Branson, Branson, Branson
June 6, 2007 5:49 PM   Subscribe

So. I'm going to be in Branson MO for a week. While I think I can find most anything interesting, how bad will it be? Lawrence Welk 24/7?

Are there cool things I should be sure to see? Things to avoid?
posted by Vault13 to Travel & Transportation around Branson, MO (25 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
It's pretty bad.

There's a decent outlet mall with a Banana Republic. I bought a pair of $10 pants there a few weeks ago.

They also have a water park, and Silver Dollar City, though I've never personally been to either.

For outdoorsy stuff there's Table Rock Lake.

Other than that, unless you're 65-years-old or above, good luck.

I would avoid the "76 strip," as it'll no doubt be crowded with RVs and Cadillacs filled with show-going geriatrics.
posted by nitsuj at 5:55 PM on June 6, 2007

Best answer: Or you could drive 45 minutes north and go to The Moxie: the movie theater that Metafilter helped build.

[Full disclosure: I work there.]
posted by nitsuj at 6:05 PM on June 6, 2007 [1 favorite]

Cool? In Branson? Yes, you can see Lawrence Welk 24/7, or just about. They don't know he's dead yet.

It you're interested in an 80-yr. old Andy Williams, he's there. Maybe kissing a 70-yr. old Ann Margaret (my eyes!)

Avoid Highway 76. Take the back roads - google it in advance. You can sit on the main road for an hour or more going nowhere.

There's a new mall going in along the riverfront that is like every mall everywhere, but it does have some pretty fountains. Get out of town, if you have access to a car. Drive some of the back roads (be careful where you go, though) - that's where you will see some interesting things.

If you want to see some of the Branson sights, see Shoji Tabuchi. Make sure you go to the men's/women's room. Really.

There are some decent restaurants. The view from the Top of the Rock is gorgeous. You can see the Shepherd of the Hills outdoor theater. It's certainly different.

Branson used to be one of the prettiest places on the planet, but it's not anymore.

What kinds of things do you like?
posted by clarkstonian at 6:07 PM on June 6, 2007

Have you ever been to the Wisconsin Dells? Swap the waterparks with shows from groups that were popular in the 70s and you have Branson.

My grandparents live right outside of town, so I've been there a few times. A lot of it is hokey and family oriented (ok, almost all of it is). Mostly shows and shopping. I'm personally not a big fan of either of those, so I tend to go in for the nature stuff.

There are plenty of parks and attractions in the area. Renting a pontoon boat and spending a day on Table Rock Lake is usually a great time. Nearby there is Marvel Cave, which is pretty much what is sounds like. Silver Dollar City is nearby Kimberling City is an Ozark-themed amusement park.

If you want to stay in town, the part of Branson south of the main drag, down by the river, was a pretty nice place to walk around the last time I was there. Unless things have changed significantly in the last couple of years, the main strip with all of the theatres almost requires driving. There are plenty of mini-golf courses (and even some real golf courses) and go-kart tracks.
posted by indyz at 6:07 PM on June 6, 2007

If you want to see some of the Branson sights, see Shoji Tabuchi. Make sure you go to the men's/women's room. Really.

Wow, I grew up around Branson and my parents took me to Shoji's show when I was 12. The bathroom was literally the only thing I remember now as astounding. Everything else is a blur of gaudiness, and I was a little kid.
posted by rabbitsnake at 6:25 PM on June 6, 2007

Ok, I've never been to this Silver Dollar City, but I grew up going to the Silver Dollar City that is now Dollywood in the Smokies. Some of the fondest memories of my childhood.

They have (and I checked the website to be sure) some of the kookiest Disney style knock-offs created in the 70's. Of note- Fire-in-the-Hole (called Blazing Fury at my SDC) which is an indoor roller coaster which takes you through a farm town on fire - with really cheesey automated mannequin enacting scenes as you roll through. And the Flooded Mine which is not just a flooded mine, but one with convicts working on a chain gang are trying to escape before they drown and/or get caught by the warden. It's like the anti-thesis of It's a Small World.

If you like weird theme parks, and the ticket prices aren't too crazy it might be fun.
posted by kimdog at 6:46 PM on June 6, 2007

Response by poster: Or you could drive 45 minutes north and go to The Moxie: the movie theater that Metafilter helped build.

How long is Air Guitar Nation playing?

What kinds of things do you like?

