Adventure Activities in Branson -- Try if You Dare

Adventure Activity Branson

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Every travel guidebook lists the normal stuff. But only someone who's been going to Branson, since the '60s really knows the perfect ways to thoroughly embarrass your offspring when you're vacationing in the Ozarks!

Be honest. If you're headed to Branson, Missouri, and if you have teenagers in your back seat, they're probably already embarrassed enough. They may refuse to tell their friends where they're vacationing. You can try brightening up their dark moods by bribing them with promises of a day at White Water or the adrenaline bursts riding WildFire or PowderKeg at Silver Dollar City, but other than that, they're probably eye-rolling the entire time you're inching along Highway 76 (Country Boulevard), seeing one country music theater after another.

You know the value of Branson, compared to other vacation towns. You know the variety of accommodations, shows, family fun, and food available there. But you might not know some of the ways you can get even with your kid for that nose ring. Here are five suggestions for adventure activities in Branson, Missouri:

1: Ride the horsie in front of Dick's

First, make sure to make them walk around inside the entire Dick's Oldtime 5 & 10, picking up every nostalgic item you recognize from when you were a kid. Repeat at least 45 times: "Oh, man, wouldja look at that? That sure brings back some good memories!"

Before leaving, buy a cheap, straw cowboy hat -- the kind with a star badge on the front and a string that goes under your chin. This must be worn when you deposit your quarters into the horse.

Warning: you will probably surpass the weight limit. But go as far as depositing the quarters and starting to loop your leg over that saddle. Add in a loud, "Hi, ho, Silver! Away!" This is guaranteed to cause anyone over the age of 11 to flee around the nearest corner, toward the public restrooms, going, "O-M-G, Dad! You are seriously not going to do that!"

Once they're out of sight, wave over the nearest sweet-faced kid to take advantage of those quarters. Then pat yourself on the back for getting your kid's attention away from her most recent text. In fact, you'll probably be the topic of the next one she sends.
Location: 103 W. Main St.

2: Cross the swinging bridge at Silver Dollar City

This is your chance to bounce, yell, run, and generally act like a loon, with nary a drop of moonshine in your system. Your kids will secretly love it... or very openly hate it. They'll react, whether they mean to or not. The simultaneous sideways sway and jumpy feel in their knees will either make them join in, or, take giant steps as fast as they can manage their way across.

Built in 1962, this type of actual swinging bridge is rare. Located right in the center of the park, guests who know the layout well often use the bridge as a short-cut, as well as a good laugh. Depending on which direction you've crossed, follow your nose to the sweet-smelling bakery for a homemade cinnamon roll or to the fragrances coming from the candle shop, where you can color-dip your own candles. Or, if you've headed the opposite way, go right and follow the screams to the tame-but-thrillsome Thunderation, or left and toward the sound of the whistle to the train depot.
Location: 399 Silver Dollar City Parkway

3: Visit the stars

Sure, you can find music everywhere in Branson, and at least a national or local star or two at every theater. But how about a little Hollywood? It's easy to spot the place. Just look up. When you see the ginormous ape hanging off the building, you've arrived! At the Hollywood Entertainment Center, you have three separate attractions:

  • You can check out all the life-like wax versions of many past and present TV/movie stars at the Hollywood Wax Museum. Think of the photo ops! Oh, the opportunities for red-facing the kids! "Look, sweetie! It's Forrest Gump! Life is like a box of chocolates! Now, now, stop being so rude, sweetie, or I'll have to call you Forrest Grump!
  • Then throw in a little shockeroo and aaah. At the Castle of Chaos, your techies along for the ride will sit up and take notice of the world's very first 5D ride and shooting game.
  • It goes without saying, but the kids will be super-glad for a chance to lose you in Hannah's Maze of Mirrors. No problem. You can continue ringing their cells or randomly calling out their names. Give them a big, big hug whenever you're finally reunited.
3030 W. Highway 76

4: "Tower-bunga!"

2010 could have been named the year of the zip-line for Branson. You can choose from several different options. But if you're going to take your life in your harness, you might want to choose a place that's been there for a while. You can't get much more stable-looking than Inspiration Tower.

The Vigilante Extreme ZipRider, located in the The Shepherd of the Hills Homestead, launches off the 230-foot tower. Imagine flying a half-mile through the air, at 50 mph! If you're brave enough to keep your eyes open, you'll see some of the most beautiful scenery in the Ozarks.
5586 West Highway 76

5: See Shoji

There's nothing that says "Branson" like a Japanese-born fiddler. To see Shoji is to love Shoji. And those are just the start of the types of groaners you'll hear here. But he'll win you over with a show full of spectacu-tainment -- lions and dragons and drums, oh, my! With all the glitz of Vegas added in with a lovable Asian accent, a smile stretching into Arkansas, and passionate performances, The Shoji Tabuchi Show is a Branson favorite for many good reasons. And get this: His wife and daughter are in on the show, so it makes you wonder how often Shoji embarrasses his kid!

Bonus hint: Definitely check out the bathrooms. (And be careful what you do in there, because you might just get caught on camera. Many people decide they need pictures of those bathrooms! You're forewarned!)
3260 Shepherd of the Hills Expressway

If your teens haven't barricaded themselves in the hotel room by now, finish off with miniature golf. This game works best if you wear a Bass Pro Shops T-shirt and if you loudly promise to eat at the Rowdy Beaver when you've finished putt-putting. Don't forget to holler, "I got a hole in eight!" now and then.

Good times.
Good memories.
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