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Branson has been called “The Las Vegas of the Midwest.” But let’s get real: It’s the G-rated version of Sin City because there is absolutely no sin here. (Not the kind you find in Vegas, anyway.)

Cradled by Missouri’s Ozark Mountains, Branson is a family-friendly entertainment destination where cheesy humor and squeaky-clean fun are grounded in religious (read: Christian)values.

For this solo traveler, who spent a few days here on a detour off Route 66, I felt guilty each time a swear left my lips. I also felt slightly out of place not having children at my hips or being able to seize a senior citizen’s discount. But, only slightly.

I transcended my single and thirty-something city-slicker judgment by staying open to the charm and kitsch that Branson offers. After all, there’s a reason that this small town (population 10,000) welcomed 8.5 million travelers last year.

Even Sir Richard Branson, the self-made billionaire and founder of Virgin Group, gave this Midwestern mecca some high-profile love in the form of a coordinated April Fool’s joke in 2015. One where Branson, the town, was in on the joke.

Here’s what is f—ing cool about Branson … oops, I mean, here’s what makes this destination worth a visit:

Also: You should watch this video now. There are pigs. And there’s swimming. 

Chateau on the Lake Resort

Photo courtesy of Chateau on the Lake Resort


There’s no shortage of lodging options in Branson. From hotels and motels, to resorts and vacation homes, to camping and RV sites—take your pick. The Branson Lakes area boasts more than 18,000 rooms, many of them hugging “The Strip,” a.k.a. Highway 76. With all of these options vying for your tourism business, deals abound. Chateau on the Lake Resort and Spa is among the fancier digs in town.

Legends in Concert

Legends in Concert | Flickr CC: Branson Convention and Visitors Bureau

Shows, shows, shows

Branson loves to brag that it has more theater seats than Broadway, boasting more than 60,000 seats across 47 theaters. Just don’t expect to find mega-hits from the Great White Way such as “Hamilton.” Instead, expect homegrown, family-friendly shows with “jamboree” and “jubilee” and “stampede” in the title. I enjoyed a bit of Vegas (again, G-rated) at Legends in Concert at Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Theater, where “Taylor Swift” and “Elvis” currently share the stage together.

Titanic Museum

Titanic Museum | Flickr CC: Branson Convention and Visitors Bureau


“The Strip” is loaded with a menagerie ofattractions, some colorful, some cheesy and some just plain gaudy. The attraction sure to catch everyone’s eye: The Titanic Museum. The exterior is a giant replica of the doomed ship hitting an iceberg. While the exterior may raise an eyebrow, the museum itself is an educational and interactive walk through life aboard the vessel as one of its registered passengers and includes more than 400 artifacts from the original ship on display. At the end of the tour, you learn the fate of your assigned passenger.

Aerial adventures

Soar over the Ozark forests on a zip line at up to speeds of 50 miles per hour. Several companies operate tours in the Branson area: Branson Zipline Excursion, Adventure Ziplines of Branson, Indian Point Zipline, Branson Zipline & Canopy Tour and Zip Line USA. Want to soar a different way? Head to the Track Family Fun Parks, which recently acquired the iconic Ferris wheel from Chicago’s Navy Pier. At 15 stories high, it will wow you with bird-eye views of Branson’s entertainment district and the Ozark Mountains.

Dick's 5 and 10

Dick’s 5 and 10 | Flickr CC: Branson Convention and Visitors Bureau


While Tanger Outlets is a popular stop for the shopaholics who adore the standard factory outlet fare, the quirkier place to explore is Dick’s 5 & 10. This old-fashioned store in downtown Branson hosts aisles and aisles of bizarrely wonderful things you didn’t know you needed: nostalgic candy, Marilyn Monroe cookie jars, John Deere oven mitts, pig-shaped drain covers, “Welcome” signs made from deer antlers … and much more. Allocate at least 30 minutes to browse and potentially make a few purchases that’ll inspire a laugh back home.

Lake Taneycomo

Lake Taneycomo | Flickr CC: Branson Convention and Visitors Bureau

Scenic drives

Beyond Highway 76 is an incredible natural setting, especially in summer and autumn. In fall, specifically, the foliage surrounding Branson erupts into a cornucopia of color. Wind along Highway 160 and 165 to coast past lakes, ridge-tops and river valleys. Head to College of the Ozarks to Point Lookout for sweeping views of Lake Taneycomo and Branson. Definitely bring your camera.

Table Rock Lake State Park

Table Rock Lake State Park | Flickr CC: Branson Convention and Visitors Bureau

The great outdoors

Hello, Mother Nature! A visit to Branson offers a springboard to three pristine lakes and more than 100,000 acres of wilderness to explore. A favorite is Table Rock Lake State Park, where you’ll find ample camping, hiking, fishing, boat rentals—even SCUBA diving excursions.

Also: Don’t forget to earn deep discounts by signing up for Orbitz Rewards

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Erica Bray

Erica Bray

Erica is a practical free spirit who loves travel, yoga and ice cream. A Northwestern University-trained journalist with more than 15 years of experience straddling digital and broadcast media, Erica can be found doing handstands everywhere she travels -- even risking arrest in some cases. Learn about her at

2 thoughts on “Branson is the kitschiest city you should visit now”

  1. Great rticle. I agree totally. Branson deserves a look. A little kitsch can be a bunch of fun and the places never ceases to amaze our family. It’s just comfortable, casual and honest. Gorgeous lake and trails, with a little go-carts, ferris wheel and BBQ tossed in to round out the adventure.

  2. Pastor Chris,
    Having vacationed in Branson for over 40 years, your article brought back precious memories! From the Penthouse of the Chateou on the Lake
    To a very economical old town motel we have stayed. Don’t miss the Branson Train ride either! very scenic
    Historic. Faith, family, and friends and Glorious Ozark scenery are all here!

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