Sponsored by the Branson/Lakes Area Convention and Visitor's Bureau
What makes Branson, Missouri a great family destination for travel sports? Located in the Ozark Mountains—less than one day's drive for one-third of Americans! Getting to Branson is easy, whether you drive, ride in a motor coach or arrive by air. Branson Airport (BKG) is just 10 scenic miles south of the city with daily connections to major network hubs in the US while nearby Springfield-Branson Airport offers nonstop destination flights to eleven major cities including, Atlanta, Chicago, and Dallas.
Branson encompasses a 21-square mile area along Lake Taneycomo and the White River. U.S. Route 65 runs north and south through the city connecting Branson to Springfield, Missouri, northbound and Little Rock, Arkansas, southbound. Branson's three lakes offer activities from wakeboarding to scuba diving to bass and fly fishing. With over 120 different live shows this season, 60,000+ seats (more than Broadway) and 200+ restaurants with 35,000+ seats, Branson offers numerous convenient amenities. Branson’s multigenerational appeal is like none other and is ideal for indoor and outdoor sporting events from the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf tournament at Big Cedar Lodge to American Cheer Power at the Branson Convention Center, the opportunities are vast. There are also many ways for the family to experience the picturesque side of the Ozark Mountain area through horseback riding tours, golf, and mountain biking.
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Accommodations in Branson run the gamut with over 16,500 units, national-brand hotels, independent inns, nightly rental cabins and condos, vacation homes and four-star resort experiences such as Big Cedar Lodge, offering everything from cozy cottages to private log cabins.
Branson has much to discover, from its national sporting events including the NAIA DII Men’s Basketball Championship to FLW and Bassmaster fishing tournaments, PDGA sanctioned disc golf tournaments, several cheer and dance competitions and even the toughest two minutes in sports (Scott Safety’s Firefighter Combat Challenge).
History of Sports in the Area
The area has a rich sports history and hosts many national sports tournaments annually including USSSAWorld Series, and many regional events for both girls and boys. With its two gymnasiums, indoor track, and outdoor facilities, Branson RecPlex is perfect for several sports. The 44,000-square-foot indoor facility includes two gymnasiums, a three-lane indoor track, and fields for soccer, softball, and baseball. In addition, its aquatic park and pool has six lanes for competitive swim meets throughout the year.
With its grand opening in 2016, Branson’s Ballparks of America offers an amazing youth baseball “stay and play” tournament experience. The park includes replicas of iconic American baseball stadiums along with lodging accommodations for coaches and players.
Another major sports attraction in the area is Top of the Rock golf course which is the first Jack Nicklaus Signature course in Missouri. The course covers 47 acres with beautiful landscapes, majestic waterfalls, and winding lakes.
2017 Branson Area Sports Calendar
Following are a few of the sporting events. Visit ExploreBransonSports.com for a more complete list of the sporting events in the Branson area:
- FC legacy’s Branson Shootout
- Hollywood Dance Jamz
- Worldwide Spirit
- Bassmasters Central Open
- Bass Pro Shop’s Legends of Golf (PGA Tour Champions) at Big Cedar Lodge
- Hoop Play USA Tournaments
- Missouri National Archery in Schools Program
- USSSA Boys & Girls Baseball/Softball World Series
- Landing to Landing Canoe & Kayak Race
- Turkey Trot 5K Run & Firecracker 5000 Run
- Cal Ripken Major/70 12U World Series
- Show Me Shootout
- Youth Baseball Network World Championship
- Top Attractions in the Branson Area
Billed as the entertainment capital of the Midwest, there’s no shortage of fun things to do in Branson. From the best live shows to the most fascinating museums, here are a few of Branson’s biggest draws:
Silver Dollar City
Fun for all-ages with a historic twist, spend a day at Silver Dollar City. Dubbed one of the “Top 10 Theme Parks in The World,” this 19th century-style amusement mecca is packed to the brim with more than 30 thrill-seeking rides and attractions, dozens of live shows and 60-plus shops and restaurants. Don’t leave without catching a glimpse of American craftsmen hard at work — more than 100 artisans demonstrate the art of glassblowing, blacksmithing, candy making and more … just like they did in the 1880s.
Soak up some summer fun at this epic Branson water park. Featuring nearly 7,000 feet of slides, two million gallons of H20 and more than a dozen rides and attractions, including the daredevil-loving slide, KaPau Plummet (the floor drops and sends riders on a 26 feet-per-second free-fall) and Aloha River’s relaxed tubing adventure. Whether you want wet and wild adventures or a fun way to beat the summer heat, you’ll find it at White Water.
