When I originally thought of Branson, Missouri, I’m not going to lie- I thought of a vacation destination for white haired folks who wanted to see redneck country shows. You know, the Midwest’s Vegas of sorts. Turns out, I was slightly wrong. While the town is definitely known for their country shows (that probably could be seen as slightly redneck)-it is also smack dab the heart of the Ozarks, and let me tell you, it is GORGEOUS. The rocky country side, the “mountains” as my family from Texas calls them (when you’re from Idaho, other parts of the country have beautiful rolling hills, but maybe not so much mounains), and the lakes and rivers. It’s much more of an outdoorsy location than I thought- I wish we had time to go fishing (because people do flock to the area for the trout) but alas a trip to the fish hatchery would have to do.
1. College of the Ozarks
I know it sounds so silly to want to tour a college during an out of town stint, but College of the Ozarks in itself is a destination. There is a lodge to actually stay in, a restaurant, multiple touring spots and museums, and plenty of family friendly activities. Our favorites were to tour the jam making kitchen, tractor museum, and eat ice cream from the creamery. And to top it off, most of the museums and tours on the campus are free! For more info on visiting the campus, click here.
Located just below the Table Rock Dam, Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery is not only a great place to view the dam but also to learn about trout rearing. There are some guided tours throughout the day or you can stroll at your own pace during a self guided tour. Click here for more info.
With 14 adults and kids, we needed space to spread out. Marriott’s Willow Ridge Lodge was the perfect accommodations for our large group, with adjoining suites and large kitchens in the rooms. We were able to cook many meals in the room and it was so nice to simply relax in the room and on the patio overlooking the pool.
This restaurant not only has good food, but the meal comes with a good show! The adjoined coffee shop sells bakery items made at the restaurant and serves great coffee. More info and menu can be found here.
A great opportunity to see Table Rock Lake, the Showboat Branson Belle is a two hour long boat ride/show/dinner. Good food, good show, good scenery- a win!