I have eclectic likes and I'll be with several generations of my family (from four to sixty-five years of age), but Lawrence Welkian entertainment gives me a rash. Like indyz, I'm not much of a shopper or show goer. Bookstores, by chance?
posted by Vault13 at 6:54 PM on June 6, 2007

Response by poster: Weird theme parks sounds good, but I've heard bad news about ticket prices. Thanks for the links, kimdog.
posted by Vault13 at 6:55 PM on June 6, 2007

Best answer: How long is Air Guitar Nation playing?

Starts tonight, and will stay through Tuesday. You just missed the inaugural Ozarks Regional Air Guitar Championship... it was a blast!

You can be the first MeFite to take advantage of the free popcorn offer!
posted by bjork24 at 6:59 PM on June 6, 2007

About a half-hour north of Branson (on 65) is a restaurant called Lamberts where they throw bread at you from across the room.
posted by Jeff Howard at 7:08 PM on June 6, 2007

"Home of the Throwed Rolls"
posted by unrepentanthippie at 7:14 PM on June 6, 2007

Best answer: Welcome to my world, born and raised in Branson, MO.

It is a bit cheesy, but that's what the town is built on - family entertainment that won't offend your grandparents or your 7 year old kid.

Definitely check out Silver Dollar City, it is a fairly unique park and pretty much started the tourism industry here (along with the lakes and some fame from the book Shepherd of the Hills).

The new mall by Lake Taneycomo is called the Branson Landing, it's fairly standard as shopping goes, but it is the newest and nicest in town.

If you enjoy outdoor activities, there are numerous trails and waterways to check out.

As for shows, I've got some tickets for you. Email me in my profile, and I'll get you free tickets to my family's show, Presleys' Jubilee. It was the first show on Highway 76, and we're actually celebrating our 40th year this July.

Let me know if you have any questions, I know the town inside and out (for better or worse). On preview: No good bookstores in town yet, you'll have to hit Springfied for that while you're up at the Moxie.
posted by shinynewnick at 7:18 PM on June 6, 2007

Best answer: As a one-time involuntary Branson resident (my parents moved there for a while when I was in college), I can say that one thing it does have is restaurants. Just about everything imaginable is in Branson: almost every variety of food, lots of chains, country-themed tourist-trap places, dinner-and-a-show at the theaters (e.g., the Dolly Parton Dixie Stampede), but also some restaurants that really stand on their own merits.

For example, Big Cedar Resort has a couple of really nice restaurants, especially the Worman House, though it may be a bit pricey, depending. Tony Z's restaurant is a good Italian restaurant. They have a nice antipasto platter and a delicious veal osso bucco.

For something a bit more outdoorsy, Dogwood Canyon is a 10,000 acre private nature preserve with some nice walking/biking trails and also guided tours that include going through their longhorn, bison, and elk herds. If you don't have a bike, I think you can rent them there.

Big Cedar has a nice chunk of lake and a very nice marina with boat rentals and the like.

One important thing to note is that everything starts closing up around 9 and nearly everything is closed by 11. For a long time the only restaurants open past 11 or so were a McDonald's drive-through and the Denny's, but I think that's starting to change as the city tries to shift its image to appeal to younger tourists (c.f. the Landing, a massive new riverfront development that opened recently).

Other people have mentioned Silver Dollar City, which, in addition to a lot of rides also has a fair amount of historical reenactment/interpretation that is reasonably good given that it has to be entertaining as well as informative. For a more 'pure' theme park (in the Six Flags sense), Celebration City (done by the same people as SDC) offers more traditional roller coasters. I believe they also do a fireworks show during the summer.
posted by jedicus at 7:19 PM on June 6, 2007

Best answer: Hello. Bass Pro Shop. "It's kind of like the Disneyland of the outdoor world."

Enjoy a drive through Fantastic Caverns, "America's Ride-Through Cave."

One word: Baldknobbers. Embrace the suck.

Sordid background. I spend many summers in Mountain Grove and went to Silver Dollar City before Branson was Branson (AKA "Las Vegas...if it were run by Ned Flanders"). I love Fire in the Hole.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:13 PM on June 6, 2007

Best answer: I live about an hour away. Branson sucks real bad--but it is in the Ozarks, the most under-appreciated natural area in North America. The Ozarks are beautiful. Use Branson as your base and go on roadtrips.

