The Ozarks in Missouri might seem like an unlikely place to find glittering lights and stage shows—for the most part, the region is a rolling plateau of wooded hills, snaking rivers, and limestone bluffs. But follow Route 76 and you'll find Branson, nicknamed “The Live Entertainment Capital of the World.” More than 50 theaters and music venues play to packed houses every night of the week; during the day, family-friendly activities such as theme parks, cave tours, and mini golf are king. For outdoor adventure, the nearby Ozarks provide natural sanctuary for hiking, mountain biking, fishing, ziplining, and river rafting year-round.
- The Strip: Dozens of stages and music halls line Branson's main strip on Route 76, which is lit by delightfully gaudy neon signs. You can see anything from live country music to circus acrobatics to magic shows on any given night.
- Silver Dollar City: This busy theme park is built around Marvel Cave and modeled after an 18th-century frontier town. 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.
- Titanic Museum: A half-scale reproduction of the infamous Titanic and the largest museum of its kind in the world. Contains interactive exhibits, artifacts from the ship, and self-guided tours through meticulously reproduced rooms.
- Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede Dinner and Show: A four-course meal and show featuring galloping horses, trick riders, historical dramatizations, and singing. Americana kitsch at its finest.
Off the Strip
- Branson Landing: A newly built shopping, dining, and entertainment complex with 100 stores, a scenic boardwalk, and dramatic water, light, fire, and music fountain shows every hour.
- Stone Hill Winery: Missouri’s oldest and most-awarded winery, with guided tours of the 12,000-foot facility and six tasting rooms. Extremely popular.
- Table Rock State Park: Swim, boat, and fish in the clear waters of this massive lake, or mountain bike or hike through acres of forested trails.
- Branson Scenic Railway: A 40-mile round-trip train ride through the Ozark foothills and tunnels. You’ll sit inside a luxurious restored cabin with a glass ceiling as you chug over bridges and trestles.
Where to Stay
- Branson Garden Inn: This inexpensive hotel is located right on the Strip, across the street from Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede. Outdoor pool and sun deck within walking distance of dozens of restaurants and theaters.
- The Savannah House: Great views of the Ozark mountains and a complimentary hot breakfast top the list of amenities at this family-friendly hotel.
- Seven Gables Inn: One block from the Titanic Museum, this inn features an outdoor pool and a generous breakfast spread.