What Can I Say About Branson?

Good work, you guessers–you were right.  We went to Branson, Missouri on our little weekend trip.  And I will confess, as we drove the streets of Branson, I thought of you all, and I wondered just how I could describe this city accurately, especially to those of you on the east or west coasts who will likely never see this slice of Americana.  It’s a curious place, to say the least.

If you’ve never heard of it, here’s a little background:  Branson was a tiny town even just 25 years ago, barely a stop in the road carved into the rocky hills of southwest Missouri.  A little amusement park grew up around a cave there, and then a country music show or two was started "in town" to entertain the amusement-park go-ers. 

And the rest, as they say, is history.

Fast-forward 25 years later, and Branson is no longer a sleepy little town.  Now it’s become (as my Hubs affectionately calls it) "Las Vegas for rednecks" (and I say that with all the love in my heart, seeing as how I’m from the hills of Arkansas and there still just a leetle bit of redneck deep in this girl).  It’s the kind of place where the shows are flashy, the hair is big, and the chicken fried steak is all-you-can-eat. 

For example, we drove past the "God and Country Gardens", where you can visit a six-foot high metal sculpture of the Ten Commandments right out front.  And then there was the little clothing store we saw named–I’m not making this up–"Dressin’ Gaudy".  Even the local Baptist church has a neon sign. 

And you know what?  It’s a really fun place to visit.  It’s the sort of place where you check your big-city sophistication at the city limits and revel in the fact that we all need some sequins in our lives, every now and then.  (I know that several of you have been to Branson, so help me out in the comment section and try to describe this place to those who haven’t seen it.)

Our family stayed at the hotel adjoining this indoor water park, and it was great fun.  My kids ran and yelled and splashed the way they haven’t been able to do in the last few, cold months.  It was great therapy for us all.

NO Dryer family getaway would be complete without someone getting sick, of course.  Every trip we take–and I do mean EVERY SINGLE TRIP–will produce someone(s) chufing or coughing or bleeding.  It’s a little family tradition by now, really.  I’ve learned to go with it and just pack our entire medicine cabinet when we travel.  The irony is that at home, we’re all remarkably healthy–something about leaving our city limits seems to cause dormant germs to leap into action.  This particular trip found Joseph having a bad asthma flare-up, but he’s doing better now.  AND Corrie swallowed so much pool water that she threw up, but only once, so that doesn’t count as a real illness.  In fact, our spectacular luck rubbed off on the friends we traveled with, and two of their kids came down with something icky.  Lesson of the day:  Do not travel with the Dryer family.

We’re home now, and everyone is well.  The laundry is put away and the chlorine smell is almost gone from our skin.  Best of all, we’re rested and refreshed–and just a little flashier.

45 thoughts on “What Can I Say About Branson?

  1. Melinda B. says:

    I went to college in Branson 22 years ago, and will always have a happy affection for that town. My off-campus job was selling tickets at the small wax museum (several trailers hooked together with dusty rooms of tired wax figures like Ghandi, John Wayne, and several scenes from the life of Jesus).
    The owners were wonderful people in their late 70’s and always played big band music over the intercom. They sold the land that place sat on for enough money to buy a small island, if they had wanted to.
    You do not have to go more than a mile off that rhinestone bracelet of a highway to see the true Branson–warm sun shining on rocky cedar glades, clear water running from cracks in the limestone hillsides, oak and hickory forests covering hills so steep you have to hold onto saplings to climb up and down them. That is my Branson.
    I’m so glad you enjoyed your short winter break and that everyone has recuperated.

  2. mimi2six says:

    We resisted going to Branson for years cause it sounded a little glittery for us. Now, we go at least twice a year and love it every time. It’s kind of a magical place! Something for everyone…..tons of stuff to do with kids and plenty of stuff to interest mom and dad. The shows are incredible…..I’ve seen many of them and haven’t seen a bad one yet. Wholesome, funny, great entertainment, several really big names, many talented unknowns. The actual town of Branson is charming and now has an incredible shopping center…Branson Landing on the lake. Big Ceder Lodge is an incredible elegant/rustic getaway I highly recommend….too pricey for every visit but a great place for a special occasion. Branson at Christmas truly is magic. Can you tell I love the place???

