Branson is a small town with a population of only around 11,000 people, but it packs a wallop of things to do and see in a compact area. That means you you can experience quite a bit of Branson in 48 hours. This itinerary takes in some of the highlights of Highway 76 (also known as “The Strip” and “76 Country Boulevard”) and includes some of Branson’s best-known museums, restaurants, shows and shops. And because Branson is more than Highway 76, it encourages you to also visit the town’s quaint downtown and enjoy the vistas of Table Rock Lake.
Talk about Branson, and most people picture billboards shouting out theaters, hotels, restaurants, go-cart and miniature golf amusements and other attractions that line The Strip. But this is where it’s at, and you can’t really experience Branson in all its pain and glory unless you join that slow-moving line of cars and drive it from end to end, which will also help you get your bearings. Try to start your day in the morning, when traffic is lighter.
Heading west on Highway 76 from its intersection with Highway 65 (the road leading into Branson from Kansas City and Arkansas), your first stop is the Branson Auto & Farm Museum on your right, home to more than a hundred vintage cars, tractors and memorabilia, many of them for sale. Who knows? You might come outta there ready to continue your cruise down The Strip in style.
Farther along, on your left, is Apple Tree Mall, Branson’s largest outlet for crafts, antiques, collectibles and all kinds of kitsch, some of it beautiful, some of it practical and much of it good for laughs. Farther west on the right is the Tanger Outlet Center, with factory outlets for many well-known brands, including Nike, Chico’s, Disney and more. Next it’s on to the Titanic Museum Attraction, which does an excellent job at portraying life aboard that majestic ship and lives lost on its fateful journey. Finally, for more shopping, near the end of Highway 76, on the left side, is Vintage Marketplace with more antiques and crafts.
There are many restaurants along The Strip, but two local favorites are Charlie’s Steak-Ribs & Ale, which serves that and more along with a down-home country atmosphere, and Outback Steak & Oyster Bar specializing in Down Under decor and Australian fare. For variety, there’s also Florentina’s Ristorante Italiano, which isn’t on The Strip but is close by and offers pizza, pasta and Italian favorites.
Many of Branson’s iconic theaters are on Highway 76, including its one of its oldest, Presley’s Country Jubilee, featuring extended family members and hits with young and old alike. Sibling shows are big in Branson, with The Haygoods and SIX exemplary examples. Other good choices include Legends in Concert with its impersonators of legendary greats and Shoji Tabuchi, a violinist extraordinaire who puts on a show rivaling anything in Las Vegas, and Branson’s Famous Baldknobbers, which has been entertaining visitors since 1959.
Spend the morning with a spin through Branson’s historic downtown with shops like Dick’s 5 & 10 and through nearby Branson Landing with its dancing fountains, boutiques and restaurants. For breakfast or lunch, head to Branson Cafe or Farmhouse Restaurant.
In the afternoon, make sure you see some of what the Ozarks are famous for by taking the scenic drive to Table Rock Lake. There’s lots you can do here, but for a couple hours well spent, consider a cruise aboard the Showboat Branson Belle or a romantic meal at Chateau Grille.