Branson, Missouri - worth a stop?
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In October we're driving down to Dallas to visit family and thought we would take a 2-3 day detour through Branson before driving back to Minnesota. I've heard a lot of good and bad (crowded, too country western, overpriced, beautiful, lots of fun, etc., etc.) Is it worth the detour or are we better off stopping somewhere else between Minnesota and Dallas?????
<font color="purple">I am a bit biased in the sense that I live about 30 miles from Branson and spend quite a bit of time there...lol But it is very pretty there, especially that time of year. It depends on how long you want to stay and what you would like to do. There are a lot of shows on Hwy 76, that range from Chinese Acrobats to Yakov Smirnov to The Presleys (not in Elvis) and the Osmonds. I heard that Ray Stevens will be back in town sometime this summer as well.
As for the crowds, it is not that bad and especially not at that time of year. What will be bad is the traffic on the main drag (Hwy 76) right around the times that shows begin and end. But there are backroads that help alleviate the traffic and most of the touristy places have free maps to help get around.
There are 2 outlet malls for shopping, including Tanger Outlet Mall which is home to one of 4 or 5 Disney Catalog Outlets around the country. Selection there is a hit or miss, but you can get some awesome deals.
There is also Silver Dollar City, which is a cool theme park. It is basically a little town in the 1800's. Check out the website here. If you have the time, I definatly recommend stopping here. It is really neat to watch all the handcrafters making pottery, blowing glass, blacksmithing etc. And they have wonderful food.
If you feel like coming up to Springfield, there is Bass Pro Outdoor World and Wonders of Wildlife Museum to visit. Bass Pro, while it is a outdoorsy-sporting goods place, it is really cool to go see. This is the national headquarters so it is more than a shop. They have fish tanks (huge) all over the place, a turtle pond, huge fireplaces, a waterfall indoors etc. The Wonders of Wildlife Museum is right next door and is a great way to spend some time.
That is just a VERY basic rundown of things to do in Branson. There are also a TON of minigolf courses, and go carts and we even have an IMAX theater down there. If you want more details or would like some of the roadside brouchures that are everywhere, feel free to PM me. Hope that helps you some.
We are a young family and in our off-Disney years, we always go to Branson for a week and usually go more than once a year. It is affordable, not too country for our family and just a very family friendly place. We love the go-karts and bumper boats, several of the restaurants and have season passes to the Silver Dollar City parks (includes Celebration City and White Water). We love them all and I'm almost sad not to be going back this year. We may have to work in a weekend trip in August. I would think in October, the traffic would be a lot more bearable than it was in late summer last year. Stay off-strip and there are plenty of ways to avoid the main part of the traffic. We went the first week of June last year and traffic was easy and everything was relatively uncrowded. Went back again the first weekend in August and it was crazy. So timing is everything. If you can, try to go on weekdays. It's a great place and I love it. It's as much a part of my heart as Disney.
We end up in Branson about four or five times a year on weekend trips and as you have heard, October is not a terribly busy time of year. The different "routes" are the key to Branson travel though and you definitely just need to print off a map of them before you get there. If the main drag is kind of slow you just zip off and travel around it.
It used to be completely country/bluegrass/gospel. Not so anymore. There is a great illusionist there called Kirby Van Birch, shows that specifically are 50's, 60's, and 70's, Joseph and the Tecnicolor Dreamcoat, Spirit of the Dance, Acrobats of China, etc.... Also, if you have never been to a park like Silver Dollar City, October is a great time to go because it's the Craftsman Festival. You can go to their website and see what the dates are for that.
Also there are three outlets...Red Roof, Tanger, and The Shops at Branson Meadows.....shop shop SHOP!!!
I agree with the suggestion that if you stay off the main strip (Hwy 76) you will have a calmer, less stressful visit. The only reason that you should stay on 76, unless it's a super low capacity time, is if you are going to walk most places you go.
We were there for Thanksgiving. The traffic stopped for hours it felt like it took hours to get one block. If you take away the traffic I had a great time and would do it again. I have a 9 year old who had fun and wants to go back. The shows are worth every penny. The shopping is to die for.
We go to Branson several times a year. It is beautiful in October, but the best time is November and December when it is a winter wonderland. Stay away Thanksgiving weekend everyone is there. It would definitely be worth a side trip I think you could find something you would enjoy.