Stayed at the Wilderness Club of Big Cedar Lodge for 4 nights. Absolutely perfect lodge and quality experience. Took a 20 minute drive to Dogwood Canyon, a nature facility owned by Big Cedar which is owned by Bass Pros Shops. Drive a little over a mile past Dogwood, and watch for the signs for Persimmon Hill. Take a right turn and follow the signs. There is a charming blackberry, blueberry and shiitake mushroom farm. We had a wonderful lunch of shiitake quesidellas and pulled pork sandwiches with blackberry barbeque sauce (about $6 each). Delish and so lovely for an outdoor picnic. Topped it off with some warm blackberry cobbler with ice cream (about $5). This roadside fruit stand/out door restaurant also has large frozen cobblers to take home to bake (about $25). Dried Shiitake mushrooms and all kinds of gourmet goodies. The owner gave us a personal tour of the process of growing the mushrooms and sent us home with some of his famous blueberry muffins. These items are available on their website, www.persimmonhill.com. A wonderful treat but off the road-- a real gem.
We only spent two nights in Branson so we really only had one complete day to explore.
We used an entire afternoon to drive west of the area starting out on Shepherd of the Hills Parkway and then north where we found most of the shopping outlets. We then took Hwy 65 south to Table Rock where we stopped at the overview. Here we saw a lot of the condos that are offered in Branson. We could see the dam and even the Chateau on the Lake in the distance. When we were finishing up our drive, we took some time to drive up on the property for Chateau on the Lake. It's really a beautiful place and is great for year round stays. Certainly the downside would be the long drive into the shows and restaurants each day. The roads have been designated: "Blue Route" "Yellow Route" etc. to help visitors get to different venues with a minimum of traffic congestion.
Aside from the Marvel Cave, which is part of Silver Dollar City and a ride on Table Rock Lake, there is no sightseeing in Branson. The nearest day for plain looking is Eureka Springs. The Crescent Hotel and Spa was built in 1886 (just after the railroad arrived). In summer there is also a "Passion Play". The sights there and lunch will use up a different day in your stay in Branson. We did this during our stay at Branson. Several of the old buildings have achieved the status of "museums". Just out of town is a masterpiece of American 20C Architecture, the Thorncrown Chapel, created by E. Fay Jones. (We have written more in our Eureka Springs Page)
This is the view from the scenic over look. Branson is actually just a small town. Most of the tourist attractions are west of the town along hwy 76. There was a bit of haze when I took this photo. You can see the red roofs of the outlet mall pretty well.
White Water is on hwy 76. Look for the giant water slide to find it. I believe that White Water is owned by some company as own Silver Dollar City because you can buy tickets to see both at same time. White water is a place for swimming and having fun in the water. I did not go there. I only took this photo looking in through the fence.
The Dewey Short Visitor Center is near Table Rock Lake's dam. It has a small museum inside about the lake, the area, and the wildlife. At the gift shop there you can sign up for a tour of the power facility and dam. The tour is only $3.
The blue truck has fish food in back of it. A motorized feeder drops food in to the water as the truck drives near the long fish rearing channels. The fish see that truck coming and they get so hungry and excited that the water starts to look like it is boiling.
Table Rock Dam is not very far south of Branson. It is only about a 5 minute drive to get there. Table Rock Dam has some of the things you can see and do for free in Branson. In this photo you can see the dam and the hatchery raceways in the foreground.
Waltzing Waters is one of the less well known shows in Branson. For that reason it is also less expensive. At Waltzing Waters Frederick, the Dutch pianist, plays two pianos at the same time. While you listen to the music you watch fountains of water with colorful lights on them spray up ward. The water seems to dance to the music. It is called 'liquid fireworks' in the brochure. That is what it looks like. You can watch the waters themselves hourly most of the day with recorded music. Once a day Frederick performs live. We arrived just as Frederick was starting his performance. The lady in the gift shop escorted us straight to good seats. She told us to pay her after the show was over so that we would not miss any thing. I thought it was very trusting of her. We could have snuck out without paying at end of the show when the crowd was leaving. We had a coupon for the show. It cost us less than going to a movie here in Kansas. This is one event in Branson I did not feel was over priced.
The Branson/Lakes Area is naturally entertaining! The theaters and shows allow visitors to revel in the glittering lights and sparkling stars, but for some, a vacation means enjoying a slower, but equally entertaining pace. Escaping the world while listening to the rhythm of the waves in a peaceful cove, soaring over the water while parasailing or landing the catch that will be talked about for years to come are just some of the ways to enjoy the natural side of Branson's entertainment offerings.
Nestled in the scenic Ozark Mountains, Table Rock Lake, Lake Taneycomo and Bull Shoals Lake offer water enthusiasts an incredible choice of activities. Visitors can swim, ski, boat, sail, scuba dive, jet ski, parasail and of course, fish. Access to the water is easy-Lake Taneycomo flows through the city of Branson and Table Rock is just a ten-minute drive from the central district. Bull Shoals Lake, just 20 minutes away, provides a secluded, rustic getaway.
On hwy 76 as you head toward Shepard of the Hills and SDC is this observation tower. May I also suggest that you stop on 76 at the scenic overlook for a nice view over the town of Branson.
Go karts on not off the beaten path. You can find them easily in many places on hwy 76. I was not sure if this would be a must see activity on same level as some of great shows I saw.
The Toy Museum is on hwy 76. The admission price of $10 made me decide not to go inside. I thought a great many things in Branson cost more than they should have.
Inside the fish hatchery. It is not fanciest place in Branson but the price is right, FREE. The fish hatchery is just below Table Rock Dam.