Branson Travel Information

United States > US City Index > Branson > History

The city of Branson was born in the early 1800s on a broad, flat plain along the White River just south of its confluence with Roark Creek. Buildings and roads eventually overtook the floodplain as the city grew westward up a gradually sloping ridge, creating what is now Bransons Historic Downtown District.

The waters of Lake Tanycomo tamed the temperamental White River in 1913, and now a patchwork of parks, campgrounds, shops and restaurants line the waterfront, creating a thriving shopping district at the eastern boundary of the city. Mile-long Lake Street harbors public fishing docks, broad, grassy parks, and remarkable dining experiences like Dimitris. This restaurant, anchored to the shore of Lake Tanycomo, offers gourmet meals in a floating dining room. Also anchored to the waterfront are the huge docks where The Lake Queen and the Sammy Lane Pirate Cruise sail for their half- or full-day excursions up and down the winding waterway of this crystal-clear lake. One block from shore, at the intersection of Boxcar Willie Drive and Main Street, is the depot for the Branson Scenic Railway. Main Street continues to climb west out of the White River Canyon, and a couple of blocks up from the tracks is the historic shopping district. One of the few surviving dime stores in the country, Dicks Oldtime 5 & 10, is a favorite among tourists and locals. Across the street is Hillbilly Moccasins, where you can find a little piece of the Ozarks to take home with you. If you continue west on Main Street, the peaceful, tree-lined tranquility of downtown gives way to the engine that powers Bransons economy: The Strip.

The Strip
This is what modern-day Branson is all about. Crammed into this seven-mile stretch of Missouri State Highway 76 are more than 60 restaurants, 70-plus hotels and motels and more than 30 live entertainment venues—not to mention dozens of shopping outlets and amusement parks. This is a wealth of live music, food and activities, and the traveling treasure hunters, mostly retirees and families, jam all four lanes of this road from April through September. On any given afternoon during the summer, traffic on The Strip moves literally at a snails pace and chances are, you will watch from the stationary comfort of your air-conditioned vehicle as pedestrians merrily wave as they pass you by.

Don't despair. With a little prudent planning, you can book a centrally located hotel near the shows you want to see and can avoid entering the frozen fray of Bransons infamous gridlock. The BoxCar Willie Hotel, on the western reaches of The Strip, is within walking distance to a 90-store outlet mall, museums, nine theaters, a dozen or so restaurants, go cart tracks, and amusement parks. You could spend a week taking in these attractions and never have to start your car. After a day running rapids and riding waterslides at White Water amusement park, you can feast on Bransons top-rated buffet at the Plantation Restaurant. You might end your day with the Sons of the Pioneers at Mickey Gilley Theatre - all this without walking more than a few hundred paces in any direction. The entire length of the Strip offers this sort of luxury. As you scoot along the sidewalks and wave at static motorists, you'll soon discover why those cheerful pedestrians were smiling as you sat in traffic only a few hours before.

Shepherd of the Hills
The congestion of The Strip gave rise to alternate routes through town. The second most popular motorway in the city runs parallel to The Strip along a ridgeline to the north. Missouri State Highway 248 was widened during the 80s and is now known as The Shepherd of the Hills Expressway, where existing shops and attractions were joined by hundreds of others as entrepreneurs clambered to procure prime space along this booming region of Branson. Separating this region from The Strip is the beautiful Roark Valley, with tree-lined roadways and peaceful, 62-acre Stockstill Park, where Roark Creek flows through a meticulously manicured grass meadow with picnic tables, ball parks, playground equipment and stately, ancient oak trees. Gretna Road bisects this northern district from the southwest to the northeast. Along this artery are three major factory outlet malls, The Factory Merchants Branson, Tanger Outlet Center and Factory Shoppes at Branson Meadows. Both locals and tourists come to find incredible bargains on name-brand apparel and other merchandise at these expansive market places. A number of fine hotels have been built here, gladly accepting the overflow of clients from the bustling Strip. The Cascades Inn is a splendid hotel that boasts 160 luxurious rooms. Less than a block to the west is the Shoji Tabuchi Theatre, where a Japanese violin virtuoso wows audiences during his nightly shows.

The Falls/College
The lumpy terrain that lies south of The Strip and north of Lake Tanycomo is the Falls District. This region of town embraces gorgeous scenery and sports intriguing geographic features like The Falls, Compton Ridge and Cooper Creek. Tucked into the wooded canyons and perched on the ridge tops are resorts, hotels and campgrounds too numerous to count. Cooper Creek slices southward through the limestone hills, and where it runs into Lake Tanycomo is the Cooper Creek Resort, where guests can forget the commotion and bustle of the entertainment district and relax while they wet a line and drown a worm at the resorts private fishing docks. Across the Lake is the historic College of the Ozarks, where students strive to avoid the distractions of Branson and work toward a four-year accredited degree.

Tanycomo South
Resorts and bed and breakfast inns line the southern shore of Lake Tanycomo and reach into the hidden seclusion of the wooded hills. A stay at the Kite House Historic Bed and Breakfast Inn gives you a taste of upper crust life of Bransons elite during the 1930s. A mile to the east is the Holiday Hills Resort & Golf Club.

Indian Point/West Branson
If you are truly searching for a selection of lakeside resorts, Indian Point offers a selection so vast, it borders on sensory overload. Literally hundreds of resorts, each with its own personality, are scattered across this arrowhead-shaped peninsula that juts south into Table Rock Lake west of Branson. But the most popular destination here is landlocked. Silver Dollar City is a multi faceted amusement park/living museum where actual residents dress in period costumes and illustrate what Ozark Mountain life was like at the turn of the century. While all these arts and crafts are fine to hold the attention of intrigued adults, kids from seven to 70 have shorter attention spans, so the park built fast-moving adrenaline-generating rides like Buzz Saw Falls to keep everyone happy. Adjacent to Silver Dollar City is a natural treasure that is a must-see on most visitors' lists. Marvel Cave is so vast, hot air balloons have actually inflated and launched inside its main cavern.


  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Avg. High 45° 48° 60° 71° 78° 86° 91° 90° 82° 72° 60° 48°
Avg. Low 18° 22° 31° 41° 50° 58° 64° 61° 54° 42° 34° 24°
Mean 32° 36° 46° 56° 64° 74° 78° 76° 68° 58° 47° 36°
Avg. Precip. 1.9 in 2.4 in 3.9 in 3.9 in 4.5 in 4.3 in 3.4 in 3.4 in 3.9 in 3.3 in 3.9 in 3.3 in