valley – we had no idea this little gem was hidden near our home until I saw an ostrich one day when parking at the gym I go to. I took the girls and they had a great time feeding camels, llamas, calves and more. Bonus for offering free 80’s video games to escape the heat. This is a new sister attraction to Branson’s Wild World.

    Toy Museum – we haven’t been, but you can see some of your childhood favorites and a million others!

    Dinosaur Museum – we haven’t been, but I can imagine this would make some little kids very happy.

    branson mo ferris wheel

    Ferris Wheel – of the many can’t miss attractions on Highway 76 lies the ferris wheel relocated from the Navy Pier in Chicago. I told you it was kitschy.

    Ripley’s Believe it or Not – the kids love visiting Ripley’s for it’s oddities and intriguing activities. Perfect for a cold or rainy day.

    Branson Scenic Railway departs at the historic depot nestled in downtown Branson. Ride a classic train through the Ozark Mountains. This is particularly fun during the holidays as you ride through Christmas light parks aboard the Polar Express.

    Go Horseback Riding at Bear Creek Trails for a one hour guided tour by a waterfall. You can also ride at Ozark Mountain Trail Rides.

    Branson Missouri wax museum

    things to do in Branson MO wax museum

    Hollywood Wax Museum – even if you don’t enter the museum, stop by for a photo op. There are several outdoors.

    Speaking of photo ops, if you’ve ever wanted to have your photo taken by a meatball, go to Pasghetti’s. To be honest, I don’t care for the food, but who can resist standing next to a giant fork?

    Hannah’s Maze of Mirrors

    Visit the fountains at Branson Landing {free}. An hourly show of water, fire, light and music starts on the hour from noon to 10pm daily {9 on Sundays}. Find a spot in the plaza or grab a drink on the patio at Cantina Laredo to enjoy.

    While at Branson Landing, walk the waterfront of Lake Taneycomo to feed the fish or peruse Bass Pro.

    Promised Land Zoo – walk through a petting zoo and feed parakeets, donkeys and goats. The zoo boasts over 60 acres of animals including a tiger and lion rescue. Walk through to see sloths, giraffes, a capybara and more, then take a tram or drive through the 60+ acre park to see bison, elk, and zebras. Don’t miss the ostrich and emu eggs in the incubator at the gift shop as you exit.

    promised land zoo branson mo things to do

    Grape Juice Tasting {free} – okay, okay, this is a just a disguise of wine tasting for mom and dad. But after Dixie Stampede, you’ve earned it. The kids will love partaking in grape juice tasting while you enjoy a little wine. Stop by Curling Vine and take a little tour.

    Caves

    Talking Rocks is a beautiful walking cave tour that utilizes light and sound to show off the curtain formations. Once outside of the cave kids can enjoy a fun play area complete with a playground, observation tower, maze, gemstone panning and more.

    branson mo cave

    Marvel Cave – this National Landmark is really fascinating to see, however, it requires entry into Silver Dollar City. It was Branson’s first attraction bringing tourists from all over. Take a walk down and ride the tram back up for a unique experience.

    cave in branson mo

    things to do in Branson, Missouri cave

    grandfather's mansion silver dollar city

    No visit to Branson is complete without spending time at Silver Dollar City. The clean, family friendly amusement park was built to provide activities while guests waited to enter Marvel Cave.

    Now it’s filled with rides the entire family can enjoy along with glass blowing, blacksmith, and woodcarving demonstrations to name a few. Don’t miss Grandfather’s Mansion. It’s always a favorite.

    Silver Dollar City is truly one of our favorite theme parks for family fun! Bypass the traffic on your way there and stop at the Old Fashioned Dough Company. You’ll find the most amazing cinnamon rolls in the midwest and two friendly smiles – every time! 

    After Silver Dollar City stop by Mickey’s for hot dogs, burgers and a peanut butter shake. Another great stop is Danna’s for BBQ. Local businesses are so good, so friendly and thankful for your business.

    I still want to the Runaway Coaster, but have heard nothing but rave reviews! Who can resist a coaster through the woods and area skyline?

    Wolfe Mountain Snowflex. Enjoy year round “snow” tubing without the cold!

    The Butterfly Palace and Rainforest – we have a Butterfly House in St. Louis, but the offerings of nectar to attract butterflies, magnifying glasses and binoculars makes this place unique. The kids love visiting. Bonus points for a mirror maze and mock rainforest for the kids to climb through.

    butterfly palace branson attraction

    Dicks 5 & 10 – how does a store make my list? Well, it’s a favorite of kids and adults alike and fits right into kitschy Branson. Where else can you buy a unicorn head, old fashion candy, cast iron, pranks and granny panties under one roof? It has just about everything you could ever want – and everything you never thought you’d see.

    You only thought the Titanic was 12,600 below sea level. It’s actually located in Branson, Missouri. At the Titanic Museum, you can view artifacts, take photos on the replica stairway, touch an iceberg, shovel coal and so much more.

    things to do in branson mo

    Visit Fun Mountain (at Big Cedar) for a unique bowling experience, arcade, indoor playground (free), bumper cars and if you’re feeling really adventurous, the flip zone. The flip zone are bumper cars that will twist you upside down!

    bumper cars fun mountain branson mo

    Fritz’s Adventure is an indoor adventure park. Climb through tunnels, a plane, up to high flying slides and up a brick wall! They offer two indoor rope courses – one for children and another for adults. In addition they have an aerodium flying experience.

    branson attractions fritzs

    Things to Do in Branson MO on Table Rock Lake

    Moonshine Beach {free} – kick back on a hot summer day and let the kids play in the sand and swim at the beach on Table Rock Lake.

