This summer, we were looking for somewhere to go camping, with things for everyone to do. We decided to go to Branson, Missouri, since it’s a beautiful place in the Ozarks and we could visit with my aunt and cousin, who live just a couple of hours away. On the surface, Branson doesn’t sound like the kind of place to take two three year olds. But give me a chance to change your mind. I know you think of the Blue Velvet Theater, but there’s quite a lot you can do with kids, even preschoolers.
Ride the Ferris Wheel: This is the same Ferris Wheel that sat on Navy Pier in Chicago for years. When it was replaced, Branson bought it and moved it down there. Such fun!
Go camping: We bought a camper this spring, and when we looked for places to camp in Branson, we were surprised by the number of nice campgrounds in the area. We chose to stay at The Wilderness, which is owned by Silver Dollar City. It was a really nice campground with a nice little pool and cute store. One perk was the proximity to Silver Dollar City. They have a shuttle, if you don’t want to drive and park. But they are also so close that you can see the fireworks at night. What a beautiful setting for fireworks!
Have a Scavenger Hunt: You’ve got to keep the littles busy. So I came up with a scavenger hunt for Indy this spring, and we used it again in the mornings, to keep the boys occupied. All I did was create a grid of things they could find, with words and pictures, and glued them to little bags for them to gather them. Things like leaves, a flower, heart shaped rock…you get the gist of it.
Silver Dollar City: It’s part amusement park, part shopping, part shows. It has something for everyone! The boys loved the water rides. It was 98 degrees the day we went, so we all loved the rides. The cute little shops offered the chance to cool off and look at souvenirs. They also have a wonderful bakery, that had out of this world cinnamon rolls. It’s worth the trip just for that.
Let’s talk about this photo. They have a log ride, and the boys were tall enough to go on it. We decided to put a boy in front of each of us so we could hold on to them. As you can see, we all had varying reactions to the ride. And Mom forgot to hold onto Charlie! If nothing else, it’s a story we can tell them when they are older.
Drive the Strip: You’ll hear about the bypasses and all of the traffic, but I have to tell you, the slow drive down the main road is worth it. The sights you’ll see, like giant chickens! It’s very much like Las Vegas, with the over the top ways to attract you to their venue. This was a favorite of the boys. Some of the others are a giant Titanic (which has a great museum), Ripley’s and more neon signs than you can imagine.
On a side note, there are some really good restaurants along the strip, worth trying. So, just because it seems a bit cheesy, don’t knock it. We had some great meals.
Take an Old Time photo: Seriously, the most touristy thing you can do, but it’s so much fun. The photo is rarely flattering to the people in them, except for this little ham. But its a great way to commemorate your trip.
Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede: OMG! This was amazing. Yes, a bit pricey. But it was so much fun. You get a show and dinner, which you eat with your hands (kids loved it), music, lights, animals, you name it. It’s a couple of hours, and worth the time and money. My favorite time of the trip.
Big Cedar Lodge: Owned by Bass Pro Shops, this is an incredible place to have a dinner at sunset. It’s a bit outside of Branson, about half an hour, but the drive is nice, and the views are incredible. The lodge has a few restaurants, some with outside seating. They also have golf, and beautiful sculptures. In the lobby, you’ll find a saber tooth tiger and Wooley mammoth. Both items found in the Ozarks. So, it’s educational as well.
Rent a Boat: Branson sits just outside of one of the most beautiful lakes, Table Rock. It’s quite a large lake, and includes a working dam. We decided to camp a couple of days down by the lake and rented a boat for half of the day. I was amazed at the clear water, which was relatively calm considering how big the lake is. It’s great for both fishing and swimming.
These are just a few of the fun things we did while in Branson for a week. It’s some of the most beautiful scenery we have in this country, and worth the visit. We are always looking for other places to camp. Let us know in the comments some of your favorite family vacation spots!