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Branson on the Water - 10 Ways to Find Lake Fun in Your Favorite Destination!

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Branson on the Water - 10 Ways to Find Lake Fun in Your Favorite Destination!

If your Branson experience has been seeing shows, enjoying attractions, and spending much of your visit along the world-famous “Strip” - Highway 76 - then you’ve had an amazing time, but you’re also missing out on another wonderful side to the music city!  Did you know that Branson is home to an abundance of water? It’s the type of water known for offering the very best in swimming, fishing, boating, skiing, diving, personal watercraft activities, and much more. (If you’re interested in more information on the outdoor beauty of Branson, check this out:  “Branson Missouri - Discover the Scenic Side of the Live Entertainment Capital!”)

Visitors to Branson have access to a huge, incredibly beautiful, body of water - Table Rock Lake.  It’s also home to the river-like lake that runs through Historic Downtown Branson and along Branson Landing - Lake Taneycomo, as well as a huge lake that partially lies in Taney County where Branson is located - Bull Shoals Lake is easily accessible in the county seat, Forsyth, Missouri, just minutes from Branson.  Both Table Rock and Bull Shoals are warm-water lakes, ideal for water sports and both famous for bass fishing. Taneycomo’s water is drawn from near the bottom of the deep Table Rock, via Table Rock Dam, making it a clear freshwater lake, perfect for the thriving brown and rainbow trout that folks love to fish for, and enjoy at the dinner table. And both Taneycomo and Table Rock offer day and evening cruises, each delivering a very different experience - all three should be on your next Branson itinerary, especially during the Ozarks’ warm weather months.  (Are you a fishing fanatic?  Do you enjoy a great museum that's both entertaining and educational?  Whether you know everything about fishing or nothing at all, you'll love the History of Fishing Museum!)

Now, how do you get the most out of the fantastic lakes Branson has to offer?  We’re glad you asked! We’ll get you started with these ten ideas for accessing the lake; once you’ve spent some time enjoying the water, you’ll discover many more ways to make the most of a lake visit to Branson.  But don’t forget, the reason it’s “Branson” to begin with is all that phenomenal live entertainment; it’s easy to put together a perfect visit that includes outdoor fun and indoor entertainment! Add one or two of the following to your itinerary...oh, what the heck, why not schedule an extended visit and tackle all ten, and throw in a few shows and attractions for good measure!  Follow the links included throughout to get more information on boat rentals and other details.

1.  On-the-Lake Swimming:  Located on Table Rock Lake, the State Park Marina offers great opportunities for swimming its deep waters, easily accessible from a number of boats, including a Premier Slide Boat, a 24-Foot Pontoon, and a Luxury Tritoon. The Slide Boat is just what is sounds like, a fun boat with a slide that gives you quick access to the water. The Pontoon is another perfect option for swimming, offering a sun top and ladder, as well as a stereo with an iPod connection - it’s also easy to pull a tube behind it. The Tritoon features similar amenities, but it’s a bit larger and more luxurious, with plenty of space for a big family or larger groups.

Location:  380 State Park Marina - near Showboat Branson Belle, Table Rock State Park, and Dewey Short Visitor Center.

Availability:  Warm weather seasons - typically from May through September, but the schedule can vary depending upon the weather.

Note:  State Park Marina also offers a well-stocked retail shop - Boathouse Boutique, dining at Danna’s Boathouse BBQ, guide services, diving services and scuba gear, and a whole bunch more!

2.  Personal Watercraft & Skiing:  Table Rock Lake’s expansive waters make it perfect for zipping around on personal watercraft, like the Yamaha Waverunner, available at State Park Marina. It’s a two-person watercraft with 110hp that can amp up the excitement on the water for a couple of hours, or even all day!  You can also get a 220S Ski Boat for even more thrills for you and seven of your besties!

Location:  See #1

Availability:  Warm weather seasons - typically from May through September, but the schedule can vary depending upon the weather.

3.  On-the-Lake Warm Water Fishing:  The Marina also has fishing boats available for rent - we recommend the Lund Bass Boat - an 18-foot vessel that’s great for exploring the many coves and inlets offered on Table Rock Lake’s massive expanse of crystal clear water.

Location:  See #1

Availability:  Weather dependent, but can vary from the schedule for “in-the-water” activities that require warmer temperatures.

4.  Luxury Cruising:  Main Street Lake Cruises’ (MSLC) Landing Princess offers a relaxing and scenic dinner cruise on Lake Taneycomo in the luxurious surroundings of Branson’s only yacht cruise available to the public.  The gorgeous Princess boasts nautical cherry wood and brass decor throughout its two interior climate-controlled decks. Panoramic viewing windows and three outdoor bistro-seating decks offer convenient ways to enjoy the scenery, and a full-service cash bar along with nicely-appointed restrooms remind you why having dinner aboard a yacht is a special treat you deserve!

Location:  Main Street Marina - 9 South Boardwalk between Branson Landing and the Taneycomo bridge.

Availability: Usually March through December - times and dates can vary by season.

5.  Casual Cruising:  MSLC also offers lunch and sightseeing cruises on Lake Taneycomo in a more casual vessel; the Lake Queen is a replica of the old-style paddlewheel boats that populated the White River before it was dammed and created both Table Rock and Taneycomo.  The Lake Queen offers both climate-controlled and open air seating, as well as a cash bar and restrooms.

Location:  See #4

Availability: Usually March through December - times and dates can vary by season.

