All Posts in Category: Branson Missouri
While September 11, 2001 grows deeper into history over time, our attachment to that day grows stronger as we seek to never forget the events that strengthened the bonds to further unite America’s people. To some, the War on Terror is very personal as they recall media coverage, personal experiences or perhaps even lost a loved one on that day. Today’s younger generations, on the other hand may only be familiar through conversation that takes place at the dinner table among their parents and grandparents. At the age of 19 on September 11, 2001, however, my personal recollection of that day reflects the routine of a college student but has transitioned to a personal mission to exhibit my commitment to patriotism.
I can vividly remember walking into the dorm’s lounge and seeing the images of buildings in New York with smoke rolling out of them. I remember trying to get filled in as quickly as possible as to what was happening. As a 19 year old kid, while I knew this event was a big deal, I’m not sure that I fully understood the importance of what was happening at that moment, and routinely went about my day…I still went to classes and my campus job; my day did not stand still.
Time has allowed the emotion to sink in, however, and having friends who now serve as one of Branson’s hometown defenders, their pledge to serve and protect the community in which I am now raising my own children.
Matt Eaves, my friend and former classmate at College of the Ozarks, is now a Branson Fire & Rescue engineer. Matt and I initially met at the College of the Ozarks firehouse where he was studying to become a firefighter some day. He remembers going to class that morning to find everyone huddled around a computer to watch the events unfolded over national television.
“It was kind of weird. I hadn’t been in the fire service that long; I didn’t have a huge connection to it yet. So the actual events on that particular day were not as big of a deal as it has become to me now.”
“Being around the fire service as long as I have, it (9/11) really becomes emotional… what we say in the fire service world is to ‘not forget’ says Eaves. The Branson Fire Department goes the extra mile to ensure its service men and women never forget. On Thursday, they added a name of one of their fellow firefighters from 9-11 onto their riding board to carry with them throughout the day. “We carry their memories with us, especially this month. “
“For me, the experience of 9/11 has changed from the time it happened – especially after being a part of the fire service for 16 years since then.”
One person who was already well entrenched in the fire service during the events of September 11, 2001 was Branson Fire Chief Ted Martin. Martin said in an interview, “On September 11, we were staffed here at the fire station and saw the first impact on television. As we were watching that news story develop it was obvious that the country was under attack. We were a thousand miles away and loaded with firefighters who were ready to go, but we still had a community to serve.”
“We could hear the personal safety devices that were worn by firefighters in the background [of the news report] going off. We knew there were a lot of injured firefighters. That was hard to listen to here, locally. It was one big challenge to be sitting this far away and not be able to do anything about it, but to simply focus on our brothers and sisters in the fire service and emergency service,” added Chief Martin.
Taking the time to focus on those who were directly impacted by this national tragedy is something that Branson takes very seriously. College of the Ozarks is home to the September 11 “Lest We Forget Memorial” which includes one of the last remaining remnants of the World Trade Center, which is part of their memorial. Marci Linson who is the Deans of Admissions at the college is also the Vice President of Patriotic Activities and shared her memories of that day: “I was working in the admissions office and one of my colleagues on campus called and said ‘have you seen the news?’ It all unfolded from there. I remember being very, very frightened because we didn’t know what was going on.”
While Matt and myself where students at College of the Ozarks at that time, students enrolled there today ranged in age of two to four years old. They know about what happened, but its impact may not be the same. It is the goal of Linson and the college to make sure that they understand the emotion involved.
“As I oversee Patriotic Activities that include special events and ceremonies, we make sure that we remember 9/11 every year. Of course the college has made it a priority to honor 9/11 heroes every year; we are blessed with the opportunity to handle it. We have children from daycare all the way up through college. It’s not just about remembering – it’s about making sure the younger generations know. We want them to know, even the hard things.”
These efforts not only reach the residents and visitors of Branson, but the local service men and women take notice as well. For those like Matt Eaves it is not taken for granted.
“With all of the different events and the media coverage, the general feeling of Branson residents and visitors is that you’re always getting a ‘thanks for your service’ and ‘Thank You’. We had a lady come up to us the other day, very emotional, saying thank you about a call we ran – not even our crew but one of the crews in Branson – that basically saved her life. “
“It’s not even just about the firefighters or the emergency responders; it is about all of the people that passed away that day. I think Branson does a good job at remembering and honoring their memories. I appreciate the different events and lengths the different businesses and organizations go to, it is done very tastefully. It’s not a ‘Hey look at us’, it’s providing a venue to remember.”
Chief Martin seconds Eaves’ belief. “It [Branson] turned into a community that is really resilient in serving and working with other communities that were affected…and by remembering.”
This year Branson is proud to continue its tradition of honoring America’s heroes and hometown defenders. Throughout the month of September, all Fire & Rescue, EMT, law enforcement, active military personnel and veterans will receive free admission to Silver Dollar City, and half-price admission for their spouse. For the rest of us, I encourage all to join me in my challenge to take time to reflect and never forget.
