Monday, July 17, 2017
We made our annual trip to Branson recently. This was our fifteenth yearly visit to Branson. We did some familiar things and tried some new things. As usual, we had a great vacation. My summary of our trip is below. If you click on the links, you will be taken to the website in a new window.
We left for Branson on Sunday morning. The traffic on Hwy. 44 was fairly light. Everyone was already out of town for the 4th of July weekend. We ate lunch at Hardees' at the truck stop in Strafford this trip since we were running really early. We usually stop in Lebanon for lunch.
The Groupon lodging deal we purchased was administrated by Branson Travel Group, so before we could go to the hotel, we had to go to BTG to pick up the voucher to take to the hotel. The Groupon deal also included 2 tickets to any show at the Jim Stafford Theater. We selected the Billy Dean and Steel Horses show since we had seen the other two shows playing at Jim Stafford last year.
The building also contained an indoor miniature golf course. The gentleman who took care of us at Branson Travel Group was very nice. He asked if we needed any other tickets and we said no. He wasn't pushy, which was nice.
Stone Castle Hotel & Conference Center. We arrived at the hotel around 1:00 PM. We discovered, however, that check-in didn't start until 3 PM. We offered to just hang out in the lobby until 3 PM, but the front desk clerks did some juggling and found us an open room. The room was in Building 2, which was the building with the breakfast room, and the breakfast room was even on the same floor where our room was. Score! There was also an indoor pool and a hot tub as well as a small video arcade on the first floor of Building 2. Stone Castle is huge - there are 3 buildings in the complex. The breakfast is awesome - there was plenty of variety with the food and the staff was very nice and friendly. The coffee is very strong though - whoa!
We went to Florentina's Restaurant for dinner Sunday evening. We had a certificate from Half Price Ozarks/KY3 to help with the cost (which is no longer available). The food was great and the location was only a couple blocks from the hotel. The decor is beautiful - the restaurant looks like your Italian grandma's house. Florentina's is now on our list of favorite Branson restaurants.
The show we went to Sunday evening was Billy Dean and the Steel Horses.We had another Groupon deal for my son's ticket, It was a very nice show. Billy is a talented singer and songwriter and he was very entertaining. His daughter played keyboards for him. The theater was about half full, which is good for a Sunday evening. I recognized several of the songs. Billy has aged well - here's a photo of Billy with my son:
On Monday morning, we drove down to the Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery. We took the plastic cups from the hotel room because the fish food is smelly. We enjoyed all of the exhibits, but our favorite part is feeding the fish. We enjoy seeing all those little fish coming up to the surface with their mouths open looking for food.
We then took a drive over the spillway and went to the Dewey Short Center. We had not been there since it opened. The beach that was once there is now gone. All of the exhibits that we had seen previously were still there. It was a nice place to get out of the heat for a while, though. We went back to the hotel to eat lunch. After lunch, my son and I went down to the pool and the hot tub to cool off for a while.
That evening's agenda was a trip to Branson Landing for dinner and to nose around in the stores. We were then going to stay for the concert and fireworks display. We got to the Landing around 4 PM and it was packed - we had to park about half a mile away, behind the strip mall north of the Landing.
It had been a while since we had eaten at Garfield's. We had a certificate that ended up covering all of the cost of dinner - that's really nice when that happens (this certificate is still available - click here to purchase). Garfield's has an Applebee's type menu, so if you like Applebee's, you'll like Garfield's. They are located across the "street" from Bass Pro Shops so you can park in their lot if you don't want to walk too far.
We walked around and visited some of the stores, but when hubby saw crowded it was going to be for the concert and fireworks, he decided we should go back to the hotel. He doesn't do well with crowds. The son and I went to the pool/hot tub for a while until bedtime.
On Tuesday morning, we woke up and it was raining. We decided that it was a good time to use our Groupon (no longer available) for the Wildwood Miniature Golf Course that we saw on Sunday. This is a fun little 18 hole golf course. There were a few challenging holes. It took the three of us about an hour and a half to complete the course. We then went back to the hotel for lunch.
On Tuesday afternoon, we went to the Janice Martin Cirque Show. Janice used to perform on the Showboat Branson Belle. She now has her own show at the Americana Theater. She is known for playing the violin while hanging on the curtains and while that in itself would make a great show, that's not the entire show. Janice performs as various characters and showcases her many talents. She plays many different instruments and even performs some magic. We really enjoyed this show. We had Groupons for tickets to this show. Kids are free at the Americana so this would be a great show for the family.
