Amanda is a wife, mother, blogger and Etsy shop owner. She loves being with her family, having girls’ nights with her friends and finding great deals. She has an affinity for audiobooks and Real Housewives, hates to cook (but loves to eat), and strives to inspire and be inspired on a daily basis. Amanda likes to keep things relatable and authentic as she shares her life, fun finds, books, entertainment, travel and everything in between.
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Have you ever been to Branson, Missouri? Let me tell you, friends. It is THE place to be for some major family fun!
My family absolutely loves Branson. We visited in 2019 and had so much fun that my kids begged and begged to go back again. And let’s be honest. It didn’t take much convincing for the hubs and me to agree.
We both grew up going to Branson on summer vacations and have great childhood memories there. My parents had actually been toying with the idea of coming with us, too, so we decided to all go together this time and celebrate their 44th wedding anniversary!
The thing about Branson is that grandparents, parents and kids of all ages can find more things to do there than they can possibly fit into a week’s stay.
It’s like Las Vegas for families. You will never be bored.
We crammed in as much fun as we could every day and still left wishing we had time to do even more. Thankfully, there’s always next time!
This place is truly a kids’ paradise. No doubt about it. There are more things for kids to do in Branson than I could ever get through in one blog post, so I’ll highlight some of our personal favorites.
It’s also worth mentioning that almost all these activities and places were just as much fun for the parents — except for the arcades and bumper boats for me. Not my jam, but the kids’ love them!
1. Silver Dollar City® Theme Park
You CANNOT go to Branson without visiting Silver Dollar City, y’all. You just can’t. Silver Dollar City® Theme Park is a classic.
It’s a theme park that has an old timey, wild west feel to it, and tons of fun shows, great food and some of the best roller coasters I’ve ever been on. We’re a rollercoaster family (anyone else?) and they do not disappoint.
We actually went twice during our week in Branson. Once during the day with my parents who did their own thing while we rode the coasters, and once at night, which was so much fun!
If you’re looking for mega thrills, don’t miss our favorites, which include the Time Traveler, Powder Keg, Outlaw Run, Wildfire and the Giant Barn Swing.
Hold on tight and prepare to scream your little head off!
They also have a brand-new roaring rapids water ride, called Mystic River Falls, that gets you absolutely soaked.
Pro Tip: Grab a snack and a drink, and maybe stop for a quick potty break before getting in line. The line for the Mystic River Falls ride doesn’t always look super long, but it’s incredibly slow.
We waited for three hours for this one (what in the world?!), only for it to be closed for maintenance when we got to the front of the line. Ummm … picture my head exploding when they told us that, haha!
They did give us fast passes to use later in the day once it started working again, so that helped, but oh, friends. I wanted to cry and so did everyone else in line!
Was it worth it in the end? I think so. It really was an absolute blast. But you have been warned! 😉
If you’re looking for another family-friendly water ride, the American Plunge is a classic log ride that you’ll love!
And speaking of classics, Fire in the Hole is a very tame family roller coaster. It’s the ride I always picture when I think back to my childhood memories in Branson.
Back then, I thought it was so scary! My kids think it’s lame because they’re such thrill seekers, but it’s still a must.
There are also a ton of really fun attractions for small kids, like the train ride, little water rides, a splash pad and kiddie coasters. There really is something for everyone!
Pro Tip: Don’t forget to grab a funnel cake!
2. Putt-Putt®, Go Karts, Arcades, OH MY!
Ok, so the one thing you’ll notice as you cruise The Branson Strip is all the Putt-Putt® and go-kart options you have to choose from. There are so many, and you really can’t go wrong with any of them.
We personally love The Track.
There are a few different locations along The Strip. Each of them are a little different, but for the most part, they all have several go-kart tracks (from kiddie to mega), Putt-Putt, bumper boats, some sort of Ferris wheel, and one of those rides that looks like it’s about to slingshot you into outer space.
You can’t leave Branson without getting in at least one game of Putt-Putt!
3. Jet Boat Tour
We did the Jet Boat Tour when we went in 2019 and thought it was so much fun! It had to be on this list because I feel like it can get overlooked.
The Jet Boat Tour is done out of Branson Landing (which we’ll get to in a minute). But everyone climbs aboard this bright, yellow jet boat for a fun and exciting ride down Lake Taneycomo.
