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Top 10 things to do in Branson Missouri for Families

GreenHeartAdventure No Comments

Branson Missouri is the Live Show Capital of the Midwest.  A micropolitan area of 83,000 people, with 11,000 living in the city of Branson.  Branson is a destination area catering to tourists, starting in 1950 with square dances hosted in the Marvel Cave.  Branson has hosted two Fulltime Families rallies and provides many enjoyable activities. The following places have been used by other Fulltime Families and are easy to recommend to other traveling families.     

Branson Landing

Perfect for an evening out or an afternoon adventure. The water shows start on the hour, and are similar to the famous Las Vegas water shows.  The Outdoor mall space at Branson Landing has plenty of shops and restaurants. Visit the arcade for a chance to encounter Zombies, Werewolves, or Mechanical Bots on the 7D laser ride. (Recommended by other FTFs)  Stroll along the riverfront and enjoy the watershow.  (Free)

Hiking

There are several good hiking trails in the Branson area.  The Branson Waterfall hike is a .8 mile hike to a waterfall following a river.  Great hike for families with small kids with great photo opportunities. The Homestead Trail is part of the Ruth and Paul Henning State Forest.  This trail is a 3.5 mile loop rated as a moderate hike which has some elevation change and small waterfalls. A fun hike with older kids.

Pickin Porch Restaurant

Friendly Staff and amazing food. Try a Burnt End sandwich if they haven’t run out. Kid friendly seating in a unique market atmosphere.  Free live music on weekends. A new favorite BBQ place.

College of the Ozarks  

Don’t miss a tour to this unique educational experience. A beautiful campus where students work to pay for their education.  Try some ice cream at the creamery or splurge on a delicious meal at Dobyns Dining Room. The food features farm to table food, all prepared by students at the college. (Free to tour)

Escape room

Challenging but fun! If your family likes to work together to solve things, this place is for you.  No matter if you break the code or not the Escape Room will not disappoint. Family friendly.

BillyGail’s

Do not miss this hidden treasure of the Ozarks with pancakes larger than platters. Come with a empty stomach and leave with a smile.

Country Market

This local grocery store in Branson has everything you will need.  

iMax Branson

Visit iMax Branson for a look back at the Ozarks in pioneer days with Ozarks: Legacy & Legend or see the latest Avengers movie in 3D.  Branson’s #1 ranked cinema is family friendly.  Stop by McFarlain’s Family Restaurant located in the same complex for lunch or dinner.

Dolly Parton Stampede

This dinner attraction will not disappoint. If you only do one live performance while in Branson, the Branson Stampede is a must.  An amazing extravaganza joining horse stunts, musical productions & special effects with a home-cooking dinner.  Come hungry and get ready for a lively show of live animals, special effects and a some humor .  Perfect for all ages.

America’s Best Cafe @ ABC Campground

If you want a delicious meal for a great price this is the place for you.  This delicious cafe is walking distance from ABC campground, co-located at the Celebrity Station.   From Burgers to Mexican, Cheese It Up will not disappoint. America’s Best Cafe is open most days for Breakfast and Dinner.  Prices are already incredibly low, for a tourist town, but Paul and family is especially kind to other Families. Mention Fulltime Families!

The St. Louis Arch, Gateway to the West

Kimberly No Comments

Warning: This blog post contains way too many superlatives! One of our 10 best touring days!!

Dominick took this amazing picture


Have you ever taken your dually through a parking garage? With those spiral exits? That can put a damper on your city touring quite quickly. So last night as we were planning our day in St. Louis, Mike Burrell came up with the idea of renting a van so we could leave both trucks at home. Brilliant!

 

This morning the dads pulled up in our “ride”. This solution was totally awesome as we all had tons of room (we rented a 15 passenger van for the nine of us) and we could chat, snack, play minecraft and relax on our 120 mile ride into the city.

 

The other day, when we toured the Anheuser Busch Brewery, we caught a glimpse of the arch but today was the big day when we would actually go see it in person and even go to the top. What a fantastic day!

Seeing the arch through the alleys of Laclede's Landing was breathtaking! I felt my pace hasten and my heart race as we made our way to the arch grounds, this huge grass expanse with a stainless steel icon.

Holy Cow! There it is!!!

The Arch complex is truly fascinating as all the action is really going on below your feet, while your attention is fixed on the gigantic 630ft monument.

What does that mean exactly? Well, the visitors center, museum of westward expansion and the loading areas for the trams are all below the great lawn the arch is hovering over.

Big Tip Here

I should backtrack just a moment and mention that while we were on our 120 mile drive, I called the arch office ahead of time and made a reservation for our tram ride. It was during that phone call that I discovered there was currently a 2 hr wait for visitors without reservations. When we arrived we only had to wait 15 minutes to board the tram so the advanced reservation was well worth it.

Now, about the tram. Since the arch is curved and 630ft tall, a normal vertical elevator wouldn't cut it. Instead, the arch designers came up with a type of hybrid Ferris wheel system. 16 Round pods (8 onthe north side and 8 on the south side) hold 5 passengers each. The caterpillar like system inches it's way up and over during the entire ascension.

You can join us on our tram ride by clicking on the video below:

 

After the 3 1/2 minute ride, you are delivered to a room with a view. You will have to crouch and bend a bit to see the view, but it's well worth your best contortionist talents. There's the mighty Mississippi lapping against Illinois to the east, and the city of St. Louis stretches out in front of you like a diorama to the west.

