Branson, Missouri may be known for its wonderful shows, but it’s more than that. It’s a great place to visit with your family and full of activities to keep both you and your toddler entertained. From an interactive animal park to a show full of kid-friendly food and animals, the toddler-friendly activities are abundant enough to make me want to visit Branson over and over again.
Five Toddler-Friendly Attractions in Branson
Last year for Thanksgiving my family decided to skip our traditional stay at home holiday and drove the three and a half hours south from Kansas City to Branson, Missouri. In previous visits to Branson we’ve enjoyed fantastic entertainment from magic shows to musical productions, all things that just weren’t going to work with a toddler in tow. This time around we opted to try more kid-friendly activities.
Promised Land Zoo
Branson’s Promised Land Zoo is the only family owned zoo, according to their website, that is dedicated to giving each visitor a personalized and interactive experience. Open every day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., the zoo gives your kids a one-of-a-kind, hands-on adventure.
The zoo will probably only take you two to three hours at most to experience everything, so check the schedule before you go to make sure there is a live animal show and a baby animal feeding during the time of your visit.
One of my toddler’s favorite experiences at the zoo was the parakeet feeding where you purchase sticks with food on them and go into this enclosed room full of parakeets flying all around. If it’s a busy day, try to visit the parakeet room early so the parakeets will still be hungry when you get there.
My son absolutely loved the parakeet room, but he was a little nervous at first about holding the stick himself and only warmed up once my sister held him. If you have a toddler who is nervous around animals, it might be best to skip the parakeets or take it slow.
In addition to the parakeet feeding, each day at noon and 4 p.m., kids are given the chance to bottle feed the baby animals that are in the zoo at the time. While the website has photos of kids feeding a baby kangaroo, it’s more likely it’ll be a less exotic animal like a baby goat or baby sheep. If that’s not enough feeding animals for your toddler, you can also purchase food pellets along the walking safari trail to feed deer, goats, and other animals.
Live Animal Shows
You also don’t want to miss the daily live animal shows. In the show, one of the zoo employees teaches the kids about the animals and then the kids are given the chance to touch each of the animals they just learned about. During our visit, my son and his cousins touched everything from a huge snake to a porcupine and even learned the proper way to pet the porcupine without being pricked.
Silver Dollar City
Silver Dollar City is an amusement park filled with 40 rides and an abundance of shows that’s open on select dates from the middle of March through December. Along with thrilling roller coasters like PowderKeg and Wildfire, the park also includes a variety of attractions just for kids.
Silver Dollar City Cultural Experiences
Silver Dollar City is also home to an incredibly rich history surrounding one of its most unique attractions — Marvel Cave — a national natural landmark that, according to our tour guide, has one of the largest cave entry rooms of any cave in North America. Silver Dollar City was actually built back in 1960 right on the surface of the cave by the Herschend family as a way to generate more traffic to visit Marvel Cave. Now more than fifty years later, guests can both tour the cave and enjoy the many attractions and wonderful entertainment Silver Dollar City offers.
If you do the Marvel Cave Tour, know that you will most likely need to carry your toddler for the majority of it. The path and the stairs are steep and windy, and a toddler falling on either can be dangerous. The part you don’t have to carry them for however, they will love. The cave itself is humungous and the views are expansive. Our full group, including my grandparents and toddler, did the tour, but I had a lot of help carrying him through the tour.
Another example of Silver Dollar City’s rich heritage is seen throughout the park in the form of craftsmen demonstrations of everything from bread making in Sullivan’s Mill to candy making in Brown’s Candy Factory throughout the park. In addition to watching the demonstrations, you can shop the same handmade crafts and food you watched them create. And don’t miss out on the country’s largest selection of cookie cutters including the traditional shapes to less traditional dinosaurs and punctuation marks. I picked up six small cookie cutters to make my toddler T-rex cheese slices, turtle toast, and elephant eggs.
Silver Dollar City Kid Play Areas
Silver Dollar City has two fantastic kid areas, Fireman’s Landing and The Grand Exposition, where toddlers can either ride rides alone or with an accompanying adult. It’s the perfect way to introduce them to thrill rides like a drop zone and mini roller coaster without tossing them into the deep end alone. Between the two kid areas, there are almost 20 rides including my son’s favorite Fireman dog ride in Fireman’s Landing and The Happy Frog in The Grand Exposition.
Another family favorite is the firehouse play place in Fireman’s Landing. It’s broken into two air-conditioned sections, the first of which is designed for young kids and full of foam things to play on. In the second much larger space, everyone can gather, shoot, and throw soft balls at each other. Our entire group spent about an hour just in the firehouse playing together, and watching my almost 3-year-old pelt his great-grandpa with foam balls while great-grandpa chased down my two brothers was one of those priceless memories I’ll never forget.
Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede
A ticket to Dixie Stampede comes with the chance to pet horses before the show, a delicious four-course feast, and a show full of comedy, music, and live animals stampeding through the arena. My toddler couldn’t take his eyes off the arena as the horses jumped through fiery hoops and people dressed up in colorful outfits danced to upbeat music. The show is geared toward children and can be a little corny, but that’s why kids of all ages will absolutely love it. I know all four of the kids in our group, ages ten down to two did.
Toddler TMOM Tip: Bring plenty of baby wipes. The four-course feast includes biscuits, vegetable soup, half a potato, corn on the cob, a small rotisserie chicken, a smoked pork loin, an apple turnover, and unlimited soft drinks or lemonade. And the fun part? You eat with your hands. You’re going to want those baby wipes not only just for your toddler but likely to wipe your hands as well when napkins just don’t cut it.
Planning a Trip to Branson?
Check out these other great ideas for visiting Branson with Toddlers from other Traveling Moms: