10 Surprising Adventures in Branson, Missouri

The Ozark Mountain town is a family entertainment mecca.

By Kathryn O’Shea-Evans

This Midwestern town is packed with thrilling adventures, from spelunking by candlelight to tracking Bigfoot. Read on for a list of 10 fun activities all ages can enjoy.

Ride Chicago’s Ferris Wheel

After two decades in the Windy City as the Navy Pier Ferris Wheel, this 15-story stunner moved to Missouri as the Branson Ferris Wheel in June 2016. By day, it affords a view over the Ozarks; at night, you can take a 15-minute ride during the Electrify show, when 144,000 LED lights “dance” up and down the spokes. 3345 W. Hwy. 76; bransontracks.com; 417-334-1612; adults, $12; children 4–11, $8

Explore Underground Tunnels

Calling all grown-ups who never outgrew jungle gyms: Fritz’s Adventure is a fully loaded attraction (with extra safety measures) for daredevils of all ages. You can glide through subterranean tubes, climb tree houses and a water tower or explore an airplane cockpit. 1425 W. Hwy. 76; 417-320-6138; fritzadventure.com; adults, $30; children 4–11, $22

Search for Bigfoot

Bigfoot on the Strip is a new Sasquatch-themed activity center with a 200-foot free-fall Gravity Bomb ride, 18-hole adventure golf course and more. The highlight just might be the 80-minute search for Bigfoot in an open-air safari truck. During the expedition you’ll look for signs of Bigfoot on a working farm filled with photo-worthy Scottish Highland cattle. 3608 W. Hwy. 76; 800-562-2416; bransonbigfoot.com; adults, $38; children 10–16, $28; children under 10, $18

Ride the Rails at Your Own Pace

As roller coasters go, the Runaway Mountain Coaster is far from standard-issue. It’s entirely gravity powered, and thrill seekers ride in individual carts, which enables them to control the speed of the ride with hand brakes as the cart winds downhill, over Fall Creek and through a leafy forest canopy. 935 Hwy. 165; 417-334-7337; bransonalpinemountaincoaster.com; rides, $15 per driver; $10 per rider

Zip Line Sitting Down

Parakeet Pete’s Waterfront Zipline is especially great for anyone who’s after a scenic view without having to strap into a zipping harness. Instead, you can whiz 700 feet over 2,080-acre Lake Taneycomo in what’s essentially a zippy ski-lift chair. 1113 Branson Landing Blvd.; 417-561-2500; parakeetpetes.com; rides, $25 a person

Eat Award-Winning Barbecue

The barbecue at 1950’s-style diner Gettin’ Basted has won Grand Champion at the Rock’n Ribs BBQ Festival multiple years running. Consider ordering the Blackout sandwich, which includes smoked brisket, pulled pork, pulled chicken and sausage, all slathered in sauce and pimento cheese. Bonus: It comes with a chocolate malt. (Tap here for more great barbecue spots across the country.) 3115 W. Hwy. 76; 417-231-4445; gettinbasted.com; dinner for two, $32*

Tour the Countryside

On a 40-mile jaunt aboard the Branson Scenic Railway, you can wind through tunnels and over trestles while taking in the Ozark Mountain scenery from the train’s restored 1940s and 1950s-era coaches. Don’t miss sitting for a spell in the domed observation cars, keeping your eyes peeled for common Branson-area birds, such as cardinals, chickadees and cobalt and indigo “blue” jays. 206 E. Main St.; 417-334-6110; bransontrain.com; adults, $27.50; children 3–12, $17

Get Really Creative

You’ll find more than rides at 1880s-inspired theme park Silver Dollar City. Throughout 2017, the park is celebrating artisanal goods and innovative dining with the Year of Food & Crafts festival. You can watch blacksmiths hammer roses out of metal, see glassblowers puff out multihued drinking glasses and try something new (often on the menu: alligator kebabs, peanut bacon brittle and pork-belly fries). 399 Silver Dollar City Pkwy.; 800-475-9370; silverdollarcity.com; adults, $62; children 4–11, $51; meals not included

Go Spelunking by Candlelight

Book ahead to nab a spot on Marvel Cave’s evening lantern-lit tours. Led by guides in 19th-century costume, visitors descend some 500 feet into the limestone cavern at Silver Dollar City. Keep an eye out for the ladder left there by Spanish prospectors circa 1541. 399 Silver Dollar City Pkwy.; 800-475-9370; silverdollarcity.com; tours, $12 a person, ages 8 and up only

Listen to a Legend

Self-taught 1970s country and comedy icon Jim Stafford opened his own venue in Branson in 1990. Music lovers can take in shows at the recently renovated Jim Stafford Theatre, where artists range from Grammy nominee Billy Dean to illusionist Taylor Reed and Stafford himself. 3440 W. Hwy. 76; 417-330-8080; jimstaffordtickets.com; tickets, from $31 a person

STAY
RCI® affiliated resorts in Branson include:
Branson’s Nantucket C340

Close to family-pleasing activities, such as water parks, miniature golf, wineries and shopping. 2837 State Hwy. 265, Suite 2, Branson
Member Review: “I loved the spacious units and the views.”

Holiday Inn Club Vacations Holiday Hills Resort 1004

Expect more than five on-site pools. 2380 E. Hwy. 76, Branson
Member Review: “Great location, near wonderful entertainment.”

Roark Vacation Resort 5125

A family-friendly atmosphere near Lake Taneycomo and Branson Landing. 403 N. Veterans Ave., Branson
Member Review: “A lot of places to eat and things to do within minutes of the resort.”

For complete member reviews (as member reviews have been condensed) and additional resort listings, visit RCI.com or call 800-338-7777 (Weeks) or 877-968-7476 (Points). Club Members, please call your specific Club or RCI telephone number.

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Non-RCI affiliated resorts in Branson include:
Chateau on the Lake

Newly refurbished rooms, most with beautiful views of Table Rock Lake or the surrounding mountains. 415 N. Hwy. 265, Branson; 888-333-5253; chateauonthelake.com; doubles from $139 a night

  • *Estimated meal prices do not include drinks, tax or tip.
  • NOTE: Information may have changed since publication. Please confirm key details before planning your trip.
  • Published: June 2017