And when I say fun and exciting, I mean the parts where the captain slings and spins and dips the boat into the water, getting the front rows pretty wet and everyone into a fun mood!
Part of the ride is nice and calm, and you can zip down the river while the captain gives you a guided tour and running commentary. But when he says to hold on … HOLD ON!!
It sounds wild and crazy, but it’s safe. There are no seat belts or anything, but you’re just kind of sliding into the person next to you a little.
Even young kids would love it, but check the rider requirements first!
4. Branson Landing
Branson Landing is a place to go for shopping or dinner out at a newer, less “tourist-y” restaurant. Need a date night? Taking a romantic vacation with your special someone? This is your place!
We’ve eaten at both Landshark and Big Whiskey’s, and loved them both. Landshark is very relaxed and casual, and overlooks the river and the fountains. Mason loves their nachos.
Big Whiskey’s is across the street and is a little more upscale than Landshark (but still casual). It’s darker and trendier with more of a date-night feel.
I’d say Landshark for lunch and Big Whiskey’s for dinner.
Every hour, the fountain outside of Landshark does a show set to music, which is fun to watch. It’s just a few minutes long.
I bet this place is really fun at night, although we’ve never been. But day or night, we definitely recommend it!
5. Beyond the Lens
When you’re cruising The Strip, you’ll be trying to take in the giant Godzilla climbing the building on one side of the road and the Titanic grounded on the other, while also trying to snap a pic of the huge meatball outside of Pasghettis.
But just be ok with the fact that you won’t get to it all.
Decisions have to be made when you’re only there for a few days. And as much as I’d like to say I’ve been to everything and can tell you what’s best … I can’t.
We tried to get tickets for Titanic, but they were all sold out. Boo.
We never had time to eat at a fun restaurant like Pasghettis because we were always out doing something else. Also, wait times can be long during the summer at certain hot spots.
I CAN, however, tell you that we spent a few hours at Beyond the Lens one day, and it was so much fun! I highly recommend it.
We arrived in the mid-morning, and it wasn’t crowded at all. We really had no idea what to expect with it honestly.
What drew us in was the 5D flight simulator ride that’s very similar to Soarin’ at Disney’s Epcot® Theme Park. If you’ve ever ridden Soarin’, then you know how absolutely magical it is.
When I saw that this place had something that looked and sounded like that, I was going to stop at nothing to get my booty in the “air” again!
They force you to take cheesy pictures before you get on the ride, which was actually kind of funny.
The ride itself is just the neatest concept. You sit in a row of these chairs in front of a giant, curved screen. And then the ride starts, and you “lift-off,” feeling like you’re flying.
You see all sorts of famous landmarks from all over the world. You can smell the trees, and feel the wind in your hair and the water splash as you dip near the ocean.
We thought this ride was cool, BUT it was definitely not the same as Soarin’ at Disney. So, as long as you don’t expect it to be Walt Disney World® Theme Park quality, you’ll think it’s really fun.
Once we got off the ride, we spent the rest of our time exploring the whole place. It has different exhibits at every turn, including nostalgic rooms filled with old Nintendo systems and virtual reality headsets that make you REALLY, REALLY, REALLY feel like you’re walking out on a plank a hundred stories up in the middle of a busy city.
Did I say “really” enough? Because it was terrifying! But so fun and everything was interactive. I didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I did, but we had a blast! Don’t sleep on this one.
The kids clearly had no fun at all. 😉
6. Table Rock Lake
Are you a lake lover? Because if you are, then a day on Table Rock Lake is a MUST! It’s one of the best things to do in Branson because it’s so beautiful!
You can rent a boat for a few hours, and go tubing, skiing, fishing or just cruise! There are lots of marinas that have boat rentals.
Pro Tip: Try to remember to book reservations at least a couple weeks in advance during the busy summer months. It took us awhile to find some that were available.
We rented a boat for three hours on two different days, and the boys had the best time and so did the grandparents! They love being on the water.
Pro Tip 2: If you love a pretty sunset view, get your boat rental from 4:30–7:30 p.m. (ish). It was beautiful right before we had to come back in for the night.