  3. Kari says:

    I grew up in the Ozarks. It will always be home to me. I love Branson and remember it when Silver Dollar City was THE ONLY attraction.
    Going outside of Branson proper is truely a treat, view the hills and valleys the hokey little tourist traps along side the highways the lakes and woods.
    Spring is always when I start getting homesick, I already have my blog designed with a spring Ozark picture.
    This year our spring vacation back home is postponed to summer as we have to go to Springfield for hubby’s daughter’s wedding.
    But I have been promised trips to the Arkansas Ozarks to visit my grandma as well so I can wait.
    Yes,
    I am another one of those who loves Branson, and the surrounding area.

  4. Jessica says:

    I have never been to Branson myself, but I have heard about it from some family and friends. From most of those reviews I heard statments that it was a “Senior Citizen’s Gatlinburg” doesn’t sound like this was true for you guys! My parents are considering going there this spring/summer for their 30 year anniversary, but my mom is concerned that people will think she is a “senior citizen” which she most certainly is not…would you recommend this for the 30 year wedding anniversary (now, i don’t necessarily mean the waterpark…if they chose to do that I would be tempted to tag along just to watch and laugh!).

  5. Cheri says:

    Sounds like a nice trip, minus the sickies. You could have come here, it was 84* and we have the ocean, it that won’t get you out of your winter dool drums, nothing will. 😀 Granted we don’t have winter. LOL

  6. Happi says:

    My family used to travel to Branson for family reunions, pre-Vegas era. I had no idea it had become SO commercial and “flashy” until we revisited with OUR family for a vacation a couple summers ago. I was disappointed…this was not the Branson of my childhood…but we went off the beaten path to enjoy some of the natural beauty and that was where we really enjoyed our time. Glad you’re all feeling better now!

  7. Heth says:

    Oh my goodness, I’ve been to Branson. We visited my sister who was there working at the Kanakuk camp. Interesting city…..terrible traffic.

  8. Jenny D says:

    We haven’t ever been to Branson, but it’s a place I’d like to go. It looks like a wonderful family destination especially if we stay where your family did. That looks like great fun. We often run into the sickness-away-from-home business too. UGH. I’m glad that your family had a good time and came back feeling refreshed!

  9. Belinda says:

    I’m from Florida, and have never been to Missouri. Branson sounds like it could be similar to Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge Tennessee-mega tourist trap, fun for kids, outlet malls, and beautiful scenery all around the outskirts. Glad you had a good getaway and I can totally relate to the kids getting sick. One of my daughters has asthma, we went on vacation and left her nebulizer at home-I know, I’m an outstanding mother!!- guess what?! ASTHMA ATTACK!! Isn’t it great to learn lessons the hard way?! My husband was thinking I was pretty brilliant also, NOT!!! It’s always the mom’s fault, but hey, I don’t mind being a scapegoat!! (My husband is really a great guy and a super dad!) Needless to say, I bought a super-sized suitcase to carry our WHOLE medicine cabinet from then on. We might not have socks or underwear, but you can rest assured we will have the nebulizer and ALL the drugs! I love your blog!!

  10. Carissa says:

    well i am happy to report that “rocks in my dryer” has readers who actually LIVE in branson – and we LOVE it!!!! i have been here over 10 years. will admit that when i moved here – from albany, ny – i was almost embarassed to tell people where i was moving!!! but, i have grown to LOVE LOVE LOVE it. i have friends all over the country who come visit and they all love it too! branson can get a bad rap but once you have been here and given yourself over to the experience…you fall in love! glad ya’ll had fun! hurry back!

