Travel

Lake Geneva – Wisconsin Resort Community Dazzles by Design

By Mark Bradley

As we boarded the luxurious 1898 yacht “Polaris” to begin our short passage to historic Black Point mansion in Lake Geneva, the dazzling colors of autumn encircled us and added to the grandeur that defines this all-season relaxation, romance and recreation destination.

The diversity of fall color is no accident, as the trees surrounding the town of Lake Geneva were strategically placed by city planner Frederick Law Olmstead to “dazzle by design” each fall, adding to the elegant lifestyle enjoyed by its early residents.

Lake Geneva has often been called the “Newport of the West,” referring to the Rhode Island city that was a summer escape of New York’s wealthy during the Gilded Age of the 1890’s. Much like Newport, Lake Geneva became a summer escape for many wealthy Chicagoans, particularly after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 devastated their city.

Black Point Estate was the summer home of Chicago brewer Conrad Seipp, a German immigrant, who amassed a fortune with his brewery before it closed during Prohibition. His descendants donated the home to the people of Wisconsin, opening it to the public for tours during the spring, summer and fall months.

All along the lakefront you’ll find similar homes of some of Chicago’s most iconic families (Wrigley, Swift, Sturges, etc). The Geneva Lake Shore Path loop encircles the seven and a half mile long, two mile wide lake, allowing visitors to set foot on some of the most expensive lakefront property in the country.

During my late September visit I stayed in the Harbor Shores on Lake Geneva Hotel, a modern five story structure located “in the heart of it all.” I enjoyed a lakefront view with a balcony and comfortable accommodations. The staff made my stay particularly special, living up to their Lake Geneva Hospitality Award for extraordinary customer service. The building itself was within easy walking distance of downtown restaurants, shopping and the Riviera dock, making it a convenient and affordable alternative to some of the larger resorts in the area.

The Baker House

The Baker House

Once settled into the hotel, I began my Lake Geneva experience at the Baker House, an elegant 1885 mansion converted into an intimate, upscale boutique hotel complete with a personal butler. I toasted good fortune with a circle of guests as we stood in the front yard at sunset wearing turn of the twentieth century hats, while the staff dressed in gowns and suits of the era.

Among the many local eateries I visited throughout the trip, Sprecher’s Restaurant and Pub downtown proved to be my favorite, as they featured their own German style beers along with their own Root Beer and Cream Soda for the kids.

Pier 290

Pier 290

Across the lake on William’s Bay I discover another local find, a newly opened restaurant called Pier 290 that offers lakeside indoor and outdoor dining. Amazingly, it is one of just a handful of lakeside restaurants open to the public. They offer fresh and natural casual dining with a nautical ambiance featuring classic Lake Geneva boat propellers and other assorted artifacts.

Nearby in Fontana is the newly renovated Abbey Resort, where I enjoyed a relaxing massage in their Avani Spa before heading down to the docks for the annual Antique Boat Show. I found dozens of classic, wooden antique boats on display, highlighted elegantly by the resort’s signature A Frame entrance that has been welcoming guests for nearly 50 years.

If you’re looking for a gift that will make you the talk of the family—you can’t go wrong with an Abbey gift card. And from now through New Year’s Day, when you purchase a $100 gift card, you’ll receive a $20 bonus certificate. Purchase $500 and receive a free night stay and $100 in bonus certificates.

Rates for the holiday weekends and Christmas week start at $99 a night.

Hanging at Lake Geneva Canopy Tours

Hanging at Lake Geneva Canopy Tours

Venturing out of my comfort zone, I decided to try my hand at ziplining with Lake Geneva Canopy Tours. This true “canopy tour” involves riders traversing steel cables connected by a series of platforms in the trees, walking wire rope “sky bridges,” and climbing tree based staircases before finishing on a long downhill zipline to home base. It’s family friendly and open to all ages with certain weight limitations.