No trip to Branson is complete without seeing a world-famous Branson live show. The family acts are a big draw, making longtime variety shows like Presleys’ Country Jubilee and the reality TV stars of “Branson Famous,” Baldknobbers, a must-see. The Haygoods, another family affair, dazzles crowds with choreography and instruments, while the show SIX wows visitors using just their voices. Satisfy your hunger for classic country fun with outrageous stunts, elaborate horse tricks and a delicious four-course dinner at Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede. And there are dozens of other shows — from musical acts to acrobats — waiting to be discovered. Whether you’re looking for song-and-dance or deep belly laughs, there’s a show for every taste in Branson.
Located in historic downtown Branson along the shores of beautiful Lake Taneycomo is Branson’s hub for shopping, dining and entertainment. Among Branson Landing’s 100-plus shops and restaurants, don’t miss the real showstopper — a stunning fountain spectacle along the boardwalk with 120-foot shooting geysers, fire cannons and lively music — shows begin at noon daily.
Showboat Branson Belle
Climb aboard the 1800s-style Showboat Branson Belle for a two-hour cruise around scenic Table Rock Lake. A talented cast of singers, dancers, comedians and magicians entertain you and your family as you chow down on a tantalizing, three-course meal (lunch or dinner). The theater is spacious, the balconies are impressive and the views from the water are pretty, making it a uniquely Branson experience and a riverboat show unlike any other.
Set sail back to the year 1912 when Titanic embarked on its maiden voyage. At the Titanic Museum in Branson, passengers experience first-hand what it was like to be aboard the world’s most famous luxury liner on that fateful day. From meandering the grand staircase to reaching your hand into 28-degree water, or standing on a sloped deck to browsing a vast collection of artifacts, Branson’s Titanic Museum is just the tip of the iceberg.
Wild World includes a petting zoo and a myriad of animal exhibits giving the family hand-on experiences. The family can also play a little mini-golf at The Hunt for Davy Jones’ Locker Mini Golf or arcade games while visiting.
Whitewater is Branson’s only outdoor water park with 13 acres of water rides and attractions including the 500,000-gallon Surf’s Up Wave Pool, Splashaway Cay and Coconut Cove. The new Kids’ Area in Coconut Cove includes 4 Water Blasters, Bubblers, 5 Slides, and Hose Jets! This is a must-stop while in the city.
Firemen’s Landing at Silver Dollar City is a ‘must-see’ stop during the family’s stay. Whether you are visiting in early spring or during Christmas break, this 1880s theme park features attractions for both kids and adults. New rides include the Firefall which includes an eight-story free fall, Lucky’s Dizzy Dogs which includes spinning, bouncy Dalmatian ride, and Fire Wagon Frenzy which includes a bumpy ride in a fire wagon! Don’t forget to experience Marvel Cave which is Missouri’s largest cave and a National Natural Landmark!
Finally, the family must visit Butterfly Palace & Rainforest Adventure to experience unique attractions such as Mirror Maze, Science Center, Banyan Tree Adventure, and the Butterfly Aviary. This destination has attracted visitors from all over the globe.
Outdoors, Ziplining, Skiing
Ozark Mountain Trail Rides is a great way for the family to explore the picturesque landscape of Branson on horseback! The Ozark Trail offers an hour-long guide ride through mountains, lakes, valleys, and forests in the region. Promised Land Zoo is an interactive zoo that offers many hand-on experiences for kids including Parakeet Paradise where kids can experience free-flying parakeets, animal shows, foot safaris, and bottle-feeding some of the baby animals.
State Park Marina at Table Rock Lake includes 850+ miles of shoreline in Missouri and is known for its beautiful, sparkling waters. Rent a boat, go fishing, paddle boarding, or skiing along the crystal-clear water. Along the shoreline is the beautiful Moonshine Beach that gives families the opportunity to dip in the water or sunbathe along the shore!
Finally, you can always end the day ziplining! Whether you’re looking for a fast-paced thrill ride, a half-day themed expedition, or an easy joyride through local landmarks, Branson has a ziplining adventure that’s just right for you.
Fun, Fun and More Fun
Fun Spot Farm Mini Golf is the first of its kind in the area to feature a ‘championship style’ course. The course is perfect for small children to advanced players of the game.
