We recently spent a few fun-filled days in Branson, Missouri. If you haven’t heard of Branson, it’s about time you do. If you’ve been to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, think of Branson as its sister city. It’s also a lot like International Drive in Orlando, if it were in the Ozark mountains. Thanks to the Branson CVB and Silver Dollar City Attractions for inviting us out. Although we spend three whole days there, there’s so much more to see and do.
We spent most of the day flying there from Orlando. Our flight was on Delta through Atlanta. It’s a short flight from Orlando to Atlanta – about an hour. The Atlanta airport is huge, but thankfully our connecting flight gate was not as far as it could have been. The flight from Atlanta to Branson was about an hour and half. We arrived in Springfield, Missouri around 4 p.m., where it was 54 degrees and looked like rain. We got our rental car and had a one hour drive to our hotel.
We really had to watch our speed on the drive to Branson. The limit changes quickly, so it’s a bit of a speed trap. We saw a few cops were pulling cars over. Luckily we stayed within the limit. With all the crazy, winding, hilly roads, (and not too many guardrails) I wouldn’t even want to try to speed. (We’re used to driving in flat Florida.)
We checked into the Chateau on the Lake. Our room on the eighth floor had a beautiful view. It had a large bathroom with a lot of counter space. We had two double beds, a nice little wet bar area with a sink next to the closet, and a pretty decent sized bathroom. The cute balcony was a nice place to enjoy the view, even more so on good-weather days. The outside pool and the sauna were covered up. But they also have a indoor pool and a spa at this resort. We didn’t have time to visit them this trip. We had a busy schedule.
We went to dinner at the Château Grill inside the hotel. The staff was very sweet and funny. The food was good, too. I had the Château Briand. I figured we are at the Château, so I’d better try that! It did not disappoint. It was a great dining experience before heading off to bed after a long day.
Day 1 in Branson: Aquarium, Jeep Tour, Shopping, and Dining
We went down to the lobby to meet our tour bus that would take us to breakfast at Billy Gail’s Restaurant. The portions are absolutely huge at this restaurant. They are know for their delicious, huge pancakes. The Billion Dollar Bacon covered in syrup is also popular. It’s a really popular place, so there may be a wait, especially during peak seasons.
You can’t miss the Aquarium at the Boardwalk. It’s the colorful building with a 46-foot giant octopus in front. They fit a lot in a little space, compared to some other aquariums. They have a shrimp that is called the “Sexy Shrimp,” because it kinda twerks. There is a small theater with moving seats that follows the story of a cute little octopus and a puffer fish, Aquarius and Finn. Play areas and touch zones are popular with kids. Of course, there is a cute little gift shop to pick up your sea life themed gifts. The aquarium reminded us of Sea Life, if you’ve ever been to one of them.
We opted for lunch right across the street at Cakes-n-Creams Diner. The sweet owner has owned it for more than 42 years. We split a burger, fried pickles, and sodas. It was the perfect-sized lunch for the two of us. This place is packed at night, so coming during the day or at lunchtime might be a better choice. We suspect it’s so crowded at night because of their selection of ice creams. They also have a small arcade in the back, and a tropical miniature golf course next door.
Next we went shopping at the Tanger Outlets. We couldn’t resist going to the Disney outlet store. We ended up buying a few things there. One was a reversible Eternals jacket for $12. I also shopped at the Vera Bradley outlet as well.
The Pink Jeep Tours in Branson is similar to the original one in Sedona, Arizona. They are new to Branson. They had their official launch shortly after our media tour. It’s a fun way to learn about Branson’s history as you enjoy a sometimes bumpy ride through the Ozarks. It’s family-friendly four wheelin’.
After checking out their gift shop, be sure to watch the cute little movie they have about the history of Branson and how the Pink Jeep Tours came to be. We went back to the hotel after the tour to clean up before dinner.
Branson Landing is a massive outdoor mall and apartment complex; they call it an outdoor lifestyle center. More than $45 million was spent to create this shopping, dining, living, and entertainment center. We ate at Guy Fieri’s Branson Kitchen + Bar in Branson Landing for dinner. The Trash Can Nachos and the Queso + Corn Dip are a great thing to order as a group. Both were so good. But then there was more food. My husband, Matt, got the Motley Que Pulled Pork sandwich and I got the Crispy Chicken Bacon Ranch sandwich. We were too full to order dessert. But they looked good.
Day 2: Silver Dollar City Theme Park and a Show
Silver Dollar City is an 1880s city-themed park. It’s a quirky and fun park with unique crafts, fun rides, and historical stories.
We arrived at the park before it was officially open for the day, to enjoy breakfast. They are know for their cinnamon rolls and bread. We are partial to the bread. It’s messy and yummy. After trying that, we enjoyed a breakfast buffet. As if that was not enough food, they gave us vouchers to try some of their Street Fest foods throughout the day.
While Street Fest was happening while we were there, they have festivals throughout the year. Their Christmas celebration features more than seven million lights and is their most popular festival. They bring in Broadway-like shows certain times of the year, as well. Their Christmas lights are similar to the Osborne lights that used to be at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
The park is 61 years old, so there’s a lot of history. The Marvel Cave tour was so popular that the owners built Silver Dollar City around it so those waiting for the tour would have something to do. You hear about that history on the cave tour.