We then went to McFarlain's Restaurant for dinner. We had a certificate from Half Price Ozarks/KY3, which is no longer available. The food and the service were good as always. We then nosed around some of the shops in the IMAX complex before heading back to the hotel to get ready for the evening's show.
That evening, we went to see the Haygoods. We have seen them at the Americana, the RFD Theater, and now at the Clay Cooper Theater. This year is the Haygoods' 25th anniversary (and me and my husband's 25th wedding anniversary as well), so we wanted to celebrate with them. This was by far the best show we saw this trip. The Haygoods are so musically talented it would take more than a blog post to describe their show. The show has great music, great lighting effects, and great music. We bought the DVD of this show so we can watch it in the winter when we miss Branson. We bought our vouchers for this show at Branson 2 for 1 Tickets.
When we got to the parking lot, we discovered that some beautiful fireworks were being shot off across the street from the theater. We stood there and watched them for a while and then went back to the hotel, where we could still see the fireworks from our hotel room window.
On Wednesday morning, we visited the National Tiger Sanctuary for the first time. I had wanted to visit the NTS for a long time, but couldn't find a good deal until I won an auction on the KKOZ website (no longer available).I have always wanted to see the big kitties. NTS is located in Saddlebrooke, Missouri, which is about a half hour north of Branson.
There are 3 types of tours offered, with different prices: the Awareness tour, the Feeding tour and the You Feed tour. Our voucher was for the Feeding tour. There are other, more expensive tours offered as well. Ryan was our guide and he knew all sorts of information about every cat he fed and what their habits were. He was very good at answering any question posed to him. The tour ran for about an hour and a half. Here's some photos of the big kitties:
On Wednesday afternoon, we hung out at the hotel and went swimming. I found a 2 for $20 deal for Lone Star Restaurant like the one at Applebee's for dinner that evening. The food and the service was fine and it was close to the hotel. On Wednesday evening, we went to Andy's for frozen custard and we played a few games at the Tracks.
On Thursday morning, we went to Branson 2 for 1. We were going to get tickets for Raiding the Rock Vault, which was opening that night. When we discovered that the price for 3 tickets was going to be $91.00, we decided to pass. We wanted to see another show since it was our last night in Branson, so we got tickets for Rick Thomas.
We then went to visit Promised Land Zoo. We had a voucher from Half Price Ozarks/KY3 for buy one get one free (no longer available, but check Groupon for a similar deal). There are VIP activities available if you want to pay extra. We have been to PLZ before and enjoyed it, so we decided to visit again. We enjoy seeing all of the animals and attending the show. PLZ is expanding and will open a drive-thru section of the park later this month. We will have to visit next year to enjoy that part of the park. We then went to Cici's Pizza for lunch and enjoyed their buffet.
We went to Danna's BBQ for dinner on Thursday evening. The food and the service was excellent, as always.
We then went to see Rick Thomas, who was performing at the Andy Williams Performing Arts Center. We really enjoyed this show. Not only is Rick a great magician, he has a comic touch as well. His beautiful Great Pyrenees dogs were brought out to the lobby after the show for everyone to pet. If you want to see an illusionist on your Branson trip, I highly recommend seeing Rick's show.
We left on Friday morning to go home. I always hate going home. Someday, I want to move to Branson permanently. Now that my husband has retired, we may be able to visit Branson during the Christmas season to see the shows and visit Silver Dollar City.
Thanks as always for reading! See you next time!
Saturday, May 20, 2017
Silver Dollar City's Wilderness - The Wilderness is owned and run by Silver Dollar City. There are tent campsites, RV sites, and cabin rental. If you have a season pass to SDC, you can save money on your stay. There is also a shuttle from the Wilderness to SDC. The Wilderness also has free wi-fi and a swimming pool.
Branson Lakeside RV Park - This lovely RV park is located on Lake Taneycomo next door to Branson Landing. There is a shuttle to Branson Landing. The park offers free cable TV and free wifi. If you are a member of the Good Sam RV club, you will get a discount. There is a marina, and you can fish off of the dock. You can also bring your dog - this park is pet-friendly.
