Photography by Terry Zinn

Branson, Missouri has long been identified with top notch entertainment and entertainers. Over the years Branson has changed and updated, but the quality has continued.  If you have visited there in the past with it being the home of iconic performers, you might be disappointed to find out that those entertainers have either passed on or moved out of town.  Don’t be alarmed as the Branson, Missouri reputation is still intact.  As Branson likes to say, “Branson is not your grandmothers anymore.”  True, but fun and family entertainment still survives, and is well suited to senior tastes.

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Recommended for your new Branson visit is your home base accommodations. The Hilton has two locations offering the Hilton familiarity and both are in the downtown area. Off at Table Mountain Lake is the Chateau resort, complete with views of the Ozark lake, and options for your boating pleasure.  The 15 minute drive out of Branson’s entertainment strip is a small price to pay for this elegant peaceful retreat.  Both hotels offer ample self-parking, some with a fee.

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Food can be entertainment as well. The Level Two Steak House inside the Hilton, offers the very best in quality steaks. One real surprise is the display and choice you might be offered by your server with a cabinet collection of steak knives with varying handles and steel blade varieties from which to choose your cutlery.  The superior steak and beverage served from your instructions may surprise you, for you’d never expect such luxury in an Ozark tourist location.  Another surprise is the dining at the Chateau Grille Restaurant at the Chateau resort, where again top of the line beverages and meals assure you of no regrets.

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Steamboat Branson Belle, is a combination of food, excursion and entertainment. The food quality was surpassed by the friendly wait staff, and the entertainers again, were of the highest quality with comedy and a variety of song styles to suit a variety of tastes.  The evening Steamboat cruise on the lake is hard to take in at night as you are cruising the lake so calm and dark that you hardly believe you’ve left the dock.  A daylight cruise is recommended.

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Other food venues not to be missed are Mel’s Hard Luck Diner in the Grand Village shopping area conveniently located on Highway 76. Your servers sing live to recorded background tracks with extreme precision and talent as they move about the dining rooms. The vocal talent exhibited there is equaled with the Happy Days style of food and ice-cream, in a setting fit for a movie set.  The Grand Village with plenty of free parking also offers several upscale shopping opportunities, with the two Christmas shops a real favorite. As one of the largest Christmas selections in the area, you are sure to be tempted with a purchase or two of items not found elsewhere.  I happily succumbed to the holiday decor temptation.

The main street of Branson entertainment is Highway 76, which is undergoing a several year renovation to improved sidewalks and the removal of high wire utility lines that obscure the elaborate exterior attractions of: King Kong, a giant Chicken and even a large meatball.  Along this strip you can find the recently added Ferris wheel and the expertly presented Titanic experience.

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Sitting back and letting the many entertainment options take over may be the best enjoyment of Branson. A few of the best of Branson talent and entrainment is the Raiding The Country Vault, where iconic country songs are performed by talented performers; the magic of Illusionist Rick Thomas, where his expertise at fooling the eye is truly mind boggling and admired; and Legends at the Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Theater, where while watching impressions of well-known celebrities do their act, you can enjoy food and beverages at the upstairs VIP balcony during their performances.

A short drive away, a visit to Silver Dollar City can offer a meaningful experience, especially during one of their festivals. At the National Harvest and Cowboy Festival; the Wilde West Show, the display of the 1880 restored Journey Stage Coach and a meeting of artist and Gunsmoke co-star, Buck Taylor, was an unexpected treat.

Many other notable attractions await your visit in Branson, as a long weekend in Branson may not be enough time to take in all it has to offer.  Find your options at: http://www.explorebranson.com

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