Things to Do in Missouri
Experience what it was like to be a passenger on the ill-fated maiden voyage of the RMS Titanic and learn about the tragedy at the Titanic Museum in Branson, Missouri. Featuring an exterior built to half-scale, the museum is one of the largest tributes to the Titanic, and includes authentic replicas and more than 400 actual artifacts.
Known for its stage shows and musical performances, the Americana Theater is a longstanding part of Branson's cultural landscape and has hosted shows since 1973. The theater offers a variety of acts at any given time, from country music and tribute shows to improv comedy performances.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
Branson Famous Theatre is known for its diverse lineup of shows that range from musical groups to top-notch illusionists to comedy revues. This performance space just off of Branson’s famous Highway 76 generally hosts three different live acts at a time and offers multiple performances every week.
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.
More Things to Do in Missouri
World's Largest Toy Museum Complex
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.
Missouri Botanical Garden
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.
Dutton Family Theater
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.
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.
College of the Ozarks
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.
Butterfly Palace and Rainforest Adventure
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.
National Blues Museum
Visitors interested in the history of American music shouldn't miss the National Blues Museum in St. Louis—an institution honoring the legacy of the blues, from field hollers to the recording studio. Exhibits on everything from the form's evolution to famous musicians, plus historic photos and costumes, bring the history to life.
Boulevard Brewing Company
While it could be argued that the craft beer craze gained steam in the mid-2000s, Kansas City's Boulevard Brewing Company has been brewing batches of yeast and hops since 1989. As one of Missouri's most popular craft breweries and one of the largest craft breweries in the United States, Boulevard has served as an industry leader over the years.
Visiting guests can enjoy an informative tour following the entire brewing process and learn how the company went from delivering cases from the bed of a pickup truck to producing over 130,000 barrels of beer served in dozens of states. At the end of the tour, travelers can sip on samples of Bavarian classics such as the popular KC Pils, or crank up the hops with the Pop-Up Session or Heavy Lifting IPA. Don't have time for the entire tour? Stop in the tasting room for affordable $1 four-ounce pours.
Silver Dollar City
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.
Grand Country Music Hall
The Grand Country Music Hall in Branson, Missouri offers a variety of family-friendly shows multiple times a day throughout the year. Take in one of the theater’s two country music shows, enjoy a gospel group or vocal quartet, have fun at a comedy show, or take the kids to an animal show featuring trained dogs, cats, and birds.
Hamners' Variety Theater
Tap into Branson's famous entertainment with a family-friendly performance at Hamners' Variety Theater. Expect to find multiple acts gracing the stage, from magic performances to variety shows and country music tribute acts—all under one roof. The shows run throughout the year.
Hughes Brothers Theatre
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.
Branson Scenic Railway
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.
Little Opry Theater
Branson’s country music lovers find some of the best music in the region at the 210-seat Little Opry Theatre. The intimate performing arts space stages everything from original shows to classic tributes such as the Glen Campbell Songbook.
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