Monday, July 11, 2016

A Stay in Branson Missouri

My brothers and I met up recently in Branson, Missouri as a sort of mini-family vacation.
They have a nice riverwalk area in downtown Branson.
The very first thing you notice when making your way into Branson for the first time is the traffic, which is always backed up on the main road. (At least, it is during the summer tourist season, when we were there.) Long-term municipal planning was apparently not a high priority when the city got started. The one main road is only a single lane each way, always incredibly crowded, and almost all the major attractions are located along it. Once you're off that road, the rest of the town is pretty widely spread out with lots of empty space between clusters of buildings. It's not a place where you want to run a tight schedule, because getting around is likely to take a while.

Our parents couldn't make it, being in Japan, but they provided the housing at the Wyndham Meadows time-share resort. It's a few miles outside of the downtown strip. The complex is medium-sized as these things go, around forty building sections with a half-dozen units each. There's a recreation center building with various places for games and movie-watching, but the main attraction is five different pools scattered around the complex. The staff was helpful and friendly, and didn't try too hard to sell us on buying into the time-share. Overall I'd say it was a good stay.
View from one of our rooms at the resort.
There was one minor disruption when a thunderstorm came through and knocked out power for a few hours one evening. That's a hazard anywhere in the Midwest, and it was handled fairly quickly. Fortunately it happened in the early evening, so we still had natural light and the heat wasn't too oppressive even without the air conditioning.
Riverboat. It had a paddlewheel for show, but was moving pretty fast.
Branson has a lot of theatre shows of various kinds. Acrobats, magicians, musical acts, illusionists, hypnotists, variety shows...there are advertisements everywhere. Nearly as common are the billboards and other ads for discount tickets. None of our family is has any particular interest in the theatre shows, though, so we looked into some of the other options.

Downtown Branson has the usual assortment of shops and restaurants that you find in many smaller tourist towns across the United States, so we spent an afternoon there. (Highlight: the soda fountain/ice cream place.) There's no lack of restaurant choices on the main strip, either. Fairly wide variety, and the few that we tried during our stay were all good.
This statue was located downtown. No explanation offered.
Since we skipped the theatre shows, that left time for some other attractions. Prominently displayed at a major intersection is the Titanic museum. You can't miss it since the building is shaped like the front half of the famous luxury liner. We also took a half-day trip about a half-hour drive away to the Talking Rock Caverns, and took the tour down into the cave. I enjoyed both, and will likely post some further details another time.
It was hot. This was on the cavern trip, but all the days were similar.
Branson was an interesting place to visit and they certainly have plenty of options for entertainment (especially if you like those theatre shows). It's a bit far away from Michigan to make it a repeat vacation destination for me, but it's certainly worth visiting once.

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