Surprising Branson

Been curious about Branson for years without any real knowledge. When asking friends and associates, their comments were generally:
1. Where (or what) is it? or 2. That hokey place where they play country music and eat BBQ.

Called the Branson Chamber of Commerce for info. When told there is more live entertainment here than any other city(!) we decide it is time for a first hand look – and go for a one week immersion trip – goal: see and experience everything possible.

Boy, were we surprised — Branson is a don’t miss experience!! Below are highlights of what we experienced in our one week (not enough) visit.

Click here for entire trip photo journal, or view each day’s photos. Read our trip diary; view each day and photos — enjoy as we did.

day 1 travel to Branson photos
fly to Tulsa, Oklahoma — drive to Branson, Missouri

 157 miles / 254 km

1 pm stay at Big Cedar Lodge go
Private Honeymoon Cabins(!)

day 2 Branson photos

10 am tour Big Cedar Lodge
Worman House Restaurant — rustic elegance, gourmet Sunday Brunch
Devil’s Pool Restaurant — dining in casual yet special experience
Buzzard Bar, Valley View Lodge

2 pm Dogwood Canyon and Nature Park go
Sampled Canyon Café Signature menu
Dyan Baughan, food service manager

Tram Ride of the Preserve
Hope Wilderness Chapel

7 PM Top of the Rock Restaurant dinner
Robert Stricklin  Executive Chef

Sunset at Top of the Rock overlooking Table Rock Lake
gorgeous, perfect ending to 1st day

day 3 Branson photos

10 am tour Big Cedar Lodge
Meet with management to learn Big Cedar Lodge history
(Special Food/Wine Event coming up — Celebration of Taste weekends in February)

tour more of Big Cedar Lodge

4 pm Showboat Branson Belle river boat go
cruise Table Rock Lake
three-course meal and dinner show
lots of fun

7:30 pm IMAX Show go
Lewis and Clark, Great Journey West
McFarlain’s Family Restaurant
tasty Ozark Cuisine in IMAX Complex

day 4 Springfield and Branson photos

visit Noble & Associates, Springfield go

meet John Scroggins, Director of Public Relations
visit their focus group restaurant “Teatro”

lunch Avanzare Italian Dining go
Tony Garcia, Executive Chef
outstanding cuisine, voted #1 chef in Springfield

2 pm Bass Pro Shop go
toured #1 tourist attraction in Missouri
“Granddaddy of all Outdoor Stores” (300,000 square feet)
Hemingways Blue Water Cafe

4 pm Bass Pro Shops Fabrication Shop
behind scenes tour — where they make fantastic interior items

back to Branson
7 pm Andy Williams – Ann Margaret Show go
met afterwards with Andy and Ann-Margaret, both very cordial
Andy has his own signature wine

day 5 Branson photos

Big Cedar Lodge
9 am Garden Tour

10 am Silver Dollar City go
toured park
5 Family Fun Festivals and Events throughout the year
met with Mark Momany Food Division Manager
lunch at Mary’s Springhouse
demo – making Mozzarella cheese
went down 300 feet into cave where Silver Dollar City began

5 pm Move to Chateau on the Lake go

6 pm Kyle Petty and 10th aniversary Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America rolled into hotel — 220 riders, 25 first timers go
Pat interviewed Petty — autographs, pictures

7:30 pm Shoji Tabuchi show go
“Branson’s #1 Attraction”
Wonderful, big production numbers

day 6 Eureka Springs, Arkansas and Branson photos

Eureka Springs
1 pm Lunch Grand Taverne Restaurant and Lounge go
Lunch — outstanding
Executive Chef David Gilderrson

3 pm Eureka Springs highlights go
Tour and sight seeing
The Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow go
Only resident writer’s colony in the world with a test kitchen

7 pm Dinner Branson
Candlestick Inn Restaurant & Lounge go
Travel Host says: one of “Best Dining experiences in Branson”

day 7 Branson photos

9:30 am(!) Yakov Smirnoff Show go
Branson Two-Time Comedian of the Year
wonderful, wholesome, patriotic comedy

Lunch at Chateau on the Lake

2 pm Met with President Paul Rasmussen at McFarlains
Sampled McFarlain’s Double Feature — fried green tomatoes and French fried sweet potatoes

Tour of Table Rock Lake by speed boat — Joe Cillo tour guide

Met with Bob Haislip, Chateau on the Lake Assistant General Manager & Director of Food and Beverage
Discussed new Preview Menu

8 pm Presley’s Country Jubilee go
“Branson’s Original Show on the Strip”

11 pm Chateau on the Lake, Library
4th Course After Dinner Delights and Aussy Benjamin Port
plus music in the lounge — Eli Barsi

day 8 leave Branson photos

Breakfast at Chateau on the Lake

Brioche French Toast — Raspberry filling — dipped in Waffle batter and served with maple syrup

Drive to Tulsa
Lunch in Tulsa
Big Daddy Barbeque — #1 BBQ in Tulsa go

Fly home — collapse

Thank you — to all who facilitated our exploration
We saw/experienced a great deal in a very short time, thanks to the courtesy, hospitality, efficiency of so many:
Dawn Erickson, Branson Convention & Visitors Bureau, Pam Critchfield, Martha Hoy-Bohner, Lynn Berry, Eureka Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau
Big Cedar Lodge, Dogwood Canyon and Nature Park, Canyon Café, Top of the Rock Restaurant, Showboat Branson Belle, IMAX, McFarlain’s Family Restaurant, Noble Associates, Avanzare Italian Dining, Bass Pro Shops, Hemingways Blue Water Cafe, Andy Williams – Ann Margaret, Silver Dollar City, Chateau on the Lake, Kyle Petty, Shoji Tabuchi, Eureka Springs, Grand Taverne Restaurant and Lounge, The Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow, Candlestick Inn Restaurant & Lounge, Yakov Smirnoff, Presley’s Country Jubilee, Eli Barsi and Big Daddy

All pictures taken by Photo Editor Mary Buttaro with Olympus C-5050 digital camera Olympus Cameras.