Sometimes in my desire to see all that the world has to offer I can forget to look at the possibilities in my own backyard. Living in my little corner of Southwest Missouri one little gem that I tend to overlook is Branson. Being only 1 1/2 hours away and offering so many things to see and do, there is really no excuse for not visiting more often.
Growing up my parents and I went on only 2 “real” vacations but we did almost always have season passes to Silver Dollar City, a major Branson attraction. This amusement park is a throwback to pioneer times with themed rides, shows and shops. Countless days were spent enjoying the rides at SDC to be followed by an evening enjoying one of the many live country music shows that Branson has to offer.
A little fun fact for you, did you know that Branson Missouri is known as the Live Music Capitol of the World? Way back in 1959 the first show, the Baldknobbers Hillbilly Jamboree Show hit the strip. Since then there have been tons of different acts come to Branson and as time as passed it’s not just country music that draws audiences but comedy, magic and tribute shows as well.
But the shows aren’t the only source of entertainment that Branson boasts. After the 1963 completion of Table Rock Dam, the lake became another major tourist attraction. With boating, fishing and all sorts of water sports available, a water lover is sure to be happy. There are also many waterfront resorts and cabins to provide refuge for tired anglers at the end of the day. From primitive to luxury there is something for everyone.
In 2004 the Branson Landing was created and this provided a more contemporary shopping and dining experience for a whole new class of Branson visitors. Located just off of the original main street and offering great waterfront views this is a nice getaway in and of itself. Along with views of Lake Taneycomo there is another water feature that the landing offers. Think the Bellagio meets the Ozarks. The Branson Landing Waterfront Fountain is truly beautiful and has hourly water shows that include music, lights and even fire.
In it’s continuing effort to widen its appeal Branson has also recently seen the emergence of escape rooms. This was new to me, but after hearing about it from a couple of friends I was excited to try it for myself. My daughter’s 25th birthday provided the perfect opportunity.
For those of you like me who are new to the escape room world, basically you and a group of friends and family are placed in a themed room and given a story line. We visited Cryptex Escape Rooms in Branson and the escape room that was recommended for newbies was called Tourist Trap. This room revolved around attempting to solve various clues that will eventually lead to finding our passports so that we can go on our dream vacation. How perfect! The clues are also travel themed and a little knowledge of geography helps.
There are locks to open and clues to solve and the best thing about the whole experience was the way that we all had to work together as a team. This is a great opportunity to really do something together, not just watching a show or going out to dinner, but truly interacting with one another. It was so interesting seeing how everyone in our group came together to solve clues and how having different perspectives and views is what is really needed to solve the puzzle.
Math is not my strongest suit, but my husband is great at it. My son was great at finding hidden objects in the room. Thinking outside the box allowed my daughter to solve a particularly difficult clue. My son-in-law’s knowledge of the different time zones was also very important and of course my love of all things travel came in handy a few times. All in all, we had a blast!!
After the escape room we headed to the landing for dinner. After putting our name in at our restaurant we decided to do a little shopping. Always a good idea, right?
While exploring we happened to come across another escape room! Since we had so much fun at the first one, we decided to give this one a try. This one was much shorter, taking only 15 minutes to solve, compared to the almost hour the first one required. The birthday girl picked the theme and we were tasked with escaping a locked department store before the mannequins came to life! The basic concept was the same, solve different puzzles to unlock clues. I should also mention that there are hints available and we did use a few to help us in our escape.
After evading the zombie mannequins we stopped off for ice cream before heading home. On the way, we decided to drive down 76 Country Blvd to check out the vintage car show parade that was occurring that night. As we drove down the strip we saw people lined up on the side of the road waiting for the parade, but sadly no vintage cars. As we turned down the road to go home we somehow ended up in the parade route! There were literally thousands of people lining the roadway and while the actual parade had yet to start we decided to give our best Miss America waves to all of the onlookers! Now there’s a memory!
This was a really great evening spent with my family. As my children are growing up and having lives of their own, I truly cherish these opportunities to reconnect. So I will definitely remember to keep our local vacation treasure of Branson Missouri in mind from now on as we keep collecting memories as we go.