National Tiger Sanctuary is a fun, must-see stop while in the city. Experience the ‘wild’ from exotic to domestic animals. Get personal with animals of the ‘wild’!
Titanic Museum and Toy Museum give families the opportunity to learn! The Titanic Museum features 400 pre-discovery artifacts in 20 galleries while the Toy Museum holds over one million toy attractions dating back to the 19th century to present. Learn a little bit of history during your stay in Branson.
Standing more than 200 feet tall, the Bigfoot Action Tower™ is now the highest point in Branson. The tower, which was designed by legendary ride inventor Stan Checketts and built by Soaring Eagle, features two new daring rides -- one on each side. The Gravity Bomb™, a free-fall ride, drops riders from a height of 200 feet using a state-of-the-art magnetic braking system that provides a smooth but breathtaking experience. The SuperSling™, a two-person saddle ride, launches riders high into the air and then lets them tumble end-over-end as they descend back toward earth. Both rides are the first of their kind to open to the public.
Another first of its kind is the Bigfoot Discovery Expedition™, on which guests join a Bigfoot research team and board safari trucks for a visit to Bigfoot Farms, just 10 minutes outside of Branson. Guests experience the true beauty of the Ozark Mountains in a far different setting than they’re likely to visit anywhere else on their Branson vacation, and they’re encouraged to keep an eye out for Bigfoot activity as they explore one of the region’s most interesting working farms. The tour will take approximately one hour and 20 minutes, and guests will go off road and over rugged terrain that’s filled with plenty of twists and turns … and a few surprises that will likely keep them on the edge of their seats. It’s practically a guarantee that visitors will see a big, hairy beast on this trip … but exactly what that means is a surprise we won’t spoil. (Cameras and phones should be poised and ready for anything, though.) Bigfoot Discovery Expedition™ is family-friendly and suitable for all ages and abilities.
Bigfoot on the Strip™, which is open every day and late into the night, is also home to these additional activities, making it an ideal place for multiple generations to while away several hours:
• Bigfoot Adventure Golf™ is an 18-hole Bigfoot-themed golf adventure that challenges guests’ putting skills through Bigfoot’s woodlands, research lab and frozen tundra. The 18 holes include nine ADA-accessible stops.
• Yeti Fun Zone™ delivers varied challenges and obstacles to maze runners with its system of underground tunnels, a spiral slide and a Yeti treehouse. Participants race through the twisting, multi-level maze to find four checkpoints while avoiding Bigfoot, then have the option of using a traditional exit or – for the incredibly daring – taking a leap from Monkey Jump™ at the top of a timber frame tower.
• Bigfoot’s 8Di Leadslinger Cinema™ allows guests to participate in a totally immersive 8D interactive gaming experience. Players in the 14-seat cinema put on 3D glasses, hop on an off-road mini bike, grab a gun, and help Bigfoot escape from corporate scientists. “Riders” feel the rumble, hear the roars and are totally immersed in the action; instead of just watching a movie, they’re actually a part of it.
• Bigfoot Arcade™ features the area’s newest and most state-of-the-art games with the most unique prizes in the area, including rare items and collectibles.
• Bigfoot Food Truck Dining Park™ is Branson’s first food truck park. Guests can enjoy delicious food selections from savory to sweet (barbecue, pizza and desserts) while sitting on the patio and watching the excitement.
Fritz’s Adventure is a dynamic family attraction that brings the excitement and challenges of outdoor adventure into a multi-dimensional indoor environment. Experience three stories and 80,000 square feet where you can enjoy elements of the world around you that, anywhere else, would be prohibited or discouraged. All ages are encouraged to explore the family adventure together.
The 7D Dark Ride Adventure, Arcade City and Maze is an interactive shooting game that will incorporate a player’s senses with unique sights, sounds, smells and more. Arcade City will be a mix of old school and modern trends. A third attraction, a corn-mirror maze will also be a part of this new adventure. All three attractions are located at the Branson Landing and will be suitable for all ages.