By: Eric Boston @EricBoston3
Spending a day in Branson includes several items on the average to-do list. Making time to visit shows, shopping, and countless outdoor activities are all options. One thing that everyone has to do while in town is eat. One of the best options around now resides in the former Andy Williams’ Moon River Grill.
Shorty Small’s has been serving up great Southern dishes and top notch BBQ in Branson for years. Sitting in the heart of the 76 strip, it makes for easy access to grab a meal that is sure to give you the fuel you need as you tour Branson. Be warned, Shorty’s makes sure to fill you up. Their portions are, should we say, “shareable”. As the staff says, “Everybody walks out full!”
Don’t worry if you stop in and there is a line (remember a wait at a restaurant is a good sign), Shorty’s has plenty to keep you entertained while your table is prepared for you. Make sure to get your free digital selfie at their photo booth. The crew here at ChooseBranson had a blast picking out props and getting our picture taken. Not only can you get a digital copy sent to your phone via text, but the staff can print out top quality photographs on the spot. They also offer a package that includes photos, t-shirts, and a bounce-back coupon at an excellent value.
Once seated the best place to start any meal is with an appetizer. Shorty’s Famous Onion Loaf is made up of sliced onions that have been breaded and deep-fried. The onion loaf comes in two different sizes and includes Chipotle Ranch dip on the side.
The Macho Nachos are “bunches and bunches” of tortilla chips covered with meaty chili, charro beans, Jack and Cheddar cheeses, diced tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, lettuce and sour cream. The half-order hits the spot, but if you are feeling adventurous then give the full-order a run.
Who doesn’t love a good Mozzarella stick? At Shorty Small’s they take fried cheese to another level. How about a Mozzarella stick the size of a Twinkie? Once you get a grip on this bad boy, make sure you dunk it in Sadie’s special marina sauce.
A refreshing cocktail is always a way to wash down any appetizer or meal. Try Shorty’s version of a hurricane, the “Sadie’s Breath”. It is a mixture of light and dark rum, orange juice, pineapple juice and grenadine. Topped off with an orange wedge and cherry, it really hits the spot.
When it comes to choosing a main course Shorty Small’s has a wide variety to choose from. Whether it’s homestyle burgers, salads, sandwiches, soup, BBQ, or steaks no matter the choice it is sure to please your appetite. Let us suggest some of Shorty’s classic menu items.
Check out the House Favorites and see why Shorty Small’s is a hit with locals and visitors alike. The World Famous Catfish platter includes farm-raised strips of “fried-just-right” catfish and includes a pile of french fries, as well as homemade coleslaw, on the side.
The Roasted Chicken feels just like something that grandma would make on a Sunday afternoon. An oven-roasted half chicken that has been lightly-seasoned and comes with helpings of mashed potatoes and gravy, and green beans. It is a picture perfect plate that you may feel shouldn’t be disturbed. Except that it tastes amazing so there is no chance of that!
If you are someone who enjoys a good challenge then get ready. Shorty Small’s is the home of the World’s Largest Chicken Fried Steak. This hand-breaded steak is topped with country gravy and is so big the platter can barely contain it. Add-in seasoned fries and coleslaw for the ultimate filler-upper. But let me tell you it is worth taking on. It may very well be the best thing on the menu. Perhaps you should find that out for yourself!
You cannot be in the Ozarks and not enjoy some great BBQ. Shorty Small’s “Jumpin’-Off-The-Bone” Ribs will rival the best around. Marinated loin-back ribs, that have been basted with their house sauce, will have you lickin’ your fingers and coming back for more. They are simply THAT GOOD!
After catching Illusionist Rick Thomas at the Andy Williams Performing Arts Center & Theatre why not come across the street and finish your night off with a something a little sweet. Ask for a table in the Andy room and check out the wall of portraits of the legendary performer with other musical acts you are sure to recognize. Nibbling on a fantastic desert is the “icing on the cake”.
The Cookie Monster is a chocolate chip, brownie sundae. Topped with vanilla ice cream, caramel, chocolate, whipped cream, nuts, and of course a cherry. Everyone in the family will want to grab a spoon and dive into this delicious treat.
If you prefer a desert with a bit more warmth to it, then don’t pass up the Sizzlin’ Apple Pie. Brought to your table on a sizzlin’ skillet this pie has been baked to perfection. Filled with handpicked apples and topped with vanilla ice cream, the kicker is when your server pours Shorty’s brandy butter sauce over the giant slice right at your table. Not only will the steam rise, but so will your anticipation.
This Fall will be a great time to stop by and relax on Shorty Small’s outdoor patio. Complete with fire pit, it is the perfect place to spend an evening with friends, hear some live music, and maybe even sight Shorty’s unofficial mascots (two groundhogs and a large bullfrog). Grab a drink from the bar off of their Fall drink specials.
The Fall lineup will include the Top Shelf Margarita, Branson Mule, and BBQ Bacon Bloody Mary which includes strips of bacon and Shorty’s house BBQ sauce.
So whether you are grabbing lunch before heading back out on the Branson trail, or looking for a night filled with good food and entertainment, Shorty Small’s needs to be at the top of your list. With a great menu and awesome atmosphere it is truly one of Branson’s gems!
