Imagine a miniature Vegas without the gambling or showgirls, a G-rated destination where families outnumber swinging singles 10-to-1. Cue up the banjo-picking ambiance of the Grand Ole Opry, throw in mini-golf, assorted wax museums and theme parks, and you have Branson, Missouri, as unpretentious a place as any you'll find in the good ol' U.S.A. Now a century removed from its small-town roots as a general store/post office, Branson has mushroomed into a tourist-filled, flag-waving, live-entertainment center in the heart of Arkansas's Ozark Plateau.
Branson is an amusement-park-lover's paradise. Silver Dollar City is the thrill junkie's mecca, replete with a hair-raising roller coaster, the PowderKeg, and a barnyard full of rides. Break the summer heat with a drenching on the slides, sprays, geysers and wave pools at White Water water park. Entertainment here is strictly mainstream and emphatically red-white-and-blue. Expect toe-tapping bluegrass, gospel sing-a-longs, and Neil Diamond and John Denver tributes. At Presley's Country Jubilee, Branson's "First Family of Entertainment" pulls out all the stops with country-music classics and cornball gags. Branson's oldest and most widely beloved theater is the Shepherd of the Hills Homestead and Outdoor Theater, an outdoor amphitheater which for more than 45 years has presented evening reenactments of Harold Bell Wright's 1907 novel The Shepherd of the Hills, which introduced the Ozarks to the world.
Take in the limestone cliffs, lush forests and tumbling meadows of the Ozark region. Unearth your inner frontiersman: Dig a coonskin cap out of your closet and take a canoe trip down the James River. Trout and bass abound in nearby waters: Hire a guide to take you to Bull Shoals, Table Rock and Taneycomo lakes for an afternoon of meditative fishing. America’s favorite family destination, Branson, has something for everyone.