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Much to do in Branson on a budget

Branson is known for its variety of shows and attractions, which are wonderful ways to entertain the entire family. However, many are seeking free or less-costly activities to round out their vacation. Whether you are in Branson on vacation or are a local resident, looking for an affordable way to entertain the kids this summer, Branson and the surrounding area offer a multitude of free or low cost options.


The Branson Landing offers fun for all ages. While the Landing is known for its many shops and restaurants, one of the highlights for visitors is the spectacular fountain show. This amazing free water and fire event is offered daily, beginning at noon, and can be seen every hour on the hour. Another enjoyable part of the Branson Landing is walking along the boardwalk that borders Lake Taneycomo. A beautiful, scenic trail extends from the North Beach Park to the Lakeside RV Park. You can even stop and feed the ducks on your walk.


Just west of the Branson Landing is Dick's 5 and 10. In business since 1961, Dick's offers visitors and locals alike a fun-filled time, browsing the more than 250,000 items in the unique store. Everything from souvenirs to toys, household items, health and beauty, collectivals, hardware, stocking stuffers, candy and so much more are included under one roof. No trip to Branson is complete without the Dick's 5 and 10 experience.


If it is dinosaurs you like, there are a couple of exciting options for you. In downtown Branson, visit the Prehistoric Fossil Shop for a memorable shopping experience. It is a family-friendly National History Store, with a large selection of fossils and dinosaurs. Also, make time for the Dinosaur Museum, at the west end of the famed 76 strip. With 45 life-sized dinosaurs and lots of fun activities for children, the Dinosaur Museum will be a highlight of your time in Branson.


Near the Dinosaur Museum is the Beck Museums of Branson. The complex features two buildings and eight museums, including the World's Largest Toy Museum, Paul Harvey Jr. Museum, Harold Bell Wright Shepherd of the Hills Museum, Stearnsy Bear Museum, Wild West Museum and more. Kids and adults alike will love the more than one million toys inside the World's Largest Toy Museum.


Displays on the history of the 20th-century American military conflicts, plus a large memorial statue, can be found at the Veterans Memorial Museum, a popular history museum on Branson's 76 Country Boulevard, a fascinating stop for veterans, history buffs and families.


For those who enjoy swimming during the hot summer months, Moonshine Beach on Branson's Table Rock Lake is the area's only sand swim beach, complete with a volleyball court, boat ramp and a picnic area. Come for a few hours of a day full of fun and relaxation. If a pool is more your style, Branson's RecPlex offers 12,250 square feet of aquatic park fun in the Aqua Plex, with very affordable daily admission fees.


Near Moonshine Beach, you'll enjoy learning more about Table Rock Lake at the Dewey Short Visitor Center, with three stories of interactive exhibits and murals by local artists, as well as an astounding view of Table Rock Lake and the Table Rock Dam. There is no admission charge and the area is complete with walking and bike trails, lake access and picnic facilities.  


A short jaunt to the west will take you to Talking Rocks Cavern. Located in Branson West, this unique and affordable attraction features guided walking cave tours throughout the day, for views of amazing living crystal cave formations. The venue also offers miniature golf, gemstone mining, a nature trail and lookout tower, and a variety of family games.


Speaking of games, Branson's Boardgame Cafe, Dice and Dine, is a low-cost way to spend an afternoon or evening, and is the perfect destination for board game enthusiasts or the casual player, with fun for all ages.


Just a short walk from Dice and Dine is Branson's Centennial Museum, a free attraction featuring all things Branson. You'll marvel at how Branson came to be the beloved destination it is today.  


If the history of Branson is of interest to you, don't miss the Song of Hope Museum, located at 673 Historic Highway 165. The Song of Hope Museum is an amazing account of Branson's rich musical history, from its earliest beginnings through the Branson Boom and beyond. With free admission, the Song of Hope is a musical journey you don't want to miss.


The College of the Ozarks is situated in Point Lookout, just south of Branson. The private Christian college has a magnificent campus with lots for visitors to see and do. Known as Hard Work U, the campus is the home to several work stations of interest, including the Dairy, Fruitcake and Jelly Kitchen, Edwards Mill and Hoge Greenhouses. The Ralph Foster Museum offers something for everyone, and Patriots Park and the Lest We Forget 9-11 Memorial are not to be missed. Enjoy a visit to the college's Williams Memorial Chapel and a walk around Lake Honor. Be sure to stop by the exquisite Keeter Center for some delicious handmade ice cream, to make your trip complete.


In addition to the aforementioned attractions, Branson and the lakes area have an abundance of hiking and nature trails, parks, playgrounds and picnic areas, all of which offer fun and free entertainment for your vacation or your staycation.


Many websites offer insight to Branson's free and affordable things to do. One such page is the Branson on a Budget Facebook page, with more than 90,000 members, eager to answer your questions and help you find fun and low-cost entertainment in the Branson area.


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