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Branson Area Features

Branson: the Heartbeat of the Midwest

  By: Jacquelyn Eurice
Photo Credit: Branson Convention and Visitors Bureau

In the heart of the Midwest lies the popular tourist destination that is Branson. It’s the ultimate family vacation spot, known for its “salt-of-the-earth” people and wholesome American values. This is a place where the military is always honored and churches are frequented. Not only is Branson bordered by the stunning natural beauty of the Ozark mountains, but it is also surrounded by scenic bodies of water: Lake Taneycomo, Table Rock Lake, Bulls Shoals and Beaver Lake. Visitors travel from all over the world to take in the natural beauty and explore the area’s hiking paths, waterways, hills and caves. The live shows and theaters throughout Branson are legendary, and unique attractions such as Silver Dollar City, Top of the Rock and Grand Country should not be missed. Fortunately for one-third of the American population, it’s only a single day’s drive from home to this entertainment capital—and so many are glad they made the trek! Branson welcomes its visitors to discover new tastes in its restaurants and wonderful handcrafted souvenirs in its shops. With your Sunny Day Guide and money-saving coupons, we’ll help to introduce you to this beautiful city. After spending some time here, you’re sure to fall in love with the place that continually captivates its guests.

Entertainment Districts

Anyone who comes to Branson should certainly spend some time in the entertainment district along Route 76, which is also called Country Music Boulevard or, more simply, the “76 Strip.” Combined with the theaters near the Shepherd of the Hills Expressway, there are more theater seats in the city of Branson than in all of New York City. Whether your interest is country music, comedy, modern rock, circus acts or magic, you’ll find a show that suits your taste. Prominent attractions including the Ferris wheel from Chicago’s Navy Pier and museums dedicated to veterans, toys and even the Titanic are along this stretch of road. Many other fun, family-friendly activities such as racetracks, laser tag and mini golf are also interspersed throughout this area. Take your pick from the many amazing attractions for a great day with your family!

North of and almost parallel to the 76 Strip is the Shepherd of the Hills Expressway. Named for the 1907 book The Shepherd of the Hills by Harold Bell Wright, this expressway furthers the Strip with a continuation of theaters and restaurants. To see this novel come to life during the summer, visit The Shepherd of the Hills Outdoor Theatre on Route 76, just off the expressway. Nearby is Branson’s IMAX® Entertainment Complex where you’ll find live shows, shops and restaurants as well as the latest Hollywood movies. Other popular attractions in this area include The Butterfly Palace and the Promised Land Zoo, where you can interact with a few of the animals, reptiles or insects.

Downtown Branson

The historic downtown Branson area is a beautiful, charming part of the city. The streets are lined with shops that are stocked with one-of-a-kind merchandise. Here you’ll find unique hand-crafted memories of your Missouri vacation. As you walk along the brick sidewalks and past the antique light posts, you’ll notice other traces of the past. The Historic Owen Theatre, recently purchased by the Branson Regional Art Council, has been entertaining audiences since 1936. Visit the historic train depot that was established in 1906 or explore the Branson Centennial History Museum where you’re bound to be mesmerized by the history that occurred in the region. And though the past is on display, the future is here too. The area has been undergoing revitalization projects that are bringing new businesses to downtown! With the free trolley service, it is easy to explore this picturesque city center.

Branson Landing

East of downtown, Branson Landing is an exciting 1.5 miles of stores, restaurants and fun along the banks of Lake Taneycomo. This is where visitors can see the famous fountains that combine water, light and fire in dramatic displays. These stunning, $7.5 million, works of art were created by Wet Design—the same artists who designed the fountains for the Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas and for Disney World in Orlando. Beginning at noon, the fabulous display that is set to music can be seen each hour, on the hour. Next to the fountains is the town square, where concerts and parades are held amidst nearly two-dozen restaurants and eateries and over 75 stores—from Bass Pro Shops and Belk to petite gift shops. A wide variety of activities are also available here. Rent a kayak to watch the fountains from the water, treat yourself to a spa session, or visit Arcade City where great prizes can be won and the entire family will have a blast!


The town of Hollister is a short distance south of historic downtown across Lake Taneycomo, and the main attraction here is the College of the Ozarks. This remarkable institution takes a hands-on approach to education. This campus teaches skills including construction, art, weaving, running a dairy, and food preparation. The students make products for sale, and guests to the campus can buy homemade ice cream at the College Creamery, plants at the Hoge Greenhouse or maybe a jar of apple butter from the Fruitcake and Jelly Kitchen. Other popular locations to see are the Williams Memorial Chapel (that was built by students and showcases remarkable neo-Gothic features) and memorials to Vietnam veterans and 9/11.


The neighboring town of Springfield is only a short drive from Branson and a wonderful day-trip to see some more sights! The “grandaddy” of Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World is here—it’s their corporate headquarters and where it all began. That’s not all though! Arts and entertainment, zoos and discovery centers, sports, restaurants, breweries and much more can be found in this “queen city.” Springfield is also referred to as the birthplace of Route 66, and automobiles that harken back to that road’s heyday can be seen in the Route 66 Car Museum.


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