The quaint Ozark Mountain town of Branson is unique in so many ways. I was able to visit in 2017, and absolutely fell in love with this area of the country. Not only is it home to Silver Dollar City, but also amazing live entertainment, gorgeous Table Rock Lake and more. Let’s take a peek at this mid-western town.
Branson- Expect The Unexpected
If you’ve never visited Branson, you may be surprised to hear about the natural beauty in this part of southwestern Missouri, a place that straddles the line between “Southern” and “Midwestern.” In fact, if you’ve never been, you probably have a lot of preconceived notions about what Branson is … and what it isn’t. I’m here to tell you that you can probably find some of what you expect here; but there’s a whole lot of unexpected, too.
Though there’s plenty of fun to be had indoors in Branson, the experiences that nobody expects are all the outdoor adventures. If you check your history books, though, you’ll learn that the first thing that drew visitors here more than 100 years ago was the beauty of the Ozark Mountains.
Everywhere you turn, there’s gorgeous scenery to be explored. There are endless ways to witness the wonders of nature here – hiking, mountain biking, horseback rides, ATV and Jeep tours, even thrilling ziplines and mountain coasters. This is also a golfer’s haven. In fact, Tiger Woods selected Branson as the home of his first-ever public golf course, Payne’s Valley.
Explore The Lakes
Branson is home to three pristine lakes – Table Rock, Taneycomo and Bull Shoals – that boast sparkling water and plenty of fun. In Branson they’re calling time on the water “nautical distancing.” You can get out there in a canoe, kayak, sailboat, motorboat, paddleboards and jet skis. Or you can just get in the lakes and cool off with a swim in the refreshing, crystal-clear mountain waters. And with all that fresh water comes some amazing fishing.
Fun fact: Did you know, Branson is home to the History of Fishing Museum.
Got Toilet Paper?
Branson is also home to the world’s largest roll of toilet paper. Yep. It’s confirmed by The Guinness Book of Records and this super-mega-roll of Charmin can be found at Ripley’s Branson. It’s 10 feet tall and contains 1 million square feet of paper, which is the equivalent of 95,000 rolls. They say it could last you 1,900 years. Now wouldn’t THAT have come in handy back when toilet paper was such a precious commodity in stores?
Silver Dollar City
While the park may be closed right now, I thought you might enjoy a virtual ride on Time Traveler. Here’s some point-of-view footage that was shot when the coaster opened two years ago.
Because of the nature of that roller coaster, it’s a little tough to capture point-of-view footage because the camera is spinning quite a bit. (It gets mounted on the front of a vehicle.) So if you want a more “traditional” ride – and I use that term loosely, because this is another coaster for which the technology was invented for Silver Dollar City (they made a wooden roller coaster go upside-down, which had never been done before) – here’s POV footage of Outlaw Run, which also happens to rank among my Top 5 Favorite Roller Coasters in the Universe. THAT is how special and fun this park and this destination are. Who would expect to find rides that leave the rest of the industry scratching their heads – and green with envy – in a small mountain town?
Be sure not to miss Christmas at Silver Dollar City! It’s quite the display.
I’m betting when I first mentioned Branson, your immediate thought was of live entertainment. And you’ll certainly find that here. However, the genre of music you can hear and the audiences it appeals to may surprise you. Sure, there’s plenty of country music, but there’s also gospel and classic rock and Motown and … well, pretty much everything. The quality of entertainers is amazing, too.
If you ever wondered what happens to people after they’ve achieved success on shows like “America’s Got Talent,” look no further than Branson, where hardworking performers of all types – singers, dancers, musicians, even aerialists — earn their own stages and shows so they can pursue and fulfill their dreams. Many of the performers are siblings or family groups, too. I’m pretty sure if you’re born in the Ozarks and do NOT have the entertainment gene, they politely ask you to leave … because everyone I know here can carry a tune.
When the rest of us have been forced to hit pause, many Branson performers chose to push “record,” working in makeshift studios to continue to share their music with fans. A handful of members of The Hughes Brothers gathered at their family’s theater a few weeks ago to record their rendition of Billy Joel’s “The Longest Time.” I say “a handful” because what you see and hear in this clip is just 10 members of the family, which includes five brothers, their wives, their children and grandchildren. Their family – and show – now numbers about 50 participants, earning them the title “World’s Largest Performing Family” and giving them bragging rights for having the largest cast in Branson.
There are so many amazing dining spots in Branson, but I want to talk about Big D’s BBQ. The first time I tried this couple’s BBQ was back when they were operating out of a food truck. These days Big D’s has gone big-time, with both their own restaurant and a speedy pick-up site in one of the local grocery stores. The Meat Sampler Platter is the way to go, but you MUST order the Pulled Pork Egg Rolls to get things started.
Big D’s also creates amazing desserts – last fall they won the title of Best Desserts in Branson – and I think most of us can manage to make one of those at home. This particular sweet might be incredibly easy to make, but it’s a doozy of a pie.
- 4 eggs (room temperature)
- ¼ cup minced bacon (crispy is best) WHAT?! Bacon in pie! Yes, please!
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup light corn syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 to 3 tablespoons bourbon (to taste)
- 1 cup pecan pieces
- 1 deep dish pre-made pie crust
Preheat oven to 350.
Cook bacon until crispy and mince into fine pieces.
Put bacon bits and pecans into the pie crust. Mix the two together to evenly distribute the bacon. Set aside.
In a large bowl, mix the eggs, sugar, corn syrup, vanilla and bourbon until blended. (Do not use an electric mixer, as it will add too much air.)
Pour liquid mixture into the pie crust and let stand a minute to allow the pecans and bacon to float to the top. Make sure the pecans are evenly distributed along the top of the pie.
Place on a pan and bake in the oven for 45 to 50 minutes, until internal temperature reaches 215 degrees. (Baking time will vary depending on the oven. For best results use a meat thermometer to check the temperature of the pie, which should be springy in the center.)
Remove from oven and allow to cool to room temperature before slicing.
Thanks to Branson’s central location in the United States, it’s a gathering place for extended families who have spread out in all directions and who want a place where everyone can come together for family fun.