Branson OYO Activities

Branson is located in an area that provides numerous opportunities for outdoor activities and explorations. Right next to Branson is Mark Twain National Forest and Table Rock Lake, which offers a huge area for outdoor fun. Just below our hotel, the Chateau on the Lake, is the marina for Table Rock Lake, and the hotel has a free shuttle to get to the marina. The marina has canoes, kayaks, jet skis, tubes, and water skiing, and also allows fishing from the piers. The expansive lake offers beaches for swimming and areas for scuba diving.

The forested area around Branson yields opportunities for hiking, biking, 4-wheel adventures, rock climbing, horseback riding, and camping. There are numerous ziplines of various lengths for the adrenaline junkies. To take in the grandeur of the Ozarks, take a ride to one of the overlooks, such as the Hercules Glades Wilderness Area just east of Branson, or the Top of the Rock Ozark Heritage Preserve, south of Branson in Ridgedale.

To recover from our activities, our hotel has a spa, and for those needing “retail therapy” there are plenty of outlet stores in the Branson area, as well as the recommended shopping center, Branson Landing in downtown Branson.

The greater surrounding area offers plenty to do as well. Missouri’s unofficial nickname is the Show Me State, but another nickname is the Cave State. There are about 6,000 caves in Missouri, the most of any state in the US. There are two caves to visit right in the Branson area, Marvel Cave and Talking Rocks Cavern, and the Lost Canyon Cave and Nature Trail is just south of Branson. There are several more caves in the surrounding area around Branson, so spelunkers, enjoy!

If you are landing and/or taking off from the Springfield MO airport (SGF), about 50 miles north of Branson, there is the Air and Military Museum of the Ozarks in Springfield. This is a private museum (you can check it out on their website), and it is open from Tuesdays to Saturdays. Also of military interest is Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield, operated by our National Park Service. This battle in 1861 was the first major Civil War battle fought west of the Mississippi. The Confederates were trying to bring Missouri, a slave-holding state, into the Confederacy, and the Confederate battle flag (the “stars and bars”) even had stars for both Missouri and Kentucky throughout the war, even though those states did not join the eleven states of the Confederacy. The South won a costly victory at Wilson’s Creek, but their success was scuttled at the next large battle, Pea Ridge, in 1862. Pea Ridge National Military Park is just south of the border in northwest Arkansas, and it relates how the Union victory there kept Missouri out of the Confederacy.

Pea Ridge NMP is about 70 miles driving distance from Branson. If you’re flying in or out of Northwest Arkansas National Airport (XNA), Pea Ridge NMP in on the way to Branson. Northwest Arkansas National Airport is an outstanding and beautiful airport because a certain company operates out of nearby Bentonville, AR. That company is Walmart, which employs more people in the US (1.6 million) than the US Army (including active duty, reserves, national guard, and civilians, about 1.2 million). The measures can vary, but by many measures such as revenue, Walmart is the largest company in the world, and it is the world’s largest private employer. Walmart has a visitor’s center and a museum, but the museum is undergoing renovation, so it is temporarily located in an adjacent building in Bentonville. The story of Sam Walton, the World War II vet who started with a “dime store” and ended up the wealthiest man in the world, is fascinating. If you want to venture even farther from Branson, there are a couple of other interesting sites. The Laura Ingalls Wilder (author of Little Home on the Prairie) home is in Mansfield, MO, about 75 miles from Branson. This is the house in which she lived as an adult, and it is devoted to her life and work. Another place of interest is the George Washington Carver National Monument, about 100 miles from Branson, near Joplin, MO. This national monument tells the story of the great agricultural scientist, educator, and humanitarian.

Finally, about 50 miles due south of Branson is the Buffalo National River, in Arkansas. This was the first river designated a national river in 1972 (a good year), and today there are 81 national rivers. A national river is a free-flowing river of outstanding natural beauty, and the Buffalo National River certainly fits that description. There are numerous outfitters for canoes, kayaks, and tubes along this 150 mile river that runs west to east.

Branson and its surrounding area have a wide variety of things to do and places to see, so you could extend your visit a few days on either end to see so much of our good old USA.