Looking for somewhere to enjoy the twinkling lights and Christmas carols that make this time of year so special? Branson, Missouri, with its wholesome family shows and traditional Ozark theme park, Silver Dollar City, should top your Christmas list. Holidays come early here, with most Christmas shows beginning in the first or second week of November.
Step aboard the old-time paddlewheel riverboat known as the Showboat Branson Belle for a festive dinner show. The Showmen serve up nostalgic tunes in perfect harmony, while aerial violinist Janice Martin is simply mesmorizing. In a town known for wacky, over-the-top entertainment, this trapeze-swinging, Julliard-trained musician, should be at the top of your list.
Speaking of wacky entertainment, Japanese fiddling phenomenon Shoji Tabuchi hits all the right notes, which is why his show has long been one of Branson’s most popular. Make sure and take a potty break with your kids— the highly decorated bathrooms are not to be missed.
Another must-see is Silver Dollar City. Don’t think of it as an amusement park, it’s really a theme park, with authentic craftsmen celebrating the Ozarks and American traditions. Blacksmiths, glass-blowers and the not-to-be-missed bluegrass band, the Homestead Pickers, make this much more than just a place to ride a roller coaster. Within the theme park is an amazing chance to explore one of Missouri’s many caves on a guided tour. That’s certainly not the kind of thing you’ll find at Disney World or Six Flags. Over the holidays, you’ll be also dazzled by the nightly Christmas lights parade. You’ll also be surprised by the Broadway-caliber stage productions. I got to see one hour performances of “A Christmas Carol” and “It’s a Wonderful Life”, and everyone was on their feet cheering at the end of both plays.
Branson’s well known for its wholesome family entertainment, but nature puts on a great show as well in this part of the Midwest. The Ozarks have easy hiking trails and Table Rock Lake has calm water for swimming, fishing and camping. It’s no surprise the area is the headquarters of Bass Pro Shops, the USA’s leading outdoors outfitter. Recently, Johnny Morris, Bass Pro Shops founder, opened Dogwood Canyon Nature Park, 10,000 acres of untouched Ozark Mountain wilderness, where you can see elk and bison in the wild, attend fly fishing school or simply go hiking.
It’s too cold to get out on Table Rock Lake during the holidays, but it’s perfect hiking weather. Winter temps are usually in the mid-40’s during the day, making the great outdoors easy to enjoy. I never check luggage, so it’s important that my clothes do double-duty. My carry-on includes a couple of stylish sweaters from Aventura Clothing that are perfect for hiking, shopping and nightly entertainment. I bring along leggings that can be worn with my sweater tunics, and also for a morning jog. I stayed at the Hilton Branson Landing, which was only about one block from a terrific running path along the White River. Enjoying the great outdoors and fun family shows makes for a great holiday getaway.
Where are your favorite places to view the holiday lights? Here are a few of Traveling Moms.