By: Michael Ayo
Just because you’re on vacation in Branson doesn’t mean Valentine’s Day has to be any less romantic or meaningful. While February may seem to be in the “offseason” of entertainment in Branson, there are still plenty of great Valentine’s activities to try out along with a few shows to see.
One of the most relaxing and romantic ways to spend Valentine’s Day is with a couples massage. Several places around Branson offer a number of different spa services and packages, depending on what you are looking for. Spa O2 on Highway 165 and Spa Chateau at Chateau on the Lake are two of the more popular places to visit, though others such as Body Works Day Spa on Green Mountain Drive and City Spatique Day Spa on Shepherd of the Hills are great too.
Aside from the shows and attractions, Branson’s shopping is one of the biggest draws to the town. Whether you want designer clothing, outlet store prices or handcrafted works of art, there are stores to satisfy all your needs in Branson. While it may lack in romance, spending the day shopping is still an acceptable way to celebrate Valentine’s Day. The Branson Landing has several great shops to browse through, and the same can be said for the Grand Village.
From Feb. 7 through Valentine’s Day, Tanger Outlets will be having their “Share the Love at Tanger Outlets” event where you could have a shot to win multiple prizes. Shopping during this week gives you a chance to win a $1,400 Yves Delorme luxury bedding set and a $500 Tanger shopping spree. There will also be a “Tanger Share the Love” team walking throughout the mall giving out random prizes to lucky recipients. The final way to win a great prize during this week is by visiting the Tanger Facebook page and sharing #TangerLove with your friends to enter you in daily prize giveaways. For more information on the “Share the Love at Tanger Outlets” event, visit tangeroutlet.com.
While a vast majority of theaters are still on vacation for the season, two shows will be hosting special Valentine’s Day performances. The Hughes Brothers Theatre will be hosting their “It Celebrates Valentine’s Day Show,” complete with a renewing of vows and a free memory portrait taken. When you buy your tickets, you have the option of adding a candlelight dinner at the theatre before the show with flowers, romantic music and a classic romance movie.
Another show happening on the weekend before Valentine’s Day is “Elvis Live!” at the God and Country Theatres. The first of the special shows will take place on Feb. 11 at 8 p.m. with the “Elvis Live! Aloha from Hawaii” show. Jerry Presley will be reenacting his cousin’s classic performance that was broadcasted via satellite on April 4, 1973. The second will be on Feb. 12 at 2 p.m. in the form of “Elvis Live! Madison Square Garden.” This reenactment will be of Elvis recording his live musical album at Madison Square Garden on June 18, 1972.
If neither of these shows interest you, you can never go wrong gifting tickets in advance to your significant other whenever their favorite show opens for the 2017 season.
Grand gestures are welcomed on Valentine’s Day, and if you are looking to make one this year then the Titanic Museum can help with that. February is Sweetheart Month at the Titanic and you can make reservations for a grand gesture on their Grand Staircase. Whether it is a proposal, engagement photos, a wedding or vow renewals, all can be performed at this attraction. There are also plenty of great gifts to pick up for your sweetheart inside the gift shop that include jewelry and perfumes.
When all else fails, you can never go wrong taking your Valentine out for a nice dinner. There are several fine dining restaurants in Branson to visit on Valentine’s Day, and you are almost guaranteed to find one that matches your taste. Dobyns Dining Room at the Keeter Center and Level 2 Steakhouse are having special Valentine’s Day menus, and others such as Saltgrass Steakhouse offer a fine, quaint atmosphere you are sure to love.
When it comes to Valentine’s Day, just about anything you decide to do will be appreciated by your significant other as long as you put some thought and effort into it. If you are falling short of ideas while in Branson on Feb. 14, try one of the above activities to make this Valentine’s Day one to remember.
Article courtesy of ChooseBranson.com.
By: Michael Ayo
The vast Ozark landscape is filled with many explored, and perhaps unexplored, caves. With all the shows and attractions constantly running in Branson, it may be easy to forget about the beautiful cave tours offered in the Branson area. There are three caves in particular that offer tours throughout most or the entire year.
Perhaps one of the most visited caves in Branson belongs within its most popular attraction. Silver Dollar City’s Marvel Cave actually predates the theme park, and is one of the first attractions to bring visitors to the area. With Silver Dollar City actually built around Marvel Cave, cave tours are complimentary with the price of admission to the park and operates around the same schedule.
A tour through this cave is approximately 60 minutes, and is considered strenuous for some. There are 600 steps to climb, but those who do will see sights such as the Cathedral Room which is the largest cave entrance in the United States. This wet limestone cave also features the Mammoth Room, which is a large cave room located to the right of the guest trail, along with a bat wall and a Spanish ladder left behind circa 1541.
One of the most intriguing caves to explore in the Ozarks resides at Top of the Rock, just south of Branson. Titled the Lost Canyon Cave, here you can enjoy a beautiful two and a half mile journey through the cave aboard an electric cart where you will get glimpses at dramatic natural rock formations and waterfalls as you pass over Amish bridges.
