Massive Indoor Water Park near Branson Strip
A 1,000-gallon bucket of water atop a three-level treehouse dumps a gush of water on the swimmers gathered below every eight minutes at Splash Country, the indoor water park at Grand Country Inn. Nearby, a 250-foot lazy river meanders through a simulated Ozark riverbank and two tube slides twist and wind around the interactive treehouse. The 20,000-square-foot park is practically its own ecosystem, and it’s the centerpiece of the many family-friendly activities at the sprawling hotel, which hosts a theme park’s worth of games and entertainment. At the hotel's Fun Spot, you can putt around in bumper cars, practice putts on a 3-D black-light mini-golf course, and slink through a laser maze. The entertainment emporium also touts mini bowling, arcade games, and a multilevel play area filled with thousands of soft foam balls.
As part of this deal, families will also get tickets to one of four shows at the Grand Country Music Hall—located a few steps away from the resort. In The Amazing Pets show, trained dogs and cats perform stunts and exotic birds make fly-by appearances. The Grand Jubilee show will appeal to all audiences, as a quartet croons country and rock classics from The Oak Ridge Boys to the Eagles.
Once a family is tuckered out, they can enjoy a quiet night’s rest on a king-size bed and pullout couch or two queen-size beds. At the Grand Country Buffet, you can load up plates with everything from eggs and bacon at breakfast to slow-roasted ham, fresh-baked breads, and desserts at suppertime. The onsite Papa Grand's Pizza comprises a full salad bar and a pizza bar with 12 varieties, including three dessert pizzas.
Branson, Missouri: Family-Friendly Theaters and Concert Halls in the Ozarks
If you take a drive through the Ozarks in Missouri, it might seem like an unlikely place to find glittering lights and stage shows—for the most part, it's a rolling plateau of wooded hills, snaking rivers, and limestone bluffs. But follow down Route 76 and you'll find Branson, which looks like a miniature, more family-friendly version of Las Vegas.
Dozens of stages and music halls line Branson's main strip, some of which are owned by stars such as Dolly Parton. On any given night you can watch anything from country music performances to circus acrobatics to magic shows.
If you're traveling with kids, Silver Dollar City is a safe bet; it's located about 5 miles west of the strip. The popular theme park is built around Marvel Cave and modeled after an 18th-century frontier town. Here you can hop on a mine-car roller coaster, take a tour by lantern through limestone caverns, or watch as blacksmiths hand-forge mailboxes for the mayor's private collection.
If you want to duck away from the lights, it's worth it to explore the surrounding countryside. Within about 30 miles, there are two large lakes—Table Rock and Taneycomo. Each is stocked with trout and has boats available for rent. Or head to Ruth and Paul Henning Conservation Area, where you can bike or hike along Roark Creek and through dense oak forests. Paul Henning, who was inspired to create the Beverly Hillbillies after a Boy Scout trip to the Ozarks, donated the 1,534-acre reserve.