There are many different kinds of craft kiosks and stores throughout Silver Dollar City. You’ll see things such as pottery, iron work, glass blowing, and so much more. They were nice enough to give us a mug from the glass shop and some things from the White River Bath and Body shop. They’re locally crafted and natural. They smell amazing too. They even have products for your pets. It’s so nice how they incorporate local craftsmen into the park.
We walked around the pretty and hilly park exploring the fun shops and historic areas. Brown’s Candy Factory is not to be missed. Some of the ladies that make the peanut brittle have been there many years. June Ward has been there for 55 years. She’s a character. You’re in for a treat if she is there. If you see a name incorporated into a themed sign in the park, it’s most likely that person is a long-time employee. So many people have stayed working here for decades that it must be a fun place to work.
For lunch we went to the Rivertown Smokehouse with a view of the splashdown from their newest ride, Mystic River Falls. They gave us a little sampling of a lot of different BBQ and other foods. They were all delicious. I think they should have a sampler like it on the menu. I would buy it.
We checked out some of their awesome roller coasters after our food digested a bit. They also have rides for little kids that the parents can ride, too. Families love to walk around the historic buildings. They have a historic church, home, and school. It’s a fun way to learn about how people used to live, and the history of the area. They have just added a calming space for people that need it, with a nursing station and charging stations.
My tips: Grab The Pathfinder newspaper at the front of the park to help you plan your way through the park. Get there early and don’t miss the bakery in the front. Eat a good breakfast and make your game plan. There are 40 plus rides and much more to see. Their history is so interesting. Plus there’s Marvel Cave to explore, too. It’s a bit of a strenuous climb up and down stairs, hills, and between rocks, so it’s not for everyone, but it’s an amazing tour if you are up for it. All and all, it’s a great park with a little something for everyone; history buffs, foodies, craft lovers, and ride enthusiasts will all be thrilled at what this park has to offer.
We ended the night by seeing the “Anthems of Rock” show at King’s Castle Theatre on the Branson strip. It was an energetic and fun rock show. It’s cool how many different rock artists they cover. They sing a lot of the favorites from the glory days of rock, from artists like Def Leppard, The Who, Led Zeppelin, Queen, The Beatles, Journey, Aerosmith, Heart, and even Elton John, to name a few. It’s a rockin’ good time, if you love that music. I really enjoyed it.
Day 3: Titanic, Coaster, Showboat Dinner, and a Show
We had breakfast on our own, so we were glad we brought a loaf of cinnamon bread from Silver Dollar City the day before. It’s excellent warmed up and served with coffee.
First we headed to the Copperhead Mountain Coaster at the Shepard of the Hills Adventure Park. I didn’t feel like riding, so Matt went down the mountain. He said it was a fast, fun ride followed by a peaceful, slow ride back up. Here’s a look:
We had a nice lunch on our own at LandShark Bar and Grill back at the Branson Landing. It’s a nice location to enjoy their fountain show. The fountain show (with flames) goes off once an hour, on the hour, and starts at noon. Be warned, if you are eating outside at LandSharks and it’s windy, you might get wet.
Next up was the Titanic Museum. They not only gave us a great guided tour, they allowed us to film in areas where you are normally not allowed. We are so captivated by the story of the Titanic. This museum is great way to learn about how it really was onboard.
Next was dinner on the Showboat Branson Belle paddleboat dinner show. Normally she sails out onto Table Rock Lake, but this day she didn’t because the winds were too high. Guests were given partial refunds, but still enjoyed a great show and delicious meal. There’s a general seating menu and a premium seating menu called the Captain’s Club. The upgraded has four entrée options, unlike the general menu, which has two. The Captain’s Club also has seats with a higher up view. After eating your dinner you can explore the showboat, and they have some games and entertainment upstairs before the main show begins.
A little tip: The upper deck can be a bit windy, so a skirt might not be the best choice for this venue. Also, I would not recommend heels. I personally did not wear them, but I saw how uncomfortable girls who did were.
They normally don’t allow photos or videos, but we were allowed so we could share them with you. The show had a bit of a variety. They had a rock music, gospel, movie and show tunes, dancing, and a little audience participation and magic.
To end our last night in Branson, we went to the The Haygoods show at the Clay Cooper Theater. The Haygoods are an extremely talented family who got their start at Silver Dollar City before they opened their own show on “the strip” in Branson. They truly are a family run business. Each family member has their own jobs in the show, and all can play many different instruments and have many different talents. They even do their own set design, lighting, and more. Michael Haygood designed a lot of cool tech you see during the show. He told us he saw the cool video projections Disney does on Cinderella Castle and thought, “I could do that in our show.” So he designed video projections on their instruments during one segment of the show. When I asked who the leader was, they said, “That’s a loaded question.” They all work together.
There are currently five Haygood brothers and one sister in the show. The “little sister” is 29 years old and was born when they started preforming at Silver Dollar City. She plays a lot of different instruments, sings, dances, and is not only the baby of the family, she is also the only girl (besides mom). We didn’t know what to expect since we had never heard of The Haygoods, but it really is an amazing show. I enjoyed their talented and innovative performance as much as I loved seeing the chemistry between the siblings.
The next day was time to check out and head back to the airport in Springfield. This was my first time visiting Branson and Silver Dollar City, and I fell in love with them! The people are so friendly and fun. I can’t wait until we are able to visit again!
Have you been to Branson? Let us know how you liked it in the comments below. Click here to follow our Twitter thread of our Branson trip.