Monday, July 28, 2008

Just Some of the Fun You Will Have in Branson

[This is a reprise of my March 25, 2008 post on Picture This, At Last. ]

We love living in one of the vacation capitals of the country -- heck, the whole world! Here are just a few reasons why:

  • So many wonderful places around the United States are spectacular vacation spots. But for a wide range of entertaining and inspiring shows there is no better place than Branson, Missouri. The theaters are spacious and comfortable, plus shows are offered throughout the day, even breakfast showtimes. ALL shows are rated "GF" - Great for the whole Family!
  • Take a trip down memory lane at the Dick Clark American Bandstand Theater. Remember Paul Revere and the Raiders? How about Bill Medley?
  • For all day family fun there is Silver Dollar City. In fact, it takes more than a full day to see and experience all it has to offer. During the summer all the rides are open, and by rides I mean thrilling roller coasters, rafting the rapids, and exhilarating spinning and swinging for all ages in the family. Be prepared to get wet at the interactive Geyser Gulch where water cannons aimed at specific targets can trigger a shot of water right back at 'ya! My favorite is watching the artisans and crafts people actually working at their specialty: woodcarvers, blacksmiths, glassblowers, furniture building, to name a few. All they make are available to buy in the fantastic selection of shops. Then there's the food! Oh, my gosh! The aromas of fresh-made food is everywhere in the park. Everything you can imagine, even fresh pork rinds which are really good! Honest! Oh, the music and live shows! Well, I could go on and on about Silver Dollar City. Click on the link and see for yourself the adventures waiting there.
  • You can also find all the fun at Celebration City, White Water, Showboat Branson Belle, Ride the Ducks, and Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede.
  • Branson is also a great place for a golfing vacation. Beautiful courses from the recreational to the championship. A spectacular course is being built at the Payne Stewart Tribute Golf Club in Branson Hills.
  • For water-lovers three spectacular lakes are perfect for water-crafting, scuba-diving, fishing and swimming. Table Rock Lake, Lake Taneycomo, and Bull Shoals are all awesome! Nothing is more beautiful than watching the sunset on Table Rock Lake while pontooning with your family on this 52,300 acre lake created by Table Rock Dam. Then again, the sunrises are spiritual, as well!
  • What would a vacation spot be without shopping? The Ozarks are known throughout the world for craftsmanship and original works of art by artisans in a variety of genres. Peter Engler tops the list of woodcarvers and his work is found throughout the area. It is not unusual to see Peter carving away in front of his store at the Grand Village. Click on shopping for a preview of the one-of-a-kind shops to the large outlet malls. Don't miss Branson Landing!
  • Do you love the hand-made crafts that you can't get anywhere else? That's the best part about shopping in Branson! My favorite craft store is the Branson Craft Mall. And now for a really shameless plug: that is where my little shop is, Made For Keeps Originals, featuring original photography and handmade greeting cards.

So, do you have your bags packed yet? Come on! The very friendly people of Branson and the Ozarks are ready to welcome you with open arms and down-home hospitality!

If summer travel seems like an expensive luxury, stretch your vacation dollars in America's heartland where there is something for everyone!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Branson Landing Fire and Water

Back in March I posted some pictures of the new Branson Landing and featured the dancing waters of the fountain in the center square. That was before the Fire and Water attraction started up for the season. Just a few short steps away from the center fountain is the beautiful Branson Landing Towne Square Amphitheater. Lined with thousands of blooming flowers, this is an attractive place to relax during a day of shopping. Nearby kiosks offer refreshing soft drinks and snacks.

The Amphitheater faces Lake Taneycomo, so whether on land or water, the sights and sounds of the entertaining fountains and live concerts are free to all. Live shows are weekly, sometimes more often. Coming this Saturday, July 26, at 8 PM is a concert by Cruize Control - A Jimmy Buffet Tribute Band.

Every day, at the top of the hour from noon to 10 pm, the music that accompanies the visitors throughout the mall stops. There are a few silent moments of anticipation, then the music in the Amphitheater cranks up, and the fountain on the lakefront shoots high into the sky and the cannons fire flames, all in time to the music. Every hour a different song. During the 7 pm hour there are three programs, and every day at noon, 7 pm and 10 pm is a special presentation of the Star Spangled Banner. I never get tired of watching this program!

If you happen to be dining at Cantina Laredo or Texas Land and Cattle Steakhouse relax at one of their outdoor tables for a ringside seat of the Fire and Water, as well as the watercraft activity on the lake! Oh, and the food is excellent at both restaurants!

Don't miss Branson Landing. Whether you live here or are visiting, there is something special waiting for you!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

When Ladies Wore Gloves To Tea

Branson has a secret. The beautiful theaters and thrilling attractions made Branson a big dot on the map, but they would not be here if Rueben Branson hadn't opened the first general store in this county. This store also became the post office for Branson, Missouri and a little dot carrying Rueben's family name popped up on the map back in 1882.

Nestled on the bluff between Lake Taneycomo and the "strip" of theaters is the original town of Branson with many of the original buildings. There is an old-fashioned 5-and-dime store, corner drugstore and quaint little shops of all kinds. Many of the settlers' homes, some no larger than cabins, are now occupied by accountants, beauty shops, and even a dog groomer, but only their unobtrusive signs belie their new identity. The tree-lined streets welcome visitors the same as the cozy neighborhoods they once were.

