9 Top-Rated Attractions & Things to Do in Branson, MO
Situated in the Ozark Mountains of southern Missouri, Branson first began as a river town, and over the last 100 years has grown into a Midwest capital of live music and natural attractions. Branson's rich history can be tied to the people who traveled from across the nation to visit, and much of what has garnered so much attention over the last century is still very much of interest today. In addition to marvels found underground and lush scenery alongside the Branson Scenic Railway, Branson also delivers when it comes to live music and entertainment. All along Highway 76 in the center of the city, Branson's Entertainment District contains a dense collection of theaters, museums, and fun things to do. With a wide variety of family friendly tourist attractions and a couple of world-class roller coasters, all blending nicely with an Ozark Mountain backdrop, it quickly becomes clear why Branson has been so popular for so many years.
1 Live Shows and Musical Performances
This city is synonymous with live musical performances. From acapella to musical theater and covering genres such as country, classical, and special Christmas performances, Branson delivers on professional shows. It would be nearly impossible to see every show offered throughout the year, but it's easy to find something you'll enjoy, including fan favorites like the multi-ensemble Presley's Country Jubilee or the special-effects show from The Haygoods. One of the most popular of Branson's live performances, Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede, also provides dinner alongside live horse riding, music, and comedy.
The live music and special performances are never-ending in Branson and include acrobats, illusionists, tribute shows, variety acts, and religious theater. Throughout each season, different performances tend to fill the marquees around town, including touring acts and special engagements. If you'll be spending time in Branson, one way to make it memorable is to find a show that sounds interesting to you.
2 Silver Dollar City and Marvel Cave
For some high-adrenaline fun and guaranteed amusement, Silver Dollar City has your ticket to ride. Featuring more than 100 acres of excitement, 30 different rides, and an 1880s theme, Silver Dollar City is a premier amusement park. Located between Branson and West Branson, Silver Dollar City also encompasses restaurants, shows, and six world-class festivals throughout the year, including the National Crafts & Cowboy Festival. Silver Dollar City draws plenty of attention throughout the year from around the world despite the area's hole-in-the-ground beginnings.
Interest in the area first began with the discovery of what was quickly named Marvel Cave. The deep wonders of the cave eventually generated aboveground attractions as well, leading to a thematic mining town complete with costumed characters and amusement rides. As interest grew further, roller coasters and first-class facilities were added to the mix alongside Marvel Cave, and today, with the cost of admission, guests are granted guided entry into the cave. Whether it's part of your fun at Silver Dollar City, or the reason you go, Marvel Cave still stands as the cave that helped build Branson into what it is today.
Address: 399 Silver Dollar City Pkwy, Branson, Missouri
3 Branson Scenic Railway
Adjacent to the Historic Downtown District on the east side of the city, the Branson Scenic Railway takes patrons through the Ozark foothills and down the historic tracks of the transportation era. Traveling either north or south from the Historic Depot, the Branson Scenic Railway navigates lush scenery complete with tunnels, trestles, and true Ozark wilderness. The restored passenger cars are a part of the story of the Branson Scenic Railway, and all ticket-holders are encouraged to check out the connected collection of classic railcars during the nearly two-hour ride. The Branson Scenic Railway offers special events throughout the year in addition to their regular rides, including a Polar Express Train Ride for the holidays and a dinner train offered on Saturdays from April through October.
Address: 206 E. Main Street, Branson, Missouri
All along Highway 76 and Branson's Entertainment District there are family-friendly museums stacked to the brim. Ranging from a massive replica of a Titanic ship to a Hollywood-style Mount Rushmore, the different museum options in Branson go beyond the ordinary and appeal to everyone who visits. The Veterans Memorial Museum is a must-see and features 10 show halls that cover 20th-century American combat. Less than three miles down the highway, the Ripley's Believe It or Not Branson Odditorium displays a different slice of life, and features a wide array of hard-to-believe artifacts from across the world.
Other popular museums to visit in Branson's Entertainment District include the Titanic Museum, entered through an artificial iceberg, and the Hollywood Wax Museum, complete with a big collection of replica pop icons. The fun doesn't stop here, not by a long shot. With the World's Largest Toy Museum, the Celebrity Car Museum, and the Ozark-related Ralph Foster Museum at Lookout Point, there's always something new to see with every visit.