Can you tell there's a cardinals game in progress?

You can stay in the observation room as long as you'd like. When your done, a quick tram ride will bring you back down.

This is a misrepresentation of the true chaos that is the Travs doing a jr program

 

As I mentioned before, all the action is below ground. Our next stop was the Museum of Westward Expansion which was amazing!! A stroll along the back wall has you following in Lewis and Clark's footsteps on their 2 year expedition to the Pacific.

You'll also find a life size teepee, an Indian history, a covered wagon and tons of other artifacts and exhibits detailing this critical time n US History.

We made sure to do the junior ranger program and earned some pretty sweet badges.

Next, it was off to the City Museum. I'm so glad we visited this one of a kind attraction. It's like no place we've ever seen! So fantastic that it needs its own blog post so click here to read about the enigma that is the City Museum.

 

Spelunking at the City Museum in St. Louis

Kimberly No Comments

Yes, you read that right. We went cave exploring in a museum! But the City Museum is not ordinary museum.

Going down to where?

Now they're in the ceiling

The first floor is full of caves, secret passage ways, slides and mysterious nooks.

Going out on a wing

 

And that's just the first floor. There's also a ten story slide, a ball pit big enough for your inner child, and a maze suspended 6 stories high.

 

Words really can't do justice to this amazing place, so we made a brief video:


  1. GO!
  2. Give yourself 3-4 hours
  3. Make sure you follow step 1!

 

Touring the Anheuser Busch Brewery in St. Louis, MO

Kimberly 1 Comments

Since the campground we had intended to move to in St. Louis is still closed due to flooding we took a day trip from Cape Girardeau instead.

It's 120 miles so its quite a haul but since we had a big list of “gotta dos” we figured it would be a good idea to break it up into two trips (we're planning on going back on Wednesday).

 

The brewery campus was stunning! The tour started with the Clydesdales and a meet and greet from their funny spotted friend.

 

Then off to the beechwood aging tanks, which was the smelliest section of the tour.

I was fascinated by how the company survived during Prohibition. During this period in American history, the beer maker sold wort, this is the step before fermentation (alcohol creation) and the company was able to sell it as “baking ingredient”

 

The Anheuser Busch Tour is not just for beer lovers! I would suggest this free tour (with free samples) to anyone who's interested in St. Louis history or American Icons!

 

 

 

Tune in later this week when we finally get to see the arch!!!

 

 

Missouri’s Wall of Fame in Cape Girardeau

Kimberly No Comments

We decided to brave the rainy weather and check out Missouri's Wall of Fame and history murals along the banks of the Mississippi today.

Each mural gives you a glimpse of history.

 

What a great way to learn about history! The murals were beautiful depictions of Cape Girardeau's history from native Americans in the 1200's to the city's humble beginnings as a trading post.

 

The trading post becomes a key to commerce

 

The murals stretched out a visual time line encompassing Lewis and Clark's visit to the area, the impact of steam boats along the Mississippi, the introduction to the rail road and modern advancements such as the bridge to Illinois.

Missouri has experienced mother nature's wrath including the freezing of the river

 

Immediately following the historic murals is the Missouri wall of fame, depicting famous Missourians like Vincent Price, Calamity Jane, Yogi Berra, Mark Twain, Laura Ingalls Wilder. Who knew so many influential people came from Missouri?

 

We even took the opportunity to follow a multiple clue geocache and get some ice cream at one of the cape's oldest buildings.

Tonia found her first cache

 

After our tour of the west side of the river, we crossed over to Illinois where we found some more “attractions”????

Can you pull a 5th wheel with this?

Is this an astc Musuem?

 

I am a firm believer that every location has something to learn about and Cape Girardeau is no exception!!!

 

Exploring the Trail of Tears in Missouri

Kimberly No Comments

Today, the Burrells took us to the Trail of Tears State Park.

In preparation for this field trip, the kids and I watched a short animated film on the “Indian Removal Act” produced by Brain Pop.

It's funny. For the majority of our trip, we have focused on the European exploration and history of America. Whenever Native American culture and history came up, I just brushed past it, much like my school text books had done.

The American Indians brought food to Thanksgiving. That's pretty much where my Native American knowledge began and ended, but on this leg of our journey, I'm finally ready to delve much deeper into the real history of this country.

This field trip was our first big step into learning about Native Americans and boy was it hard to explain.

Why???

Why did the Europeans believe in Manifest Destiny?

Why did the government feel entitled to push America's first population out of their homelands?

I obviously have a lot more research to do, but explaining the Trail of Tears to my children was more difficult than ___ (you fill in the blank – but make sure it's something really hard).

After our history lesson, we explored the park, driving to a spectacular scenic outlook that juts right over the banks of the Mississippi River, which is currently swollen to record heights.

We also took the opportunity to do some Geocaching, log balancing and frog catching.

On the way home, we had to drive through a flooded road. It seems that Missouri is experiencing 100 year flood proportions.

Currently, the campground in St. Louis we're supposed to be moving to this weekend, is closed, which would definitely put a cramp in our plans to tour the area.

Our current plan calls for hoping for a temporary reprieve from the rain.

 

 

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