4 Reasons to Celebrate the Holidays in Branson

The Ozark town goes all out in December.

By Kathryn O’Shea-Evans

The Missouri Ozark town of Branson is known for its summers but becomes even more family-friendly during the holidays, when it rolls out a red carpet worthy of Santa himself.

Ogle a Million Toys

Children and adults delight at the 26,000-square-foot World’s Largest Toy Museum Complex: There’s a nutcracker collection, a 100-year-old steam locomotive and a 1935 department-store window display of A Christmas Carol transported from Galveston, Texas. You may even get the chance to take a photo with real reindeer, who are often brought out for the season. 3609 W. 76 Country Blvd.; 417-332-1499; adults, $17; children 7–17, $13; children 6 and under, free

Shop for Stocking Stuffers

Opened in 1961, Dick’s 5 & 10 is one of the country’s last remaining dime stores. It’s also the ultimate stocking-stuffer one-stop shop: You’ll find everything from Slinkys to six-inch gummy pizzas to Hogwarts-themed journals in the chockablock aisles. Model trains loop throughout the store. 103 W. Main St.; 417-334-2410

See 6.5 Million Holiday Lights

Silver Dollar City theme park gets in the spirit of the season with elaborate light displays, many of which in the shape of holiday figures and stretch as tall as nine stories. There are 6.5 million bulbs among the flying angels, galloping reindeer and twinkling stars. Don’t miss Rudolph’s Holly Jolly Christmas Parade, during which the Abominable Snow Monster and 12-foot-tall elves strut through the grounds. 399 Silver Dollar City Pkwy.; 800-475-9370; adults, $62; children 4–11, $51

Give the Gift of Education by Buying Fruitcake

Instead of paying tuition, students at the College of the Ozarks offset the cost of their education through campus jobs and other programs. They’ve been baking fruitcake to help support their higher education since 1933 and today sell more than 25,000 cakes a year. You can watch diced papaya, orange peel and black walnuts get mixed together at the school’s Fruitcake and Jelly Kitchen then take home a fresh-made loaf from any of the campus gift shops. Patriotic Pl., Hollister; 417-690-3395

  • NOTE: Information may have changed since publication. Please confirm key details before planning your trip.
  • Published: December 2017