This bubbly, energetic city in the Ozarks is one of my favorite places to visit. Once you've hiked its hills and seen a few shows, you'll see why it keeps drawing me back. The spirit of adventure hits me as soon as I take in the majestic landscape, replete with lakes, mountains, and rolling hills. I recommend tiring yourself out with a hike or bicycle ride to get to discover nature up close, before unwinding with dinner and a live show at one of the city’s many delightful hubs.
If you're new to Branson, follow my guide for first-timers on the best way to spend three days in the city.
Pack warm, heavy layers for winter and light ones for summer heat and humidity.
If you only do one thing, make it the Ozark Mountains.
On day one, explore Branson in the morning, getting acquainted with the city's history and landmarks. With a driver-guided tour, you'll cover a lot of ground. Top landmarks that will help you dive into Branson's culture and heritage include the College of the Ozarks and Table Rock Dam.
Next up, pay a visit to the observation deck of Inspiration Tower, which offers sweeping views of the Ozarks without the effort of hiking. Finish things off with a show. The Haygoods is a music, dance, and special effects event—and it's one of Branson's most popular shows.
Take a trip back in time at the Titanic museum. Relive the story in a realistic reproduction of the ship's interior. The Grand Staircase and boiler room made famous by the movie are standout features, while the lifeboats provide a reminder of the Titanic's tragic end.
Next, head to Shepherd of the Hills historic homestead, where author Harold Bell Wright based his novel. You'll learn from a local guide in a Jeep-drawn tram. Then, shift gears for a taste of Missouri's wineries and distilleries on a tour with alcohol samples and a 3-course dinner with views of Lake Taneycomo.
Take an adventure on your last day with a guided off-road adventure tour of the Ozarks. Beginning at a cattle ranch, you get plenty of time in nature and get to see some wild animals. The valleys, ridges, and creeks were made to be explored by 4WD.
A zipline canopy tour of Shepherd of the Hills keeps the adrenaline pumping. Enjoy the view from above, in particular the Ruth and Paul Henning Conservation Area. Finally, enjoy some Vegas-style showmanship in Branson, with dinner included, at the participatory Garry and Janine Carson Escape Reality Show.