The city of Branson was born in the early 1800s on a broad plain along the White River, just south of its confluence with Roark Creek. Buildings and roads eventually overtook the floodplain as the city grew westward up a gradually sloping ridge, creating what is now Branson's Historic Downtown District .
Downtown The waters of Lake Taneycomo tamed the temperamental White River in 1913. Now, a patchwork of parks, campgrounds, shops and restaurants line the waterfront, forming a thriving shopping district on the city's eastern boundary. Mile-long Lake Street harbors public fishing docks, grassy parks and remarkable restaurants such as Dimitri's, which serves gourmet meals in a floating dining room on the shores of Lake Taneycomo. Also anchored to the waterfront are the huge docks from which The Lake Queen and the Sammy Lane Pirate Cruise set sail for their half and full-day excursions on this crystal-clear lake.
One block from shore at the intersection of Boxcar Willie Drive and Main Street is the Branson Scenic Railway depot, while a couple of blocks up from the tracks is the town's historic shopping district. The popular Dick's Oldtime 5 & 10 is one of the few surviving dime stores in the country. Across the street is Hillbilly Moccasins , where you can find a little piece of the Ozarks to take home with you. Continuing west on Main, the tree-lined tranquility of downtown eventually gives way to the engine that powers Branson's economy: The Strip.
The Strip This is what modern-day Branson is all about. Crammed into this seven-mile stretch of Missouri State Highway 76 are 60-plus restaurants, 70-plus hotels and motels, and more than 30 live entertainment venues, along with dozens of shopping outlets and amusement parks. This area offers a wealth of live music, food and activities. Traveling treasure hunters—mostly retirees and families—jam all four lanes of this road from April through September. Traffic moves at a snail's pace here on most summer afternoons; if you choose to drive, chances are you will see plenty of pedestrians merrily wave and pass by as you remain stuck in your-air conditioned vehicle.
Do not despair. With a little planning, you can book a centrally located hotel and avoid the gridlock. The Boxcar Willie Hotel , on the western reaches of The Strip, is within walking distance of a 90-store outlet mall plus several museums, nine theaters, go-cart tracks, amusement parks and a dozen or so restaurants. You could spend a week taking in these attractions and never have to start your car. After a day running rapids and riding waterslides at White Water Amusement Park, you can feast on Branson's top-rated buffet at the Plantation Restaurant , then end your day with a Sons of the Pioneers show at Mickey Gilley Theatre —all without walking more than a few hundred paces in any direction. The entire length of The Strip offers this sort of luxury, and as you scoot along the sidewalks and wave at static motorists, you will soon discover why those cheerful pedestrians were smiling as you sat in traffic only a few hours before.
Shepherd of the Hills Congestion on The Strip gave rise to alternate routes through town. The second most popular motorway in the city runs parallel to The Strip along a ridgeline to the north. Missouri State Highway 248 was widened during the 1980s and is now known as Shepherd of the Hills Expressway, where existing shops and attractions were joined by hundreds of others as entrepreneurs clambered for prime space in this booming region.
Separating this region from The Strip is the beautiful Roark Valley, with its tree-lined roadways and peaceful, 62-acre Stockstill Park, where Roark Creek flows through a grass meadow with picnic tables, ballparks, playground equipment and stately oak trees. Gretna Road bisects this northern district from the southwest to the northeast. Along this artery are three major factory outlet mall— Factory Merchants Branson , Tanger Outlet Center and Factory Shoppes at Branson Meadows —where you can find incredible bargains on a wide range of name-brand merchandise.
Several fine hotels have been built in this area to accommodate overflow from the bustling Strip. Cascades Inn is a splendid hotel boasting 160 luxurious rooms. Less than a block west is the Shoji Tabuchi Theatre, where a Japanese violin virtuoso wows audiences via nightly shows.
The Falls/College The lumpy terrain lying south of The Strip and north of Lake Taneycomo is known as the Falls District. This region of town embraces gorgeous scenery and includes intriguing geographic features such as The Falls, Compton Ridge and Cooper Creek. Tucked into the wooded canyons and perched on the ridge tops are numerous resorts, hotels and campgrounds. Cooper Creek slices southward through the limestone hills and runs into Lake Taneycomo. Situated at this intersection, Cooper Creek Resort provides a place to escape the commotion of the entertainment district, relax and maybe do some fishing. Across the Lake is the historic College of the Ozarks .
Taneycomo South Resorts and bed-and-breakfasts line the southern shore of Lake Taneycomo, reaching into the seclusion of the wooded hills. A stay at Kite House Bed and Breakfast provides a taste of upper-crust life in Branson circa the 1930s. A mile to the east is the Holiday Hills Resort & Golf Club .
Indian Point/West Branson Indian Point offers a selection of lakeside resorts so vast as to border on sensory overload. Hundreds of resorts, each with its own personality, are scattered across this arrowhead-shaped peninsula, which juts south into Table Rock Lake west of Branson. However, the most popular destination here is the landlocked Silver Dollar City , a multi-faceted amusement park/living museum where residents dress in period costumes and reenact turn-of-the-century Ozark Mountain life. Kids will enjoy the park's fast-moving rides, such as Buzz Saw Falls. Adjacent to Silver Dollar City is Marvel Cave, a must-see natural treasure so vast that hot-air balloons have actually inflated and launched inside its main cavern.
The Clarion Hotel at the Palace is within walking distance of 16 different music shows and approximately six miles from Branson's M Graham Clark Airport. The Grand Village Shops and Grand ...
A day at Silver Dollar City is a trip back in time; it will take you back to the days when the people living in these mountains created everything needed from ...