Branson, Missouri is eighty-six minutes away. Southwest’s non-stop flights from Houston-Hobby to Branson make it easy for Houstonians to enjoy the Ozark Mountains, outdoor adventures and entertainment venues that make Branson famous.
You’re not in Houston; put the phone down. You will experience mountain roads leaving the airport. They are not straight, or flat, and require complete focus. Throughout the area the roads wind around mountains, through valleys, and over ridges and beautiful bridges. They are excellently constructed with smooth surfaces and banked turns. After a couple days you’ll want to trade in your rental for something with a little more pep and handling capabilities so you can test your driving thrills.
Live entertainment is everywhere; Branson is known as the Live Music Capital of the World. But don’t get stuck in a rut on the strip. Outdoor adventures abound in this mountain town. Golf, trout and bass fishing, hunting, camping, biking and hiking are popular.
Forget the mountain roads and try to drive straight. Murder Rock Golf Club offers wide beautiful fairways, but the slope will push your ball into the murder rough if you’re not careful. The ball might sit up in summer grass, but spring, fall and winter it will drop beneath the surface. Course elevation varies 300 feet; greens are slick as glass, views are awesome, deer and turkey sightings are plentiful.
Branson is a great golf get-away. Nearly a dozen courses to choose from; most boast a USGA rating over 69. Architects include Payne Stewart, Jack Nicolas and Tom Fazio. The best part is you can play these beautiful courses for less than $100 each; green fees average about $80 with cart. After your round, visit the Rowdy Beaver Tavern for food, drink and fun. The owner and entertainers are big time golfers with close ties to major musicians. They’ve played on the road with Mel Tillis, Mo Bandy and Lee Greenwood. Enjoy Rowdy’s Big Boy 20 oz. Porterhouse as they keep you laughing and singing.
Table Rock Lake is full of bass! Largemouth, Kentucky spotted and feisty smallmouth are waiting to bend your fishing pole. Just down the road, Lake Taneycomo holds world-renowned rainbow and brown trout. Numerous guide services are ready to lead you to the honey holes and wall hangers.
Hiking, biking and more in Dogwood Canyon Nature Park
Owner John Morris, of Bass Pro Shop fame, enhanced the natural beauty of Dogwood Canyon Nature Park to create jaw-dropping scenes. The spring fed creeks are crystal clear and filled with giant rainbow trout. Canyon cliffs have been power washed to reveal color and depth in the layers of limestone and Amish craftsmen were brought in to build bridges and the little chapel by hand, no power tools needed. Herds of buffalo, elk and Texas longhorns add additional excitement. The man who turned sporting goods stores into vacation destinations has worked his magic once again, on a bigger scale.
The nature experience here is surreal. Dozens of waterfalls splash down the limestone cliffs as you walk or bike the 6-mile nature trail. The trout swimming in the creeks along the trail are big and visible; you’ll pass Indian burial grounds, caves and occasionally bald eagles. Upgrade to horse or tram tours to ride within a few feet of buffalo, elk and Texas longhorn herds. Adult admission fees range from $12.95 to walk the park to $70 for ATV tours. You can catch and release the big trout on Dogwood Creek with a half-day guided fishing experience for $250; it’s like shooting fish in a barrel!
Silver Dollar City
Marvel Cave has been a tourist attraction since the late 1800s. In the 1950s the owners built a few frontier-style buildings where craftsmen entertained people waiting to enter the cave. They soon realized the craftsmen were a bigger draw than the cave. Today, tourists watch craftsmen blow glass, carve wood, spin pottery, create jewelry and perform various crafts in 60 individual 1890s era buildings. The property is a world-class theme park with immaculate grounds, 30 rides and 40 daily live shows joining the frontier town.
Branson has over 50 theaters and more than 50 thousand seats. At 10:00am people are lined up outside the RFD-TV Theater to see Mr. Banjo, Buck Trent. Hee Haw’s CMA award winning entertainer gets the day started with his famed banjo magic. Shows continue throughout the day with last performances usually starting at 8:00pm. Whether you want to hear Mickey Gilley sing his life story or listen to new music from America’s Got Talent’s Texas Tenors, the opportunity is here. You can watch the oldest variety show in town, the Baldknobbers, or a magic and variety show over dinner on The Showboat Branson Belle as she sails around Table Rock Lake. You’ll find entertainers singing at your hotel restaurant during breakfast and playing on the sidewalk near the Branson Landing. Hundreds of musical acts keep people coming back to this entertainment Mecca.
The Titanic Museum has over $4 million worth of Titanic artifacts. The outside of the structure is a ½ scale model of the doomed ship; inside you’ll find life-sized models of cabins and the grand staircase, along with stories of the passengers on the frightful maiden voyage. Ripley’s Believe it or Not and the Wax Museum are close by for a complete day of touring. Andy Williams Moon River Grill is a great place for a classy lunch or dinner, just a few blocks from the museums.
Less than 10 minutes from Branson’s strip is an impressive castle, perched high on a hill overlooking Table Rock Lake. The Chateau on the Lake is an AAA four diamond resort featuring European style service and luxury. Great views, 14,000-foot spa and location make this property attractive.
Big Cedar Lodge was once a private playground for Bass Pro Shop executives and vendors. Now the immaculate log cabins house vacationers seeking the beauty and solitude of the Ozarks. The resort offers so much, 80% of the guests never leave the property during their vacation. Full service marina, two spas, restaurants, live entertainment, golf course, shopping, stables and kids club keep guests busy. If you want to hit the Branson entertainment strip, it’s just 20 minutes away.
Branson is bustling March – December. Spring and summer outdoor activities yield to Christmas starting on November 1st. Virtually every show adds a Christmas segment and Silver Dollar City lights up every board on every building in the park. Many of the shows are constant; you have to watch the listings to see when your favorite artists are coming to town.