For the adults, Lost Canyon Cave is also home to the Bat Bar near the waterfalls where you can be served specialty drinks such as the signature John L’s Lemonade. Cave tours begin daily at 10 a.m. and run through one hour before sunset, weather permitting. The Bat Bar is open seasonally, starting at 11 a.m. each morning. Tickets for the tours are $20 for adults, $10 for children 4 years to 12, and children 3 and under are complimentary.
One other cave residing in the Ozarks is Talking Rocks Cavern. This cave is open year-round, and sits at a comfortable 62 degrees no matter the season. The cave is vertical in nature, but features concrete steps and handrails for people of all ages to walk on while touring. The cave tour is approximately one hour and guests learn all about the history and discovery of Talking Rocks. Tours begin at 9:30 a.m. on weekdays and run through 5 p.m., and go from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends.
Aside from being educated, people touring can see beautiful rock formations along with glistening crystals throughout. Once the tour is complete and you are back outside, Talking Rocks also has a mini golf course for you to enjoy at an additional cost. Tickets are $17.95 for ages 13 and up, $9.95 for children ages 4 to 12, and ages 3 and under are free. Mini golf is $7 for adults and $5 for children, though discounts are offered for those who tour the cave as well.
There are so many outdoor activities to experience in Branson, sometimes it may be hard to decide what to do. If you enjoy exploring and seeing beautiful rock formations, touring caves is just for you. You can’t go wrong with any of these three caves, and each has additional activities to try out along with their tours.
Article courtesy of ChooseBranson.com.
By: Michael Ayo
Photo opportunities are plentiful around the Ozarks and that is especially true during the holiday season. Christmas lights are everywhere and decorations line the buildings along every road. When it comes to Christmas, Branson goes all out. This is evident by the number of Christmas trees located throughout town. If you want a one of a kind photo opportunity to preserve wonderful memories of vacationing to Branson, be sure to snap a picture in front of one of the Christmas trees around town.
Branson Convention Center
One place to check out for a great Christmas tree picture would be the Branson Convention Center in downtown Branson. Aside from hosting any kind of event imaginable in the Ozarks, the Convention Center is home to a 40-foot tall Christmas tree located inside their lobby.
Branson Ferris Wheel
The Branson Ferris Wheel actually has two different photo ops with Christmas trees. The first, and by far biggest, is the Christmas tree that appears on the side of the ferris wheel several times a night through their LED light display. The other is an actual Christmas tree rather than a massive one made of LED lights. This tree is located just to the right of the gateway you enter to ride the ferris wheel.
Branson IMAX Entertainment Complex
If you are up for catching a movie or a show in the Little Opry Theatre while on vacation, you may want to grab a photo with the IMAX Entertainment Complex’s Christmas tree as well. The decorative tree stands tall in their lobby just as you enter the complex.
One of Branson’s most popular shopping centers is also home to one of the most photogenic trees in the Ozarks. The Branson Landing has their Christmas tree located across from the fountains, standing a whopping 65 feet tall. Right below the tree is Santa’s workshop where kids can grab a photo with jolly St. Nick after snapping one in front of the tree.
Dolly Parton’s well-known dinner attraction, “Dixie Stampede,” possesses a fairly large Christmas tree they place just outside the entrance to the building. As you walk along the stables checking out the horses that star in the show, be sure to stop and admire the beautifully decorated tree outside.
Downtown Branson Roundabout
If you have exited off Highway 65 and turned toward downtown Branson, odds are you have traveled through the roundabout that leads to Skaggs Road, Veterans Boulevard and Branson Landing Boulevard. A trip that may be dizzy to some is lit up with beautiful Christmas lights during the holiday season due to the 80-foot tree in the middle of the roundabout. While it may be difficult to approach this tree on foot for a picture, it is still a wonderful sight to see.
The Grand Village Shops
Another popular shopping center in Branson, the Grand Village Shops is home to the largest Christmas store in the state of Missouri, Kringles Christmas Shop. This store is filled with a wide variety of decorations along with themed Christmas trees. After you see everything inside, go outside and view the 14-foot tree the Shops has on display near the road.
Silver Dollar City
When speaking about Christmas in Branson, it is practically impossible to not mention Silver Dollar City. As one of the most popular attractions in town and a nationally recognized theme park, Silver Dollar City is home to over 5 million Christmas lights and 1,000 decorated trees. At the heart of their decorations is a five-story special effects Christmas tree that is constantly changing colors.
Theaters and Attractions Around Town
There are plenty of Christmas trees around town that will not cost you a dime to see, but Branson’s theaters know how to decorate for the holidays as well. Most people come to the live music capital of the universe to see just that; some fantastic live music. Once you see a show at any number of theaters around Branson, be sure to make time to see all the Christmas trees and decorations each individual theater has made time to put up. If you are visiting an attraction, various places have specially themed trees such as the Butterfly Palace and their poinsettia tree.
Article courtesy of ChooseBranson.com.
By: Michael Ayo
Thanksgiving is one of the most popular holidays of the year. Whether you get excited for the food, family, entertainment or the conclusion of the holiday in order to start decorating for Christmas, there is so much to anticipate on Nov. 24. If you find yourself vacationing to Branson during Thanksgiving this year, it may be helpful to know what shows, attractions and shops are open for the holiday.
