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.
First and foremost is Silver Dollar City. It is without question one of the top theme parks in the country and the most popular attraction in the area. Located on the north shore of Table Rock Lake (Indian Point), it’s a hit with every member of the family.
Silver Dollar City is continually upgrading its food options, rides, and on-park entertainment. Proud of its past, but not one to rest on it, the park does a great job of giving folks what they ask for with more than 40 rides and attractions, including the world-famous wooden coaster, Outlaw Run. Also, 100 craftsmen demonstrate America’s heritage crafts; shows fill the stages throughout the season; and annual festivals and events keep things fresh. The Year of Food and Crafts will be celebrated throughout 2017. The new Festival of Wonder begins in April and promises some imaginative new acts, which our family is anxious to experience. An Old-Time Christmas (November and December) is our favorite time to gather the family for a trip to Silver Dollar City. Sipping hot chocolate and walking the park is magical that time of year. Home to some 5 million holiday lights, the park is adding 1.5 million new lights for a mind-boggling total of 6.5 million lights.
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!
If you like good food, family fun, live animals, and pyrotechnics, you’re going to love Dixie 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.
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.
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.