It's what made the area famous: From Broadway revues to Beatles and Elvis tribute performers to generations of singing families, Branson's musical scene has it all. Located in the Ozarks of southwest Missouri, the area's natural beauty is sometimes lost in the focus on its dozens of theaters, but outdoor activities may just rival the performing arts for kids' most memorable vacation moments. Kids will jump at the chance to try a water trampoline on Lake Taneycomo, drop a line for rainbow trout, or simply explore the trails and "knobs" (hills) surrounding the bright lights. Branson provides the perfect mix of family fun -- entertaining shows and majestic outdoor beauty.
Branson's natural beauty is at its best in the shoulder seasons -- March through early June, and again in the fall -- when temperatures are moderate, breezes prevalent, and leaves lush with color. June and July are the peak tourism months, despite the fact that by mid-July and throughout August the heat and humidity can feel oppressive. The holiday season is full of extra fun, including incredible light displays and holiday-themed shows. Once January rolls around, many of the live performance shows close their doors, reopening when tourist season begins in April.
Branson's weather is moderate during the spring and fall, with temperatures peaking in the high 70s and with lows in the high 50s. The summer temperatures see highs averaging in the low to mid-90's, but the "feels like" temperature is often five degrees higher thanks to the humidity and dew point. In winter, Branson averages about 10 inches of snowfall annually, with temperatures reaching the high 40s and lows in the mid to high 20s.
The Springfield-Branson National Airport (SGF) is approximately 40 miles from Branson and serves the region with connecting flights; a privately financed and operated commercial airport, Branson Regional Airport, begins operation in Branson in the spring of 2009.
The strip" (highway 76) is a two-lane street with a center turn lane, and can be a traffic nightmare at almost any hour. Grab a good map to plan each day's ventures and take the marked color routes to avoid congestion whenever possible.
Planning ahead is the key to enjoying a visit to Branson. Activities on the strip -- the Titanic Museum, shows, and family fun centers -- should be planned for the same day so that fun overrides traffic frustrations. The Branson Convention and Visitor's Bureau website offers an itinerary builder that's helpful (and printable) for planning.
Dozens of kiosks and "welcome centers" are sprinkled throughout town as well as on the major roads leading into the city, and while these businesses advertise discounted show and attraction tickets, more than a few are covers for timeshare companies and require the buyer to sit through a presentation. Contact the Branson Convention and Visitor's Bureau directly for discounts and offers, or to find names of reputable discount ticket sellers.
Branson has a permanent population of just 7,500 people, but welcomes over eight million visitors annually.
There are 52 theaters in Branson featuring over 100 shows; audiences can enjoy them during breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as matinees.
There are more theater seats in Branson than there are on Broadway; the theaters can seat 59,757 people.
Campgrounds are plentiful in the beautiful, hilly countryside around Branson. Dozens of campgrounds lie along the shores of Lake Taneycomo and Table Rock Lake, including facilities at Table Rock State Park. Check the Branson Convention and Visitor's Bureau website for links and detailed camping information.