The following is a list of shows performing their regular or holiday/Christmas shows on Nov. 24, 2016.
– Acrobats of China at Yakov Theatre
– Amazing Pets at Grand Country Music Hall
– Andy Williams Christmas Extravaganza at the Andy Williams Performing Arts Center
– Carpenters Once More at the Historic Owen Theatre
– Christmas on the Trail at Shepherd of the Hills
– Crazy ‘Bout Patsy and Other Country Legends at the Branson Hot Hits Theatre
– Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede
– The Duttons at the Dutton Family Theater
– George Strait Country at the Little Opry Theatre
– Grand Jubilee at Grand Country Music Hall
– Hamners’ Unbelievable Variety Show at Hamners’ Variety Theater
– Hank Williams Revisited at the Historic Owen Theatre
– The Haygoods at the Clay Cooper Theatre
– Hughes Brothers We’re Thankful for You at the Hughes Brothers Theatre
– Hypnolarious at the Lodge of the Ozarks Crystal Theatre
– The Legend of Kungfu: Return of the Dragon at the White House Theatre
– Legends in Concert at Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Theater
– The Lettermen at the Andy Williams Performing Arts Center
– Maxine’s Christmas Carol at the Andy Williams Performing Arts Center
– Million Dollar Quartet at the Welk Resort Theatre
– Motown Downtown at the Branson Hot Hits Theatre
– A Neil Diamond Tribute at the Historic Owen Theatre
– New Jersey Nights at King’s Castle Theatre
– Pierce Arrow at the Pierce Arrow Theatre
– Puttin’ on the Ritz at King’s Castle Theatre
– REZA: Edge of Illusion at the Starlite Theatre
– Sanders Family Christmas at the Little Opry Theatre
– Shoji Tabuchi at the Shoji Tabuchi Theatre
– Showboat Branson Belle
– A Tribute to John Denver at the Little Opry Theatre
– A Tribute to Marty Robbins at the Little Opry Theatre
– Twice Adopted at Hamners’ Variety Theater
The following is a list of attractions open on Nov. 24, 2016.
– Adventure Ziplines of Branson
– Branson Dinosaur Museum
– Branson Promised Land Zoo
– Branson Zipline
– Branson’s Wild World
– Hollywood Wax Museum
– National Tiger Sanctuary
– Ripley’s Believe it or Not
– Silver Dollar City
– Talking Rocks Cavern
– Titanic Museum
– Velvet Collection Celebrity Car Museum
– Veterans Memorial Museum
– World’s Largest Toy Museum
– Xtreme Racing
Branson’s most popular shopping centers will also have special hours for the evening of Thanksgiving leading into the early morning of Black Friday. The Branson Landing will be open from 6 p.m. to midnight on Thanksgiving Day and their Black Friday Blowout event will start at 7 a.m. the next day.
Tanger Outlets will also be having their Moonlight Madness sale beginning at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. This will last all through the night and into Black Friday, finally closing at a later time, 10 p.m., on Friday night.
Whether it’s a show, attraction or some shopping, there are plenty of places to check out this Thanksgiving. Be sure to take advantage of everything that’s open for the holiday this year.
Article courtesy of ChooseBranson.com.
By: Michael Ayo
Vacations can be tough on a bank account, especially if you are vacationing during the holiday season. While Branson is one of the most affordable vacation destinations in the country, your wallet can still take a hit while paying for lodging, food and activities. This Christmas, educate yourself on five of the best free activities in Branson during the holiday season so you can have an entertaining, yet affordable, vacation.
Kringles Christmas Shop
Sometimes window shopping is just as fun as going on a shopping spree, and there is no better place in town to check out everything Christmas related than Kringles Christmas Shop. Kringles is the largest Christmas store in the state of Missouri, and features an incredible collection of Christmas decorations including 125 designer-decorated themed trees. While it is plenty of fun checking out all the various ornaments and trees, it is pretty hard to leave the store without buying at least one thing.
See the Lights
The holiday season is a big deal in Branson. Practically every theater unveils some sort of Christmas show, which means their venue is maxed out with Christmas decorations. One great family-bonding activity to try out this season is cruising Highway 76 at night with the family to see the best and brightest Christmas lights the theaters have to offer. You can also visit popular shopping centers such as the Branson Landing and Grand Village Shops for views of colorful lights and decorated Christmas trees. If those aren’t enough, stop by Shepherd of the Hills for a photo op with their lights or drive through downtown Branson to see their festive tree and decorations.
Visit Branson’s Santas
One of the most enjoyable things about the Christmas season is seeing the look on a kid’s face when he or she gets to meet Santa. Santa Claus will be in various spots throughout the Ozarks during the holiday season, and it is always great fun taking the little ones to visit with him. The Branson Landing will have Santa visiting from Nov. 12 through Dec. 24 inside their “Christmas Treehouse.” Bass Pro Shops at the Landing will also have Santa visiting during those same dates along with holiday-themed games and crafts. Lastly, the aforementioned Kringles Christmas Shop will have Santa in store Wednesdays through Sundays during the holiday season and he will be accompanied by live Christmas music.
