5 places to go on a quick Missouri getaway for fall break
BRANSON, Mo. – The leaves are showing off their best autumn colors, the pumpkins are stacked high and the weather is pretty much perfect. It’s October in Branson. h Options abound for Oklahomans on fall break. Book a condo on the water and revel in some much-needed downtime. Satisfy your “need for speed” at Branson’s high-energy attractions. Check out the newest shops and restaurants. And as always, musical entertainment is every where. h Call ahead or look online for the most current COVID-19 safety restrictions and/or possible closings. h Here are five suggestions to get you started.
1. Silver Dollar City
The theme park is celebrating its 60th anniversary with a $500,000 expansion of the “Harvest Festival Featuring Crafts, Cowboys and Pumpkins,” which runs through Oct. 30.
Look for the two-stories-tall scarecrow and brilliantly-lighted animal creations, including friendly spiders and a pumpkin-sculpture owl. Performers on outdoor stages offer Western, bluegrass and country music. Craft demonstrations include world-recognized pumpkin carvers.
The new Harvest Tasting Passport allows guests to try a variety of pumpkin-laced dishes including mac and cheese, spiced ribs and bread pudding.
“Silver Dollar City has always been about families,” said General Manager Brad Thomas. “Ninety percent of our attendance is visitors with at least one child. That’s the gift of Branson. Older couples love it, and families love it.”
2. Butterfly Palace & Rainforest Adventure
If you love the idea of a butterfly landing on your shoulder, wear red or another bright color to this tropical paradise, home to as many as 2,000 free-flying butterflies.
“Butterflies seem to like people,” said Assistant Manager Glory Amburn. “They like colors.”
The aviary also helps visitors get up close and personal by providing nectar for hand-feeding more than 60 species including the paper kite, zebra mosaic, common tiger, purple-spotted swallowtail and a visitor favorite, the brilliant blue morpho.
Every week, chrysalises arrive via Federal Express from butterfly farms in rainforests around the world. The insects are hatched in clean rooms, then released into the Palace.
The $800,000 the aviary spends every year on butterflies is income for the farms, which provide sustainable, ecofriendly employment, and in some cases buy land to put in trust so it can’t be used for logging, Amburn said.
3. Beyond the Lens
You will swear you’re in an airplane. It’s called Flyride, and it’s part of the techno-tainment experience at Beyond the Lens. Visitors are strapped in for 15 minutes of virtual reality, with a bird’seye flyover of 22 national landmarks. The seats rise and fall and twist and turn in time with the visuals.
“The craziest part is the white-water rafting,” said Marketing Manager Tracey Barton. “The kids are always laughing when they get wet.”
And that part is not exactly virtual. You really do get misted with water.
The attraction also features augmented reality games that work with your phone and a Beyond the Lens app, escape rooms, bumper cars that turn upside down, the alien egg pit, a human kaleidoscope and dozens of unique selfie options.
4. Shanghai Circus
This perennial favorite has upped its game, showcasing the latest light and sound technology and adding elements of dance, comedy, martial arts and magic tricks to its time-honored performances of juggling, acrobatics and death-defying aerial acts. There’s even a fire eater.
Audience feedback is encouraged as beautifully-costumed performers show off their strength, balance and flexibility. If you’re looking for a show that will captivate a family with a broad age range, this one’s a safe bet.
5. Branson Landing
Branson Landing is a 95-acre district spanning a mile and a half of waterfront on Lake Taneycomo, adjacent to historic downtown Branson. It’s home to more than 100 shops, restaurants and attractions including the $7.5 million crown jewel, Branson Landing Fountains, which merges fire, water, lights and music.
Andy B’s Bowl Social is a full-service restaurant with 10 bowling lanes, escape rooms, karaoke rooms and live entertainment. Arcade City is 12,000 square feet of fun, and the Bigfoot Adventure Tour is a ride on a safari truck through the Ozark Mountains to a Scottish Highland cattle ranch. Branson Jet Boats and Main Street Lake Cruises get you out on the water, and Parakeet Pete’s Steampunk Balloon and Waterfront Zipline get you up in the air.
Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen is allyou-can-eat Southern cooking with a gift shop of items hand-selected by the cooking show host, and across the street is Branson’s newest museum attraction, the interactive Shipwrecked Treasure Museum.
Kimberly Burk is a freelance travel writer whose visit to Branson was coordinated by Mega Media. Accommodations at The Village at Indian Point resort on Table Rock Lake were provided by Silver Dollar City.