  11. Melanie says:

    My parents have been to Branson, but I have never gone. I have always wanted to go. Glad you are feeling refreshed! Makes for some great writing moments. :>)

  12. Jen says:

    Yes, “rocks in my dryer” does have a faithful following in Branson. We love pulling up your site on a daily basis and reading your witty words of wisdom. I moved to this “Mullberry-like” town four years ago with my heels dug in all the way. I’ve been a big city gal all my life and I just couldn’t imagine living in a town with a total population of 6,700 folks. Well, this is a small town with big britches and I LOVE it. Where else are you going to see an Adoration Christmas parade every December coming down Main Street? This is a wonderful place to live and a great, family-oriented place to visit. So, thanks for touting our small town – we appreciate it!

  13. Shalee says:

    Well, personally I love Silver Dollar City! FIRE IN THE HOLE!!!!
    Where else can you get the kettle stir fried meal with all those yummy veggies and the best jars of Apricot jam and Apple Butter you ever did eat.
    And as an added bonus, we discovered Lambert’s: home of the throw’d rolls on our last trip. My lands, we ate ourselves silly!
    Glad you got away to a fun getaway spot. That just totally rocks for y’all, even if it did include a bathing suit in this stage of the game…

  14. Nikki says:

    My family and I love to go to Branson just because of the close proximity (we live in your metro) and the diversity of activity. It’s like going somewhere that you usually have to save and plan for, but you can do it on a whim when you just need to flee life – right -now! We stayed at the indoor waterpark just back in November for Thanksgiving. It was just what the doctor ordered for the winter blahs! And I know it seems way to expensive, but we splurged once on staying at the Chateau on the Lake. Once you stay there once, you will think it worth the money. For not near as much as you would think, you could spend your whole trip there without ever leaving the premises. It was awesome! Also, I agree with the post that mentioned the outlet malls – GAP, OLD NAVY,CHILDREN’S PLACE. What I AM very surprised by, are the locals who seem to love it so much. I would have thought they would be so put out with all the traffic and commercialism.

  15. Jenna G says:

    I grew up near Branson and went every year of my life. I think it’s the greatest place–except the hilly and curvy roads that make my children sick! I highly recommend Lambert’s (Home of the Throwed Rolls)in Springfield and Sikeston– and also The Passion Play in Eureka AR (nearby). You can’t beat the beautiful scenery of the Ozarks–anywhere! Love my home! And don’t forget the Dramamine!

  16. Maren says:

    I went to Branson for the first time last August and before that I thought it was a fun place for country music lovers and grandma and grandpa…I was proven wrong! We stayed at the Chateau on the Lake (www.chateauonthelake.com) and it was absolutly beautiful there! My favorite part was the 4 level go-kart track that we went to! It was the best go-cart track ever and you didn’t have to pay per ride! You could just pay for the day and ride as much as you wanted and when you got tired of that you could go ride in the bumper boats and have a water fight with your pals! I’ve never seen my husband laugh so hard! I can’t wait to go back there! Oh, and I have to tell you that I dominated on the track-so if you’re there when I am- WATCH OUT! woo hoo!

  17. Jaime says:

    My husband and I spent our first anniversary at Branson! It was cheesy but fun. We had a great time playing putt-putt golf and going to Silver Dollar City. We will definitely make it a tradition to travel there w/ our kids when they get a little older. SDC is so much fun for the kids & the kids at heart, like me!

  18. reed says:

    You forgot to mention that you may have dropped off some other sickness on your way back home… Your little niece threw up 24 hours after your visit. Hmmm.
    -rsd

  19. Kelley says:

    So fun! My in-laws live near Branson – my husband grew up there. So, I’ve visited there many times since college (when we met and fell in love – *sigh*).
    I really love Silver Dollar City. It is just like a step back in time. We’ll probably take the kids there this summer.
    Glad you had fun!

  20. Tessa says:

    I live within a couple hours of Branson and visit fairly frequently to shop at the outlet malls. As a child my family and I visited SDC all the time. I agree with some of the other posters- Chateau on the Lake is pricy but totally worth it. And Fire in the Hole remains my favorite ride ever!

