We’ve got the best excuse for you to schedule at least one extra day during your next visit to Branson...an exciting “day trip” to a nearby destination! In this post we’ll explore Springfield, just north of Branson and a wonderful destination that most people coming to Branson just pass through - maybe they make a fast food stop or pull off the freeway to gas up the car, but they often have no idea how much Springfield has to offer. Kimbering City is Branson’s closest neighbor, and most people would think that a whole day isn’t necessary to visit a place that’s really just minutes away, but once you know more of what this lovely little lakeside spot has to offer, you may want to spend more than just a couple of hours here! And then our favorite “neighbor” in Arkansas, the beautiful, historic, and more than just a little bit quirky and unique, Eureka Springs, is an incredible destination, filled with beautifully restored homes and inns, as well as dozens of charming shops, eateries, and attractions.
As we mentioned previously, most traffic, probably 85% (and that’s just an educated guess) of folks come through Springfield on Highway 65 on their way to Branson. We want everyone to know that this prosperous and interesting city should be more than just a pit stop on your way to, or back home from, the incredible live entertainment destination known as Branson! Why Springfield? Let us count the reasons:
1. It’s the home of Bass Pro Shops: One of the biggest outdoor retailers was born in Springfield, and still maintains its’ flagship store, the company’s largest, here. This nearly 50,000-square-foot store is filled to the brim with everything from a crazy enormous selection of fishing gear, to a nice variety of boats and other watercraft, to just about everything you’ll need for a great outdoor adventure. And with the big fish tanks and other cool things to see, you don’t need to hunt, hike, fish, or even spend much time outside to enjoy a visit to the original Bass Pro!
2. Johnny Morris’ Wonders of Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium: Recently voted America’s Best Aquarium and Best New Attraction by readers of USA Today, the folks at Bass Pro, also founded and owned by Johnny Morris, spent years perfecting this stunning facility before opening its doors. This fascinating attraction alone is more than enough to make a stop in Springfield!
3. A vibrant downtown: Historic theaters hosting concerts, Broadway-level productions, and more, excellent shopping, a nice selection of micro-breweries and distilleries, and a variety of dining options are just a few of the things that draw people to Springfield’s active downtown district.
4. Pythian Castle: An imposing and thoroughly enchanting structure, this Castle has been used for many things over the years, but it’s probably most famous for being haunted! It’s been featured on top paranormal TV shows, like Ghost Adventures on the Travel Channel, and they hold regular ghost tours and events. But you don’t have to be interested in the paranormal to visit, the Castle is also a great place for an educational and entertaining daytime tour where you’ll learn so much about its fascinating history.
KIMBERLING CITY, MISSOURI
Minutes from Branson, this lovely resort town is just down the road a bit from Silver Dollar City, and provides easy access to beautiful Table Rock Lake. Many people who live here work in Branson, and vice-versa, so it’s much more of a neighbor than the other day trips we’re showcasing, we just think it deserves consideration as its own distinct destination, one that offers lodging at the lake, marina services, a variety of eateries, nice scenery, and so much more. Why the Kimberling City/Table Rock Lake area? Because you’ll find:
1. Port of Kimberling brings you the lake: Table Rock Lake’s largest marina offers pontoon, houseboat, WaveRunner, ski boat, and other watercraft rentals, as well as marina services, dining, and lodging that includes hotel rooms, cabins, and both RV and tent camping on the lake.
2. Talking Rocks Caverns has something to say: One of the most beautiful caves in a state known for an abundance of them, Talking Rocks glistens with crystallized formations. Once known as Fairy Cave because an early explorer described it as “a subterranean fairy land,” Talking Rocks offers an enjoyable and educational tour as well as fun above-ground activities, along with a great gift and rock shop.
3. Unique dining beckons: In addition to delicious pizza and Mexican cuisine, locals recommend Vino Cellars on the Lake and The Catfish Hole, both offering tasty menu items and nice views of Table Rock Lake. For those with a sweet tooth, check out Simply Baked by Chandler.
4. Dogwood Canyon Nature Park is minutes away: Another attraction from Bass Pro Shops and owner, Johnny Morris, Dogwood offers a nature and conservation center, lots of trails, both rugged and paved, Segway tours, tram tours, fishing, horseback riding, dining at Canyon Grill Restaurant, and much more.
EUREKA SPRINGS, ARKANSAS
One of the country’s most beautiful states is a few quick minutes south of Branson; Arkansas has not only been blessed with gorgeous scenery, it’s home to the charming, eclectic, artsy, eccentric, and all around fascinating little city known as Eureka Springs. Why Eureka Springs? What we just shared should be reason enough, but if you need more:
1. Thorncrown Chapel is one-of-a-kind: Boasting an astonishing 425 windows with 6,000 square feet of glass, this unbelievably majestic structure appears both simple and complex at the same time. Following it’s opening in 1980, it was bestowed the American Institute of Architects’ Design of the Year Award, and was recently recognized by the Institute’s members as one of the top buildings of the 20th century.
2. The 1886 Crescent Hotel: One of Eureka Springs’ most imposing and beautiful places to stay, the Crescent has a fascinating history that includes everything from being a girls college, to operating as a cancer-curing facility run by one Dr. Norman Baker, who wasn’t really a doctor and certainly didn’t cure cancer. For those looking for the ultimate in luxury mountain top lodging, this is your place, but it’s also the perfect “haunt” for those seeking genuine paranormal experiences...just ask the stars of hit shows like “Ghost Adventures” and “Ghost Hunters!”
3. Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge represents the “heart” of the area: If you’re a fan of “lions and tigers and leopards, oh my,” then you must experience what these amazing folks are doing to protect God’s glorious creatures. There’s a reason we’ve been blessed with dogs and cats, they make ideal domestic companions - Mother Nature never intended for animals like the residents of Turpentine Creek to become household pets. Your love and support is vital to the survival of this refuge...we think Turpentine Creek says it best “... exotic and native wildlife deserve to live out their lives with dignity, allowed to be the wild animals they instinctually are. We will continue to be their voice, both for those forced to live in captivity and those struggling for survival in the wild.” Amen.
4. The enchanting Victorian-style city itself is a rare and authentic gem: Great dining, “only here” shopping options, phenomenal live music, a wide variety of artists and crafters, and simply some of the best people-watching and sightseeing around, Eureka Springs defies simple explanation of what it’s all about. You simply must come and experience it for yourself...if it’s singular charm escapes you, then you must be in the wrong city - check the map and see if you took a wrong turn somewhere!
We love Branson and enjoy sharing it with you throughout the year, so we hope you’ll plan a visit soon, and tack on another day, or three, to be “neighborly” with our friends in Springfield, Kimberling City, and Eureka Springs!
We think you’ll find the information in these recent posts to be helpful in planning your Branson visit, and enjoying it to the fullest while you’re here: “Branson, Missouri - Discover What’s Where in the Live Entertainment Capital” -- “Trails in Branson - Everything You Need to Know” -- “Extreme Rides - Finding Branson’s 10 Biggest Thrills!” -- “Discovering Branson’s Nightlife - 10 Great Places to Hang Out!” -- “FREE in Branson - 20 of the Best No-Cost Things to Do!” -- “Your Branson Shopping Center List of Stores & More!” -- “Branson - 11 Good Things to Know Before You Go!” -- “A Branson Trip in the Works? Let’s Find the Lodging That Fits You Best!”
You certainly can’t visit Branson without enjoying the biggest thing that sets it apart from every other destination - the huge variety of live entertainment options - find comprehensive listings here: https://www.bransonshowtickets.com/shows/.