7. Classic Branson Shows
Photo courtesy of Sight & Sound Theater. Photo credit by Jesus - Live On-Stage
There are a TON of amazing shows in Branson, from Dolly Parton’s Stampede to whatever is currently running at the Sight & Sound Theater.
Adults really enjoy the shows, so if you’re going without kids, definitely look into those! Kids will probably like them all, too, but you know kids. They want to be up and moving.
Last time we were in Branson, we saw Samson at the Sight & Sound Theater, and it was incredible! I’m talking Broadway-worthy performance from start to finish, including the set.
They had live animals walking down the aisles and sets that went up the sides of the theater, and the performers were so good.
We loved the show almost as much as we loved the cinnamon-sugar-glazed almonds! If you go, grab some almonds. You won’t be disappointed! They are addicting and smell like heaven.
This year, we didn’t see a show, but “Jesus” was running this summer. I’m sad we missed it but with COVID-19, grandparents and being in indoor spaces for that long, we just felt like we should stick to mostly outdoor-type things or places we could spread out a little more.
The shows are a fun date night option, too, for those of you taking a romantic getaway or who are able to sneak away for an adults-only outing!
There’s everything from banjo-playing kids to amazing magicians. You can’t go wrong!
8. Aquarium at the Boardwalk
While we were doing go-karts one day, my parents did their own thing. They really wanted to go explore the waterfalls and nature trails that are all around the Branson area, but ended up going to the Aquarium at the Boardwalk.
The aquarium has an enormous octopus on top of the building. You can’t miss it. I was a little sad that we couldn’t fit this into our week, too, but they really enjoyed it.
Plus, it’s a great way to stay cool when it’s 100 degrees outside.
9. Hollywood Wax Museum Entertainment Center
They also explored the Wax Museum and got their pictures taken with Marilyn Monroe and Carrie Underwood.
I’m not going to say the wax figures were exactly the same as the real thing, but they were … similar.
10. Resort Fun!
PRO TIP: Stay at a great resort! It can add so much more fun to your vacation.
We stayed Holiday Hills Resort and didn’t regret it for a second!
For starters, my family of four stayed in the three-bedroom villa, which gave us the ultimate luxury of being able to spread out!
After spending every minute of the day together all week, it was so nice to come back to the villa and have some downtime alone.
The three-bedroom villas are so neat. You open the front door into a small hallway with two more doors. One leads into a full, one-bedroom unit complete with a kitchen, living room, fireplace, bathroom and bedroom.
The other door leads you into a two-bedroom, two-bath unit that has all of that, plus two balconies, and a washer and dryer.
You can open the doors to your separate units, so it feels like one big space, or you can close them off to allow for a little more privacy.
In the two-bedroom unit, there’s a balcony off the living room door, and the door to the right leads down a hallway where you have a bedroom, bathroom and then the master bedroom with the attached (and HUGE) master bathroom.
The views off the balcony are gorgeous and you see nothing but lush, green trees everywhere. I bet if you visit for a fall getaway when the leaves turn colors, it is just breathtaking.
My teen boys LOVED the villas! One of them claimed our “apartment” and the other one claimed Nana and Papa’s next door, so they both got to feel pretty grown up all week with a whole “house” to themselves.
This was Mason’s space. I’m telling you, he thought he was living like a king all week with all of this to himself.
This resort also has a ton of great amenities for everyone, too! There’s an 18-hole golf course, several swimming pools, including an indoor pool, an Activity Center with a big variety of arcade games, ping pong, shuffleboard, food options, two small theater rooms, and I know I’m missing more, but you get the idea.
All three of my boys loved the Activity Center!
This vacation was so much fun, especially because we got to be with my parents for their 44th anniversary! We’re a very close family, and my kids adore their grandparents.
I’m so thankful for trips like this where we can make these memories that will last forever. This was a really great call by all of us to take this multi-generational family vacation.
There really is so much family fun you’ll find in Branson, Missouri, for every age. You will never be bored; I can guarantee that!
So grab your kids, your parents, your girlfriends — ANYONE — and plan the trip! You will not regret it.
Our guest bloggers are compensated for their writing contributions and honest opinions.
All information is subject to change. This article is a curated guide and is neither sponsored nor considered an official endorsement. Please be sure to check information directly with any/all tours, guides or companies for the most up-to-date and direct details.
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