Branson KOA & Convention Center - The Branson KOA offers no only RV site, but there are cabins, cottages, and lodges for rent. The park offers all the amenities of a KOA and you can also purchase discount show tickets. If you are having a family reunion or a club meeting, a convention center is available. There is also a fitness center and a freshwater pool. Your dog is welcome at the Branson KOA as well.
Musicland Kampground - This is the closest campground to Hwy. 76 (a/k/a "the Strip"). It is located directly north of the Titanic museum. You could park your car/RV here and walk to many of the shows and attractions on the Strip. The campground offers a swimming pool and free wifi and cable TV. Every campsite has a picnic table and there is also a laundromat. Veterans and active military members get a discount here.
Oak Grove RV Park - This RV park is located right on Hwy. 165 three-quarters of a mile from the Strip. It has all the usual amenities and has beautiful landscaping. There is also a child play area and a meeting room.
This is just a sample of all of the RV parks/campgrounds in Branson. If you want to find out about other campgrounds in Branson, click here.
Our Branson trip is coming up soon, and we're starting to get excited! Don't forget to follow this blog's Facebook page for discounts and other interesting articles about Branson. See you next time!
Sunday, July 17, 2016
We drove to Branson on July 2. It took longer than normal to get there since we ran into several rainstorms as we were driving on Hwy. 44. Plus, I guided hubby to the wrong exit to get to the restaurants in Lebanon for lunch and we had to backtrack.
Holiday Hills has a giant indoor pool and hot tub. The registration area was tastefully decorated in a rustic style. There was a workout room in the registration building and a counter where you could purchase show tickets. There was an activity center with a snack bar, an arcade, pool tables, and a ping pong table. There were games, DVD players, and movies that you could check out. There was also a small movie theater and three movies were shown per day.
Ticket deal: KKOZ radio voucher; bought extra ticket at theater ($3.00 off coupon in Travelhost magazine)
July 5th was a slow day. We hung around at the condo all day until it was time to go to our show for the evening, which was Presleys' Country Jubilee. We had always wanted to see this show, but could never find a voucher or coupon deal, until someone on the 1Branson.com forum posted about a radio station that had vouchers for Dixie Stampede. That was sold out by the time I could make a purchase, but they had a voucher for Presleys' so we decided to purchase it. When I called to make our reservation for the show, Melanie told me to come early for the 7:15 gospel sing-along in the balcony. Our 19 year old grumbled about attending, but we made him go anyway. Big Clayton played the piano wonderfully, sang well, and entertained us all. The balcony was full.
The show itself was excellent. The Presleys are very talented musicians and vocalists, and you could tell that they really enjoyed performing. Herkimer and Cecil were very funny, especially the routine where Herkimer came out on a Segway with a podium on it, on which was a U.S Presidential seal. Herkimer announced that he was running for president and Cecil was his VP candidate. I told hubby they missed a great marketing opportunity - there should have been Herkimer/Cecil 2016 t-shirts available for purchase in the gift shop. They would have probably sold out. But what party would they be candidates for? Ah, the Odd Fellows Party!
Of all the shows we attended, the Presleys' show was my favorite. You can see why they have been one of the top shows in Branson all these years. We went on a Tuesday evening, and the theater was at least three-quarters of the way full. That's pretty good for a Tuesday evening.
Ticket deal: KTTN radio voucher (this deal is still available, as of this writing), extra ticket purchased at the theater ($3.00 coupon in Travelhost magazine)
July 6th was another laid back day at the condo until it was time for dinner. We had a Groupon deal for Little Hacienda and the Rock and Roll Revival show at the Jim Stafford Theater. You could select between Little Hacienda or La Piazza for the dinner portion; we thought our voucher would go further at Little Hacienda. We were going to use the voucher at Little Hacienda first, then pick up our tickets at the theater. The food at Little Hacienda was very good and the service was excellent. The only problem came when it came time to pay - they wanted to keep my voucher, even though I needed it for the theater. I ended up having to download the Groupon app on my phone so I could redeem the theater part of the voucher. If I had known, I would have printed two vouchers instead of one.
We had time to kill before going to the theater. We parked at the theater. and then went to Andy's Frozen Custard for some yummy ice cream. After that, we walked over to the arcade at the Tracks and played some games. We stood and watched the Branson Ferris Wheel (photo above).