  21. J.Fergie says:

    Glad you had a great time! Sounds like it was a blast. And what a good idea to take little winter getaway. Now if only I could convince hubby we need to do the same…
    I can’t believe Dressin’ Gaudy is a chain!! lol.

  22. Nancy says:

    Being from Arkansas, it was a favorite vacation spot for us. I went the first time when Silver Dollar City was about the only fun thing to do. By the time my daughter was a senior in high school, it had exploded. We love the shows, the water park, the scenery, the FOOD, the attractions like Ripley’s Believe It or Not” (beware, the “mirror” is two way so if you pick your nose or make ugly faces, folks on the other side are watching and laughing!). We love the putt-putt golf and go-cart places, the shopping, the general sight seeing. For family entertainment, it can’t be beat. Sure, there are a lot of church groups and senior citizens but that is part of the charm. One thing is for sure, you cannot see or do it all in a couple of days so more than one trip is in order. (p.s. If you can stand the pressure – and time – of the sales pitch, you can snag some sweet deals on lodging and good food by taking advantage of the condo time share folks…we almost paid for entire stay by doing selected visits!) Yeah, we were cheap, er, broke like that.

  23. Brandy says:

    Branson sounds familiar, like I should know about it, but I didn’t until reading your post. Really? There is such a place? Sounds like a glitzy version of my home town. I’ve only ever been on the east coast except for a visit to Ohio and California. I should really get out more…
    Brandy of The Building Brows

  24. chickadee says:

    we finally went to silver dollar city last fall when all the christmas stuff was out. it was lovely. i can’t believe we had never done it before and we have been to branson several times.

  25. Kari says:

    OMG I love Lambert’s!
    We waited 45 mins last time we were in the area just to go in lol loved every minute of it
    Those who go to Sliver Dollar City, when you walk into the park to the left and down the slight hill there’s a cabin, usually some music going on the front porch. The cabin is Levi Casey’s from the 1800’s he was a relative of mine.
    It’s always fun to go walk by that cabin that was built soo long ago by family.

  26. Polly says:

    Re: Don’t travel with the Dryers
    That reminds me of the trips that Julia and the girls took on “Designing Women”. Remember when Charlene said they needed some kind of vacation therapy! What a crack up!
    Glad you’re nice and refreshed. Now get back to work! 🙂

  27. Girl Gone Wild says:

    Yeah! I’m so glad you had fun in Branson. At least you were able to enjoy it out of season. Traffic in season is a nightmare. But it’s worth it from time to time. My favorite times to visit Silver Dollar City is during the International Festival and Nichelodeon’s Festival for Kids. Lamberts and their throwed rolls is a hoot. Shopping rocks (especially with the new Branson Landing)! It’s just a fun place to go for FAMILY vacation.
    (I had to laugh at some of your thoughts of Branson. I’ve been here too long and have forgotten some of the ‘weirdness’ of it all!)

  28. Terri says:

    Sounds like you had a great time! It’s always fun to get away for a few days. I’ve never been to Branson but have friends who have gone and really liked it. It always seemed like someone always got sick or something on our vacations, too, when the kids were younger. I remember leaving on a trip when our older kids were 2 and 4 with 2 bottles of Amoxicillin in a little cooler for both of them. They each had ear infections and a little pink bottle of meds to take. It seemed like a hassle then. Twenty years later, I’d take it back in a heartbeat! Glad you’re back!

  29. Mama says:

    We started going to Branson when I was pregrant w/ my daughter and have gone every year since except last year. We are planning a trip in May. My former boss’s daughter had suggested Branson for their extended family vacation and she said “there’s nothing there for kids”, I said have you seen it lately…my kids LOVE it!! We have the cutest tape from “Baldnobbers” when Boo was 2 and Sissy was 3, they love to tape kidos so parents and grandparents will buy the tapes. Of corse we did, but it was a good investment, my parents also bought the tape when we went when Sissy was just 4 months old. The kidos love to watch those tapes….they really want to go back to see “Baldnobbers” this year, but I would rather take them to the Dixie Stampede instead. Just a side note…DO NOT take the southern route to get there if you are even the slightest bit pregrant. It was not a good exprience. Too many curves and hills. 😦

