Do not sleep on Branson, Missouri. While it may be a city smack dab in the middle of an American flyover state, the activities, food, and culture it offers are nothing to overlook. Whether you’re interested in a quiet, relaxing trip with family and friends, or an active, exciting adventure, the Branson area has opportunities abound, especially in the Fall. So, hike up those jeans and throw on your comfiest sweater, it’s time for an authentic Midwestern fall vacation!
Situated in the scenic Ozark mountain range in Southwest Missouri, there is a reason why Branson is known as an ideal Family vacation spot. So, naturally, the environment surrounding the city presents many opportunities to enjoy the fall weather and scenery. The White Valley Trail system, located off highway 265, is perfect for anyone looking to take in the brilliant colors of Autumn. The entire network of trails covers a distance of 10.25 miles, but the conveniently color-coded trail markers provide references to which trail suits your experience level. The designated red trail is recommended for beginners, and should only take 2 ½ to 3 hours’ time to complete. Though it is designated primarily as a mountain biking trail system, hikers are more than welcome to adventure there, provided they give wheeled travel-goers the right of way.
If you’re looking for something a bit more adrenaline inducing to do outdoors, a short drive to Reed’s Spring is just the ticket. There, you’ll find Zip Line USA, an outdoor complex of 9 zip lines totaling over 3 miles of cable, the longest of which stretches over 3,200 feet long and 350 above the ground. It’s an ideal thrill ride for the entire family. Tickets are $89 per person, but group discounts are offered through the company’s website and of course Groupon. The site offers hiking and wildlife observation if you’re not a person for heights, or if there are any in your party who choose to watch instead of participating.
However, you don’t have to be an active adventurer to enjoy the sights and sounds of Branson and the Ozarks. Take a chance to fly high above the city and the mountains on trip with Branson Helicopter Tours. It’s a rare chance to experience the fall colors from a bird’s eye view, all while nested comfortably in a seat. Check out their website for hours and rates. But, again, if extreme heights give you the willies, the Branson Ferris Wheel is brilliant for tourists interested in seeing the city from above. Its hours run into the night, a perfect time to take in the alluring light show and nightlife.
For adult travelers, the Branson area offers a host of wineries to tour and taste. After a fun filled day of hiking and zip lining you may be so inclined to enjoy a few glasses at Curling Vine Winery, a Branson extension of Missouri’s oldest winery. The best part of the deal is that tours are free, and children are welcome to accompany you during. In addition to the tour, the winery offers tasting rooms for wine and juice, as well as a gift shop to purchase bottles of your choice. It’s an excellent way to cap off a busy afternoon before heading into the city for food and entertainment.
Locals don’t consider a trip to Branson complete without attending a live show, and this is where the city truly shines. Along the city’s historic 76 country boulevard, you’ll find numerous diverse options for day and night time amusement. The entire stretch of the route winds and meanders its way through the Ozarks, but it’s cut through the city is what Branson is perhaps most famous for. The road was once primarily known for hosting country music performers in its many theaters, and now plays host to suit any taste, from concerts to acrobatic shows. And though it is not situated along 76, Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede Dinner Attraction, with its roots in the American Civil War, is a perfect dinner and show combination for any family. As a bonus, children under 3 eat free if they sit on a parent’s lap and eat from their plate. Its full potential cannot be covered in so few words, so be sure to look them up and book your reservation.
Of course, the whole of Missouri is known for its succulent barbecue style cooking, of which you’ll find many options along 76, including Getting’ Basted, located inside the Starlite Theater and billed as one of the top restaurants in the city, and Shorty Small’s, whose menu expands to include seafood, steaks, and pasta. If home-style cooking is more your flavor, BillyGail’s café is only a short jaunt from 76. It’s list of options covers everything from traditional American breakfast to hearty dinners, and comes highly recommended as a must visit eatery.