The Branson area is perfect for family dining. There are many thriving restaurants in the area that are great for the entire family. From home-style cooking to famous national chains, Branson has it all. Find traditional American fare at places like Joe’s Crab Shack, Landry’s Seafood House, or Garfield’s Restaurant and Pub. Or, dive into specialty dishes at places like Cantina Laredo for Mexican gourmet meals, Famous Dave’s BBQ for world class barbecue, or Billy Boy’s Dairyland for burgers and shakes in its classic 1950s styles diner! For a savory home-style meal, the family must experience Baldknobber’s Country Restaurant for a full breakfast, lunch or dinner. Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede Dinner Show is the most extraordinary places to dine! The show includes fancy horseback riding, beautiful costumes, music, and special effects the entire family will enjoy along with the delicious home-cooked meal this venue is famous for in America! And don’t forget about Branson Landing which has a plethora of choices including Black Oak Grill, Charley’s Philly Steaks, and Saltgrass Steak House.
Popular Grand Plaza Hotel is conveniently Highway 76 Country Music Boulevard and has 200 upscale rooms with superior accommodations making it ideal for all occasions. The hotel is centrally located to Branson’s biggest shows and family-fun attractions. The Majestic at Table Rock is a lakefront development located on the beautiful Table Rock Lake. The condos can perfectly accommodate small or large families and feature fully-equipped kitchens, spacious living rooms, and nice lake views. Condos at Thousand Hills, with its tranquil views and rustic wooded setting, offers a variety of luxury accommodations and amenities including outdoor swimming pools, tennis courts, golf courses, and a free fitness center. Families can explore a variety of options including golf condos, lake condos, and quaint cabins. Big Cedar Lodge is the perfect place to stay if you are looking for a quiet, relaxing atmosphere. Accommodations include private log cabins, cottages, deluxe rooms, premier rooms, value rooms, and exclusive accommodations. Hilton Promenade Hotel at Branson Landing is a popular destination in the Branson area. Located on Lake Taneycomo and across from the Branson Convention Center, the hotel offers spacious guest rooms, suites, and condos with private balconies. Chateau on the Lake is Branson’s ‘castle like’ hotel overlooking Table Rock Lake. With its upscale amenities, the hotel features 301 newly-refurbished guestrooms. Many of the rooms have private balconies and beautiful views of Table Rock Lake and surrounding mountain views perfect for a family stay.
Cultural and Historical
Veterans Memorial Museum is the city’s national tribute honoring those who fought for liberties in the 20th Century. The museum features a variety of incredible wartime exhibits including weapons, letters, medals, uniforms and other memorabilia.
Branson Dinosaur Museum with over 50 life-size dinosaurs on display, this is a must-see attraction during your visit! Discover herbivores, carnivores, and the fascinating fossil exhibit. The museum is the perfect attraction for all ages.
History of Fishing Museum discover the largest collection of antiques including reels, boats, motors, fishing lures, and more! Branson is home to three world class fisheries: Table Rock Lake, Bull Shoals, and Lake Taneycomo which are must-sees during your stay.
Also, other great stops during the family stay include The Light and Sound Theater, which offers wondrous stories from the Bible, Presley’s Theater, and the Hughes Brothers Theatre where the family can watch other dynamic shows.
Live Shows in the Area
Branson is famous for its live shows and spectacular family entertainment. There are a variety of shows appealing to everyone including musical theater, dinner shows, classical or operatic, rock and roll, gospel, and more! Johnny Mathis, Dixie Pride, and Elvis Live are just a small fraction of the 100 live shows ongoing all year long. Visit www.explorebranson.com/shows for show listings.
Colleges to Visit:
There are fourteen colleges and universities within a 50-mile radius of Branson, Missouri. Just 38 miles from the center of the city, Missouri State University offers both undergraduate and graduate programs and is one of the largest universities in the area with an enrollment over 22,000 students. Recently celebrating its 25th Anniversary in 2015, Ozark Technical Community College, offers degree, non-degree, and certificate programs for students interested in pursuing an associate degree or a craft to improve one’s skillset. An added bonus is the short drive! The college is just 45 minutes from the city of Branson. Evangel University is a quaint private Christian university with over 100 undergraduate programs including humanities, education, business, and behavioral and social sciences. Other great colleges in the area include Drury University which has been consistently ranked among the best liberal arts university in the Midwest. The university has over 54 undergraduate majors and several professional degrees. Overlooking the beautiful Lake Taneycomo is College of the Ozarks. This small Christian liberal arts college has a student to faculty ratio of 16:1 with over 30 academic majors. The college is tuition free for full-time students through its work study program and donations.
With over 9 million visitors each year, no wonder Branson is considered a popular family destination for travel sports. There is plenty of entertainment for everyone. With its centralized location, the city features a wide variety of convenient choices and tons of fun for families and everyone in between.