  30. Mama says:

    I forgot to add when Sissy had just turned 3 we went to Silver Dollar City and She went down to the cabin Kari’s family built and sang “I’ll Fly Away” her favorite song w/ the group there. They have sing alongs in the afternoon. It’s great!!
    Mama

  31. Renee says:

    I just had to comment. I started going to KANAKUK KAMP many years ago when Branson was just a speck of dust on the map! The BIG reward from Kamp was that we all got to go to “THE CITY ” towards the end of the term. I love SDC not to mention Kanakuk! I went back to be a counselor at Kanakuk in the mid 1990s and Branson was already changing! I can only imagine what it is like today! Come to think of it ATH might just need to take a family trip to Branson one summer – We can’t this summer as Our newlist little seedling is coming early fall!

  32. Cathy says:

    I love Branson, too. I have son and daugter – in – law,and a boy that lived with us at our ranch for 4 1/2 years that work at Dixie Stampede Dinner Theatre. Have you ever been to this show, it is awesome. My son, and the other young man that is like a son, serve the food, and our daugter in law is one of the actresses doing the trick riding on the horses. We visit there several times a year, mainly so we can see our grandchildren, but it is a fun place. You will have to go back when the season starts up that’s when it’s really crazy.

  33. Race Mom says:

    Branson is just a hop, skip and a jump from our home town, Osage Beach, MO. I remember when Silver Dollar City was THE thing to do in the summer and the biggest ride there was the log flume. We still go every year in between races of course. We camp at Wilderness and spend one evening at Celebration City, one day at White Water, and one day at SDC. Woo Hoo! Good Ole’ Redneck fun. This year we hope to venture down to Eureka Springs to catch the Passion Play.

  34. judy says:

    DRESSIN GAUDY IS A GREAT STORE! AGES FROM TEENAGERS TO MY 93 YEAR OLD MOTHERLAW. COME BY AND CHECK IT OUT. WE ARE NOT A CHAIN STORE, JUST A SMALL LINK. STARTED IN LONGVIEW TEXAS NOW IN TYLER,TEXAS AND IN THE GREAT TOWN BRANSON,MO. I HAVE BEEN THERE 15 YEARS THE STORE WAS NAMED AFTER ME BY MY HUSBAND. BRANSON IS FOR EVERY AGE SHOPS,SHOWS,KIDFUN GREAT EATTING PLACES LOVE THE HOTEL CHAT.ON THE LAKE! IF YOU HAVE NEVER BEEN THERE… MONTHS TO COME LATE MARCH, APRIL, MAY,JUNE(HOT] JULY[HOT HOT] AUG.[HOT AND MOST THEATHERS CLOSED] SEPT. OCT. NOV. FRIST PART OF DEC. GREAT MONTHS FOR ALL.HOPE TO

  35. judy says:

    DRESSIN GAUDY IS A GREAT STORE! AGES FROM TEENAGERS TO MY 93 YEAR OLD MOTHERLAW. COME BY AND CHECK IT OUT. WE ARE NOT A CHAIN STORE, JUST A SMALL LINK. STARTED IN LONGVIEW TEXAS NOW IN TYLER,TEXAS AND IN THE GREAT TOWN BRANSON,MO. I HAVE BEEN THERE 15 YEARS THE STORE WAS NAMED AFTER ME BY MY HUSBAND. BRANSON IS FOR EVERY AGE SHOPS,SHOWS,KIDFUN GREAT EATTING PLACES LOVE THE HOTEL CHAT.ON THE LAKE! IF YOU HAVE NEVER BEEN THERE… MONTHS TO COME LATE MARCH, APRIL, MAY,JUNE(HOT] JULY[HOT HOT] AUG.[HOT AND MOST THEATHERS CLOSED] SEPT. OCT. NOV. FRIST PART OF DEC. GREAT MONTHS FOR ALL.HOPE TO

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