We then went over to the theater to get our tickets. I had made reservations for this show since I had an extra Groupon for the extra ticket. We were in the fifth row, and it was really close to the stage. I had to look up to see the show. The Jim Stafford Theater has been remodeled since the last time we were there. It looks much classier, but the seats could have been a little wider. Maybe I'm getting old, but the music was very loud.
The music was classic rock from the 1960's and 1970's. The Lionel Richie aspect of the show puzzled me, however, since I thought Lionel was R&B and not rock. The guy who did Jerry Lee Lewis (who looked amazingly like Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin, except this guy's hair was shorter) was amazing. If you like classic rock, you will enjoy this show.
Ticket deal: Groupon (the deal is still running as of this writing)
On the morning of July 7th, we decided to use our Groupon voucher for Branson's Wild World. We decided to get there when they opened so it wouldn't be as crowded. The building that BWW is in didn't look all that big on the outside, but there were lots of animals to see on the inside. The gator on the left looks like he's used to posing for photos. There were stingrays, small sharks and plenty of snakes and lizards. There were even some wolves and singing dogs. The black light golf course was part of the Groupon deal, so we played the 9 hole course.
I enjoyed seeing the animals, but the facility was dark and needed some fresh paint in parts. I would not pay full price for this attraction if at all possible.
Ticket deal: Groupon (the deal is still running as of this writing); extra ticket at facility
After we left Wild World, we then decided to go to Cici's for lunch. Cici's is a new pizza restaurant and arcade on the 76 Strip near the Jim Stafford Theater. They had a nice buffet of salad, soup, pasta, pizza and dessert, and the price was reasonable.
We then went back to the condo for a little while until it was time to go to McFarland's Family Restaurant in the Branson IMAX complex. The food and the service were great, as usual. We had a voucher from Half Price Ozarks that we paid $10.00 for $20.00 of food. That put a nice dent in our bill.
We then wandered through the many stores in the IMAX complex. I picked up our tickets for Smoke on the Mountain at the box office. We had heard good things about this show for many years, so when I found a good deal, we decided to go. The Little Opry Theater is a small, intimate theater. Even if you were sitting up on the top row, you would still be able to see the show quite well. We were sitting in the third row on the aisle. We thoroughly enjoyed this show, with its mixture of gospel music and comedy. June was my favorite character. She reminded me of myself when I was younger.
Ticket deal: KKOZ radio voucher, Branson 2 for 1 for the extra ticket
On July 8th, we went to Branson Landing and to Bass Pro Shop and the Cardinals Clubhouse. On our way back to the condo, the low tire light came on the dashboard. We got to the grocery store across the street from the condo and saw that the tire on the front passenger side was low. We decided to drive to the Conoco station. While attempting to fill the tire, the sensor came off the valve stem. Thankfully, there was a tire store right next door to the gas station. The owner brought the jack over to the car,took off the tire, took it to the tire store, repaired the tire (there was a rock in it), and brought the tire back to the car. He only charged us $10.00, but hubby gave him an extra $5.00 for curbside service.
We then hung out at the condo until it was time to go to town to see The Magic and Comedy of Taylor Reed. A sudden downpour of rain fouled up the traffic on Branson Landing Boulevard, so we backtracked into old downtown Branson and got on Main Street/76, went around on Gretna Road and then reconnected with Hwy. 76 at the intersection with Titanic. We made it to the Jim Stafford Theater in the nick of time, at 2:50 PM, and the show started at 3 PM. We got our tickets at the box office, purchased refreshments, then got to our seats just in time for the show to begin.
Taylor was a finalist on America's Got Talent. He made a helicopter appear on AGT, which he recreated during the show. Taylor was very entertaining. His illusions were very good. I enjoyed how he pulled some kids on stage to perform with him. This is a good show to take your kids to if they like magic, especially since if you purchase an adult ticket, you can get 2 children's (age 2-10) tickets free. Taylor signed autographs and conversed with everyone who attended the show. He was very personable. His Texan accent was charming.
Ticket deal: Ozarks Auction via Half Price Ozarks; Branson 2 for 1 for the extra ticket.
We left Branson on Saturday and went back home. We made many new memories. I am looking forward to next year's trip.
