Saving money on your Branson vacation can be as easy as one, two, FREE! When you’re traveling with the family, finding no-cost things to do can be an important part of choosing a vacation destination. Branson is chock full of free activities suitable for all ages. Everything from the simple, like sightseeing, to the surprisingly comprehensive, like a visit to the Dewey Short Visitor Center, can be found in the Branson area. When it comes to entertainment without a price tag, here are some of our favorites:
City sightseeing, both day and night! Driving along Branson Landing Boulevard, up through Historic Downtown Branson, and from the Highway 65 intersection of “The Strip” to the intersection with Shepherd of the Hills Expressway, and then along the SOH expressway itself, is a great “first day” thing to do in Branson. Drive along The Strip at night and enjoy the glitz of the neon lights!
Scenery sightseeing can start by staying on Highway 76 past the SOH intersection and heading down to the High Road exit. The Ozark Mountain High Road is a five mile stretch of hills, valleys, and abundant trees and plant life that’s beautiful year-round, and one of the few roadways you’ll find in the state that’s delightfully free of roadside advertising! (Contact us at (888) 746-1260 for more sightseeing ideas!)
The Trolley: Historic Downtown Branson has it’s own mascot - Sparky the Trolley! Reminiscent of a vintage cable car, Sparky is a free trolley service that covers an area that extends beyond the immediate downtown, and includes Branson Landing on one end, and what locals affectionately call “Hamburger Hill” on the other.
Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery: Lake Taneycomo is famous for its excellent stock of both brown and rainbow trout, thanks to the Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery just below Table Rock Dam. Kids love seeing the fish in the runs outside, and visiting the small, but fascinating and educational museum on site.
Dewey Short Visitor Center: On the other side of Table Rock Dam from the fish hatchery is the Dewey Short Visitor Center. Named for the US Representative who helped get the Dam constructed, the state-of-the-art visitor center includes interesting displays, as well as beautiful views of Table Rock Lake and the Dam from its observation deck and grounds. The environmentally conscious center is LEED certified, and includes a rain garden and bioswale to protect the lake from rainwater runoff.
Branson Landing Fountain & Concert Series: Branson Landing’s multi-million dollar fountain show can be seen on the hour, every hour, from noon until 10PM each day. It’s not only free, there’s tiered concrete step-style seating where you can relax and enjoy the first-ever water, fire, and light show set to music. During warm weather months, the Landing holds several free concerts in front of the fountain, they feature a variety of music, from rock to gospel, as well as other special events and performances. (Now that you’ve saved a little money seeing a free performance at the Landing, give us a call at (888) 746-1260 for big savings on Branson show tickets!)
Window Shopping & People Watching! Historic Downtown Branson, Branson Landing, the Grand Village Shops, The Shoppes at Branson Meadows, and Tanger Outlets are all great, walkable shopping districts, ideal for both peeking at window displays and watching the people who bustle about and stroll along the sidewalks and walkways. Public restrooms are available in each shopping area, too. If you can’t locate their online directories, give us a call...we know where are the restrooms can be found! The English village-like layout and cobblestone walkways make for an especially pleasant stroll through the Grand Village Shops! (When you’re ready to shop for real, ask us about a Tanger coupon book - filled with savings at many of their popular brand name stores!)
Branson City Parks & Trails: Fifteen parks, with several either connected to the city’s trail system or developed entirely around walking and hiking activities, can be found throughout the greater Branson area. These parks range from small, neighborhood gathering spots, to comprehensive facilities with ball fields and courts, as well as pavilions and walking paths. You’ll discover creeks and streams, extensive and challenging trails, and some stunning views. In addition to these 15 parks, there’s a free skate park. It’s a daytime only park, with no lighting, but it does include conveniences like public restrooms, a water fountain, and a payphone.
Greater Branson Area Trail System: In addition to the trails within the city limits, Branson has several in the outlying areas, including a wonderful 2.5 mile trail that connects from the Dewey Short Visitor Center to the State Park Marina. Serious trails hikers should try the 11.5 mile White River Valley Trail System that includes four loops; bikes are also welcome on this trail, but be prepared for potential obstacles along the way.
The College of the Ozarks Campus: This local, but increasingly famous, college is fondly known as Hard Work U becauses students work on the campus in exchange for their education. The campus includes a working dairy, grist mill, greenhouse and gardens, bakery, and more - all are free to visit and tour. You can also learn about campus and local history in an excellent variety of displays in the Keeter Center. (Since you’ll surely have to eat on the day of your visit, might as well spend your lunch or dinner dollars at the Keeter Center’s expansive restaurant - it’s staffed by working students, and many of the vegetables, dairy products, jams and spreads, as well as meats, on the menu are produced right on campus. It’s “the” definition of the growing desire for farm-to-table dining that families seek out when it’s time to eat out!)
Winery & Distillery Tours & Tastings: Branson is home to several wineries and distilleries offering free tours or tastings, or both. Some will show you moonshine being made right on site, and some have everything from gift shops to live music. Those in the area include Crown Valley Distillery, Smith Creek Moonshine, Copper Run Distillery, Bear Creek Wine Company, Curling Vine Winery, Mt. Pleasant Winery, and Lindwedel Wine Garden. Coming in 2017, the Save on Branson family of companies will add its very own winery just off The Strip.
As you can see, Branson is brimming with no-cost activities for visitors of all ages! Entertaining the family for free can be important when you’re on a budget, and it allows you to save money for the really special things you want to do in Branson, like see a couple of shows, visit Silver Dollar City, or enjoy a zipline. Reservation specialists are standing by at (888) 746-1260 to reserve your passes for attractions, find you the best seats available at every show, and make sure you save money on everything you do!