The Getaway
Your Branson, Missouri Bucket List

Branson is a lively little city nestled in the heart of the picture-perfect Ozark Mountains of southern Missouri. An easy get by car, it’s just one day’s drive from most locations in Middle America, and there are plenty of options for flights in and out of its two commercial airports: Branson Airport and Branson National Airport. Boasting both indoor and outdoor adventure parks, any kind of shopping you can imagine, tours by boat and train, great food and drink, and best of all, friendly people, there are plenty of reasons to visit Branson in your lifetime.


01 Savor a grandmother’s cinnamon rolls

Want a sweet way to start your day? Well, it doesn’t get any sweeter than having a grandma make you homemade cinnamon rolls from scratch. Yes, the popular Branson bakery’s namesake, Grandma Ruth, still comes in to make the pastries sometimes, but the recipe itself has been passed down in the Ruth Strauss Grueneich family for generations. Grandma Ruth's Old Fashioned Cinnamon Rolls is open every day of the week except for Sunday, so make sure to stop in some lovin’ from the oven.

Cinnamon rolls Jennifer_Sharp / Getty Images

02 Walk amongst butterflies

At the Butterfly Palace and Rainforest Adventure, you’ll find a two-story butterfly aviary, where you can stroll amongst hundreds of exotic butterflies as they flutter by. You can take photos, feed them nectar flowers, and even sign up to release one. But these butterflies, as beautiful as they are, are just the beginning. Next up is the Living Rainforest Science Center, where you can walk amongst native wildlife, and navigate a simulation of a real jungle in the Emerald Forest Mirror Maze.

Butterfly garden Reptile8488 / Getty Images

03 Let loose in a giant jungle gym

Excited kids and theirs parents in bright beams of laser guns during laser tag game in dark room

Fritz’s Adventure is all the proof you need that you’re never too old for jungle gyms. Safe and fun for the whole family, the indoor action park has 80,000 square feet of climbing walls, underground tunnels, giant treehouses, multi-story slides, and a four-story rope course. You’ll even find laser rooms, mazes made from stacks of repurposed railroad containers, and a vertical wind tunnel where you can literally fly. If you want an aerial view of all the attractions, you can climb into the cockpit of a suspended airplane and see them from above. Don’t let anyone tell you there’s nothing to do in Branson!


04 Lounge at the beach

A beach in landlocked Branson? Sure, you won’t find big waves at Moonshine Beach on Table Rock Lake, but this sunny spot, where you can bury your toes in soft sand, is just as tranquil. The lake is crystal clear and perfect for wading in on a hot summer’s day. Play it safe, though, as there are no lifeguards on duty here.

Lake beach emholk / Getty Images

05 Ride the Branson Coaster

The Branson Coaster is the country’s first and only double alpine rollercoaster. Besides its twists, turns and two breathtaking drops, this mountain coaster offers scenic views of the surrounding landscape that will stun you. Each coaster car fits two guests: one driver and one passenger. Bear in mind that you must be at least 58 inches tall to drive, and at least 38 inches tall to ride.

Photo credit: Branson Missouri on Visual Hunt

06 Stop in at Dick’s 5 and 10 Variety Store

Hearkening back to a simpler time, when five and dimes were a dime a dozen, this old-fashioned general store will fill you with nostalgia. Dick’s 5 & 10 has an old school candy aisle with over a thousand varieties of sweets and snacks, and bottles of oddly flavored soft drinks, like sweet corn, butter, bacon, and cucumber. If you’re looking for souvenirs and quirky trinkets, Dick’s has no shortage of these either. Droll delights, such as Bob Ross socks, Bigfoot scarves, and a so-called “fun aisle,” prove that there are surprises around every corner in this six-decades-old shop.


07 Take a 40-mile train ride through the Ozarks

Want to let someone else do the driving for a while as you soak in some scenery? For less than $30, you can board the Branson Scenic Railway, a 45-minute train ride that takes you over the rolling hills of the Ozarks from the comfort of your seat. Passengers can sit under the train’s glass-domed roof as Missouri’s beautiful countryside glides past. There are even dinner trips every Saturday, perfect for a leisurely date night.

The Ozarks BlazenImages / Getty Images

08 Take the plunge at an indoor waterpark

If the idea of lounging on an inner tube down a 600-foot lazy river appeals, float on over to the 30,000 square foot Castle Rock Resort & Waterpark for a bit of year-round water-based relaxation. If you want to make more of a splash, there are mega corkscrew water slides with thirty-foot drops to zip down. This water park has something for everyone, whether you want to get your poolside fix in the middle of winter or cool off in the height of summer.

