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Attractions Around the Lake Offer Family Fun for Table Rock Visitors
By Brian Wright
Beautiful Table Rock Lake is the draw for most people—my family included—when visiting the southwest Missouri Ozarks. The peaceful, natural beauty can’t be duplicated, and the bright lights of Branson, Missouri are just minutes away. We love to be on the lake, but the world-class attractions nearby have us abandoning water activities on a regular basis. In fact, it’s often the kids and grandkids that make the suggestion to seek some off-the-water fun. And we know right where to take them.
SILVER DOLLAR CITY
Clockwise from top left: Ride the world-famous wooden coaster, Outlaw Run, at Silver Dollar City, Enjoy the wildest ride on the Lost River of the Ozarks, Get mystified at the Festival of Wonder at Silver Dollar City, Enough down-home grub for the whole family at Silver Dollar City.
Dogwood Canyon Nature Park is located on the south side of Table Rock Lake near Lampe. It’s about as different as can be from Silver Dollar City, but is equally impressive. It’s hard to explore the 10,000 acres of Ozark paradise in one day, but we try. The kids usually like to explore by bike and horseback, leaving us “older” explorers to ride the tram. Either way, it’s easy to get an up-close look at herds of bison, elk, and longhorn cattle. For a one-of-a-kind experience, try a Segway nature tour. If you’re an angler, like me, fly-fishing for trophy rainbow trout can keep you busy all day. On our last visit, we all met at the end of the day at the newly opened Dogwood Mill to enjoy the views from the Canyon Grill and explore the artifacts within the mill. There’s even a treehouse nearby built by craftsmen from Animal Planet’s hit television show Treehouse Masters. Now, that is just plain awesome!
Explore 10,000 Acres of Dogwood Canyon Nature Park
If you like good food, family fun, live animals, and pyrotechnics, you’re going to love Dolly’s Stampede. I dare you to try and leave this dinner show without a smile on your face. You’ll laugh until your sides hurt and dinner will be consumed with no utensils (unless you just really want to be uncool and request a fork and spoon).
The popular Branson attraction is a powerful performance featuring spectacular horses and a cast of top-notch trick riders in a large indoor arena. You’ll be part of a friendly North versus South competition and a salute to our great nation, as well as witness horse riding stunts at top speeds. If you arrive early, you can visit with the riders in the stables and see the magnificent horses up close. Look, now I bet you’re smiling before you have even arrived.
Board a Replica of the Titanic at the Titanic Museum!
THE TITANIC MUSEUM
The world’s most famous luxury liner, the Titanic, sunk in 1912. However, the folks at the Titanic Museum in Branson give visitors a one-of-a-kind glimpse at the ship’s legendary history. As you enter the ship, you receive a boarding pass of an actual Titanic passenger or crew member. Near the end of the self-guided tour, you then discover your passenger or crew member’s fate in the Titanic Memorial Room where 2,208 names line a historic wall. It’s a great history lesson for young and old as you experience what it was like to walk the hallways and cabins. There’s even a replica of the Grand Staircase. The museum also features more than 400 artifacts directly from the ship and its passengers. Visitors can even touch a real iceberg, reach their hands into 28-degree water, and try to stand on the sloping decks.
THE TRACK FAMILY FUN PARKS
Also in Branson, just a few hundred yards from the Titanic Museum, the iconic Navy Pier Ferris Wheel from Chicago looms over the landscape at Track 4 of The Track Family Fun Parks. Now named the Branson Ferris Wheel, it was moved to Branson in 2016 and towers 150 feet into the sky. The Branson Ferris Wheel was fitted with 16,000 LED lights that illuminate the night sky in conjunction with music. If you’re a little timid when it comes to heights, no problem. I like to keep my feet on the ground, so while the brave members of my group ride the wheel, I take a few hot laps on the high-rise, multi-level go-kart track. This park is a maze of entertainment for all ages with laser tag, bumper boats/cars, batting cages, kids’ rides, mini golf, and arcades.
Other attractions our clan visits regularly are Branson Zipline, Sight & Sound Theatre, and the IMAX Entertainment Complex. Yes, we love hanging out on the lake, but when our “crew” decides to hit the attractions for a day of fun, we have incredible options just minutes away. That’s one of the things we love most about Table Rock Lake.