Travel Tips For Visiting Branson, Missouri

Branson is an outdoor enthusiast’s playground with plenty of fishing, hiking, golfing and exploring.

By Adventurtunity Family
Camp Ambassador

If you are not familiar with Branson, Mo., you will be after this article. It is an outdoor enthusiast’s playground with plenty of fishing, hiking, golfing and exploring. Located just south of Springfield, Mo., home to Bass Pro Shops, it is also the location of the well-known Big Cedar Lodge and Table Rock Lake. We recently had the pleasure of visiting for just over a week and certainly plan to come back! Below, we’re sharing some helpful travel tips when planning a trip to Branson. 

Be Prepared To Drive 

(Photo: Adventurtunity Family)

One thing we didn’t realize was how vast the distance was between downtown, the various attractions, The Landing, Big Cedar, lodging and groceries. Thankfully, we travel with a towed vehicle, so we were able to get around freely. But the unexpected driving did increase our gas budget. If you visit with a vehicle, plan accordingly for driving time and gas. If you are flying into town, you will want to rent a car unless you only plan to stay at Big Cedar Lodge. The lodge offers complimentary transportation to all of its properties for guests. 

Places To Stay

Prior to visiting Branson, you may want to research things to do and make a list of your “must see” activities and experiences. Once you have your list, this can help you figure out where you might like to stay so you can be closer to those areas that interest you. Throughout Branson, you will find numerous hotels, in addition to Big Cedar Lodge and campgrounds. We unknowingly ended up in a perfect location, camping at the City of Branson Lakeside RV Park. This campground was within walking distance to The Landing, an outdoor mall area on the river full of shops, restaurants and attractions. It was also very close to downtown Branson and in between Big Cedar and some of the more frequented attractions, like the Titanic Museum and Silver Dollar City. One thing to note is Branson is a year-round tourist destination and lodging books up quickly, so be sure to book early!

Silver Dollar City 

(Photo: Adventurtunity Family)

The No. 1 recommended attraction from both locals and tourists alike was to visit Silver Dollar City (SDC). We have found when the locals rave about a place, it’s in your best interest to try it, so we did! And now, having experienced it firsthand, we can confirm that, yes, it is worth it and a great place for adults and kids. SDC is much more than an amusement park, although it has plenty of rides and coasters for all ages. It’s more of an experiential town or city. You’ll find local artisans creating and selling their goods, areas paying homage to history and historical traditions, handmade baked goods, tasty treats, shops, live entertainment, dance parties and so much more! Additionally, SDC’s entrance is also home to Marvel Cave. An amazing natural wonder and the deepest cave in Missouri, Marvel Cave is open for multiple tours daily. We happened to visit just before Halloween, and the shiny “city” was elaborately decorated honoring this spooky holiday. Whether you visit during a holiday or another time throughout the year, Silver Dollar City is not to be missed!

(Photo: Adventurtunity Family)

Big Cedar Lodge

Truth be told, Big Cedar Lodge was our main reason for wanting to visit Branson. This 4,600-acre oasis is nestled into the Missouri Ozark Mountains and overlooks Table Rock Lake. This rustic yet luxurious lodge includes world-class amenities, such as two marinas, five golf courses, an activity center, a fun zone, five-star restaurants, a spa, mini golf, boat cruises, sporting clays, a sinkhole and so much more! It really is a playground for those who love spending time outdoors. This fact shouldn’t surprise anyone seeing as Johnny Morris, founder of Bass Pro Shops, is also the creator behind this awe-inspiring property. Staying at Big Cedar can be rather expensive, but don’t let that deter you from visiting. Many of the Big Cedar attractions and experiences are welcome to nonstaying guests, too! While we didn’t stay at the lodge, we did spend a rainy day at Fun Mountain and an evening at Top of the Rock, dining at the Osage Restaurant. If you are interested in staying at the lodge, pop into your local Bass Pro Shops or Cabela’s — they often offer package trip deals. 

(Photo: Adventurtunity Family)

We would be amiss if we didn’t also mention a few of the other properties affiliated with Big Cedar and Johnny Morris. If you have time, you should definitely look into visiting Dogwood Canyon, Lost Canyon Cave and Nature Trail, Ancient Ozarks Natural History Museum and Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium. We visited the Wonders of Wildlife Museum located in Springfield, adjacent to the flagship Bass Pro Shops, and couldn’t rave about this place enough! It was magnificent in every way — by far the coolest, most immersive and informative aquarium and museum we have ever been to! The level of thought and detail that went into every part of this experience is astounding. It’s educational for both kids and adults; you could spend an entire day learning about the animals and conservation efforts of outdoors-loving people. It really is an amazing place.

Explore The Outdoors

(Photo: Adventurtunity Family)

It’s easy to get caught up in visiting all the attractions, restaurants and shops, but be sure to make time for outdoor adventure, too. Branson is known for some of the best fishing and hiking throughout the Ozark Mountains. A few places of interest to check out are Table Rock State Park, Moonshine Beach, Lost Canyon Cave and Nature Trail and Lake Taneycomo. Additionally, Branson is about an hour from Arkansas, which also offers some incredible hiking and water activities throughout the Ozark Mountains. 

Search For Coupons And Discounts

(Photo: Adventurtunity Family)

While certain areas of Branson embody Mother Nature’s serenity, others boast bright lights and tourist attractions. Of course, these attractions are created for fun and entertainment for your family. But, they can certainly add up and quickly put a dent in your vacation budget. We did, however, find that coupons to these attractions are plentiful and can be found online, in grocery stores or most commonly at hotels and campgrounds. Be sure to check out early bird specials, weekday discounts and happy hour deals. These will not only help you save a few dollars, but might also help reduce your wait time and avoid crowds. 

Visit During A Holiday

(Photo: Adventurtunity Family)

If there is one town that knows how to celebrate holidays, it’s Branson. They take their holiday celebrations seriously and go all out with decorations, activities and so much family fun you’ll have a tough time deciding what to do! Their most famous celebration is during the Christmas season, which starts the first week of November and goes to the new year. Halloween and the Fourth of July are also quite spectacular. We happened to visit over Halloween and had a blast paddleboarding on Lake Taneycomo in our costumes, trick or treating at The Landing and enjoying all the spooktacular fare at Silver Dollar City. And just like that, November 1 came, and it was all business getting the town ready for Christmas. If you love holidays, traditions, decorations and festive things to do, consider visiting Branson over the holidays. Branson had been on our bucket list for a few years and still remains because there is more we would like to see and do. Plus, a Christmas in Branson sounds like a holiday dream!

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