Located in the heart of the scenic Ozark Mountains, Branson offers a vast array of FREE activities that are perfect for families, couples, or anyone looking for an unforgettable vacation on a budget. In fact, Branson has been listed as the third most budget-friendly destination in the US.
What can you do in Branson without spending a dime? Here’s a look at the most popular FREE offerings in this premier vacation spot.
Table Rock Lake and Dam: One of three major, crystal-clear lakes in Branson, Table Rock Lake provides plenty of opportunities for water activities, including swimming, fishing, boating, water skiing, and scuba diving. There are also ample hiking and camping facilities.
Table Rock State Park features campsites and picnic areas, a marina, and boat rentals, and there’s no admission charge. You can take a dip at Moonshine Beach along Table Rock Lake, which boasts a sandy beach, shaded picnic areas, and hiking trails.
The Table Rock Dam is a massive triumph of engineering. Completed in 1958, this dam contains the waters of the White River. You can simply view the dam, or receive a guided tour for a nominal fee.
Dewey Short Visitor Center: Located at the south end of Table Rock Dam, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Dewey Short Visitor Center has a lot of name—and a lot of fun. Discover exhibits revolving around the construction of the dam, displays of natural wildlife, interactive displays, and more.
The center offers swimming, fishing, and picnic areas, an outdoor nature trail, and a year-round indoor nature walk. You can also view featured films upon request, including “The Expedition of Lewis and Clark, 1804 – 1806,” “Taming of the Riviera Blanche,” and “Where Eagles Soar.”
Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery: Located below the Table Rock Dam, this tourist site is one of the most popular in Branson. Choose from FREE conducted or self-guided tours, and view the large, breathtaking aquariums that showcase many of Missouri’s native game fish, including rainbow and brown trout.
The Visitor Center at the hatchery also features displays of indigenous plants and wildflowers, and a short video about the hatchery and trout production—this highly successful hatchery raised more than a million trout every year.
Stone Hill Winery: Take a FREE tour of this large, atmosphere-rich winery, distinguished by its lush growing fields and winemaking facilities. A complimentary wine tasting wraps up the tour, with FREE grape juice for kids.
College of the Ozarks: Enjoy a picturesque stroll along the walking path of this well-known campus, complete with fountains and attractive landscaping. Don’t forget to stop by Edward Mills for a FREE tour of the facility, including a twelve-foot water wheel powered by nearby Lake Honor, and a weaving studio that features traditional looms.
Lake Taneycomo and Branson Landing: As with Table Rock Lake, there are many water activities available at Lake Taneycomo in downtown Branson, including hiking, boating, scuba diving, and picnic areas. The latest addition to this scenic waterfront is Branson Landing, a 1.5-mile boardwalk along the edge of the lake with fountains, amphitheater, shopping, outdoor music, dockside art galleries, carriage rides, and much more.
You can also take the FREE Discovery Trolley that loops every 15 minutes between Branson Landing and historic Downtown Branson, where you’ll find charming small-town architecture and plenty of quaint shops.
Sunday shows: In keeping with Branson’s tradition as one of the best music destinations in the country, many local theaters offer FREE performances of Ozark-style gospel music on Sundays. A number of Branson celebrities often turn up for these shows, either among the audience or taking the stage.
With all the exciting FREE activities available in Branson, you can indulge in a fantastic vacation on a shoestring budget.
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