Gone country

With theme parks, live shows, museums and a variety of shopping locations, Branson is a family-vacation mecca. Here are the dining, lodging and entertainment spots you don’t want to miss.

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Events, attractions, activities

Branson’s shows and various live performances are commonly considered its main attractions. To see the offerings, visit
www.bransonshows.com. But if you’d like alternatives, plan on taking in a few of these diverse suggestions:

Take a trolley or horse-drawn carriage ride through downtown Branson. The Discovery Trolley is free from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. daily. For a carriage ride, check with The Original Branson Carriage Co., which has a stop at the intersection of West Main and North Commercial streets, 417-331-0316, www.downtownbranson.org

The Shepherd of the Hills. The classic performance of the inspiring tale of the Ozarks based on Harold Bell Wright’s epic story. 5586 W. Highway 76, Branson, MO 65616; 800-653-6288

Mystic Caverns. Forty miles south of Branson, this is worth the drive if you’re in need of some quiet time or entertainment from Mother Nature. 888-743-1739, www.mysticcaverns.com

Payne Stewart Golf Course. In Branson Hills, the 18-hole course is open to the public. Named by Golfweek Magazine as one of the Top 5 public courses in Missouri for 2010. 100 N. Payne Stewart Drive, Branson, MO 65616; 866-417-9300; www.paynestewartgolfclub.com

Silver Dollar City. A theme park featuring more than 100 talented craftspeople, including blacksmithing, glass blowing, candle making, basket making, leather crafts and wood carving. Includes the requisite rides and other park activities. 399 Silver Dollar City Parkway, Branson, MO 65616; 800-475-9370; www.bransonsilverdollarcity.com

Branson Scenic Railway. A two-hour, 40-mile excursion through the Ozarks’ trestles and tunnels. Departs from the historic 1905 depot. 206 E. Main St., Branson, MO 65615; 417-334-6110; www.bransontrain.com

Titanic Branson. The world’s largest Titanic museum attraction housing more than 400 artifacts and historic treasures. Touch an iceberg, see a luxurious first-class stateroom and stark third-class cabin, walk the elegant Grand Staircase, send an SOS from the ship’s wireless room and inspect the world’s largest model of the Titanic. 3235 Highway 76, Branson, MO 65616; 800-381-7670; www.titanicbranson.com

Harold Bell Wright Museum. Not your everyday museum fare. Author of “Shepherd of the Hills,” Harold Bell Wright’s collection of the area’s history is displayed alongside the world’s largest toy museum. 3609 W. Highway 76, Branson, MO 65616; 417-332-1499; www.worldslargesttoymuseum.com

Back to nature. This is not a formal activity or the name of a show. It’s a do-it-yourself. Check out these websites: www.explorebranson.com/outdoors and www.hikebranson.com.

Where to Shop

Branson Landing. Large outdoor mall on Lake Taneycomo. 100 Branson Landing Blvd., Branson, MO 65616-2097; 417-239-3002; www.bransonlanding.com

Historic Downtown Branson. Stroll the brick-lined sidewalks amid the trees and old-fashioned lampposts of historic downtown Branson for a relaxing shopping experience away from the hustle and bustle. Start at the intersection of North Commercial and West Atlantic streets.

Grand Country Square. A variety of shops, a mini-golf course and the Grand Country Buffet. Don’t miss the super-sized banjo that adorns the entrance architecture. 1945 W. 76 Country Blvd., Branson, MO; 888-514-1088; www.grandcountry.com

Kringles’ Christmas Shop. With 9,000 square feet devoted to nothing but Christmas, it’s the largest store of its type in the state. In the Grand Village Shops. 2800 W. Highway 76, Branson, MO; 417-337-5426

Grand Village Shops. Outdoor shopping winding through a quaint village setting.
2800 W. Highway 76, Branson, MO; www.grandvillageshops.com

Dick’s 5 & Dime. For items you haven’t seen in decades, and didn’t think were still made. It’s all here. Historic downtown Branson. 103 W. Main St., Branson, MO; 417-334-2410; www.dicksoldtime5and10.com

Outlet shopping. www.bestreadguide.com/branson/shopping/outlet.shtml.

Tammie Dooley is a Tulsa-based freelance writer. Find her online at www.SoloRoadTrip.com.

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