Hotel at a Glance: Grand Country Inn
A 1,000-gallon bucket of water atop a three-level treehouse dumps a deluge on swimmers every eight minutes at Splash Country, the indoor water park at Grand Country Inn. Nearby, a lazy river meanders through a simulated Ozark riverbank and two tube slides wind around an interactive treehouse. The water park is the centerpiece of the many family-friendly activities at the sprawling hotel, which boasts a theme park’s worth of games and entertainment. When you’re not playing, you’ll stay in comfy guest rooms that include amenities such as flat-screen TVs, kitchenette equipment, and free WiFi.
- Family Fun Package: This deal includes daily access to Splash Country, as well as four show tickets with popcorn and sodas, and a large one-topping pizza.
- Catch a show at the complex’s Grand Country Music Hall, where options range from comedy jamborees to the Grand Jubilee and the Amazing Pets show.
- Have fun at the hotel’s Fun Spot, an entertainment emporium that includes everything from bumper cars and laser tag to arcade games and a multilevel play area filled with thousands of soft foam balls.
- Eat well at the Grand Country Buffet, or head to Papa Grand’s Pizza for a full salad bar and a pizza bar with 12 varieties, including 3 dessert pies.
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.