It calls itself the “Live Entertainment Capital of the World.” And while it might not seem big, Branson, Missouri, is a big deal to the hundreds of thousands of visitors who flock there every year. They come for amazing shows and concerts, beautiful scenery, fascinating history, and great food. Join us as we spend a day showing you around the top things to see in Branson.
About Branson, Missouri
Branson, Missouri, owes its existence to the little-known Marvel Cave west of the current city. Canadian mining expert William Henry Lynch bought the cave in 1894 and began operating it as a tourist attraction.
It was among the first sights to bring travelers to the Ozarks from afar. The cave was later leased and improved by the Herschend family, who would play a significant role in the development of Branson.
Branson also grew more famous following the 1907 novel “The Shepherd of the Hills,” which took place in the Ozarks. Development in the area continued with Lake Taneycomo’s creation, which allowed numerous resorts to flourish, and Silver Dollar City, a western-themed amusement park near Marvel Cave.
Many see the 1950s and ‘60s as the beginning of what’s become modern Branson. That’s when live music began to explode in the town. Many new theaters popped up along Highway 76 in what’s now the Branson Theater District.
By 1991, “60 Minutes” called Branson the “live entertainment capital of the entire universe.” Major artists like Dolly Parton and Andy Williams opened their own theaters in the 1990s.
These days, the city is home to about 12,000 residents who help keep Branson one of the top tourist attractions in Missouri. As one of Missouri’s southernmost cities, Branson enjoys mild winters with average high temperatures in the mid to high 40s. Summers can be hot, with average highs in the high 80s or low 90s.
Morning in Branson
There’s so much to do in Branson, Missouri, that it’s a good idea to get an early start.
Breakfast at McFarlain’s Family Restaurant
Address: 3562 Shepherd of the Hills Expy, Branson, MO 65616 (in IMAX Entertainment Complex)
Menu Options: There’s no shortage of hearty, stick-to-your-ribs breakfast food available here. Try regional classics like country-fried steak and eggs, biscuits and gravy, or the decadent Ozark Mountain Skillet. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, grab one of Granny’s giant, fresh-baked cinnamon rolls or a towering stack of chocolate chip or strawberry pancakes.
Reasons to Love It: McFarlain’s is inspired by the “Ozarks Legacy & Legend” IMAX experience, a cinematic retelling of Branson’s history. And the restaurant lives up to the “legendary Ozarks cuisine” it promises. Check out the historical photos and artifacts that decorate the walls to learn more about Branson’s past while you chow down. Diners love the home-style cooking and homemade pies. It’s a great way to fill your belly and steep yourself in Branson’s history ahead of a big day.
Take the “Discover Branson” Tour to Learn History and Fun Facts
There’s no better way to learn about this city than the fascinating, authoritative “Discover Branson” tour. Experienced and entertaining local guides conduct these driving tours in groups of just 16. Enjoy views of the Ozark Mountains and other local scenery, learn how Branson became a show-biz mecca, and hear stories of the town’s past. These three-hour tours are a perfect way to get acquainted with this exciting and historic town.
Afternoon in Branson
After wrapping up your tour, grab some lunch and relax a bit. You’ve got a lot of exploring still left to do.
Eat Lunch at Big D’s BBQ
Address: 1550 W. State Hwy 248, Branson, MO 65616
Menu Options: Chow down on some barbecue classics, like pulled pork, brisket, smoked chicken, ribs, and sausage. But there’s a lot more than the standards here. Try the smoked bologna sandwich or pulled pork eggrolls. Of course, you can also fill out your plate with quality sides like coleslaw, beans, smoked mac and cheese, pork rinds, and more.
Reasons to Love It: A “Best of Branson” choice for the city’s best barbecue, Big D’s BBQ relies on its secret dry-rub spice blend to pack incredible flavor into the famous dishes. There are even keto-friendly and gluten-free options for those with special dietary needs. Visitors are fans of the generous portions, reasonable prices, and good service.
Visit a Museum
Branson may be best known for entertainment, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a great time learning here, too. One of the town’s most unique attractions is the Titanic Museum, an interactive museum designed to resemble the doomed ship. For lovers of the weird and wild, you can’t miss Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum. The building looks like it’s splitting open and houses some of the strangest artifacts and exhibits you’ll see anywhere. Other options include the World’s Largest Toy Museum, Branson’s Dinosaur Museum, and the Branson Auto & Farm Museum.
Spending an Evening in Branson
Branson, Missouri, comes alive at night with entertainment options. The hardest part might be picking just one.
Get Dinner at The Landing
Address: 100 Branson Landing Blvd, Branson, MO 65616
Menu Options: Whatever you’re in the mood for, chances are Branson Landing has it. You’ll find nearly 20 dining options, from high-end choices like Level 2 Steakhouse and Black Oak Grill to popular chains like Joe’s Crab Shack, Guy Fieri’s Kitchen and Bar, and Landshark Bar & Grill. Try delicious seafood at White River Fish House, or sip moonshine with a hamburger at the one-of-a-kind Smith Creek Moonshine.
Reasons to Love It: This combination shopping-dining-hotel-entertainment space is one of Branson’s hottest areas. You’ll be able to stroll the waterfront landing and window shop as you consider which restaurant is perfect for your dinner. With other attractions like fountain shows choreographed to music, this is a wonderful area to spend an evening.
Catch a Show at The Haygoods
Branson, Missouri, is famous for its entertainment and live shows, and The Haygoods is among the top choices. This family act has been running for nearly 30 years and bills itself as Branson’s most popular show. The show combines music, dance, lighting, pyrotechnic effects, and much more for a performance unlike any you’ve ever seen. Imagine upside-down tap dancers and guitar players, jetpack-wearing banjo pickers, and a wide variety of state-of-the-art lighting systems. The five brothers and one sister who make up the act perform music hits from all genres from the 1960s through today.
Where to Stay in Branson
Branson offers a wide variety of accommodations both in the city and in the surrounding area that are friendly to RVers.
Campground: Branson Lakeside RV Park
Address: 300 Boxcar Willie Dr., Branson, MO 65616
About the Park: Branson Lakeside RV Park offers tons of amenities, including RV park standards like full hookups, showers and restrooms, on-site laundry, and free wifi. But the perks are where the park really shines. It has waterfront sites on Lake Taneycomo, an on-site marina and fishing dock, and a free trolley to downtown Branson and nearby Branson Landing.
Why You’ll Love Staying Here: This park offers a rare combination of scenic beauty and proximity. The easy access to Branson Landing and Historic Branson means you can leave the car or RV at your site. The park is even pet-friendly. Additionally, you could save even more off the already-reasonable rates if you have a Good Sam membership, are a veteran, or stay for a week or more.
A Day in Branson
Branson, Missouri, may not be the most famous city. Still, those in the know keep coming back year after year for the combination of history, scenic beauty, and premiere entertainment. Follow our tips, and you’ll fall in love with it too. What part of Branson sounds most appealing to you?
Don’t Miss Out: There’s more to see in the Ozarks! Make your next stop Eureka Springs to experience the “healing waters.”