Branson, Missouri calls itself the “live entertainment capital of the world”. It is a G-rated Las Vegas, with tons of family-friendly things to do. While you have to pay for the live entertainment, you can find lots of free things to do to fill in the time between shows.
Table Rock Lake Dam and State Park
Table Rock Lake, formed when the White River was dammed, created new recreational activities in the Ozarks. The state park, which doesn’t charge admission for parking, has a Visitors Center with interactive exhibits. Enjoy the hiking and mountain biking trails. Bring a picnic.
The state park is next to the launchpad for Showboat Branson Belle, a lunch or dinner cruise with a live show.
Stone Hill Winery has free tours of its wine cellars. This is a good place to escape the heat – in fact, you might need a jacket. And you have to wear closed-toe shoes. There is also a new museum, also free, where you can take a self-guided tour.
Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery
The Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery, the largest trout-rearing facility operated by the Missouri Department of Conservation, supplies rainbow and brown trout for Lake Taneycomo and other Missouri trout management areas. The fish hatchery is closed until 2025 while a new Conservation Center is being built.
Another Fish Option: The Branson Aquarium
You have to pay to enter the Branson Aquarium, but I saw families driving up and just letting kids climb on the giant octopus outside. Or maybe it’s a squid? You have to go inside for answers but enjoy the large marine sculpture for free.
Right next to the Branson Aquarium, kids and adults dance around the water fountain, singing along to the music and shrieking when the wind shifts and they get soaked.
This traffic-free waterfront development is filled with shops and restaurants, all hoping to take your money. But it is also a great place for strolling, dipping into stores for free samples and listening to the rock music (not country!) playing outside. The water fountain has daily shows, every hour on the hour, from noon to 10 p.m., 9 p.m. on Sundays.
There is also a quiet area along Lake Taneycomo, where joggers and strollers, many with dogs, enjoy the view.
Bass Pro Shops
Bass Pro Shops, at the southern end of Branson Landing, has lots of free family-friendly programming. It is fitting that the store is right on Lake Taneycomo, a popular fishing spot.
Branson Discovery Trolley
This free mode of transportation links Branson Landing and historic downtown Branson. The schedule is about every 15 minutes because the bus operates on a constant loop during operating hours. The streets area can be very congested – and I’m used to New York City traffic! – so this free ride entertains the kids and saves on gas.
SheBuysTravel Tip: The free trolley is different from the cute train that just runs along Branson Landing and costs $4.
See a Giant Fiddle and Banjo
You don’t have to pay to see a show at Grand Country Music Hall to see the giant fiddle and banjo. If you like giant roadside attractions or want to inspire your kids to practice their instruments, check these out.
World’s Largest Rooster
Another giant roadside attraction – the 43-foot-tall rooster at the Great American Steak and Chicken House.
College of the Ozarks
This tuition-free College of the Ozarks has beautiful gardens and greenhouses. Point Lookout offers panoramic views of the Ozarks Hills Lake Taneycomo. Go here to watch the sunset. Your Instagram will thank you.
Looking for places to stay in Branson? Check out our list of family-friendly Branson resorts.