Fun, Free things to do in Branson Missouri
So many great things to do in Branson
Branson is a very popular place in Missouri and surrounding states for a reason. There is a lot of natural beauty, but also a lot of raw talent and fun to be experienced there! If new to the Midwest or just traveling through, it won't be long before you hear about Branson Missouri. If you are going there, you can stay at a number of different places ranging in price from expensive to very affordable. I have heard wonderful things about Big Cedar Lodge, and hope to get to stay there one day. There are amusement parks, all kinds of shows, restaurants and fun things to do for people of all ages.
During this time, many families are looking to save a little bit of money when going on a family trip or just going with friends. What can you do for very little cost, or even for free? Here are some things I found.
Camping First of all, there are places to camp, which will save a lot of money. If you prefer a hotel stay, plan ahead a little, and look around for there is a wide range of hotels! Call ahead and see what kind of specials you can find.
Scenic Views Just going to Branson you are sure to see many scenic views. However, once you are there, there are a couple you don't want to miss out on. One is along highway 165. When you are going South and cross Table Rock Dam, you can go up and see a good view of Branson, and the surrounding mountains. Not only that, but you can see Table Rock Lake, Bull Shoals Lake, and also Lake Taneycomo. I have heard so much about these beautiful lakes, and look forward to experiencing them more on my next trip to Branson. There is another look out spot called the Henning State Forest look out. This one is about 2 miles west of Branson on W. Highway 76. Some of the other places I mention just have naturally beautiful spots to visit and see while you are there. It is beautiful country.
Free Shows You will have to ask around, but sometimes there are free shows in Branson, and you don't want to miss out on these. Especially on Sundays, I have heard you can find some amazing things. Just ask around, you might be surprised at the talent you find there!
Interesting video and information about Table Rock Dam
The White River, Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery and Table Rock Dam
There is a neat fish hatchery in Branson near Table Rock Dam. It is actually below the dam, and is called Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery and Conservation Center. You can walk through the hatchery which is raising trout. My family has been to another rainbow trout hatchery in Missouri as well and they are actually interesting and educational. This is a great place to stop no matter what your age or interests, if for not other reason than to learn a bit and get to know the area better.
The Dewey Short Visitors Center is for all ages as well, and features Taming of La Riviere Blanche, or the taming of the White River. It is a twenty minute movie that shows how the dam was built and what the area used to be like before all the changes. You can see what things look like in each of the four seasons. There is a tour that shows how electricity is generated in the dam, and is very educational.
Speaking of Table Rock Dam, this is another must see in Branson. I find stuff like this interesting even when I am not looking for "free things to do." Its a fairly popular place to go as you see the crowds that can gather there at times. You can witness the massive amount of water being held back by this engineered structure. These waters flow down from the White River. As with all the rivers and bodies of water in this part of the country, I just love to see nature in all her beauty.
Moonshine Beach Before you leave this area, consider stopping at Moonshine Beach, which has about the funniest name I ever heard for a beach! This is across Table Rock Dam, and it has swimming, a beach area of course to get some sun or to spread out the blankets for a picnic. There are hiking trails as well, but it is just nice to relax and watch the boats going by. You may see sailboats, and maybe even the Showboat Branson Belle.
Plenty of Hiking, Biking, Canoeing and Floating or Kayaking
Henning State Forest is a great place to go biking and hiking when in Branson. Many people love to "go floating" in the James River, Buffalo River (across the Arkansas state line) and the Finley River. If you have never gone floating, this is a must! I have been on a canoe trip and it was one of the best and most memorable experiences with my family. I was very exhausted at the end of the day but it was the kind of exhausted that felt really good! Great times for all.
There are other fun things to do near the water without having to go into the water. This is nice for seasons when it isn't really warm enough to venture into the water. For instance, near Lake Taneycomo, there is a neat old downtown area. Branson Landing is a great area and very beautiful by the waterfront. There is a lot of shopping there, music, a boardwalk, and fountains there, along with lots of places to eat food or just get snacks or ice cream. Some people are known to go fishing off the docks, and even feed the geese for some small change. You can just walk along and enjoy the views, and there are some neat art galleries to look through. Of course the inspiration very often is right outside, with the beautiful waters and cliffs and beautiful sky and leaves all around. Its fun to grab a coffee and watch the horses go by, or carriages. Its a neat area that I really enjoy a lot when I get the chance to go.
Table Rock Lake is a 53,000 acre lake just southwest of Branson. There is really no limit to the swimming and fishing, floating, and boating you can do there. This is a great lake for bass fishing, but also has a lot of bluegill, walleye, and catfish. This lake is also a favorite of scuba divers, because the water is so clear. Scuba diving seems to be a growing hobby in the midwest so this is great news for those people and those that may take up the interest.
Table Rock Lake, Lake Taneycomo, & Branson, Missouri
A Winery, free trolley, & a host of places to go shoppping
There is a Stone Hill Winery in Branson worth stopping at. You can go on a free tour which tells all about the wine making. The tour ends with some sampling of their fine wine, which is the most fun part of course. They used to have some grape juice for the kids, and perhaps still do.
For those that love to shop, why not save some of your shopping for Branson? There are some great outlet malls here, and you can always go window shopping. Branson is actually a fairly popular shopping destination for some people. You will find the Tanger Outlet Mall, and Factory Merchants Outlet Mall, as well as the Factory Shops at Branson Meadows. If you are in the downtown Branson area, don't miss the over 101 wonderful little shops down there. If you are into themed malls, you will find wonderful shops for antiques. There are all kinds of things from master craftsmen, to flea markets and everything in between. I like to go these shopping areas if we are needing to grab some lunch anyway, its fun to window shop then go get a bite to eat in these great spots.
Finally, if you want a free ride around certain parts of Branson, you can find out more about the free trolley service they provide. I have seen them coming and going a lot in the shopping areas and they are really neat looking red trolleys. I think this a great service they provide and with all the traffic that can sometimes be in Branson, this will save you gas and cut down on the cars overall for everyone.
Ruth and Paul Henning Conservation Area
This is West of highway 76 just past the Branson City Limits and sounds like a really neat place. It is said that this may be just one of the best nature viewing areas and wildlife viewing areas in the whole state of Missouri. You can take a walk in the beautiful wooded area, or go to a look out area that shows the countryside. This is for leisurely strolls to more serious exercise for those that are looking for that. You can look out for broad winged hawks on the overlook. You may even view an occasional tarantula, scorpion or lizard if you are looking hard for them!. If this is not your cup of tea, don't worry, and they will leave you alone if you leave them alone. I know my boys think stuff like that is really cool. These creatures will be more in the open glades area.