In the colder months Lake Geneva embraces winter and the spirit of Christmas with a wide variety of events. Originally, iceboat racing on the lake was the major attraction. Though still largely popular, the Grand Geneva Resort kicks annual six week long Christmas in the Country draws major attention as well. Beginning in mid-November, the event  features a guided Trolley Tour of Lights overlooking festive outdoor holiday decorations around their 1,300 acre grounds.

Inside, you’ll find the largest Gingerbread House display in the nation, as well as an exhibit of locally made Christmas quilts and a Festival of Trees. Accompanied by a live orchestra, the popular two-hour long dance-musical production of “Hooray for the Holidays” is another favorite draw.

The Annual Tree Lighting During the Festival of Lights

The Annual Tree Lighting During the Festival of Lights

Lake Lawn Resort also joins in the spirit with performances of “The Nutcracker,” and on Christmas Eve you can enjoy a “Dickens Dinner” inspired by the works of Charles Dickens, while Christmas Day features a Grand Yuletide Buffet.

The crowning attraction, downtown Lake Geneva hosts the Festival of Lights and Great Electric Children’s Christmas Parade Nov. 30-December 1. For more information on this event and other visitor information in the Lake Geneva area go to LakeGenevaWi.com or call 800.345.1020.

Luxury canal cruising aboard the Scottish Highlander

By Mark Bradley

Imagine your favorite boutique hotel with attentive staff, gourmet cuisine and luxurious accommodations. Now picture yourself elegantly gliding through the misty Scottish Highlands taking in the spectacular scenery, ancient history, and charming folklore, all while leisurely cruising across legendary Loch Ness and through the Caledonian Canal.

You will then begin to understand the hotel barging experience aboard European Waterways 117 foot floating hotel barge “Scottish Highlander.”

This retrofitted, 1930’s era grain barge gives the impression of a Scottish country home when you step aboard for six nights of pure, pampered pleasure.  Its subtle use of tartan furnishings and its fully stocked open bar saloon featuring some of Scotland’s best Single Malt Whiskeys instantly immerses you in the culture.

The Scottish Highlander holds a maximum of eight passengers in three twin/double staterooms and a larger twin/double suite at the bow of the boat, ensuring an intimate atmosphere for all. Each cabin includes private bathrooms, showers, and daily housekeeping service.

I arrived early to find Captain Dan Clark busily cleaning the glass portholes and was later greeted by Hostess Inga Kakite with a glass of sparkling Prince William champagne.  My fellow passengers soon joined me at the opening reception, a happy mix comprised of an Australian couple from Melbourne, an American couple from Chicago and an English couple with their eight year old daughter.

We were introduced to the remaining members of the four-person crew—including Master Chef Sasha Tkacova and Tour Director Barry Paterson—and soon sat down to what would be the first of many memorable dinners.

The menu featured freshly caught pan fried salmon, wilted spinach greens, and new potatoes in a white wine chervil sauce, preceded by Scottish traditional favorite Cock-A-Leekie mousse with a whole grain mustard Hollandaise sauce.

All dinners and lunches include full wine service—always offering a choice of fine reds and whites. The first night’s dessert was another local favorite called Cranachan, a combination of roasted oats and granola topped with double cream and fresh raspberries.

In the European tradition, a variety of local cheeses are served each evening with dessert. The first night featured my favorite, an Isle of Kintyre mature cheddar with claret, along with mature Stilton.

Captain Clark, an experienced bargemaster of nine years, gave us an overview of the sixty mile trip ahead through fourteen locks and across Loch Lochy, Loch Oich and Loch Ness. He warmly welcomed those of us who wanted to learn more about the boat’s operations to join him in the wheelhouse along the way.

In addition, each day our local tour director would lead us to shore on intimate excursions, exploring historic castles, gardens, battlefields, and even an authentic whisky distillery.

The next morning we boarded our minivan after a hearty breakfast and visited the infamous village of Glencoe where the McDonald family was slaughtered by the English in 1692 after being betrayed by the Campbell clan. On the way back to the boat we got a closeup look at old Inverlochy Castle in Fort William— a Scottish rarity because it’s never changed shape or size.

