Things to Do & Must-See Attractions in Missouri
In commemoration of what is perhaps the most famous ship sinking of all time, the Titanic Museum in Branson, Missouri, is one of the world’s largest tributes to the doomed vessel. With authentic replicas and hundreds of Titanic artifacts on display, the museum showcases the history of the "unsinkable" ship and the era during which it was built, sailed, and sunk. The museum itself is even a partial reconstruction of the ship, built half to scale and anchored in water to create the look of the Titanic at sea. A total of 20 various galleries are open for exploration.
Upon boarding, visitors are given the chance to experience what it felt like to be a passenger on the ships ill-fated maiden voyage. As a luxury liner, the details of every part of the ship were well thought out and constructed (as can be seen in a replica of the famous grand staircase). Visitors are given a ticket with the name of an actual Titanic passenger and will get to find out if they survived or lost their life after the ship encountered the iceberg. The museum does an excellent job of bringing Titanic and the story of its passengers to life.
Sight and Sound Theatre seeks to do exactly what its name suggests: bring the sights and sounds of the Bible to life for audiences. The Christian theater company originally opened in Pennsylvania before also expanding to the Branson area. Its live stage performances range from the stories of Moses and Samson to the Christmas and Easter stories with exceptional costumes, sets, and sound systems.
All shows have extensive production value and are immersive and entertaining, often including the use of animatronics and pyrotechnics. Some shows even make use of live animals; horses have been known to stand in the theater’s aisles.
The Sight and Sound Theatre is one of the Midwest’s most visited, with more than 2,000 seats and a 300-foot-long wraparound stage. The shows are celebrated for both the quality of the live performances and the audio and visual effects.
With more than 30 displays of unique marine life, the SEA LIFE® Kansas City Aquarium is an engaging exhibit showing the diversity of life under the sea. Exhibits are themed by habitat and include thousands of aquatic creatures, a 1800 degree saltwater tunnel tank, and interactive touch pools. The aquarium works both to educate visitors and advocate ocean conservation, particularly of the sea turtles, seahorses, and seals that are threatened in the wild. Aquarium displays feature fascinating creatures such as reef sharks, rays, octopus, and jellyfish.
Colorful, well curated exhibits full of sea life grant a glimpse into the underwater world. Informative talks with aquarium staff as well as feedings take place throughout the day and allow for an even more in depth experience. Interactive cartoon journeys with quiz cards are available to help teach children about the importance of conserving our world’s oceans.
Animal lovers shouldn't miss a visit to the family-friendly Butterfly Palace and Rainforest Adventure, which brings tropical adventure to the hills of Missouri. Enter the aviary and walk among thousands of exotic butterflies, stop by the twisting mirror maze, and visit critters in the Living Rainforest Science Center.
The Mickey Gilley Grand Shanghai Theatre has been a landmark theater in Branson since the 1990s, when Mickey Gilley became one of the first country music stars to set up a theater residency in Branson. Guests visit the state-of-the-art theater to see a wide variety of shows, including music, comedy, and acrobatics.
The Branson Scenic Railway is a unique vintage-train experience that takes passengers through the Ozark foothills beginning at the historic 1906 depot in downtown Branson, Missouri. The narrated ride brings the area’s past to life, and also details local wildlife and the railroad’s role in the history of the Ozarks.
As a theme park that seems to have frozen in time, the family friendly Silver Dollar City has dozens of rides, live shows, and festivals for visitors to choose from. There’s everything from steam trains to wooden roller coasters, alongside a massive natural cave and historic log cabins. The park is inspired by 19th century Ozark life, and the historic details come to life.
The live shows also have range — visitors can see a Bluegrass concert, a horse show, theatrical dancing, and circus acrobatics in the same day. Other available activities include midwestern cooking classes, unique shopping and dining, and demonstrated crafts, along with seasonal celebrations such as the National Harvest and Cowboy Festival.
Over 100 craftsmen on site preserve traditions such as glass blowing, candle making, candy making, ceramics, wood carving, and blacksmithing that all date back to the 1880s. With so many activity options, there truly is something for everyone at the park.
American has a long history of "the world's largest" attractions, and the World's Largest Toy Museum Complex in Branson is an especially nostalgic one. Reminisce about your own childhood (or share it with your kids) at this family-friendly destination, where you find toys from decades past, from Barbie Dolls and steam trains to BB guns.
