Get Out of Town: Branson, MO

Plan a family getaway to Branson

Champaign, IL - Fun for the Whole Family in Branson

By Marcia Frost

Branson has been referred to as the Las Vegas of the Midwest. It’s earned that reputation because of the multitude of shows and attractions in the Missouri city and that label is not exaggerated.

Except for the lack of casinos, Branson can easily rival Vegas in the diversity and quality of shows and it’s only about seven hours from Central Illinois. It’s also very family friendly.

We checked into the Radisson Branson. It’s in a central location near many of the shows and attractions. The hotel has an indoor/outdoor heated pool, as well as an indoor whirlpool. There’s also a restaurant on the premises if you want to grab breakfast in the morning or a dinner in the evening before a show.

The first thing we did in Branson was Legends in Concert at Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Theater. I’ve seen a few similar shows before with Elvis and Barbra Streisand, but this really kept up with the times. In addition to excellent singers impersonating The Blues Brothers, Michael Jackson, Celine Dion, and Brooks and Dunn, they had a Bruno Mars sound-a-like belting out his current hits.

Before leaving, we took a walk through the parking lot, where you can see a sampling of movie cars that are inside the Celebrity Car Museum in the Legends in Concert building.

The next morning, we drove to Flat Creek Resort. It’s about a half hour ride, but it’s nice to get away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Branson. The resort and restaurant have been popular for years with visitors and locals. This year they have introduced kayaking.

Flat Creek has single and tandem kayaks, and kayaks to stand and fish from.  The kayaks are new and much sturdier than any I have seen previously. We took them out on beautiful Table Rock Lake. It was very relaxing.

When we left the lake, we went inside the Flat Creek Restaurant for lunch. The selection of frozen cocktails to cool off with was great and the food was all delicious. We ate BBQ nachos, potato skins, ribs, brisket, and pulled pork. The desserts, which included their fried pies, were all delicious.

That night we went aboard the Showboat Branson Belle dinner cruise. It’s quite a big ship and it has a great setup. You have dinner overlooking the stage while the ship goes around the lake.

We were welcomed aboard by comedian and magician Christopher James. After his monologue, he encouraged everyone to go outside and enjoy the view after dinner. The food was very good and we all liked the show. Many other performers came out to sing and dance. The melody of Billy Joel songs was especially good.

On day three, we went to a brand-new Branson attraction, Bigfoot on the Strip. It’s a unique collection of activities for the whole family, as well as some of the best food in the city.

You can choose to do the activities at Bigfoot a la carte or with an all day, unlimited pass. That pass includes the Action Tower with Super Sling and Gravity rides, the Adventure Maze that ends with a jump from the top of the tower, the Bigfoot Adventure Golf, and the 8Di Leadslinger Cinema, an interactive gaming experience we loved.

Next to the attractions, you’ll find some food trucks. We were able to sample nearly everything on the menu from Parlor 76 Wood Fired Pizza and Big D’s BBQ. The food is freshly prepared, all done right in the trucks, and phenomenal.

After a break from the sun at the Ramada Branson, we were off to Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede Show. We arrived early so we could go to the stables and check out the horses, which are rotated so they get to rest between shows. We also walked around the shops and caught some of the pre-show.

Inside the arena the show was spectacular and the food was also really good. There was plenty of it: mushroom soup, a small whole chicken, turkey breast, corn, biscuits, and an apple turnover. We ate during the music, dancing, horseback riding, and cowboy shows. Some of the skits included audience participation.

Silver Dollar City is one of Branson’s most famous attractions and we left a full day for it. This unique amusement park combines some Midwest history, like an old school house, a saloon where shows are, and demonstrating craftsman, who do wood, pottery, blown glass, and blacksmith.

Of course, there are plenty of rides, including Outlaw Run, a wooden roller coaster MSN recently named one of the most terrifying in the U.S., Fire in the Hole, FireFall, and the Lost River of the Ozarks.

You’ll find plenty of park food, like a bakery for cinnamon rolls and Danishes, tater twists, funnel cakes, and ice cream. For something more substantial, the all-you-can-eat buffets are the best deals.

It was getting very hot so we went to Silver Dollar’s sister resort, White Water, to ride the slides, wave pool, and relax in the lazy river while we cooled off.

We didn’t make it to the Amazing Acrobats of China, but did get to a Branson hotspot for a special 21st birthday for my frequent travel companion and photographer, Brittany. Crazy Craig’s Cheeky Monkey is fun spot with music and dancing every night, and the best collection of fruity drinks this side of the Caribbean.  We even met and hung out with Craig himself.

Before we left Branson, we met with Tamra from the tourist board at Farmhouse Restaurant

Loved the place immediately because they have put my favorite phrase everywhere, “All vacation desserts have 0 calories.” Of course, I couldn’t resist their Blackberry Cobbler, which was as good as it looks.

Follow Midwest Travel with Marcia Frost on Facebook and read more of her stories on her blog, Wine And Spirits Travel. 

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