Look for free tourist tabloids and booklets throughout town offering discount coupons for many Branson shows, sights, and attractions. Prices below do not include tax.
For Theme Park Fanatics -- Those who plan on visiting all three parks -- Silver Dollar City, Celebration City, and White Water -- can save money with a CityHopper Pass costing $99 for adults and $89 for children. You can buy the pass at any of the three parks (it's good for 4 days), order it online at www.silverdollarcity.com, or call tel. 800/475-9370. Three-day, two-park passes are also available.
It all started in 1959 with the Baldknobbers Jamboree (tel. 417/334-4528; www.baldknobbers.com), when four brothers began performing twice a week in a converted building by Lake Taneycomo. In 1968, the Presleys' Country Jubilee (tel. 417/334-4874; www.presleys.com) opened the first theater on West Hwy. 76, after years of performing to sellout crowds in cool underground venues -- Ozark caves. Both are still going strong, offering family-oriented music, dancing, and comedy.
They're joined by 50 other theaters, most with performances from mid-March or April to December. Ticket prices average $25 to $40 for adults (more for dinner shows) and are half-price or free for children; family tickets are also often available. It's a Branson tradition for many performers to sign autographs after the show.
Branson had a run as the place for live country music. Although Roy Clark, Mel Tillis, the Oak Ridge Boys, and other country greats still return for engagements at Branson theaters, the past 10 years have witnessed an explosion in Las Vegas-style production shows. Andy Williams was the first major noncountry star to build a venue here, the Moon River Theatre (tel. 417/334-4500; www.andywilliams.com), in 1994. Nowadays, entertainment includes everything from magic shows such as the Kirby & Bambi VanBurch Show (tel. 417/334-7140; www.kirbyvanburch.com) to nostalgia-inducing shows like #1 Hits of the 60s (tel. 417/339-1960; www.1hitsofthe60s.com) and Legends in Concert (tel. 417/339-3003; www.legendsinconcert.com), with music by Johnny Cash, Buddy Holly, Elvis, and other greats. For comedy, Yakov Smirnoff (tel. 800/728-4546 or 417/332-1234; www.yakov.com) leads the pack with his unique insights into the quirks of everyday life and relationships between men and women.
One of the hottest shows in town is that provided by violinist Shoji Tabuchi (tel. 417/334-7469; www.shoji.com), whose repertoire ranges from country and jazz to classical and Broadway, and whose shows include elaborate production numbers, lasers and other stunning visual effects, an 18-piece orchestra, and gorgeous costumes. Another high-powered act is Six (tel. 417/334-0076; www.thesixshow.com), featuring six vocalist brothers who are so adept at harmonies and creating drum sounds using only their voices that they sound like a complete band.
A great hit with families is the Incredible Acrobats of China (tel. 417/336-8888; www.acrobatsofchina.com), with their gravity-defying performances. Sight & Sound Theatres (tel. 800/377-1277; www.sight-sound.com) is a faith-based theater company with lavish Bible-related productions (Noah, which runs through Oct 2009, features 100 live animals and 200 animatronic animals).
Branson's oldest and most widely beloved theater is the Shepherd of the Hills Homestead and Outdoor Theater (tel. 800/653-6288 or 417/334-4191; www.oldmatt.com), an outdoor amphitheater which for more than 45 years has presented evening reenactments of Harold Bell Wright's 1907 novel The Shepherd of the Hills, which introduced the Ozarks to the world. The mystery/love drama unfolds on a football-field-size dirt stage with 90 performers, 40 horses, a fire, a shootout, a hoedown, comedy, and, essentially, entertainment for the whole family. During the day, the grounds are open for homestead tours of Old Matt's Cabin (the original home of the main characters in the book), a trip up Inspiration Tower for fine views of the Ozarks, and horseback trail rides.
Branson bills itself as a year-round home for America's veterans, and nowhere is the city's commitment to veterans more apparent than at the Veterans Memorial Museum, 1250 W. Hwy. 76 (tel. 417/336-2300; www.veteransmemorialbranson.com), which honors those who served in both world wars, Korea, Vietnam, and the Persian Gulf. Uniforms, personal histories, weapons, photographs, and thousands of memorabilia ranging from Adolf Hitler's World War I dog tag to a bicycle used on the Ho Chi Minh Trail are on display. Those who remember one of America's most beloved couples might want to pay their respects at the Roy Rogers-Dale Evans Museum, Hwy. 376 and Green Mountain Drive (tel. 417/339-1900; www.royrogers.com), packed with photographs and the couple's collection of memorabilia and personal effects, including guns, cowboy clothing and boots, cars, and guitars. Trigger and Buttermilk are preserved here, two films document the stars' lives and careers, and Roy "Dusty" Rogers, Jr., and grandson Dustin Rogers perform Tuesday to Saturday at the adjoining Happy Trails Theater.
Visitors to Titanic: The World's Largest Titanic Museum Attraction, 3235 W. Hwy. 76 (tel. 417/334-9500; www.titanicbranson.com), can walk a replica of the ship's grand staircase, see the difference between first- and third-class staterooms, touch an iceberg, view 400 artifacts (each with a personal story and donated by those on the ship or their relatives), and learn about the fateful last hours of the doomed journey; audio guides include accounts by actual Titanic survivors. Kids are drawn to Ripley's Believe It or Not!, 3325 W. Hwy. 76 (tel. 417/337-5300; www.ripleysbranson.com), like moths to a flame for its collection of oddities from around the world, optical illusions, TV shows (both old and new), and world records, while kids of all ages can enjoy the World's Largest Toy Museum, 3609 W. Hwy. 76 (tel. 417/332-1499; www.worldslargesttoymuseum.com), packed with dolls, pedal cars, windups, and other toys from the 1800s to today. The Ralph Foster Museum, 2 miles south of Branson in the College of the Ozarks (tel. 417/334-6411, ext. 3407; www.rfostermuseum.com), celebrates Ozark history with an amazing, eclectic collection of items relating to Ozark history and folklore, including handmade dolls, antiques, paintings, musical instruments, farm tools, a huge display of firearms, quilts, stuffed animals, Native American artifacts, and much, much more, including the original truck from The Beverly Hillbillies TV show.
Train & Boat Trips
Departing from downtown Branson's century-old depot March to early December, the Branson Scenic Railway, 206 E. Main (tel. 417/334-6110; www.bransontrain.com), revives the romance of classic rail travel with 40-mile round-trips through the wooded Ozark hills aboard restored vintage 1940s and 1950s dome and passenger cars. These trips appeal to a mostly older crowd, especially for the Saturday night dinner ride. For a lunch or dinner cruise on Table Rock Lake, board the Showboat Branson Belle, 4800 Mo. 165 (tel. 800/775-BOAT [775-2628] or 417/336-7171; www.showboatbransonbelle.com), a luxury paddle-wheeler boat offering 2-hour cruises with dining, music, comedy, and entertainment mid-March through December. For a land and water tour, Ride the Ducks, 2320 W. Hwy. 76 (tel. 877/88-QUACK [887-8225]; www.bransonducks.com), is a wacky 70-minute tour aboard World War II amphibious military assault vehicles that appeals to kids with corny jokes and a cruise of either Table Rock Lake or Lake Taneycomo March through December.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.