Family Travel: Think Branson Is Just for Senior Citizens? Think Again!

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Travel—Branson, Missouri seems to be all the rage these day for US travel. My in laws went on a trip there a few years back. My 80+-year-old grandpa was talking about going with his girlfriend. My parents think it sounds like a great idea. And I thought it sounded fun for all of them. And for every other senior citizen, looking for a midwestern vacation in the US.

What I was unprepared for was how Branson is the perfect place for a family vacation for kids of all of ages, which I found out on my recent trip there hosted by the Branson Conference and Visitor's Bureau.

10 Family Friendly Places in Branson, Missouri

If you're looking for a fun vacay, centrally located, a bit off the beaten path, and without all the crowds you'd find at a popular theme park destination location, check out Branson and the following family friendly places it offers:

  1. The Dixie Stampede: A dinner theater, but country style where the entire family will enjoy the Civil War era with a little rodeo, trick riding, and flying pigs all while eating with your hands and stomping every time the host says: "Stampede."
  2. Silver Dollar City: A lush, country-style theme park complete with country stores, jails, blacksmith shops, and more. Pathways are built around trees, providing lots of shade and making it a really relaxing environment. At the same time, the rides, appropriate for kids of all ages (even adults!), are fun and thrilling.

  3. Branson Belle Showboat: I'm not gonna lie. I'm a sucker for steamboats. It stems from my love of Huckleberry Finn. And this one didn't disappoint. While the food wasn't the greatest, the show more than made up for it. Seriously! Who has a beautiful voice, plays the piano AND the violin good enough to make your jaw drop, and is an arielist? I know! Weird combination, but it worked! While my 8 and 10YOs were captivated, this may not be for younger kids since it goes until 10:30 p.m.
  4. White Water: A water park is a water park is a water park, right? Sure! But, a day at the water park is just what a tired family needs in the middle of a vacation. At white water, we felt a range of emotions: exhilaration in the wave pool, relaxation in the lazy river, adventure at the big slides, and family fun at Ohana Falls, where we got to sit in a mammoth inner tube and enjoy the ride down the slide as a family.
  5. Tracks: What boy can turn down go carting and bumper boat rides? Not mine! I took the afternoon off even though Tracks looked like fun and let @troypattee and our two boys enjoy a little father/son time. They were a bit disappointed they didn't get to try out the four-story go-cart track, but had fun with the activities they did get to do and all came home exhausted, but happy!
  6. Noah the Musical: Sight and Sound is a theater and company with a mission to bring Bible stories to life. And bring Noah to life, they did! I was a little skeptical of this performance, thinking it would be really cheesy, but the live animals on stage and in the aisles were an awesome touch that captivated the kids. The music was beautiful, and the effects, making you feel like you inside the ark, were truly amazing. Whether you are Christian or not, this is a fun play to share with your entire family.
  7. Danna's BBQ: Hitting a BBQ joint was a must for Branson. At Danna's BBQ, we introduce our 10YO to pork-pulled BBQ and apparently, we changed his life forever. Not only did we not make him buy a kid's meal, but he discovered a love for BBQ. Score!
  8. Titanic: This was one of the first things I remember about Branson—the Titanic Museum, shaped just like the Titanic, sitting on a corner right there on the main drag as you drive into Branson. I was tired on our last day and wondered whether I'd have the energy for a museum, but this interactive, self-guided audio tour definitely kept my interest. And not only my interest, but the interest of my entire family, which is saying a lot, considering we have two active boys. They were captivated with the various facts their audio tour guide shared with them and loved dipping their hands in the 28-degree water and touching ice, representative of the iceberg.
  9. Shepherd of the Hills: Our last activity was a horseback riding and zip riding adventure combined with a BBQ luncheon. Not a horseback riding fan myself, I went zip riding while Troy and the boys went on an hour-long horseback ride. We joined back up for lunch at which point we discovered that our very tentative 10YO wanted to try the zip rider. So, off he and Troy went and although he freaked out about an hour after the ride, he claims it was his very favorite part of the trip. As a parent, don't you love seeing your kids overcome their fears?
  10. Lodging and Flight: Two important tips for getting to Branson and staying there. We flew into Springfield. If you are looking for the closest airport, this is not it. But, the hour drive is worth the trip and for us, worth taking Delta Airlines. In terms of lodging: There are lots of amazing options. We loved staying at Castle Rock Hotel. It wasn't luxurious, but it had two major things going for it: 1) It has a water park, which is free to guests. The kids LOVED it! And 2) The rooms have two double beds and a set of bunk beds in a semi-private room with its own TV. Our boys loved having their own space. So did we!
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An active part of the Mom It Forward team, Jyl primarily writes about parenting, social good, and all things travel related. In a past life, Jyl was an award-winning copywriter and designer of corporate training programs for Fortune 100 companies. Offline, Jyl is married to @TroyPattee; a mom to two teen boys and a beagle named #Hashtag; loves large amounts of cheese, dancing, and traveling; and lives in the beautiful Rocky Mountains. Topping her bucket list is the goal to visit 50 countries by the time she's 50.


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