That afternoon we left our mooring at the top of Neptune’s Ladder at Banavie and began our journey up the Great Glen to Inverness.

It was a typical Highlands summer day with the temperatures in the 60’s, partly cloudy, and intermittent showers. The Scottish Highlander cruises from late March through October with an average high of 65 degrees Fahrenheit during July and August.  However, we experienced much sunnier and warmer conditions in the latter half of our cruise, so come prepared for a variety of weather.

As we slowly raised up in the lock after our 20 mile journey and prepared to moor for the night, we were surprised to hear the distinctive sound of bagpipes. As if it were a Broadway stage, the boat dramatically elevated in the lock to see a lone piper in full regalia marching back and forth on the towpath.

We all stood spellbound, transformed back in time as he played just for us in this remote section of the Great Glen. I can only describe it as an almost spiritual experience.

That evening we dined on appetizers of scallops, black pudding, quail eggs and curried butterbean sauce, followed by rack of lamb on scotch broth risotto. Dessert was baked vanilla cheesecake with Scottish glayva berries, accompanied by Isle of Kintyre Applesmoke Cheddar and Dunsyre Blue cheeses.

I woke up the next morning to sheep looking through my porthole as we began our ten mile trip to Fort Augustus on the southern shore of Loch Ness. Needing some exercise, I joined my fellow travelers in a leisurely walk along the canal towpath where we soon caught the boat at the Kytra Lock, though the Scottish Highlander also provides bicycles if you prefer to ride.

As I approached Fort Augustus on foot I noticed a lovely field of purple heather across the canal and was intrigued to find it was part of a golf course, which I vowed to tee up the following day as we locked down to Loch Ness.

As I hacked it out of the heather and gorse the next day, I smiled knowing I was experiencing an authentic round of golf in the country of its origin.

European Waterways can arrange golf or other themed cruises at customer request including wine appreciation, cycling, walking/hiking, or even tandem barge cruises for larger groups. In fact, half their cruises are exclusively chartered for families, friends, or corporate outings.

After my morning round of golf, we followed our guide to Urquhart Castle along Loch Ness and to Eilean Donan Castle near the Isle of Skye. The excursion also included a trip to Cawdor Castle and its exquisite gardens, and the Culloden Battlefield where Bonnie Prince Charlie was defeated by the British in 1746 ending the last Scottish rebellion.

The final day featured a tour and tasting at the Glen Ord Whiskey Distillery, as well as a surprise visit to an ancient Pictish stone mound burial ground called Clava Cairns.

At the day’s end we headed to the Captain’s Farewell Dinner, held at Muirtown Wharf in Inverness. As we gathered one last time at the dinner table for a meal of Haggis, Neeps and Tatties and a delicious Aberdeen angus beef fillet, we exchanged addresses with our fellow travelers and arranged to travel again on another hotel barge.

Overall, the cruise had far exceeded my expectations. It had given me a relaxed, informed and elegant trip through the Highlands along with impeccable service and a gourmet sampling of local cuisine.

Prices for a six night cruise aboard the eight passenger Scottish Highlander are from $3850 per person in a twin/double en suite cabin, including all meals, wines, an open bar, excursions and local transfers.

European Waterways also offers cruises in France, Holland, Italy, Ireland, England, Belgium, Germany and Luxemburg.  For complete information visit their website at Gobarging.com or call toll free from the US at 877.879.8808.

Gettysburg: Bravery and sacrifices remembered

By Terri Marshall

As the nation commemorates the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War, the site of the conflict’s biggest battle joins in the commemoration activities.  In July 1863,  over 170,000 soldiers converged on the small Pennsylvania town of Gettysburg  in a battle that changed the course of the war and ultimately the course of a nation.

