First word of advice. We are from Texas and stayed the night in Texarkana to gain some time. We drove up through Little Rock North on hwy 4o to 65. It is a gorgeous drive but what should have been a 2 hour trip mileage wise, was about 4. So needless to say we were frustrated and tired upon arrival.
Our first day we wanted to get out and drive around. For those who have never been to Branson, there is traffic from 8 am to 10 pm. So plan accordingly. We were able to get around using the colored routes. Once you figure those out you get a slight advantage. I would recommend the Ride the Ducks attraction. If for anything, the drivers have a unique way of getting around traffic by cutting through businesses. It helps if you are late for something.
We did eat at Shorty Smalls. The food is hit and miss. One of those depends on what you order. I cannot recall what I had but my wife had the catfish which was great.