Frequently listed amongst the most family-friendly cities in the nation is Branson, Missouri. In 2013, it made Conde Nast Traveler’s list of the ten friendliest cities in the USA by being safe, welcoming and brimming with family and tourist activities. Branson is a wonderful place to bring the whole gang – the scenery is great, the locals are kind, and you’ll never run out of things to do with your kids. Let’s take a look at few attractions…
Silver Dollar City (above) is an 1880’s-themed adventure park boasting, among many other things, an enormous wooden roller coaster with the world’s steepest drop and the only upside-down twist (for wooden coasters, that is). Timing your visit with one of their many festivals, like May’s Bluegrass & BBQ festival, essentially doubles your fun.
For those who want to act like a kid right alongside their children, The Track Family Fun Parks is a go-kart racing destination featuring 14 different race tracks and plenty of other attractions. If your kiddos don’t get excited by the idea of driving a miniature automobile, perhaps the laser tag, bumper boats, arcades and mini golf will pique their interest.
While it may come as something of a surprise in the Midwest, Branson is home to a few different water parks. White Water, the mega-sized outdoor water park, is actually affiliated with Silver Dollar City and includes water rides for both daredevils and toddlers. Castle Rock Resort is a fairly new indoor water park with climate-controlled attractions available year-round. Grand Country Water Park features both indoor and outdoor structures, including a three-story interactive treehouse!
Table Rock Lake is considered by many to be the gem of the Midwest. With crystal clear water, it’s perfect for swimming, fishing, water-skiing, tubing – it even offers guides for freshwater SCUBA diving. With 20 species of fish, this is an extremely diverse ecosystem, and there are plenty of trails, beaches and marinas surrounding the lake’s 800 miles of shoreline. Find a remote camping spot or go for something a little more luxurious, like the Cabins at Grand Mountain.
Opened as a tourist destination in the early 1900’s, the Marvel Caves is one of the oldest attractions in the Ozarks. A natural limestone phenomenon, the “Marble” Caves were ‘discovered’ almost 200 years ago (though the Osage tribe had been visiting the cave since the 16th century). If your kids are into creepy crawlies, there are also bats and salamanders around, in addition to the geological wonders.
This might be aimed a little more at the older kids, but practically everyone loves a Zipline. Cruise through the tree canopies while your family takes turns spotting wildlife, breathing fresh mountain air and taking in the beauty of the Ozarks.
Perhaps some people think that a golf course isn’t the best place to bring a gaggle of children, but these days, most resorts have gone extremely family-friendly. In Branson, your best bet is probably Thousand Hills, which offers kid-friendly resources, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, great scenery, lodging for large groups and, oh yeah, golf.
Branson, Missouri is widely known as one the live music capitals of the world (titles like that really depend on who you ask). Whether you’re into the sounds of old-school country, Top 40 pop, classic rock n’ roll or soul and gospel – you’ll find plenty of acts right up you and your kids’ alley. Bop around to a range of cover acts from Elvis to Blue’s Clues.
Magic shows are another big draw for families in the Branson area. The Hamner and Barber Variety Show features mind-boggling illusions, a goofy ventriloquist and a good time had by all. There are a couple different circus-type and acrobatic shows with seasoned professionals showing off dazzling skills in ornate costumes. Acrobats of China is pretty much guaranteed to keep your little ones highly entertained.
Amazing Pets is an outstanding showcase at the Grand Country Music Hall, featuring well-trained cats and dogs, exotic birds, elaborate costumes, acrobatics and a heavy helping of cute, fuzzy charisma. Many of the animals were rescued from shelters and if your child loves all those silly pet videos floating around the web, this is the place for them.
This is a guest post written by David Bryce, a writer who enjoys bass fishing, leisurely hikes and scaring his grandchildren with a variety of spooky masks. Yep, he’s that grandpa.
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. However, the views and opinions expressed here are my own.