Most of us studied the Battle of Gettysburg in our American history classes.  We memorized President Lincoln’s brief address delivered at the dedication of Soldiers’ National Cemetery – the final resting place of 3,500 Union soldiers.  Those history lessons become real with a visit to Gettysburg.

Every year the town commemorates the Battle of Gettysburg  with as many as 15,000 Civil War re-enactors arriving each July to give visitors a glimpse into the 1860’s through battle re-creations, medical and fashion demonstrations, musical performances and encampments.  Each day includes two battles featuring Union and Confederate cavalry, artillery, infantry and an explosive pyrotechnic display – an ideal way to get in touch with the nation’s history.  Gettysburgreenactment.com.

Each November, the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery and the Gettysburg address are commemorated  on Remembrance and Dedication weekend.  The events begin with a parade of Union and Confederate soldiers through the streets of town.  Townspeople and re-enactors in period costumes stroll throughout the community.   As daylight fades Soldiers’ National Cemetery glows with the flickering candlelight of  thousands of luminaries placed on the graves of those who paid the ultimate price for freedom.

November 19th – the anniversary of Lincoln’s Gettysburg address – is Dedication Day.  In 2012 the keynote speaker was a man who knows quite a bit about Abraham Lincoln…Steven Spielberg.  As he stood on the stage next to a portrait of Lincoln to address the thousands of people in attendance, one theme was central to his speech.  “I am humbled to stand in this place where Abraham Lincoln addressed a nation torn from war with a brief speech that provided hope when it was needed most.”

If you have ever considered visiting Gettysburg,  this is the year to go.   Walk in Lincoln’s footsteps beginning at the historic railroad station, through the streets of town to the David Wills House and on to Soldiers’ National Cemetery.

Gettysburg National Military Park is the most visited of all the military parks in the United States.   With more than 6,000 acres of preserved hallowed ground, the park is a place of learning, reflection and patriotism.  With more than 1300 monuments and markers, the park has one of the largest outdoor sculpture collections in the world.

There are nine ways to tour the park including horseback, bicycle, guided tours by bus or car and even by Segway.  Guides like Jim Pangburn know more about Gettysburg than the history books.  “I studied for five years before becoming a guide here at Gettysburg National Military Park,” says Jim.  “I’m still learning new things every day.” Nps.gov/gett

The Gettysburg National Military Park’s Museum and Visitor Center – just four years old – has already welcomed millions through its doors as a starting point for the Gettysburg experience.  The museum is also home to the Gettysburg Cyclorama – a 377 feet by 42 feet circular oil painting – serving as a vivid memorial to the soldiers who took part in Pickett’s Charge. Gettysburgfoundation.org

The jewel in the crown of Gettysburg’s 150th Anniversary observation of the Civil War’s most famous battle is the opening of the Gettysburg Seminary Ridge Museum on July 1, 2013.  The museum will occupy 20,000 square feet on four floors of the renovated Schmucker Hall on the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg campus.  Visitors will be able to explore history where it happened, walk halls where wounded soldiers suffered, experience General Buford’s view from the Seminary cupola and stand where many on both sides lost their lives.

The museums main exhibit – Voices of Duty and Devotion – begins on the 4th floor with the story of the fighting on Seminary Ridge on July 1, 1863.  Pledging “we have come to stay,” outnumbered Union troops fought to hold back Confederate forces as reinforcements from both armies continued to arrive.   The staggering losses on both sides left the wounded and dying to seek shelter in the Seminary building.  The 3rd floor depicts what happened within the walls of Schmucker Hall as it became one of the largest field hospitals in Gettysburg.

Exhibits on the 2nd floor provide a context for understanding the moral and intellectual struggles that led to the Civil War over issues that divided a nation. The exhibits offer an opportunity to explore how a county on the Mason Dixon line experienced civil strife and moral struggles involved religious debates, anti-slavery activities, the Underground Railroad and the role of the African American community.  Seminaryridge.org.

Gettysburg is looking forward to the 150th Commemoration, but there is another side to Gettysburg that has nothing to do with history.