A testament to the men and women who defended American freedom over the 20th century, the Branson Veterans Memorial Museum
presents memorabilia, art objects, and ephemera from decades of American military activity. Find 10 halls of exhibitions all under one roof, and learn about American wars from World War II to Korea to Vietnam.
The College of the Ozarks is a private Christian school near Branson, Missouri, that has long been famous for its policy of not charging admission to its full-time students. Founded in 1906, the school has never charged admission. Instead, students work on campus 15 hours a week during the school year and also work two 40-hour weeks during each break between semesters. The motto of the school is “Hard Work U.”
Enrollment at the College of the Ozarks is roughly 1,500 students, and there are work opportunities on campus in every academic and administrative department. With more than 40 possible majors to choose from, that means students get an education as well as potentially valuable work experience in a related field. Not only that, students graduate from C of O with no debt.
More Things to Do in Missouri
As you pass by rare primates, towering giraffes, and striped zebras, you might forget that you’re in Missouri, when you visit Branson'sPromised Land Zoo. Perfect for a family outing or a chance to unplug, the zoo offers intimate animal encounters that are sure to please curious kids and animal-loving adults alike.
With numerous entertainment options, from movies and live performances to great shopping, Branson's IMAX Entertainment Complex offers something for everyone. Highlights include a larger-than-life IMAX theater, diverse eateries, and the Little Opry Theatre, where you can find some of Branson's best performers gracing the stage.
Travelers who want to brush elbows with the rich and famous don’t have to venture to LA, New York or Hollywood Hills. In fact, they can do so in the heart of America’s Midwest at Branson’s Hollywood Wax Museum Entertainment Center. Jam-packed with hundreds of life-like wax figures of famous celebrities from the big screen, this destination is an ideal spot for families looking for a bit of fun and a taste of something different.
Visitors can learn what it takes to create one of these impressive figures (hint: three months and seven artists!), explore galleries filled with the rich and famous, and even have their pictures taken in some of the most iconic Hollywood film and tv sets around!
Travelers who are short on time but still want to see it all can opt for skip-the-line tickets options for a fast track to the life-like exhibits and displays.
Branson's Wild World is part aquarium, part zoo, and part theme park—all under one roof. Kid-friendly activities include mini-golf and 3D movies, while animal lovers of all ages find creatures such as wolves and sharks. With its convenient location, Wild World is a great indoor destination for the whole family.
Featuring a lively boardwalk along the shores of Lake Taneycomo, Branson Landing is the only lifestyle retail, entertainment and waterfront entertainment district in the region. At its heart is a town square that terraces down to a unique water attraction that mixes water, fire, lights and music. The spectacular show features 120 foot high water geysers and booming fire cannons, choreographed to music and light.
Covering 95 acres, Branson Landing attracts more than 4 million visitors annually. It boasts a 450,000 square foot retail complex anchored by Bass Pro Shop and Belk Department Store and features both casual and fine dining options along the waterfront. A 1500 seat amphitheater often hosts concerts while the Town Square is home to a variety of other special events throughout the year. Branson Landing is also the jumping off point for scenic cruises and sightseeing tours around Lake Taneycomo, including a “Riding the Ducks” adventure that takes you through downtown and into the lake.
The city of Branson, Missouri is famous for its many theaters and entertainment venues, and one of the acts visitors have been enjoying for more than 25 years is at the Clay Cooper Theatre. Clay first performed in Branson at the age of 16 in a band with other kids, and he loved the atmosphere so much he ended up staying. At the Clay Cooper Theatre, he's been performing with his Country Music Express – a country music variety show – for more than 25 years.
Entertainers in the Clay Cooper Music Express include a cowboy trick roper, a comedian, dancers, and a talented band. There are other regular acts at the theatre, and some special acts that appear for short engagements.
This Kansas City museum celebrates African American athletes and their contribution to the sport of baseball. Dating back to as early as the 1800s, it examines the evolution of the sport through hundreds of archives, artifacts, and stories.
The exhibits tell the story of the formation of The Negro Leagues, an important but often overlooked period of sports history. Operating from 1920-1960, the Negro Leagues were of a period of time when baseball was still segregated. The museum preserves uniforms, statues, signed memorabilia, and more from this era. A short film takes visitors through the history of the league with video footage and personal stories. Another highlight is the collection of bronze statues, most of which are life-sized tributes to National Hall of Fame players.
