Branson Surprise

For many years we’ve been hearing about Branson, Missouri . I have to admit I had a vision of a senior oriented tourist trap with a few country western shows. This week on our road trip we took a detour and explored Branson and we got a very fun surprise.

Charlene and I only planned a one day stay in Branson, which was a mistake. In all honesty, we could have spent a week and we will be coming back. As I’m writing this article I am trying to figure out how best to describe this very interesting destination.

In Branson you have: great golf courses; dinner offered on a steam ship; all the mountain activities like biking, boating and fishing; world class music; broadway style shows; lots of American style crafts for sale: attractions like The Butterfly Pavilion and the National Tiger Sanctuary; historic sites; museums; and lots of unique dining experiences.
I know that’s a mouthful but try to be a Travel Blogger stuck in a community for a day that deserves a hundred blogs. I feel like a cat under a tree full of canaries. There is too much stuff and not enough time. To explore all the things you can do in Branson the best bet is to hit the Branson Tourist Center on the internet and look for yourself.

Charlene and I only had a day, so being a little naughty, we hit one of the wineries for a tour and a free tasting and one of the “many” music variety shows.

Did I say “many” variety shows? Well, that’s an understatement.  There are more live theaters in Branson than on Broadway. Want to go to the Million Dollar Quartet or Jersey Boys? They’ve got it. Want to hear country, jazz, classical and gospel concerts all in one day? That’s possible. The shows in Branson start about 9:00 AM and run until late at night. The receptionist at our hotel mentioned a talent agent that came to Branson to check out the local talent and for 7 days went to 4 different shows each day. I can tell you that the talent agent could have stayed for a month and not seen all the shows.

After the winery we only had time for one show, so we opted for an unique variety show that started at 8:00 pm (we needed a nap after the winery). The show was “IT” and it was at the Hugh’s Theater and featured the Hugh’s Brothers a five piece vocal group and their family. This variety show is amazing and the performers are the Hugh’s Brothers and the Brothers wives and children. I’m working off memory but I think the five brothers had 38 kids. Doing the math I’m pretty sure that’s 5 brothers, 5 wives and 38 kids who were all singing, dancing and playing instrumental solos during the show. They claim to be the largest performing family in America and I have no doubt they are right.

One thing you will find is that the shows in Branson are amazingly reasonable, most of the shows are less than $40. The shows offer the quality of entertainment you will pay in excess of $100 to see in Vegas or on Broadway. Check out the Branson.com list of shows just to get a taste of what you can see and the amazing prices for live entertainment.

Yes, I know I’m sounding like I work for the Branson Chamber of Commerce but I don’t, I just want to get the word out that this is a very cool travel destination. I love Vegas because it has so much variety in the things you can do but the reality is Vegas is getting too expensive. Branson is very reasonable. We stayed at the Travel Lodge, and paid $48 dollars for our room. With our standard upgrade for $48 we got a room with a jacuzzi big enough for two. The room was modern, clean and offered free hot breakfast and free WiFi. I was as happy with this room as any $200 room I have ever stayed in. Not to wonder from the subject but, “why is it that the expensive rooms all seem to charge for WiFi, breakfast and parking and the inexpensive hotels cover these costs?”

To Recap Branson has more theaters than Broadway. Branson is set in the beautiful hill country of Missouri that offers and abundance of outdoor activities. Branson has world class attractions. Branson has world class entertainment. Finally, all this fun is about 1/3rd the cost of hot spots like Vegas and Broadway.

Like all great things Branson has it’s down side. The biggest downside for this amazing travel destination is it is very hard to fly into. According to Wikipedia the Branson Airport “is currently the only privately owned, privately operated commercial service airport in the United States”. What this unique fact means in reality it is difficult to fly into Branson.

The nearest airport with easy access appears to be Springfield, Missouri. Flights into Springfield are expensive unless you luck out and are in one of the areas where Allegiant Air offers their service. Most of the Allegiant flights I found only service Springfield once a week but round trip tickets were less than $200. Flights into Springfield on carriers other than Allegiant will run around $500 Round Trip. If you do fly into Springfield you will probably want to rent a car and they seem of be about $30 a day. So if you and your  spouse want to come to Branson and play for a week you really should plan on blowing $600 to $1200 just getting there.

My recommendation is if you’re on a road trip in this part of America take a detour. A detour to Branson is well worth it. When you do your detour to Branson give yourself three or four days to really enjoy the Branson experience.

This place is a Geezer paradise, cheap and entertaining but, darn the luck, expensive to access unless you drive.