Head for the magnificent Ozark Mountains where you’ll find plenty of outdoor recreation, thrills around every corner and hospitality to the max, better known as down-home Southern cooking. Branson is a year-round destination that changes with cool new things to do in each season. This summer, grab your pals and check out Branson.
Chateau on the Lake Resort, Spa and Convention Center. Photo courtesy of Chateau on the Lake.
- Start at Chateau on the Lake — Your own castle in the sky
Book a few nights at the 4-star Chateau on the Lake, overlooking Table Rock Lake and the Ozark Mountains. When you drive up, you know you’ve arrived someplace uber special. The resort features 301 guestrooms/ suites with upscale amenities like flat-screen TVs, complimentary WI-FI, Keurig coffee makers and plush bedding. Surround yourself in luxury with spacious bathrooms/granite countertops, Kohler shower heads and bath extravagances. My room also had a private balcony for sipping morning coffee or enjoying a glass of wine. Hang out in the Library Lounge. Indulge in the sumptuous breakfast buffet at Chateau Grill and grab a few treats from the Sweet Shoppe. The on-property Chateau Marina lets you rent boats and wave runners, so you can water ski or fish right from their private dock. The Chateau is close enough to all of Branson’s attractions, but feels like your own personal oasis in the mountains.
Photo courtesy of Chateau on the Lake.
2)Hit the Shows!
More and more venues are opening up again in the live entertainment capital of the world. Check out cover bands, illusionists, magicians and more. In season, you can literally go from show to show with three performances daily — 10:00 a.m., afternoon matinee and an evening show. Bring back disco at “Dancing Queen” at the Kings Castle Theatre the ultimate 70s show, where this talented group sings and dances to your favorite hits. Returning after a successful run in Vegas, this show will wow you with a dazzling psychedelic kaleidoscope of color and energy!
Photo courtesy of Kings Castle Theatre.
For something really cool with lots of audience participation, head to the “Escape Reality” Magic Dinner Show and be awed by the performances of Janine and Garry Carson. Named the “Best Dinner Show in Branson in 2020” among other awards, each act will keep you and your buddies guessing, “how’d they do that?” Dine on a full 3-course meal followed by a brilliant combination of illusion, magic, comedy and fun.
Janine and Garry Carson perform wonderful illusions in the award-winning “Escape Reality Magic Dinner Show.” Photo courtesy of Carson Entertainment.
3.Thrill to the Over-the-top Coasters at Silver Dollar City
Photo courtesy of Silver Dollar City.
If you’re looking for heart-pumping thrills, Silver Dollar City delivers the goods. Branson’s #1 attraction is the internationally-acclaimed 1880s-style theme park with 40 fun rides, 12 restaurants, live shows and 60 unique shops. Watch more than 100 craftsmen demonstrate the art of woodcarving, glass blowing, pottery, blacksmithing and more. Dare you to ride the extreme Outlaw Run, the world’s fastest wooden roller coaster, which flies almost 70 miles per hour? Or, the world’s fastest, steepest and tallest spinning coaster, the Time Traveler?
Newest area in the park is Rivertown where lip-smacking BBQ at the Rivertown Smokehouse rules the roost. Go for the hickory-smoked brisket, Chipotle-rubbed Turkey and baby-back ribs. You’ve never tasted anything so juicy and succulent. Add in their signature sides like molasses baked beans, fire-roasted Brussel Sprouts and Confetti Corn Salad for a sumptuous treat. Be sure to save room for the gooey-butter cake and cinnamon roll bread pudding. After your meal, head on over to see the Rivertown Ramblers show you a good time. End your Rivertown Adventure at the New Mystic River Falls with the 6-story plunge! Currently headlining this summer is the fun-loving Harlem Globetrotters showing off their impressive hoopin’ skills.
4.Chow Down at Mel’s Hard Luck Diner
You won’t be down on your luck here because Mel’s is a real treasure, just like a 50s style diner complete with singing servers, real comfort food and old-fashioned shakes. Located in the quaint Grand Village Shops, Mel’s offers all the traditional diner food you’d expect like burgers, meatloaf and malts, but their salads like Sweet Sensations are fabulous, too. “Burgers are number one and our Reuben sandwich is number two,” said Mel Bilbo, owner. But save room for dessert because their chocolate nachos, Mel’s carrot cake and Avalanche with 12 scoops of ice cream are not to be missed. Then the waiters and waitresses start singing and you’re in for a real treat. You’ll recognize some of them from Branson’s top shows, too, adding to the fun.