5 Talking Rocks Cavern
Located in West Branson, 10 miles west of Branson's Entertainment District, Talking Rocks Cavern provides subterranean excitement and plenty of aboveground things to do, too. The absolute highlight of any visit to Talking Rocks Cavern is the one-hour tour of the namesake attraction offered throughout the day. The guided tours at Talking Rocks take patrons deep into the cavern, navigating stairs and exploring the ancient features that have defined the area for thousands of years. Aboveground activities at Talking Rocks Cavern include mini-golf, nature trails, and two challenging "Spelio-Boxes," which are wooden-box mazes constructed to simulate the tight environments encountered while cave exploring.
Address: 423 Fairy Cave Lane, Branson West, Missouri
6 Table Rock State Park
Just south of the city and on the shores of Table Rock Lake, Table Rock State Park is a great natural getaway into the Ozarks. Featuring second-growth oak forests intertwined with multi-use trails, and plenty of access to the sprawling waters, Table Rock State Park offers popular activities, such as mountain biking, fishing, and spending the night under the stars. The 2.25-mile Table Rock Lake Shore Trail is a great way to appreciate the lake from land, and thanks to the State Park Marina and full line of boat rentals, appreciation can be found on top of the water as well. To extend your stay at Table Rock, the state park also provides two campgrounds complete with non-electric and electric campsites, shower facilities, and flushing toilets.
Address: 5272 MO-165, Branson, Missouri
7 Lakeside Forest Wilderness Area
Located just south of Highway 76 and Branson's Entertainment District, Lakeside Forest Wilderness Area showcases the Ozark formations that define the region of southern Missouri. Spanning more than 140 acres, Lakeside Forest is lined with hiking trails that vary from smooth pathways to extensive staircases. Visitors to Lakeside Forest can choose between the Owens Drive Trail, with the remains of a historic homestead, or the Lake Taneycomo Trail, which covers some elevation to reveal rock grottos, caves, and great views across the wide shores of Lake Taneycomo. Lakeside Forest Wilderness Area is also popular for picnics, with all the facilities needed to host the whole family, including a nature-themed playground set for younger kids.
Address: 412 Owen Ln, Branson, Missouri
8 Family Fun in Branson's Entertainment District
In addition to the many live shows and museums to check out in Branson's Entertainment District, there are plenty of family friendly activities worth your attention. Whether you feel the need for some speed on a corkscrew go-kart track, or you want to sink the winning putt on the 18th-hole of a thematic mini-golf course, the Entertainment District of Branson appeals to everyone in the family.
Bigfoot on the Strip is easily seen from the street, including its 200-foot tower amusement ride. Across the highway, the White-Water waterpark is a popular destination during the summer, as well as the neighboring Track Family Fun Parks and their epic go-kart tracks. For a great view of everything Branson's Entertainment District has to offer, the giant Ferris wheel found off Highway 76 can give you a good sense of all there is to do.
9 The Butterfly Palace and Rainforest Adventure
Overlooking Branson's Entertainment District on the west side of the city, The Butterfly Palace & Rainforest Adventure opens a whole new world of excitement for the entire family. Featuring a living Rainforest Science Center, exotic critter encounters, and thousands of live butterflies imported from across the world, the Butterfly Palace provides educational and fun adventures for all ages. Patrons of The Butterfly Palace have many activities to choose from with each visit, including daily butterfly release events, as well as access to the interactive Great Banyan Tree Adventure and Emerald Forest Mirror Maze. No matter how you spend your time at this rainforest-inspired educational space, the Butterfly Atrium will provide an experience found nowhere else in Branson.
Address: 4106 W. 76 Country Blvd, Branson, Missouri
More Fun Stuff to Check Out in Missouri
Branson provides the beginning to a great adventure in Missouri, and other cities, like Springfield and Columbia, add even more excitement to the mix. To get a full dose of what Missouri and the Ozark Highlands have to offer, our articles on the top attractions of Lake of the Ozarks, including the best campgrounds and best resorts, can have you kicking back and enjoying the Missouri landscape in no time.