Sorry to take so long to write this - there was a bad storm last Wednesday and the electricity was out for a couple of days. Thanks for reading - see you next time!
Tuesday, June 21, 2016
Sunday, May 15, 2016
Curling Vine Winery (f/k/a Stone Hill Winery) - If the kids do happen to be vacationing with you, this is a family friendly winery. You can learn about how champagne is bottled, then go to the wine tasting room, where you will learn about various kinds of wine. There is grape juice for the kids. You can go to the gift shop and buy a bottle of your favorite wine to take home with you.
Mount Pleasant Winery - Mount Pleasant is only a half a block from Curling Wine Vinery. They offer free wine tasting as well, except for the Estate wines, which cost $5.00 to try. You can bottle your own dessert wine for $9.95. You can also take a self-guided art tour. If you're interested in learning more about wine than just a casual tasting, you can take the Wine 101 class for $9.99 where you can learn about pairing wine and food.
Lindwedel Wine Garden - If you're interested in tasting wines in the great outdoors where the grapes grow, Lindwedel Wine Garden is the place. The vineyard offers live music on Sundays in May and June. You can also host parties and weddings at Lindwedel.
If you enjoy alcoholic beverages with more of a kick, there are two places you can visit to see how liquor is made.
Missouri Mountain Moonshine - This is located at Branson Landing. There are various types of moonshine you can sample before you purchase. You can also eat yummy BBQ as well. There are other cocktails available as well as moonshine, and you can purchase t-shirts to commemmorate your visit.
Copper Run Distillery - At the Copper Run Distillery, you can sample rum, moonshine, and whiskey. It's the first legal distillery in the Ozarks since Prohibition ended in 1933. Other cocktails are available for purchase, as well as non-alcoholic beverages. If you need a place to hold a special event, there is a lounge available to rent. Copper Run is located in Walnut Shade, Missouri.
Most of the higher end restaurants in Branson offer alcoholic beverages. If you're looking for some late night fun after an 8:00 PM show, head to Branson Landing and to Waxy O'Shea's Irish Pub or to Ernie Biggs Dueling Piano Bar and Grille.
I hope this gives you some ideas about fun adult things to do on your Branson vacation. Thanks for reading! See you next time!
Friday, April 15, 2016
Branson's Wild World has over 180 animal species, including wolves, sharks, turtles, snakes and a baby kangaroo. You can even feed the sharks. After you visit with the animals, you can also play an optional game of 3D blacklight mini golf.
National Tiger Sanctuary - This animal attraction is located north of Branson in Saddlebrooke, off of Hwy. 65. You can take guided tours, feeding tours, or spend a day with the director, depending on how much you want to spend. There are lots of beautiful tigers, lions, and other wild animals here and if you want, you can donate to the cause. I would really love to pet and stroke those beautiful big cats.
Promised Land Zoo is located on Shepherd of the Hills Expressway. Our family visited PLZ two years ago and enjoyed seeing all the animals. It's free to feed the parakeets, or you can pay an additional fee to feed more exotic animals. There are also lectures about some of the animals.
If you're interested in prehistoric animals, visit the Branson Dinosaur Museum. You can see life-sized replicas of dinosaurs, dig for fossils in the dirt, see a fossil exhibit and visit the learning center.
Wild Animal Safari is located in Strafford, Missouri on Hwy. 44. You could stop here on your way to Branson or on your way home from Branson. It is a drive-through animal park with 70 different animals. You can also take a bus ride through the park with a guide. There are small carnival rides available if your youngsters need to burn off some steam. You can buy tickets at the website and save a little money.
Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge is located in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, which is a few miles southwest of Branson. This refuge also provides lifetime care for rescued tigers and lions and other wild creatures. There is lodging available on the property. You could combine a trip to Turpentine Creek with a trip to the Great Passion Play in Eureka Springs.
If you're interested in exotic animals but don't prefer to see them live and up close, you can see taxidermied animals and fish at the Ralph Foster Museum, which is located on the campus of College of the Ozarks. The taxidermied animals are mounted in realistic environments, except for the taxidermied fish - they're mounted on the wall. Look for the large swordfish.
Groupon and Half Price Ozarks often have deals for tickets for most of these animal attractions. I post many of these deals on this blog's Facebook page, so keep an eye out for them there.
Thanks for reading! See you next time!