This is Apple Country with over 20,000 acres of apple, peach and pear trees.  Each spring the countryside blossoms with thousands of apple blossoms as the community hosts the Annual Apple Blossom Festival.  Appleblossomfestival.info.

This year marks the 66th year of the Gettysburg Bluegrass Festival.  Dozens of musicians come together on stage for fours days of music, workshops food and good times.  Gettysburgbluegrass.com.

Gettysburg also has a growing wine industry and has produced several varieties of award-winning wines.  The Gettysburg Wine and Fruit Trail combines visits to the renowned vineyards and orchards throughout the scenic countryside.  Gettysburg.travel.

Whether you visit for the history or any of the other activities Gettysburg has to offer, you will leave knowing this is a very special place.

The Spirits of Southern Delaware

By  Terri Marshall

Southern Delaware is a popular beach destination in the summer, but spend a little time exploring off the beach and you will discover the true spirit – and spirits – that call Delaware home.

Nassau Valley Vineyards located just a few miles from the beach in Lewes, Delaware  produces award winning wines from estate grown grapes along with other high quality fruit sourced from local and regional growers.  The winery offers tours and tastings. An onsite museum chronicles the 8,000 year-old history of wine, but it is the spirit behind this vineyards that begs exploration.

When Peggy Raley decided to begin producing wines Delaware’s law prohibited the production and resale of alcohol.  Peggy drafted legislation and lobbied the Delaware General Assembly to create the Farm Winery legislation for the state.  The law passed in 1991 and Nassau Valley Vineyards opened in 1993 as the First Winery in the First State.

“In going through changing the laws, it was always our intention to see an industry grow,” says Peggy.  “If we wanted it to just stay us, we probably could have made that happen, but it was about trying to create things for the future.”

Peggy’s efforts paved the way for all other Delaware wineries and breweries.  “It was two and a half years of me laying that groundwork that set the formula, but what we did opened the door for everybody.  It’s gratifying to see that all of those efforts opened the doors for a lot of good people to come forward,” she says.    For more information go to Nassauvalley.com

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Peggy paved the way for future spirited entrepreneurs like the founders of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery in Milton, Delaware.  Dogfish Head started out as the smallest commercial brewery in America brewing its first ale on three little kegs with propane burners underneath.  Today it is one of Delaware’s most popular brews and can be found nationwide. The creative brews developed by creative people with a very creative tree house on property for meetings is best understood by a tour of the brewery followed by samples of the brews – of course!

“Dogfish is an amazing place to work,” says Mark Carter – whose business card labels him Event Czar/Donation Dude/Sustainability Guy.  “The bottom line is we get to make creative beers with a bunch of off-centered co-workers, and in the tour world we get to share this experience with visitors from all over the country.”

Dogfish Head Brewery maintains a focus on sustainability.  For example, the grains used in the brewing cycle are recycled and delivered to local farmers to be used as feed for cattle – making for some very happy cows in Southern Delaware.

Those off-centered employees are pretty happy too.  “It’s not bad getting a payday case of beer with our paychecks,” says Mark.  Check out their craft brewed ales at Dogfish.com.

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A bit further south on Fenwick Island, Dale Clifton, Jr. offers up some spirits of the sea at the Discover Sea Shipwreck Museum.  A more than avid diver, Dale has spent the majority of his last 30 years underwater exploring shipwrecks – many of them off the coast of Delaware.   “Each time a ship sinks, time stand still,” says Dale.

Dale’s exploration of these underwater time capsules has yielded a mind-blowing collection of treasures.   The continuously evolving exhibits on display at Discover Sea represent only 10% of his collection with the remaining 90% on loan to museums around the world.

During my visit I held gold bricks stamped by the King of Spain and viewed photographs perfectly developed from a camera which sank aboard the RMS Republic – the pride of the White Star Line prior to Titanic.

