By Robert Luce
Before Six Flags, there was Silver Dollar City. Located in Branson, Missouri, the 1880’s theme amusement park celebrated its 52nd anniversary in May. Park founders, and native Chicagoans, the Herschend family, are often on-hand touring the park, tasting hearty helpings of succotash and taking in the shows at the park, the original property of Herschend Family Entertainment, the nation’s largest family-owned theme park corporation with 26 properties in 10 states.
Traversing the Park
Planted at the site of one of the Ozarks’ oldest attractions, Marvel Cave, Silver Dollar City (Silverdollarcity.com) features the multi-looping Wildfire rollercoaster, the seven-story Giant Swing and America’s biggest water battle ride—RiverBlast. In addition to its thirty rides and attractions, the park features 100 resident craftsmen who demonstrate America’s heritage crafts, including woodcarving, blacksmithing and glassblowing. Echo Hollow Amphitheatre is the perfect place in the evening to listen to some of the most entertaining live bands and performers in Branson. Barbecued ribs, chicken, and pork at the Riverside Ribhouse show why the park is second to none when it comes to dining. Fresh made-to-order funnel cakes, homemade fudge at Brown’s Candy Shop and the harvest skillet made with Ozarks smoked sausage are crowd pleasers. Seasonal festivals include World-Fest, Southern Gospel Picnic, National Harvest Fest and An Old Time Christmas.
Big City Style With a Southern Charm
Chicagoans expect the finest accommodations when traveling—and Still Waters Vacation Resort (Stillwatersresort.com) caters to even the most pampered traveler’s needs. Located on Table Rock Lake, this condominium resort features a full service marina complete with pontoon boats, deck boats, ski boats and waverunners. The Island Oasis features a pool and waterfall with basketball and sand volleyball down the way. Nature trails line the grounds giving visitors the chance to take in the peace and tranquility of this exclusive resort. Brick oven pizza from the on-site market is deliverable to your room on those nights you want to relax on your own private balcony. Savory country style biscuits and gravy are available for breakfast every morning.
Taking in the Local Scene
It’s easy to lose yourself in Branson’s galleries, museums, theatres and historic landmarks. Somewhere between starting your day visiting the world’s largest Titanic museum (Titanicbranson.com), and ending your night watching country music superstar Neal McCoy perform at the Oak Ridge Boys Theatre (Oakridgeboystheatre.com) you’ll want to experience the fresh oysters and alligator tail at The Outback Steak & Oyster Bar (Outbackbranson.com). If downing Fosters with reptile isn’t your bag, then the tour and free sampling of over a dozen wines at Stone Hill Winery (Stonehillwinery.com) will please your palate. Billy Gail’s Café (5291 SH 265, 417.338.8883) is a one of a kind treat for those looking to experience authentic southern portions. From the pancakes overflowing off your plate, to the four egg omelets, this former gas station turned eatery is one of the hill’s best-kept secrets. Playing exclusively at The White House Theatre is the dazzling spectacle of The Legend of Kung Fu (Kungfubranson.com). The breathtaking martial arts show—which opened the Beijing Olympics—is playing exclusively in Branson. Those looking for a more intimate experience with their significant other can be whisked away aboard the Showboat Branson Belle (Showboatbransonbelle.com). With scenic views resembling those from the Ava Gardner classic, the cruise around Table Rock Lake features a three course meal and the show Made in the USA, starring the world’s only violin-playing aerialist, Janice Martin, plus the male vocal group, The ShowMen, with comedian and magician Christopher James as emcee.
For more information visit Explorebranson.com.