Photo credit: Cyndi and Dave on Visualhunt

09 Snap a selfie with the world’s largest meatball

Even if you’re not a fan of Italian food, you should stop by Pasghetti’s just to catch a glimpse the massive 15-foot-tall meatball out front, speared with a gigantic fork that rises high above the restaurant’s roofline. This is one meatball they better hope doesn’t roll away.

If you do decide to grab a bite here, you’ll be greeted by a high-ceilinged brick-lined interior with faux shopfronts, which gives you the illusion that you’re eating al fresco on a city street. If the meatball out front has given you an outsized craving, order the restaurant’s specialty, “pasghetti and meatball,” for a baseball-sized meatball of your own.

Photo credit: pasa47 on CC BY

10 Go wild at a jungle-themed bar

Tropical cocktails served in a tiki style glass

If you want to let your hair down in Branson, swing on over to Crazy Craig’s Cheeky Monkey Bar. The name alone is your first hint that you’re in for a wild night. With zebra-striped ceilings, cheetah-print walls, and a gargantuan bar, this jungle-themed bar, and restaurant closes late and offers live entertainment, a vast selection of beer, and a rainbow of handcrafted tropical drinks, including a 32-ounce rum bucket. If you get hungry, try the local favorite, a big pile of barbecue brisket nachos, or a pulled pork sandwich with agave nectar coleslaw.


11 Dive into 1880s America at Silver Dollar City

Embark on a journey back in time at Silver Dollar City, where the charm of the 1880s comes to life amidst the thrill of modern rides. Here, family fun intertwines with history as guests explore artisan crafts, witness traditional blacksmithing, and taste the flavors of genuine Ozark Mountain cooking. The park’s highlight, Time Traveler, defies gravity with its revolutionary coaster design, offering adrenaline seekers a taste of cutting-edge thrills nestled within the rustic ambiance of yesteryear. A day at Silver Dollar City is more than just amusement; it's a living history lesson wrapped in fun.

12 Explore underwater mysteries at Aquarium at the Boardwalk

Branson's Aquarium at the Boardwalk invites you on an aquatic adventure like no other. From the moment you step inside, you're transported to a mesmerizing world beneath the waves, where jellyfish glow with ethereal beauty and sharks glide silently by. Children and adults alike will marvel at the interactive touch pools, and the 5D submarine voyage offers an immersive experience that feels as close to exploring the ocean's depths as you can get on dry land. It's a place where the wonders of the marine world spark curiosity and awe in every visitor.

13 Experience magic upside-down at WonderWorks

At WonderWorks, the upside-down façade is just the beginning of the wonders that await inside. This attraction turns education into an adventure, with four floors of interactive exhibits designed to stimulate the mind and challenge the body. From lying on a bed of nails to experiencing the force of a hurricane, every exhibit invites you to question the world around you. It’s a place where science and fun meet, creating magical memories for the curious at heart. Whether you’re a budding scientist or just looking to have a good time, WonderWorks makes learning an absolute blast.

14 Celebrate country heritage at Dolly Parton's Stampede

Dolly Parton's Stampede is more than just a dinner show; it's a heartwarming celebration of country heritage, spirited horses, and dazzling performances. As you feast on a Southern-style banquet, the arena comes alive with the thundering hooves of 32 magnificent horses, their riders performing stunts that defy imagination. The friendly rivalry between the North and South sides of the arena adds to the excitement, urging audiences to cheer louder and become part of the spectacle. It's an evening of entertainment that captures the essence of the American spirit and Branson's love for the grandiose.

15 Step back in time at Titanic Museum Attraction

The Titanic Museum Attraction offers visitors a poignant voyage through history, with meticulously recreated rooms and an extensive collection of genuine artifacts from the ill-fated ship. As you walk the grand staircase, touch an iceberg, and steer the ship, you're transported to a bygone era, sharing in the dreams and tragedies of its passengers. The personal stories of those aboard make the journey a deeply moving experience, reminding us of the human stories behind the tragedy. It's a solemn tribute to the enduring legacy of the Titanic, inviting reflection and admiration.


Scroll Down

for the Next Article

The Getaway Badge
Sign up to receive insider info and deals that will help you travel smarter.