Located in the Ozark Mountains of Missouri, Branson was recently called one of the top family destinations in the country. Home to 49 theaters it has also been called the "Live Music Show Capital of the World." But there is much more to Branson, which makes it a very attractive option for a vacation for everyone.
Branson is part of what is called the tri-lakes area because of its three pristine lakes: Table Rock Lake, Lake Taneycomo and Bull Shoals Lake. Together, they combine to offer and an endless amount of water activities like swimming, boating, tubing, water skiing, scuba diving, parasailing and fishing.
For anglers, Lake Taneycomo provides world class trout fishing. Taneycomo is a coldwater lake formed by the Powersite Dam and the Table Rock Dam and is stocked annually with about 750,000 10 to 12 inch rainbow trout. Table Rock Lake is great for fishing for largemouth, small mouth and other types of bass as well as catfish, crappie and large bluegill.
All three lakes have camping grounds, RV parks and marinas offering boat rentals and fishing guides.
If the water activities are not for you don't worry, Branson has lots of things for landlubbers, too! For starters, you can visit the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions No. 1 rated theme park in the world, Silver Dollar City. Silver Dollar City is a 50-acre park with an 1880s theme that features more than 100 demonstrating craftsmen, 50 live shows daily, 60 shops, and rides.
Celebration City is a 20th century themed family amusement park with 32 rides and attractions including an eight story high wooden roller coaster called Ozark Wildcat. It also features a LEGO Ultimate Play Zone and a spectacular nighttime special effects show with mountainside video projections, lasers, a large water screen and pyrotechnics.
Branson also has an IMAX theatre, a scenic railway tour aboard restored 1940s dome cars and the Branson Balloon, the largest helium balloon in the country. If heights don't scare you, you can take a 15 minute tethered ride 500 feet in the air!
The Stone Hill Winery offers free one hour tours of the wine making process open to all ages. At tour's end, you can sample some wine and shop in their wine and gift shop.
Visit recreated parts of the Titanic and see some of over 200 priceless artifacts from the sunken vessel at "Titanic: The Legend Continues." The authentic recreations include the grand staircase, first class staterooms and more.
If a museum is your fancy, Branson has many from which to choose. The Ripley's Believe it or Not! Museum has all sorts of interactive exhibits and artifacts from all kinds of strange occurrences. The Hollywood Wax Museum has 170 life-like celebrities. The American Presidential Museum contains pictures, clothing and documents from all our presidents. The Veterans Memorial Museum has over 2,000 exhibits including the world's largest memorial bronze sculpture featuring 50 life-size statues storming a beach. The names of all service people killed in conflicts from World War II to present are displayed on the museum walls.
If you get hungry while taking part in all that the Branson area has to offer, don't worry, there are hundreds of eateries serving all types of cuisine and just about every chain restaurant you can think of.
If you love to shop, you must visit the newly opened $420 million, 95 acre Branson Landing for a shopping, entertainment and dining experience. Located on the Taneycomo Lakefront, Branson Landing has a town square big enough to accommodate 5,000 people and boasts a $7.5 million nightly attraction featuring water, sound, fire and lights created by the same company that produces shows for Downtown Disney in Orlando, the Bellagio in Las Vegas and Universal City in California.
Branson has many options as far as hotel accommodations. The area has over 18,000 lodging units. There are four star resorts, motels, hotels and lakeside resorts. Some have pools, water parks, miniature golf courses and golf courses.
With all there is to do in Branson though, it is still most famous for its live shows. There literally are enough shows to fill up this newspaper. The shows are all different types of music from Andy Williams to Hank Williams, Jr., and feature stars such as Frankie Avalon and Brenda Lee, Glen Campbell, Debbie Reynolds, Neil Sedaka and Bobby Vinton. There are magic shows, animal shows and even a Beatles tribute show.
For a fun vacation with endless possibilities, consider Branson and all it has to offer.
Lisa Vivirito is owner of Diamond Travel in Vero Beach. Call her at (772) 567-8481 or (800) 795-1986. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.