Often combined with a visit to the nearby American Jazz Museum, it’s one of the largest specialized collections of its kind in the country.
The Dutton Family Theater is home to nightly shows featuring three generation of Dutton family performers. As finalists in the popular television show America’s Got Talent, they showcased their musical talents on stage ranging from rock and roll to Opera to Country and Bluegrass. Consisting of the mother, father, and seven children, combined the family has over 31 years of gracing the stage. Multitalented family members play instruments ranging from harmonica and fiddle to violin, piano, bass, cello, banjo, keyboard and drums. Family members have frequently won international competitions for their musical talents.
It was after touring the globe that the Dutton Family began to put on on this entertaining show, and it has been received with rave reviews. Together the family members bring a level of professionalism, talent, and camaraderie to the stage. Their two-hour shows feature a variety of music, dance, and comedy with a masterful range that suits the entire family. They perform over 300 shows a year at this location alone.
The Missouri Botanical Garden, founded in 1859, is the oldest continuously operating botanical garden in the country and a National Historic Landmark. The garden’s 79 acres (32 hectares) include an impressive Japanese strolling garden, one of the world’s largest collections of orchids, and some 4,800 trees.
Downtown Branson, Missouri is the historic heart of the city and truly a destination in its own right. Streets lined with brick façades and Victorian lampposts provide a constant reminder of the city’s 125-year history. This is where you will find Branson’s first theater, its oldest commercial building and the spot of Branson’s first show, the Baldknobbers Jamboree. With more than 130 unique shops, galleries, theaters and restaurants, Downtown Branson will keep you busy for at least a day.
A variety of unique “mom and pop” shops are scattered among the flea markets and fine arts shops, including Dick’s Old-time Five & Dime, one of the most popular downtown attractions. Locals sometimes say if you can find something at Dick’s, you don’t need it. If you need a break from shopping, stop by the Branson Centennial Museum to learn more about the city’s storied past or catch a ride on the Branson Scenic Railway, which departs from the Depot on Main Street.
Downtown Branson also hosts a number of festivals throughout the year, including Plumb Nellie Days, the Fiddle Festival, Autumn Daze, the Piccadilly Women’s Event and an annual Veteran’s Day Parade.
The Hughes Brothers Theatre in Branson, Missouri is a home away from home for the illustrious Hughes Brothers, musicians who both manage the landmark theater and perform in many of the shows. Catch their award-winning performance, or see the other musical shows hosted here, including a gospel supergroup and a contemporary vocal band.
The 76 Strip (also known as Country 76 or the Branson Strip) is the center of activity in Branson, Missouri. It sprung to life in the late 1960s, when the Presley Family first established a permanent show and were soon joined by the Baldknobbers, a musical group named after outlaws who once frequented the Ozarks. The Strip’s transformation to become a major tourist destination began in the 1980s when the Roy Clark Celebrity Theater opened and started to lure major country music stars to Branson. By the 1990s, it had gained a reputation as the “live music capital of the entire universe.”
The 76 Strip now features a variety of theme restaurants, amusement parks, shopping areas, hotels and more than 100 theaters, including ones owned by major stars such as Andy Williams, Dick Clark and Dolly Parton. Theaters and attractions worth checking out include Andy Williams’ Moon River Theater, Spirit of the Dance, the Twelve Irish Tenors, Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Grill and Theater, the Titanic Museum, the Jim Stafford Theater, the Grand Palace Theater and Ripley’s Believe It or Not. Staying at a hotel along the Strip will provide you easy access to some of the best entertainment that Branson has to offer.
Based on the popular brick toys, LEGOLAND® Kansas City is a colorful world of play and discovery for kids. Interactive experiences encourage creativity through 4D cinema, master classes on LEGO® building, play areas, and an exciting laser ride. Special to this LEGOLANDlocation is an exhibit featuring the buildings of Kansas City made entirely of LEGOs (MINILAND). There are also several rooms built for celebrating special occasions, making it a popular spot for birthdays and other parties.
Walking throughout, it's almost as if someone has taken the toys so many of us know and love and created a life-size playground with them. Many of the exhibits focus on a theme from the toys, whether ninja training or acting as Merlin’s apprentice. Kids can also learn how LEGOS are made in the factory tour. Though the discovery center is especially suited for fans of the LEGOs toys, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
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