Dale’s collection also includes 30 bottles of rum discovered in the wreckage of a fleet of Spanish ships which sank in 1733.  When the bottles were discovered in the 1990’s, 18 of them were still sealed and drinkable.  Testing proved these were not ordinary bottles of rum.  It seems the Spanish aboard the now waterlogged fleet had overtaken a British Navy Ship prior to sinking –  pillaging everything including the rum.  When the rum was bottled in 1730,  the distillery lined the bottom of the bottles with coconut fiber, added 145-proof rum up to the base of the neck and filled the remaining space with water and two tablespoons of lime juice to prevent scurvy – hence the expression “he’s a limey”.

Dale offered me a shot of the rum.  And with the burn that only aged 145-proof rum can provide, I drank down 300 plus years of history! Immerse yourself at Discoversea.com.

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Sampling the Spirits of Ireland

By Terri Marshall

People travel to Ireland for many reasons. Some go to unearth their heritage, to experience a glimpse of Irish history or to celebrate the spirit of the Irish people.  Others just go to sample the spirits from the land that brought us Jameson and Guinness.

With 10,000 pubs in a country smaller than the state of Maine, Ireland is the perfect destination for anyone who loves a good pint or a bit of whiskey.  Pub life is the center of Irish culture.  It’s the place to go to hear traditional Irish music, listen to tall tales and get to know the character (and characters) of Ireland.  Guinness and Jameson may have originated in Dublin, but the spirits flow all over this greenest of countries. guinness

In County Kerry at the western edge of Ireland there exists a colorful spirited town called Dingle.  Here you will find a bit of Irish magic and about 32 pubs – an incredible number given Dingle’s population of 1,200 year-round residents.

The town of Dingle is the starting point for driving tours of the famed Dingle Peninsula. This mountainous finger of land juts into the Atlantic Ocean and has supported various tribes and populations for almost 6,000 years. Familiar to movie buffs as the location of the movie Far and Away, this remote corner of Ireland is filled with numerous archaeological monuments dating back to the Stone Age.

Characterized by hilly streets and brightly painted houses, the town of Dingle still reflects its origins as a walled borough. In the Irish language of Gaelic, Dingle translates as “Daingean Ui Chuis” which means Fortress of Hussey. The Husseys were a Flemish family who settled in the area in the 13th century.

The pubs of this fishing port town are one of its best experiences. Two of the most unusual are Dick Mack’s and Foxy John’s.

dickmacksDick Mack’s was named after a late leather craftsman and cobbler, Richard MacDonnell.  As Dingle’s most well known pub, it has attracted celebrities such as Julia Roberts, Sean Connery and Paul Simon. Their names are commemorated with stars on the sidewalk right outside. Think Hollywood Boulevard on a much smaller scale. This family owned pub carries on the cobbler tradition as part pub and part leather shop.  Stop in for a pint of Guinness and you will likely hear an impromptu ballad, folk song or poetry reading. And, of course you can pick up some leather goods while you are there – doesn’t everyone pick up leather goods at the bar?

Then there’s the handyman’s dream, Foxy John’s. It’s a pub on one side…and a traditional hardware store on the other. foxyjohnsDown a pint or two of Guinness while browsing their selection of hammers. Brilliant.  This happens to be the favorite of Dingle resident, Thomas “Toss” O’Brien. “There are about 32 pubs in Dingle, and all of them are good,” says Toss.  “But for good craic, the best of the lot is Foxy John’s.  My boys are there in the morning and we slag each other off, there’s plenty of good banter.”

And in case you were wondering, “craic” is a term derived from Middle English meaning loud conversation and bragging talk.  Sounds about right for a pub filled with Irishmen!

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The Treasures of Silver Dollar City

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.

Silver Dollar City Wildfire

Silver Dollar City Wildfire

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Silver Dollar City Blacksmith

A Silver Dollar City Blacksmith

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Giant Food Skillet

A Giant Food Skillet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Janice Martin Performs on Showboat Branson Belle

Janice Martin Performs on Showboat Branson Belle