Another free activity you can take part in this holiday season is one of the two Christmas parades in Branson. The Most Wonderful Time of Year Parade is the first to take place, happening at the Branson landing on Nov. 19. It will start at 10 a.m. and begins at the north end of the Landing, near the Belk Department Store. The parade will travel the length of the outdoor mall, ending at Bass Pro Shops. It will feature Branson stars such as Clay Cooper, the Hughes Brothers, Osmonds, Duttons and many more. Mayor Karen Best will also be a part of the parade along with its grand marshal, Mel Tillis.
The 68th annual Adoration Parade will occur a few weeks later, on Dec. 4. This parade through downtown Branson will start at 6 p.m. with the lighting of the area’s largest nativity scene then follow with a number of beautifully decorated Christmas floats from Branson locals. There are not many activities more joyous and fun than the annual Adoration Parade.
Electrify Christmas Light Show
The Branson Ferris Wheel is one of the newest and most exciting attractions in town. Brought in from Chicago’s Navy Pier this summer by the Track Family Fun Parks, the wheel will be electrified by colorful lights to the tune of holiday music every night during the holiday season. The free show will take place at 9, 10 and 10:55 p.m. each night. If you want a great seat while enjoying a delicious holiday dessert, Andy’s Frozen Custard offers up-close views of the ferris wheel.
Holiday shows and Silver Dollar City are on most people’s to-do list when vacationing to Branson during the Christmas season. If you’re looking for something more economical, or just need to pass the time between other scheduled events, be sure to check out these five free activities this Christmas.
Article courtesy of ChooseBranson.com.
By: Michael Ayo
Now that Halloween has come and gone, and the Veterans Day festivities are starting to begin, the next major holiday to look forward to is Thanksgiving. It’s hard not to love Thanksgiving; from family gatherings and delicious food to football on television all day long, there is always something to be thankful for. If you’re planning on spending Thanksgiving Day in Branson this year, you will definitely need to know not only where you can get a feast of a meal, but also what activities are going on.
One of the first places you will see on Branson’s Strip after exiting Highway 65 is the Bob Evans Restaurant. This place is a great meal option any day of the week, and it only gets better on Thanksgiving. Not only will breakfast be served all day, but they will also be serving a special holiday menu. You can choose between entrées of slow-roasted turkey, hickory-smoked ham, or slow-roasted pork and mushrooms. From there you will have a choice of three sides such as mashed potatoes, corn, macaroni and cheese and more. After that you choose between breads such as pumpkin, cinnamon coffee and banana, and finish it all off with a choice of pumpkin supreme or fall harvest pumpkin pie.
Another classic place to visit for an old-fashioned, country Thanksgiving feast is Cracker Barrel. Located on the opposite end of Highway 76 from Bob Evans, Cracker Barrels all over the country fed 1.4 million people last year for Thanksgiving and expect to serve just as many in 2016. Their holiday menu includes home-style turkey and dressing along with gravy, sugar-cured ham, cranberry relish and your choice of three sides. Those sides could be anything from mashed potatoes and green beans to corn and fried okra.
Brunch at the Keeter Center
If brunch is more your style for a Thanksgiving meal, you’ll need to check out Dobyns Dining Room at College of the Ozarks’ Keeter Center. The brunch menu will have all the classic options such as breakfast items and fresh fruits, cheeses and salads. In addition to the usual menu, there will be a special menu featuring roast turkey, prime rib and smoked ham to pair with a number of traditional sides.
Grand Country Buffet
Grand Country is known for more than just their great shows. The Grand Country Buffet serves some of most delicious, country-style cooking you will find in the Ozarks and that is especially true on Thanksgiving Day. If you want to catch a show such as the “Grand Jubilee” or “Amazing Pets” before or after dinner, that’s fine because the buffet is open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. They’ll serve all your favorites such as turkey and the classic trimmings, and what makes it better is it’s all you can eat.
One other great buffet option in Branson is where you can normally find Barbara Fairchild performing, the Golden Corral on Shepherd of the Hills Expressway. While she won’t be performing on the holiday, this restaurant will have a number of delicious Thanksgiving options to choose from. Those options include carved or sliced turkey, chicken and steaks with sides such as sweet potatoes, casseroles, mashed potatoes and various other vegetables.
Branson Landing Turkey Trot
Before you dig in to a wonderful Thanksgiving feast, you may want to watch, or even participate in, the Turkey Trot 5K at the Branson Landing. This will take place at 8 a.m. at the shopping center along the shores of Lake Taneycomo, and is hosted by the Ozarks Running Club. If you are interested in participating, be sure to visit ozarksrunningclub.com to register.
On Nov. 23 and 24, the “It” show at the Hughes Brothers Theatre will have their “We’re Thankful for You” show. This will be a special 10 a.m. performance combining a Thanksgiving theme with the normal Christmas show being performed at the time. If you are one that loves being in the Christmas spirit but also enjoys celebrating Thanksgiving, this is the show for you.
