Tucked away in the Ozarks, the small Missouri town of Branson is a surprisingly popular vacation destination. This town prides itself on its attractions and live entertainment, as well as its great selection of outdoor activities, so I just couldn’t say no to a last-minute trip to Branson.
While in Tulsa for a family reunion, a few of my cousins and I decided to venture outside of Oklahoma for a quick, spur-of-the-moment trip. We settled on Branson, Missouri, since it is known as one of the best cities in the country for live entertainment. Branson is also a great destination for outdoors enthusiasts, as its location in the Ozarks makes it an ideal spot for a nature-filled getaway. As we hopped in the car to make the drive to Branson, we pulled up HotelTonight’s app and booked a great last-minute hotel in Branson. Within minutes, we had a room waiting for us in the lively, charming town of Branson, Missouri.
Since we knew that Branson was a great destination for hiking, we decided to start out our Branson adventure with a long, scenic hike. We chose to hike in Dogwood Canyon Nature Park., a 10,000-acre nature park that features beautiful creeks, aquamarine pools, well-maintained trails and an abundance of wildlife. During our hike through Dogwood Canyon, we came across majestic waterfalls and animals like elk and buffalo. Dogwood Canyon isn’t a remote, off-the-beaten-path nature preserve, though, as it features a number of facilities and attractions, such as a tram tour and bike rentals.
Historic downtown Branson is full of charm and energy. This walkable neighborhood features dozens of great restaurants and shops, and it’s easy to get anywhere you want to go on foot. So we checked into our Branson hotel and set out to explore the streets of downtown Branson. As we roamed around the downtown streets, we noticed the area’s quaint, old-world atmosphere, and it was refreshing to walk past unique mom-and-pop stores rather than typical chain stores. These small-town stores give downtown Branson a charming vintage feel, and it’s definitely a great district to explore if you want to indulge in a bit of historic nostalgia.
On the edge of downtown Branson is Branson Landing, a waterfront shopping and dining complex that is always bustling with activity and energy. Located along the banks of Lake Taneycomo, Branson Landing boasts beautiful lake views, great water activities, and a fantastic selection of shops and restaurants. Unlike the historic center of downtown Branson, you’ll find major retailers and popular chain restaurants in Branson Landing, which is why it’s a popular spot for locals and visitors alike. After eating dinner at a lively restaurant in Branson Landing, we spent an hour or so enjoying the fun atmosphere of this waterfront boardwalk.
Also known as “Highway 76” or “Country 76,” the Branson Strip is a hub of entertainment. Basically, it’s the Ozarks version of the Last Vegas Strip. It’s less flashy and commercial than Vegas, but this Strip definitely has plenty to offer. The street is lined with theaters, restaurants, and bars, and it becomes a hive of activity when the sun goes down. As people flock to the live shows, the traffic in the area can get a bit sticky, so I’d recommend arriving to the theater a bit early. We ended up seeing a fun country music show on the Branson Strip, and we felt like this was an appropriate way to end our action-packed day in Branson.
The next morning, we packed our bags and checked out of our hotel. Even though we had to head back to Tulsa that day, we decided to check out one more Branson sight before we left Missouri. So we made our way to Table Rock Lake, a state park that boasts over 800 miles of shoreline. This lake is a popular spot for fishing, boating, swimming and camping, so we knew we had to see what Table Rock was all about. Once we arrived at Table Rock Lake, we were immediately impressed with the size and beauty of the lake, and we just couldn’t resist renting a fishing boat and equipment and heading out on the lake to enjoy the sunshine and the gorgeous outdoors.
Branson, Missouri is quite a popular destination for entertainment, leisure and outdoor activities, which is why I wish we had more time to experience more of this Ozarks town. Still, I was glad we were able to make our impromptu trip to Branson a reality, and it was all possible thanks to HotelTonight, which made it easy for us to find a great last-minute hotel in Branson. We all agreed that the next time the family is together, we’ll use HotelTonight to plan another spontaneous getaway, because that’s one of our favorite ways to make lasting memories.