My mom and I discovered a jewel in old town Branson. Sitting right on Main Street is one of the original homes that has been converted to a charming tea room called Ruby Lena's Tea Room. You enter into a cozy foyer furnished with antique bent-glass curio cabinets and china hutches. The contents of these beautiful antiques range from delicate old china and tea sets to doilies and dolls that once cheered a young girl. The main room is bright with large windows and lace curtains. Tasty lunches and homemade desserts are served to guests seated at a variety of tables which are prepared for cozy parties of two or luncheons for eight. An eclectic collection of tablecloths and cloth napkins make each setting unique. Even during their busiest times the chatter of conversation is barely above a moderate buzz, leaving one to be able to hear the faint echoes of bygone family gatherings in that house.

The lunches are creative and light, with specialty quiches such as chicken pecan. The crust is actually made of pecans! I love the chicken strawberry salad which is a surprising taste treat. Morsels of specially grilled chicken are tossed with fresh strawberry slices and blueberries on a bed of all those fancy greens. Very refreshing on a hot day. But what I always order is the strawberry soup. As thick as potato soup it is actually very cool and creamy. Yum -- wish I had some now. Then there are the desserts --- oh my!

Ruby Lena's is a special treat any day. For a break from the noisy chain restaurants, this is the place to go in Branson. They are open from 11:00 a.m to 3:00 pm, a perfect break in a busy day.

I can't provide a link to a website since they don't have one yet, but a Google search of tea rooms in Branson MO brings up many references.

Friday, July 18, 2008

It's Not Too Early to Plan for Christmas with Dino and Much More in Branson!

[This is a reprise of a story published on Picture This, At Last in December 2007]

One of the best reasons to live in the Branson area --- or to visit --- is for the Christmas shows and true spirit of the season. We have countless opportunities to see entertainers from the little-known to the world-reknown put on Christmas shows with everything: music, comedy, sparkle, spirit, and FUN!

We went to one such show last week. Dino Kartsonakis, generally known as Dino, is a classical concert and gospel pianist, emphasis on the gospel. He and his wife Cheryl team up for entertainment extravaganzas at Christmas, Easter and dates in between. Whenever we've been in Branson at the same time as they are you could find us at their show. We usually have the pleasure of sitting in prime seats. This was one of those times. Much to our surprise, the show we attended last week was also being filmed for broadcasting on the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) on December 22 (10:00 p.m. CST). The host for the evening advised us that the stage wasn't the only area being filmed. Given our second row seats we could just possibly show up on TBN! No acting was required because the show was truly inspiring and entertaining. Pictures here are of Dino, Cheryl and various shots possible in the dark with no flash and very fast moving dancers!

Other shows we will be seeing are Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede Dinner Show, Paul Revere and the Raiders, The Music of Mannheim Steamroller, and anything else we can fit in. Of course there will be the all-day excursion to Silver Dollar City and their 4 million lights, stage shows, and the best hot chocolate in the world.

Hey! Y'all come to Branson! You'll be surprised what you'll find here!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Beatles Love Branson --- Yeah, Yeah, Yeah!

A common myth of Branson is that it is a mini-Nashville, all country music, especially old country music. This myth is busted, especially the "country" part.

Case in point:

The rock group that rocked the world off its rocker more than 40 years ago lives on at the Starlite Entertainment Theater in Branson. Managed by Louise Harrison, sister of Beatles legend George Harrison, The Liverpool Legends perform the Ultimate Beatles Experience. The show is 100% family oriented.

Just today The Branson Daily News and KY3 TV announced that the only Beatles Museum in the U.S. will open at the theater by March 2009, possibly as early as fall 2008. Memorabilia will include never before seen items from Louise Harrison's personal collection.

Be sure to put this on your list of things to do in Branson --- for the whole family!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

We Are New Residents --- And This Is Why

Branson, Missouri was a favorite get-away spot for my aunt and uncle for many years. Each fall they would take their travel trailer to Cooper Creek Resort Campground for several weeks. They had many friends from all around the country that joined them there. Other family members made regular trips to Branson and I began to hear more and more about the theaters, entertainers and fun spots.

So in 1997 I made my first trip to Branson. I was hooked and started my own regular treks to the Missouri Ozarks. I was here on September 11, 2001 and found a warmth of community that I had not experienced in other "tourist meccas". My Navy son, stationed in Japan at the time, was able to get an emergency message through to the resort office who promptly tracked me down. They continued to check on his welfare, as well as every one of their guests. Every hotel, theater, entertainer, restaurant, and amusement park was sensitive to the myriad of emotions their guests were experiencing.

Fast forward six years: my parents moved here in 2002; I found the love of my life and got married in 2004; and we had made nearly a dozen trips to Branson. The last trip was in October 2007 when we brought everything we own to our new home in the beautiful country hills of the Missouri Ozarks.

Why did we move here? Because a vacation trip just wasn't long enough to see and do everything this area has to offer! This is why I am writing this blog: I am passionate about the future of Branson! I am dedicated to busting the myths and showcasing Branson as a family entertainment community that will provide something for everyone in the family for generations to come.

Please visit this blog often! There is much to tell!