- Eat Food Right from the Farm at the Keeter Center
- Visit the Dobyns Dining Room at the Keeter Center on the College of the Ozarks campus for a great farm-to-fork lunch or dinner, made and served by the students. When I mean made, they actually work at the campus dairy where their premium ice cream and wholesome milk come from. Enjoy salads, soups, sandwiches and luscious desserts. Try their mammoth Sunday brunch that will absolutely wow you. Be sure to stop by their gift shop for their beautifully-crafted handmade items like baskets, fruit spread and roasted nuts.
Photo by Mira Temkin.
7.Dig in at Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen
Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen at Branson’s Landing won’t let you leave hungry. Meals are served family-style with appetizers to desserts from Paula’s own Southern-style recipes. Leave room for the Ooey Gooey Butter Cake, Deen’s signature dessert. Her gift shop has cookbooks and gadgets galore!
8.Have an Interactive Adventure at Beyond the Lens! Family Fun
The new kid in town is Beyond the Lens, the king of “Techno-Tainment” where you explore, experience, escape. Start with the FlyRide, which takes you high in the sky to 22 national landmarks, over snow-capped mountains, gorgeous deserts and the Grand Canyon, without ever leaving your seat. Go rafting and even feel the water. It’s a breathtaking ride across America. Put your phone away because all the selfies are taken for you in an app, included with your admission, and downloaded back to you. All you do is have fun! Play Virtual Reality games, compete in pop culture quizzes, look for Big Foot, plan your escape and play in the ball pit. The Flip Zone Bumper Cars are out of this world if you dare! You’ve never seen anything like this place before. The best part is new exhibits are being planned, so when you come back to Branson, you’ll want to visit again.
Flip Bumper Cars at Beyond the Lens. Photo courtesy of Beyond the Lens.
9.Ripley’s Believe It or Not will blow you away!
There’s always something new to see at Ripley’s. Two floors of good old-fashioned fun with 8 themed galleries and over 500 unique artifacts. Here’s your chance to experience the weird and wacky exhibits as collected by Robert Ripley from his travels across the globe. You know you’ve arrived by the giant statues in front. There’s also a new Ripley’s in Branson – Ripley’s Super Fun Zone where extreme fun takes on a whole new dimension. Try Lazer Tag, outdoor maze and laserace. Enjoy hours of fun in this high-energy space. Buy your tickets online and save a few bucks.
10.Butterflies are Free at the Butterfly Palace and Rainforest Adventure
Photo courtesy of Butterfly Palace.
You’ll feel free like a butterfly and be glad your admission is good for three days. At The Butterfly Palace, weave your way through the rainforest where you can feed a critter and pet a lizard. Walk through the butterfly aviary where over a thousand live butterflies fly free. Wear red to attract the butterflies and have them land on your red flower. Be sure to catch the 3-D film and learn more about these beautiful creatures. The Emerald Forest Mirror Maze was challenging, but we found a few kids who helped us navigate our way out!
11.The Titanic Museum
The Titanic Museum. Photo courtesy of The Titanic Museum – Branson.
People continue to be fascinated with the Titanic, more than 100 years after the massive ship sunk. When you enter the replica ship, you’re given a Boarding Pass with a real passenger’s name. Throughout your tour, you learn more about the passenger and learn their fate. Costumed interpreters show you the Grand Staircase, elegant china, stories of survival, the lifeboat, you can even dip your hand in the 28-degree water temperature. It’s a museum where you can literally spend hours learning more about this ill-fated journey.
12.Aquarium at the Boardwalk
Photo by Aquarium at The Boardwalk
Out front of the Aquarium at the Boardwalk is a massive stainless steel octopus sculpture that greets you. Stroll down the boardwalk and explore ten zones of fish & fun. Discover the mermaid palace, take the submarine adventure and touch the stingrays. The ocean kaleidoscope is just gorgeous. Buy your tickets ahead of time as entry times do sell out.
Branson is a fabulous destination to share the good times. Make your plans to visit Branson soon.