For more than 20 years, pilot Rodney Williams has shuttled guests on breathtaking excursions into the clouds aboard the gently swaying baskets of Branson Balloon's hot-air-propelled vessels. As balloons rise slowly into the stratosphere, passengers can enjoy views of the trees, valleys, lakes, and Sasquatch dwellings of the Ozarks stretch out underfoot. After the sojourn into the skies, Rodney leads clients through a post-flight champagne toast and the Balloonist's Prayer—ceremonial pleasantries that have helped Rodney maintain a perfect safety record throughout his entire career as a pilot.
Bass fishing seems to be in Jay Grave's blood. Jay inherited his love of angling straight from his father, who taught him how to catch and haul in the large fish in the Iowa Great Lakes before he could even walk. When he grew up, it was no surprise that Jay would enter the world of career fishing. After fly-fishing stints in a few western states, he returned to the Midwest to compete in tournaments, winning Southwest Minnesota Bass Casters Club's Big Bass Payout in 2011. Eventually, Jay settled in Lake of the Ozarks, founding Grave Fishing, LLC to teach others how to fish in the bass-rich waters. He even offers tournament-style experiences, in which he competes with his passengers in a contest to see who can snag the most fish or Jimmy Hoffa pinky rings.
Upon moving to Branson in the early 1990s, Don and Lawanna Stuck spent their leisure time hunting, fishing, and paddling the White River’s waterways. Drawing upon their intimate knowledge of Branson’s waterways, they opened White River Kayaking & Outdoors on July 4, 2012. Equipped with rental paddles and life jackets, their customers can navigate standard kayaks, tandem kayaks, or fishing kayaks along Lake Taneycomo, Table Rock Lake, or Bull Shoals Lake while marveling at the surrounding Ozark Mountains. Staffers drop guests off at several launch locations on each lake, and pick guests up at the conclusion of their float. White River Kayaking & Outdoors also rents out bicycles, which visitors can take around Branson’s parks and trails or pedal across the lake to combine two sports during a triathlon.
The Moxie is a central hub for independent and classic cinema, specializing in celluloid of the funky, offbeat, and arty distinctions. The diverse film list includes thought-provoking flicks that span the genres and ages, with everything from Rubber—a recently screened modern flick about a villainous tire—to vintage film noirs such as Humphrey Bogart's The Big Sleep (showing Saturday, May 14), to the all-penguin remake of Citizen Kane (tickets up to an $8 value each). The deal’s combo package also delivers cinematic sustenance via two fountain soft drinks (a $3.50 value each) and two popcorns (a $3.25 value each) from the theater’s cinebar. Though most theaters use popcorn to meet the state-mandated liquid-butter minimum, the Moxie elevates kernel-cooking to an art worthy of its film selection, topping morsels with 13 distinct flavors, including barbecue, ranch, jalapeño, and apple cinnamon.
Since launching off from the shores of Fort Myers Beach in 1982, Paradise Parasail’s signature smiley-face parachutes have become an iconic image in the sky, now flying high above the waters of both the Gulf of Mexico and the Lake of the Ozarks. USCG-licensed captains navigate each of the company's boats as riders trail behind at heights of up to 500 feet. With feet flopping in the wind, thrill-seekers are free to wave to their friends, family, and nearby migratory birds. Parasailers can also pose for photos and videos captured by the company's onboard photographers.
At Branson Boat Club, families and friends cast off into the waters of Table Rock Lake on leisurely personal retreats. Boaters bring family members along for a 90-minute orientation in which Branson Boat Club's harbormaster imparts hands-on boating-safety instruction and raps about his favorite episodes of Gilligan's Island. Afterward, families set sail aboard their choice of the club's six boats. Plumb the lake depths for fish in the 22' Fish Series pontoon boat with two fishing seats and a 9' canopy, or kick back on the 22' Cruise Model Relax pontoon boat with a canopy, stereo system, and CD player. Boaters must pay for their own gas (around $30–$75) and bring along their own wisecracking parrot navigator.