Main Street Lake Cruises – Landing Princess
One other fun activity you can experience on Thanksgiving Day is a Main Street Lake Cruise aboard the “Landing Princess.” This yacht will only cruise once on the holiday, departing at 12:30 p.m. The “Landing Princess” yacht is an elegant and relaxing way to spend the day, and each ride on the boat features a spectacular view of the Landing’s fountain show. As for the menu, the “Landing Princess” will serve tossed Mandarin orange salad, roasted turkey, baked ham, roasted sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, stuffing, seasonal vegetables, warm dinner rolls and pumpkin pie cheesecake.
Branson is always great for visiting during the holiday season, and that is especially true for Thanksgiving. If you find yourself vacationing to Branson during the holiday this November, be sure to check out one of these Thanksgiving-themed meals or activities.
Article courtesy of ChooseBranson.com.
By: Michael Ayo
Fall and winter are absolutely beautiful in Branson. Between the fall colors and the Christmas lights, your senses will be overwhelmed with beauty as you drive through town. Whether you are planning a vacation in November or December, there are a number of fantastic activities and festivities to experience. So much so that it is hard to narrow it down, but Choose Branson did its best.
10. Adoration Parade, Dec. 4
The 68th annual Adoration Parade will take place through downtown Branson on Sunday, Dec. 4. It starts with the annual lighting of the area’s largest nativity scene then the parade follows through town. On this night of celebration, no organization is highlighted and nothing is promoted, it’s just some good, old-fashioned Christmas festivities.
9. Lazy Magnolia Carriage Company
There is no shortage of Christmas lights throughout the city of Branson, and there is no better way to view them than from a horse-drawn carriage. The Lazy Magnolia Carriage Company operates out of downtown Branson and gives you a beautiful and elegant carriage ride through town, making it a great activity for the holiday season.
8. Branson Landing
The Branson Landing is absolutely stunning during the holiday season. Festive decorations line the boardwalk and a 50-foot Christmas tree stands tall in the Landing’s town square. When you make a trip to the Landing, you can take in the beauty of Lake Taneycomo, view the holiday decorations and visit Santa Claus at Bass Pro Shops.
7. Ozark Mountain Christmas Lights and Village
This festive village is located off Buena Vista Road in Branson, and features 200 displays and over 1 million Christmas lights. Paired with the light displays are holiday-themed crafts available for purchase along with homemade fudge, kettle corn, hot chocolate and s’mores. Once you have seen the lights and sampled the holiday snacks, view the life-size nativity scene and be sure to take the kids to go see Santa.
6. Holiday Shopping
Branson is a shopping haven, and it is made even better during the holiday season. Malls such as the Branson Landing and Tanger Outlets have impeccable deals during the holidays, or if you want something directly catered toward Christmas, check out Kringles Christmas Store at the Grand Village Shops. Kringles is the largest Christmas store in the state of Missouri, and features an incredible collection of Christmas decorations including 125 designer-decorated themed trees.
5. Shepherd of the Hills
The Shepherd of the Hills Homestead turns into a Christmas wonderland during the holiday season. Instead of the usual “Roundup on the Trail” show, the “Christmas on the Trail” show plays for eager visitors. While you listen to classic holiday music, you will enjoy a chuckwagon dinner like no other complete with maple-smoked turkey breast, a whole-flame roasted ear of corn, cornbread and Dutch-oven cobbler. Once you have seen the show, be sure to visit the Trail of Lights that features two and a half miles of animated displays, three-dimensional characters and multi-colored lights.
4. Polar Express
Throughout the months of November and December, the Branson Scenic Railway transforms into the Polar Express. This holiday-themed train ride takes you on a magical trip through the Ozarks while supplying you with hot cocoa and freshly baked cookies.
3. Veterans Homecoming Week
One holiday that may not be as important as Christmas to most is an incredibly big deal in Branson. Veterans Day is widely celebrated throughout the Ozarks and there is a whole week of events dedicated to it. Branson’s Veterans Homecoming Weekkicks off on Nov. 5 and lasts through Nov. 11. Events include special performances from “Baldknobbers Jamboree,” “Golden Sounds of the Platters” and more. There will also be special ceremonies and activities for veterans in attendance. The week will conclude with the 83rd annual Veterans Day Parade through downtown Branson.
2. Holiday Shows
There are several shows throughout November and December that put on special performances for the holidays. “It” at the Hughes Brothers Theatre puts on a special show for Thanksgiving along with a wonderful Christmas show. Other shows such as Shoji Tabuchi, “Haygoods” and “Dixie Stampede” provide a completely different performance during the holiday season.
1. An Old Time Christmas Festival at Silver Dollar City
Silver Dollar City’s “An Old Time Christmas” has been recognized by USA Today, CNN Travel, The Travel Channel, Good Morning America, AOL Travel, Yahoo! Travel and MSN.com as a top holiday celebration in America. This festival includes 5 million lights, 1,000 decorated trees and a five-story special effects Christmas tree. There are also wonderful Christmas shows inside the park such as “The Living Nativity,” “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “A Dickens’ Christmas Carol” and the Frisco Sing-Along Steam Train. Rudolph’s Holly Jolly Christmas Light Parade marches through the streets twice each evening as well.
