Western Trips

Western Trips

Friday, December 9, 2011

A Trip to Beautiful Branson Missouri

branson missouri riverfront
Branson Missouri riverfront area
Branson Missouri has become a premiere tourist destination for many families. Just listing all of the Branson attractions is a task. Many people travel to Branson because of the first class entertainment available.

You will find more than fifty live performance theaters, a whopping twelve championship golf courses, three beautiful lakes, an international award winning theme park, a very historic downtown district and an excursion train that will take you on a pleasant short trip into northern Arkansas and back.

A Big Tourist Destination

Branson, located in the scenic Ozark Mountains of southern Missouri, bills itself as a very affordable family vacation destination, and it truly is. There is something in Branson for the entire family. The town offers some 22,000 hotel rooms and a huge selection of restaurants that will fit any budget. It's estimated that Branson has some 7 million visitors per year. There are about 100 live shows and a total of 400 restaurants.

A family will find hotels in Branson Missouri to fit every vacation budget. You'll also find several Branson vacation packages to fit just about any trip length. You'll also want to check out the resorts in Branson Missouri, some of which offer cabins, marinas and boat rentals. Branson resorts also offer vacation packages.

For many years Branson was a popular destination for travelers from Missouri and other nearby states. A big change occurred with the establishing of music theaters by nationally known performers. These theaters found all along Highway 76 ( known as The Strip) greatly increased Branson's popularity and as a result Branson Missouri is a destination for tourists from all areas of the United States and the world. Branson shows are one it's main attractions.

The History of Branson Missouri

branson scenic railway
Train depot
Branson had it's beginnings in 1882 with the establishment of a general store. The town is named for Reuben Branson who not only opened the general store but also operated it as the local post office.

As far as Branson's entertainment start, you could say it began in 1894 with the Marble Cave. This was a natural cave explored in the 1880's and it was found to house quite a lot of marble. The cave was eventually purchased by a man named William Lynch and he opened it up to tourists. Lynch's tourist business did quite well. The town of Branson grew and was incorporated in 1912.

Branson and Show Business

The beginnings of Branson's show business connections can really be traced back to the year 1907. This was the year that author Harold bell Wright published the novel, "The Ozarks, The Shepherd of the Hills". The Old Mill Theater produced the first outdoor performance based on this novel in 1960.If you travel to Branson today you can still enjoy this production which still runs at the Old Mill Theater.

branson missouri train
Scenery on train ride
Branson's entertainment reputation continued when in 1962 the popular television series, The Beverly Hillbillies, used Branson as the home town of the fictional Clampett family.

The country star, Roy Clark, was instrumental in starting the celebrity theater venues which Branson is known for. Clark opened his theater in 1983 called the Roy Clark Celebrity Theatre. He was the first country celebrity to open his own theater and as time went on several country celebrities followed suit with their own theaters, many of which first appeared in Branson at Clark's venue. In 1987, Box Car Willie was the first  with a permanent schedule in Branson. In 1992, Andy Williams opened his Moon River Theatre.
In addition to this, Branson Missouri is now home to America's largest Veterans Day Celebration which is called Veteran's Homecoming Week.

Just to give you an idea of the celebrities who have passed through Branson Missouri over the years, they include...Johnny Cash, Wayne Newton, Rich Little, The Osmond Family, Charley Pride, Glen Campbell, Brenda Lee, Mickey Gilley, Gladys Knight, Lawrence Welk, Dick Clark and many many more. Branson is one of the biggest celebrity venues outside of Las Vegas Nevada.

Branson Scenic Railway

 branson missouri sunset
Branson sunset
During my visit to Branson I took the Branson Scenic Railway on it's very enjoyable one hour and 45 minute trip. The trip begins at the train depot in the center of town near the river.

The train travels through tunnels, over trestles, and through the southwest Missouri and northwest Arkansas wilderness. The Ozark Mountain foothills offer terrific picture taking opportunities. The train is made up of unique passenger cars. If you love trains then you'll love this fun rail excursion. The excursion is a forty mile round trip and snacks are available onboard.

 Plenty of Golf in Branson

 branson missouri golf course
Branson golf
Golf is another one of the popular things to do in Branson. If you're a golfer, your Branson vacation will offer a fine selection of golf courses for any skill level. I was able to play several during my trip there.

The Ozark Mountain topography lends itself well to championship golf courses. In addition to this, while winter does make it's way to Branson each year, the climate at Branson is mild most of the time. There are more than six major golf courses in Branson and three popular ones are Thousand Hills, Branson Creek and Pointe Royale.

Branson is located in extreme southern Missouri about 50 miles south of Springfield Missouri very near the Arkansas border. It's about 220 miles from Tulsa Oklahoma mostly via Interstate-44. About 200 miles from the Kansas City area and about 155 miles from Fort Smith Arkansas. If you're plans call for a Missouri vacation, Branson is a good companion trip to both historic Independence Missouri and  St. Joseph Missouri, the home and museum of the train and bank robber Jesse James.

Branson is a perfect family vacation destination and depending on where you happen to reside, it's one of the best weekend side trips you can find anywhere. Branson attractions offer something fun for every family member.

(Article and photos copyright Western Trips)

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  1. Thanks for sharing all of this useful information about Branson, it looks like a really nice place! Some friends and I are looking at some Branson MO lodging because we are going to see a show there. I will definitely try out all of the things you recommended when going down there.

  2. Thanks for the information! I've been looking into vacationing there int he summer. Is there any Branson MO lodgingthat would suggest? I am looking for some place simple to stay, not ultra luxiourious, becasue i do not plan on spending any time in the room. I've also heard that there is so many vacation activities around, what was your favorite thing to do?

    1. The Scenic Train ride was one of my favorites. I enjoy riding trains quite a bit and the scenery on this route is beautiful. One of the best things about Branson is that there's plenty of fun things to do for the entire family.


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