We recently received the opportunity to travel to Branson, Missouri as part of a travel review for a weekend excursion trip. It was just a short trip, but it was a fun-filled, action-packed trip, and one that delighted the whole family.
Our first evening, we had been driving for nearly ten hours and we were just anxious to get into our hotel and settled and find a place to eat. We checked into the Radisson Hotel Branson. This beautiful hotel awaited us with two double queen suites and all the beds were Select Comfort mattresses and were so amazingly comfortable. They allow pets, which was a huge benefit, as we had been staying with family in Texas and had no choice but to bring our dogs with us. They charge a nominal fee for this, but it was very reasonable at only $50 (check with the hotel as prices may change). The rooms are smoke-free, quiet, and well-decorated. There is a pool on the bottom level, which we didn’t have time to visit, but it seemed to be very popular as we constantly saw families in the elevator going to visit or coming back from the pool and they remarked that they really enjoyed it.
After we settled into the hotel, we decided to look to Yelp! to help us find a suitable place to eat, but maybe one that wasn’t just for tourists, but friendly to locals. We were given a recommendation of Cantina Laredo, which is a small chain of authentic Mexican restaurants that we were already familiar with and new was a safe choice and would have terrific food. What we didn’t know was that the place it would take us was a sight into itself – Branson Landing! Branson Landing is a popular place for locals with shops, restaurants, and live street entertainment. We were lucky on that particular night, because the local Fox News Affiliate was broadcasting live with music, a fountain show, pyrotechnics, and more in celebration of American Idol visiting for auditions! I had the opportunity to be interviewed with my son and it was an incredible experience. The restaurant, Cantina Laredo, was right by the live music and the canal, and we ate outside and had a terrific evening. It was a night to remember and the food was top notch. On our way out, we were serenaded by street performers with amazing talent and everyone had a terrific time. I highly recommend visiting Branson Landing for shopping and eating when you’re in town.
The next morning, they had a blogger’s breakfast planned for us at Silver Dollar City. We got to tour the bakery, where we learned everything is made from scratch and smelled and looked delicious. My family got the chance to try the baked goods, but I didn’t since I have to eat gluten-free. Don’t they look delicious?
After an amazing breakfast, before the park was even open to the rest of the public, they allowed us a special sneak peak and private ride on the famous, award-winning roller coaster, Outlaw Run. This wooden roller coaster was named Best New Ride of 2013 worldwide, was the recently winner of the Travel Channel’s 2014 competition Insane Coaster Wars: World Domination in Episode 2, and was also named one of the “12 biggest game-changers in the history of theme park attractions” by CNN.com. This awesome coaster sends passengers soaring through the Ozark Mountains on a ground-breaking wood coaster that includes: the world’s first and only double barrel roll on a wood coaster, a record-breaking three inversions, and the world’s steepest drop on a wood coaster with steel wheels – more than 16 stories at 81 degrees! It is one of the fastest coasters in the world, reaching a top speed of 68 miles per hour. Well, let me tell you, this ride is not for the faint of heart or anyone scared of heights or roller coasters! It was the most exhilarating roller coaster I have ever ridden and I have ridden every coaster in every theme park I have ever been to. It was phenomenal! It is definitely one you don’t want to miss if you are a fan of roller coasters and theme parks!
I was amazed at all the park had to offer. They had rides for all ages, as well as entertainment and shopping. One of the coolest things was that they had trade stores where they displayed and made their crafts just like they did years and years ago. One of my favorites was the glass making shop. They did a demonstration of blowing glass for us, which was only about 15 minutes, so didn’t take long out of the day, but was very informative and it was a beautiful process.
Our last activity of the day was exploring the Marvel Caves – spelunking! This was on my bucket list! This is an arduous task, which includes navigating many tight spaces and climbing up and down many flights of stairs. If you are scared of heights, claustrophobic, scared of bats (we didn’t see any, but there is the possibility), or have a heart or lung condition, this may not be for you. However, this was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I could fill this page with pictures of this excursion. It was so beautiful! The cave was filled with wonders, not just stalactites and stalagmites, but pools and waterfalls and amazing formations. It was truly a wonder to behold. You could see the opening above, which let in natural light on occasion and it was amazing, but at other times, without the artificial light the park brought to the cave, you would be left in pitch black. It was amazing how large the cave was. I was amazed that people had been exploring this cave for over 100 years, well before we had modern lighting and the modern train that brought us to the light of day. Believe me, I was pooped at the end and could not imagine having to reclimb my way back out of that cave! However, it was an experience to remember and I highly recommend it, especially if you are a nature buff, a cave buff, or a geology buff. Of note was that the tour guide told us that they have held weddings, hot air balloon rides, and concerts in this cave! It truly is a marvel of nature.
Our last adventure of the trip was to see a show. I used to think of Branson as kind of a tourist place for the older generations, but that definitely isn’t the case these days. They have a huge array of shows that will satisfy all ages. We had the opportunity to see The Six Show and you can read the review here. It was a night we won’t forget and I highly recommend it. Everyone from our 10-year-old son to our 16-year-old and 15-year-old twin daughters loved it! There were many other shows available and so many to choose from we could easily stay for a month! You can see many of the shows available now here.
Disclaimer: I received compensation in the form of tickets to admission and hotel accommodations for this trip in exchange for my review. However, all my reviews and opinions are 100% mine and are fair, balanced, and honest. If I do not endorse a product or location, I will always let my readers know this.