Article courtesy of ChooseBranson.com.
By: Michael Ayo
Summer in Branson has officially ended and the colors and flavors of fall are starting to take over. Pumpkin-spiced everything has hit store shelves and cold fronts are starting to appear on weather forecasts. It’s always exciting when seasons change, and the best way to celebrate is to try a few activities that are different than what you have normally been doing. Get in the seasonal spirit by trying out some of the following festivities during fall in the Ozarks.
Some of the best fall activities are the ones you couldn’t do in summer because it was too hot. One in particular would be taking a stroll on your favorite Branson hiking trail. There are plenty of places to go hiking around town, from small waterfall trails to large state parks with miles and miles of scenery. Dogwood Canyon is always a favorite among visitors to the Branson area. With its six and a half mile trail, combined with the beautiful wildlife and entertaining amenities, hiking here should be at the top of anyone’s fall to-do list. If you want to hike inside the Branson city limits, check out trails at the Lakeside Forest Wilderness Area or the Ruth and Paul Henning Conservation Area.
Sycamore Creek Family Ranch
If your fall vacation to Branson takes place during the month of October, be sure to take a trip out to the Sycamore Creek Family Ranch for their Fall Roundup at the Ranch. This festival takes place each Sunday during the month of October from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is free and there will be plenty to see and do such as family games, a gunny sack slide, farm animals and a hay bale fort. For purchase, you can pick your own pumpkin, take a ride in a tethered hot air balloon and go on a hay ride. There will also be bonfires, s’mores, concessions and fall décor to shop through.
McKenna Family Farm
You wouldn’t fully be engulfed in the fall spirit if you didn’t visit the McKenna Family Farm to see a fall harvest up close and personal. However, there is so much more than just pumpkins, tomatoes and cucumbers to sift through here. For a small admission fee you can visit the McKenna Family Farm that is basically a fall-themed amusement park. There are pumpkin patches, hay mazes, bounce houses, baby farm animals, a tricycle race track, hay rides and so much more. If you’re not interested in the attractions, there is also produce, pumpkins, baked goods and fall decorations available for purchase.
There is much to celebrate during the fall season, and that is especially the case for Halloween. There are plenty of things going on during this spooky time of year and it’s highly recommended to experience as much of it as possible. If you’re vacationing to Branson at the end of October, but still want to take the kids trick-or-treating, try making your way to either the Branson Landing or Tanger Outlets. The Landing will be hosting their 10th annual Safe Street Trick or Treat where kids 12 and under can safely stroll down the waterfront boardwalk in costume while interacting with businesses giving out candy. There will also be a Monster Mash Street Dance beginning at 6:30 p.m. that day.
Similar to the Landing’s event, Tanger Outlets will be hosting their Trick-or-Treat TangerStyle. Select Tanger stores will be passing out candy to children 12 and under dressed in costumes from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. For adults, TangerStyle coupons will be given out so they can shop after the Halloween festivities have concluded.
Keeping with the Halloween spirit, one fascinating activity to try out this fall is the Paintball Zombie Hunt. Located at the Branson Cedars Resort in Ridgedale, this interactive and slightly spooky attraction allows you to hunt the undead with a paintball gun mounted on a customized zombie assault vehicle. No protection or eyewear is necessary, and you won’t be getting shot back at. All you do is sit down in the vehicle and shoot some zombies with their “flesh eating” paintballs. Branson Cedars Resort hosts this event each weekend in October from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., and the cost is $22 for ages 13 and up and $18 for kids 12 and under.
One other fall activity you can’t try anywhere else but Branson is seeing all the fall-themed and customized shows. TheHughes Brothers Theatre and their “It Show” have shows that cater toward Halloween and Thanksgiving during the fall season. Taking place on Oct. 22 and 26 and Nov. 23 and 24, the Hughes brothers will give Branson visitors incredible shows customized to the holidays. Their “Howling Fun Show” will give attendees a $5 discount if they wear a costume to the show and prizes will be given out for the best costumes. Bags of treats will be given out as well. For the “We’re Thankful for You Show,” the cast will put on a special 10 a.m. show that combines a Thanksgiving theme with their popular Christmas show.
Veterans Day Festivities
Veterans Day is one of the most celebrated holidays in Branson. A great number of visitors come from all over the country to get together and honor those who have served in the armed forces. From Nov. 5 through 11, various events will be held to celebrate veterans and all their sacrifices made in the past. Those events include special shows from the “Baldknobbers Jamboree,” “Golden Sounds of the Platters” and so much more. The events will conclude at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11 with the 83rd annual Veterans Day Parade through downtown Branson. If you are a military veteran or just someone wanting to show appreciation, the beginning of November is a great time to check out what’s happening around the Ozarks.
There is so much to do from September through November in Branson, and the beautiful fall foliage can be seen everywhere around the Ozarks. Those two reasons make fall the perfect time of year to take a Branson vacation. No matter what you decide to do, there is always plenty of fun to be had and memories to be made.
Article courtesy of ChooseBranson.com.