One of the best things to do in Branson is to visit Rockaway Beach, a resort community founded in 1917 that was the first tourist destination in the Ozarks. Almost a century later, it is still a strong tourist draw with its restaurants, marinas, shops and trout fishing in the beautiful Lake Taneycomo. As if that is not enough for tourists to enjoy, it is also home to several shows and festivals throughout the year. There are flea markets, talent contests and fishing contests held regularly. There are also annual events, like the Hydroplane Race, the Rockaway Beach Fall Festival and the Rockaway Return to the Beach Party, also known as the “Hillbilly Beach Party.” With all that Rockaway Beach has to offer on a daily and annual basis, it is truly one of the best places to explore in Branson.
For free things to do in Missouri that will keep kids and railroad buffs alike happy, go to the Railroad Historical Museum in Springfield, Missouri. Admission is free to this museum which is an actual train. The cars are a geographic and historic trip through American railroad history, with the St. Louis-San Francisco Locomotive No. 4524, the Burlington Baggage Car, the Chicago and Northwestern Commuter Car and rounding it out is the Burlington Northern Caboose. The train is teeming with artifacts, old maps, photos and everything railroad history to discover and explore. The museum itself is in Grant Beach Park which has a public pool, playground and picnic area, so when your family is done with all the free fun at the Railroad Historical Museum, they can continue the fun in the park.
For some fun things for kids to do in Branson, MO, try taking them to the Talking Rocks Cavern. The unusual moniker comes from the strange noises that some of the rocks deep in the cavern give off. Families come here to explore the caves and mine for gemstones. You can learn a lot here, like how rock and mineral formations grow. It's situated on a 400-acre nature preserve with many small animals that the whole family can explore. There is also mini golf for fun and there are often family events scheduled, like the upcoming Earth Day celebration, Earthfest at Talking Rocks Cavern.
With all of the things to do in Branson, Missouri, it can be hard to decide what to do first. Catch a live show? Linger over a delicious dinner? Well, at Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede Dinner Attraction, you can do both at the same time. This is a dramatic show with live animals, dynamic lighting, sounds and even pyrotechnics. You can enjoy all of this while enjoying a four-course meal. For dramatic live show entertainment for the entire family and a fabulous dinner, check out the Dixie Stampede on your Branson getaway.
For some memorable and fun things to do in Branson, check out the Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum here. Its star building is so popular it has become one of Branson's most photographed buildings. When visitors first see the building split nearly in half in a replica of an earthquake-shaken building, they reasonably assume it is based on what a California earthquake could do to a building. But they are wrong. It is based on a rarely heard about fact—that Missouri and not California has had the strongest earthquake in America, registering at 8.0 on the Richter Scale. This 1812 trembler centered in New Madrid, Missouri, was so savage it made the Mississippi River run backwards for three days. So for some Branson fun, check out this building and more at the Ripley's in Branson.
While there are many fun things to do in Missouri, one option is to take a literary journey through Laura Ingalls Wilder life at the Laura Ingalls Wilder Home and Museum in Mansfield, Missouri. Fans of the “Little House on the Prairie” books come from near and far to visit Rocky Ridge Farm, the farm that Laura shared with her husband Almanzo. This home-turned-museum has not been restored and has been virtually untouched over the years, meaning you can walk through her home and really feel like you are taking a literary journey through her life. This is where she wrote the manuscripts that would become her famous books loved by millions worldwide. As you tour her home, you can explore the original manuscripts, furniture and other artifacts to gain insight into this remarkable pioneer author. Truly a must-see for any Laura Ingalls Wilder fan or just about anyone interested in frontier life.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|