Branson used to be a mecca mostly for seniors, with few attractions geared toward little ones beyond Silver Dollar City. No more. Shows and other forms of entertainment have gone way beyond just music, with comedy, epic productions and other performances that appeal to all ages. In addition, there are lots of attractions geared mainly toward children, teenagers and their families. In fact, Branson is one of the region’s top destinations when it comes to multi-generational reunions because it offers so much to do. This Branson for Families travel itinerary will guide you to the best Branson has to offer.
Silver Dollar City remains Branson’s top attraction, deservedly so for its attractive wooded setting, artisans demonstrating their skills and selling their wares, Marvel Cave and thrill rides. But in summer there’s also White Water, a water park with slides and play areas for kids of all ages. Less of a time commitment (and cheaper) are the many amusement centers along and near The Strip, like The Track Family Fun Parks with its go-karts and other activities for kids of all ages and Dinosaur Canyon Golf for mini-golf enthusiasts.
Fritz’s Adventure is an indoor adventure park with climbing walls, ziplines and other activities. Farther west on Highway 76 is Bigfoot on the Strip, which offers a couple of thrill rides that involved plunging toward earth, a fun zone for younger kids, miniature golf, a 3D action ride and even food trucks. Farther west still is Inspiration Tower with its scenic views over the Ozarks, but older kids will also want to harness up for the tower’s half-mile Vigilante Extreme ZipRider glide (participants must be a minimum of 75 pounds); check online first, however, as the tower is undergoing renovation.
But families that love roller coasters will, in addition to Silver Dollar City above, head on over to The Runaway Mountain Coaster, which careens 3,000 feet down the Ozarks countryside.
Or, for some chill time right in the center of town, head to Stockstill Skate Park, part of a city park that also has hiking trails, playgrounds, a dog park and picnic facilities. Another great place to relax a few hours or more is Moonshine Beach, the only public sandy beach on Table Rock Lake.
There are also several organized tours and journeys that appeal to kids. Ride the Ducks is a 70-minute journey in an amphibious boat that splashes onto Table Rock Lake, with lots of corny jokes en route; getting to drive the boat while it’s on the water is a bonus. Spirit of America is a 48-foot catamaran that cruises Table Rock Lake, with the option of jumping in and playing while at anchor. And what kid can resist a train ride? Branson Scenic Railway, departing from an historic 1905 depot downtown, provides a two-hour trip through the Ozarks in vintage passenger cars.
Museums that appeal to children include Ripley’s Believe It or Not! with its oddities, Branson’s Wild World with its sharks, snakes, alligators, birds, rescue wolves and touch pool, and Butterfly Palace with its aviary, educational displays and fun activities.
There are lots of restaurants in Branson, most with children’s menus. On Highway 76, Grand Country Buffet offers huge spreads for breakfast, lunch and dinner at reasonable prices, while Mel’s Hard Luck Diner has the usual burgers, sandwiches and chicken fried steak, but also features staff members who break in to song. At IMAX Entertainment Complex, which has shops and live entertainment theaters in addition to IMAX movies, there’s McFarlain’s Family Restaurant, a local favorite famous for its Ozark recipes and hearty fare.
Every one of Branson’s shows and theaters is all-ages appropriate, but those that might especially appeal to young people include the Amazing Acrobats of Shanghai with their amazing physical prowess and skill and Dixie Stampede Dinner Attraction, which evokes the excitement of the old West with its huge arena featuring daredevil horseback riding, a buffalo stampede and more. Older kids will be fascinated by Illusionist Rick Thomas, who has performed in over 50 countries and can make a helicopter appear and disappear onstage. Fun for the entire family is The Shepherd of the Hills Outdoor Drama, which has taken place under the stars since 1960 and is based on the 1907 novel that made Branson famous.