Roaring River State Park is lovely, you can go on hikes and feed the fish in the hatchery. Eureka Springs is a cool old town, once a health resort based around the mineral springs, now a touristy/funky town with gorgeous Victorian hotels and houses clinging to the sides of the steep hills. There are some neat grist mills still in existence in the Missouri Ozarks, this auto tour will take you to most of them and makes for a fun day. Mark Twain National Forest's Glade Top Trail and Sugar Camp Trails are nice auto routes through the wild.

And the canoeing! The best thing about the Ozarks are the waterways. Huge natural springs feed into big clear rivers that snake along beneath the limestone bluffs. The Ozark National Scenic Riverways and Buffalo National River offer hundreds of miles of beautiful floating. Some rivers can be crowded with yahoos in the summer so go during the week and get an early start.

You can have an amazing vacation in Branson, so long as you leave town.
posted by LarryC at 8:36 PM on June 6, 2007

Response by poster: Thank you all very much. The vacation won't start for a few weeks and the itinerary's tentative, but I'll try to check out the Moxie and the Presleys' Jubilee. I'm feeling way better about the trip.
posted by Vault13 at 9:20 PM on June 6, 2007

Hee! My aunt helped build the Shoji bathrooms. The women's room is pretty amazing, indeed, although most people will look at you like you're crazy when you tell them what you did on vacation.
(I'm just jealous that the men get pool tables in theirs.)
posted by katemonster at 9:43 PM on June 6, 2007

If you go to the Moxie, head down the street for a bowl of chili at Casper's (or is it closed for the season now? There's also a great vintage clothing store down the street (which is operated by a relative of mine).

An interesting thing to do is to buy a book on the Baldknobbers (the vigilante group) at the Silver Dollar City gift shop. Not only are they the namesake of the show, they're the villains of Fire in the Hole, plus, you can learn what a Bald Knob is. Silver Dollar City is a lot less authentic than when my grandfather used to sell his handmande knives there -- why, the quilts come from China now (my grandmother is scandalized) -- but there's still some of the Ozarks charm there.

The Big Cedar resort is really nice ... and they make an excellent (if pricey) brunch.

Enjoy the area -- it is beautiful.
posted by Bookhouse at 9:47 PM on June 6, 2007

As a Springfield resident, I loathe Branson (but love Silver Dollar City--been sneaking in for years).

My brother owns Springfield's largest (and generally regarded as best) used bookstore, Hooked On Books. You'll pass it on the way to Bass Pro.

By all means, see the Moxie. If you time it right you can also catch me play across the street at the Springfield Brewing Company, on one of my Fri 6-9 house gigs there.

I know your family is covering a spectrum of ages, so physical activity is of concern. I like to spend my time at loud rock shows and camping. Northern Arkansas is your best bet and Southeast Missouri is amazing (Elephant Rocks, Johnson Shut-ins). Less than an hour from Branson is Eureka Springs, a far cooler tourist town.

They only shows in Branson I've ever seen were the one's I've been hired to play in so I have no recommendations there. Ask shinynewnick.

@shinynewnick: First time I saw your profile i just knew you were one of the Presley boys. You in the show?
posted by sourwookie at 10:02 PM on June 6, 2007

Watch out at Lambert's---they aim for your face.
posted by brujita at 10:44 PM on June 6, 2007

Go see Yakof Smirnoff.
No really.
posted by The Esteemed Doctor Bunsen Honeydew at 1:49 AM on June 7, 2007

sourwookie: Scary. Behind the scenes, I stay off the stage.

We do a live video production of each night's show on DVD and VHS, and I run that system (5 camera shoot).
posted by shinynewnick at 4:26 AM on June 7, 2007

I n-th Lambert's. It's really a pretty fun place to eat! The fried okra is delicious!

Also, from what I hear the Hilton's are pouring tons of money int Branson, and it's becoming a little more upscale. I also hear these cabins
are nice, and very convenient to the downtown strip
posted by misswiss at 7:21 AM on June 7, 2007

Not an answer to your question, but I just saw mention of the Branson chamber of commerce giving out ~$50 of discounts to local restaurants if you show up in town with $40 of gas receipts..

so I guess you could go eat.
posted by mbatch at 10:33 AM on June 8, 2007

Response by poster: Thank you all for you help.
posted by Vault13 at 8:41 PM on June 8, 2007

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