Note:  Main Street Lake Cruises also offers special event cruises for Mother’s Day, Easter, 4th of July, New Year’s Eve, Thanksgiving, and Valentine’s Day.  (Cruise events may change from year to year.)

6.  Showboat Branson Belle:  Branson’s largest cruise is aboard the gorgeous Showboat; cruise the waters of Table Rock Lake for a midday or evening meal, an incredible live show filled with music, magic and more, and an opportunity to see the wonderful lake in all its glistening glory!  In addition to the dinner cruise, there are kid-friendly cruises like the Princess & Pirate and Santa’s Pancakes & Pjs, as well as a special festive cruise during the Christmas season of November and December.

Location:  Table Rock Lake at White River Landing - 4800 Missouri Highway 165

Availability:  March through December

Note:  The Showboat also offers a  special event cruise for New Year’s Eve.

7.  Cold Water Fishing:  As we mentioned earlier, Lake Taneycomo’s clear waters are cold, creating an ideal environment for the scores of trout raised in, and released from, the Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery.  You can access the lake for on-the-water fishing by renting a boat at Scotty’s Trout Dock & Marina, where you’ll also find fishing guides, tackle, and other fishing-related services. Another great option is Lilley’s Landing Resort & Marina, where you’ll find a nice selection of fishing boats, gear, and guide services. There are several areas along the shoreline of the lake for fishing, but make sure you ask for permission before trying to access the shoreline on private property.

Location:  Scotty’s:  Branson Lakeside RV Park - 400 South Boxcar Willie Drive - just down from Branson Landing - visible from the Taneycomo bridge.  Lilley’s - 367 River Lane - accessible from Fall Creek Road. (Fall Creek intersects with Highway 76 - there’s a traffic light, and Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Theater is located on one corner.)

Availability:  The lake never gets cold enough to freeze, so folks can fish year-round - marina schedules can vary by location.

Note:  If you have your own boat, Main Street Marina, Scotty’s, and Lilley’s all have docks slips - some conditions may apply, so check in advance.

8.  Beach Swimming:  Table Rock Lake’s Moonshine Beach is the massive lake’s only public sandy beach - it’s open during the warm weather months, and offers nominal daily use fees.  Amenities include: restrooms, BBQ grills, picnic tables, boat ramp, hiking trail, volleyball court, day-use water and electric hook-ups, ranger station, playground, and a large covered pavilion.  

Location:  3778 South Missouri Highway 165 - neighboring Table Rock Dam

Availability:  Mid-May through Mid-September from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Note:  Fees are per vehicle or per person walk-up - no pets allowed - no lifeguard services.

9.  Lake View Dining:  Branson offers several places to enjoy a gorgeous lake view while dining!  First off, there are several restaurants at Branson Landing offering deck dining and great views of Lake Taneycomo,  including Cantina Laredo, Black Oak Grill, and Joe’s Crab Shack. And the Main Street Marina we’ve featured above offers floating dining in the Marina restaurant, The Paddlewheel.  For a stunning Table Rock Lake view, check out dining at Big Cedar’s Top of the Rock and the Chateau Grille in the Chateau on the Lake Resort. For more casual and less expensive eats, Indian Point (where Silver Dollar City can be found,) offers the Altenhof Inn, with pizza, sandwiches, and German food on their deck that practically sits on the lake.

Location:  Branson Landing is in the Historic Downtown Branson District at 100 Branson Landing Boulevard.  Top of the Rock is in nearby Ridgedale, just minutes south of Branson off Highway 65, and Indian Point can be found by following Highway 76 toward Silver Dollar City.

Availability:  You can dine at most of these places year-round; however, Altenhof is seasonal as the majority of their dining space is outdoors.

10.  Bull Shoals Lake:  The Branson area’s “other” warm water lake, Bull Shoals, is also the largest, stretching throughout parts of Missouri and Arkansas. The closest public access to the lake is off Highway 76 at the K Dock Marina, or in the city of Forsyth, which is just about 15 minutes from Branson via Highway 76 or Highway 65, exiting at F Highway or Highway 160. Bull Shoals is very popular for bass fishing, and has many areas accessible to swimmers. In Forsyth, you can swim from the shore in Shadow Rock Park and several other areas (just ask any local where they swim;) there’s also an area for putting your boat into the lake.  You’ll find a bait shop, cafe, boat slips, pontoon rentals, and more at K Dock Marina.

Location:  We’ve told you how to find Forsyth above; K Dock Marina is at 727 Warren in Kirbyville, just follow East Highway 76 by crossing the Taneycomo bridge and follow the “Forsyth” signage - you’ll soon find signs for K Dock.

Availability:  Obviously, swimmers will want to wait for warm weather (typically May through September,) but you can fish Bull Shoals year-round.  K Dock offers weekend hours in early spring and late fall, and a full schedule throughout the summer months.

Note:  Looking to meet more people?  Swim, fish, and boat on Table Rock.  Want to quickly find a lot of private areas for you and your family or friends?  Bull Shoals makes it easy!

As with most of our posts of this nature, we couldn’t include everything, but we’re hoping this helpful list will get you started on your lake adventure vacation in Branson!  You’ll discover more on State Park Marina in this post: “State Park Marina is Branson’s Best Location for Lovin’ the Lake!”  And now that you’ve enjoyed a great day on the water, how about an enjoyable evening trying something new?  Here’s a cool way to cap off your day - “Branson’s St. James Winery Offers a New Premium Wine Tasting!