America's biggest live music town since Nashville is alive and kicking. Whether you're looking for fun for the whole family, a romantic getaway for two, or a kitschy weekend with a group of friends, Branson can deliver, albeit in an ersatz Americana environment. It's a crazy quilt of views and reviews: many lodgings boast views of the Ozarks and live performances from Dolly Parton to Elvis impersonators, lumberjack shows and more. To some Branson may be just one-stop shopping for American gimcrackery, but to others, it's just a plain old-fashion good time.

To avoid last minute complications and waiting in line all for long hours for tickets, Reserve Branson (tel. 800/590-0155; has everything you'll need to know to plan your time in America's concert capital. The deals section of the site gives you reduced prices on tickets to the many shows. For example, a ticket to the Hank Williams Revisited Show normally costs $22.50, but if you buy online through the site it costs just $12. Tickets to the Breakfast with Mark Twain and Norman Rockwell show (see, Branson's even "educational"), normally $26.25, are $18.30 online. A live glimpse of the great Bobby Vinton (remember "Roses are Red"?) will cost you $31.80 if you buy online.

The package section of the site offers lodging and ticket deals. A special "Valentines Day at the Ozarks Lodge" package, a hotel in Branson, starts around $76 dollars for a one-night stay with lodging, one show and dinner. Accommodations include a king-sized bed with a Jacuzzi tub sized for two. This one-night special is still available. Check with the site for details. Through the site, you can also book the special rate of $96 at the famed Gazebo Inn right on the famous Branson Strip called Route 66. Rooms at this quaint and small Victorian inn are pretty and old-fashioned, giving the traveler a little view of life at turn of the century life.

Branson's Best Reservations (tel. 800/800-2019; has some excellent three-day deals that include hotels and tickets to four shows. The three-day "Branson Getaway Package" will run you about $159 per person with double occupancy. The trip offers a full 25-item breakfast buffet and an evening ice cream and cobbler social as well as those tickets to a choice of the city's top shows including the 50s at the Hop show and the Comedy Jamboree. Other packages can be found through the Branson-operated tour packager at

To get to Branson, fly into nearby Springfield, Missouri, which is reachable through Chicago or a number of other American Airline hubs. Flights to Springfield from Atlanta on American Airlines (tel. 800/433-7300; can be had on special starting from $144 round-trip with no advanced purchase if you travel before this Sunday. For the rest of the year, round-trip fare will cost around $278 with a fourteen-day advanced purchase. Security fees and air taxes are extra. From Dallas/Ft.Worth to Branson, round-trip air costs $298 with a fourteen-day advance ticket.

A warning, shows at Branson never stop. From the time you wake up till the time you hit the hay, singing and dancing surrounds you. Prepare yourself for this. Even your hotel lobby can become the site of a morning sing and dance event. Comedy is a big Branson draw as well. Everyone's a comedian, including your usher and waiter. Just go with the flow and smile at the clowns who make those attractive balloon animals.

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