    Dewey Short Visitor Center {free} – take a break on a cold or rainy day and enjoy the view and activities at the visitor center. Build a dam, read a book or enjoy one of the interactive activities while learning about the hydroelectric dam.

    You can visit the Dewey Short Visitor Center and get a close up view of Table Rock Dam by car or boat! There is a complimentary dock and small beach nearby. It’s also connected to several trails that are perfect for an easy walk or bike ride!

    free things to do in branson mo

    Feed the fish at State Park Marina. Step out over the water to see carp, blue gill, turtles, minnows and more. Eat on the water at Danna’s BBQ, enjoy a snow cone and the boutique while there. Food is just $1/bag.

    things to do in Branson with kids

    Rent a boat, kayak or paddle boat to enjoy life on the lake. There are several places to select from including State Park Marina, Indian Point Marina, and Big Cedar.

    things to do in Branson Missouri boating

    Take a swim cruise on a catamaran – the Spirit of America takes daily cruises with inflatable swim toys like a trampoline and obstacle course. Cool off and enjoy Table Rock Lake…our home sweet second home!

    branson belle

    Take a daytime or dinner cruise around the lake on the Showboat.

    Stop by the Tiki Bar at Rock Lane. Don’t let the surrounding area discourage you – the Tiki Bar is well kept and so much fun! Swing at the bar or play one of their many outdoor games while listening to live music. You can visit by boat or car.

    Check out one of these Table Rock Lake Restaurants while you’re there!

    top of the rock

    Top of the Rock

    Go on a golf cart ride at Top of the Rock for beautiful views, carved rock, man made waterfalls that flow over the paths and take your breath away. Bring cash to grab a drink at the bat bar as you drive through the cave.

    Partake in the sunset ceremony at Top of the Rock – gather on the patio at the Buffalo Bar or on the lawn near the chapel to listen to bagpipes play while a real canon fires off to celebrate another sunset (March-October).

    top of the rock things to do in branson mo

    Take a walk through the wine cellar for a beautiful view of “End of the Trail” (shown above) and magnificent views of the lake.

    There is a beautiful museum there as well – if you visit it, plan to peruse for a minimum of 2 hours.

    There is also a driving range and par 3 golf course.

    branson mo helicopter ride

    One of my favorite childhood memories was taking a helicopter ride overlooking Branson and Table Rock Lake, which you can still do today! There’s no better way to see the kitschy fun of the Branson strip and beauty of the Ozarks.

    Water Parks

    • One of my childhood favorites was White Water – a local outdoor waterpark. Enjoy the wave pool, water slides, lazy river and more!
    • Splash Country is an indoor / outdoor water park with a lazy river, huge slides, toddler pool and more!
    • Castle Rock Resort
    • Still Waters (inclusive for guests only)

    Miniature Golf Course

    • Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf
    • Lost Treasure Golf
    • Greatest Adventures Miniature Golf
    • Dinosaur Canyon
    • Shoot for the Stars
    • Brookside
    • BigFoot Fun Park
    • Grand Country
    • Wildwood Indoor

    Go Karts

    • Xtreme Racing
    • The Track
    • Fun Mountain
    • Grand Country Resort 

    Bumper Boats

    • Bumper Boat Amusement Center
    • The Track

    Bumper Cars 

    • Fun Mountain (Flip Zone – upside down, Spin Zone – spin)
    • The Track
    • Grand Country
    • Bumper Boat Amusement Center

    Ziplining

    • Adventure Ziplines
    • Wolfe Mountain
    • Shepherd of the Hills

    See a Show

    There are so many shows in Branson MO and they’re constantly changing. 

    • Acrobats of China – a truly amazing show filled with incredible stunts {and unfortunately really slow music}. The kids absolutely loved this show.
    • Dixie Stampede is one of the girls’ favorite things to do in Branson. Get your tickets in advance for this popular show. It includes dinner, if you like to eat with your hands.
    • Sight and Sound Theatre is known as the Christian Broadway. 

    Day at the Spa

    • Chateau on the Lake
    • Big Cedar

    sunset branson mo

    Free Things to Do in Branson MO

    • Dewey Short Visitor Center – see above
    • Fish Hatchery – see above
    • State Park Marina – see above
    • Moonshine Beach – see above
    • Table Rock State Park
    • Ruth and Paul Henning Conservation is 1,534-acre nature preserve offers self-guided trails, benches and an observation tower. 
    • Fountains at Branson Landing – see above
    • Boat or Kayak by Devil’s Pool waterfall devils pool things to do in branson
    • Trolley – enjoy a ride on the trolley that runs through downtown Branson MO to see old time Main Street.

    branson mo things to do

    Where to Eat in Branson

    Some of our favorite local Branson Missouri restaurants are:

    • Mr. G’s Pizza
    • Danna’s BBQ
    • Mickey’s
    • Billy Gail’s (cash only breakfast)
    • Old Fashioned Cinnamon Rolls
    • Bistro 58
    • Cantina Laredo
    • Top of the Rock

    Branson MO Tips and Tricks

    As you can see, there is an abundance of Branson attractions, with many of them residing on 76. This often results in a lot of traffic, especially in the evenings. Use Waze or this color coded map for traffic relief routes. While you’ll venture a few miles out of your way, they are a great time saving measure.

    As I previously mentioned, there is often a lot of traffic to Silver Dollar City. Bypass it and visit a local Branson West eatery to bypass the traffic.

    As you can see, there are so many things to do in Branson MO, many of them free! If you have any questions or need additional guidance, please let me know, I’m happy to help!

    Originally published in 2017, updated March 2019.

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