Things to Do in Missouri
Experience what it was like to be a passenger on the ill-fated maiden voyage of the RMS Titanic and learn about the tragedy at the Titanic Museum in Branson, Missouri. Featuring an exterior built to half-scale, the museum is one of the largest tributes to the Titanic, and includes authentic replicas and more than 400 actual artifacts.
With more than 30 displays of unique marine life, the SEA LIFE® Kansas City Aquarium is an engaging exhibit showing the diversity of life under the sea. Exhibits are themed by habitat and include thousands of aquatic creatures, a 1800 degree saltwater tunnel tank, and interactive touch pools. The aquarium works both to educate visitors and advocate ocean conservation, particularly of the sea turtles, seahorses, and seals that are threatened in the wild. Aquarium displays feature fascinating creatures such as reef sharks, rays, octopus, and jellyfish.
Colorful, well curated exhibits full of sea life grant a glimpse into the underwater world. Informative talks with aquarium staff as well as feedings take place throughout the day and allow for an even more in depth experience. Interactive cartoon journeys with quiz cards are available to help teach children about the importance of conserving our world’s oceans.
Based on the popular brick toys, LEGOLAND® Kansas City is a colorful world of play and discovery for kids. Interactive experiences encourage creativity through 4D cinema, master classes on LEGO® building, play areas, and an exciting laser ride. Special to this LEGOLANDlocation is an exhibit featuring the buildings of Kansas City made entirely of LEGOs (MINILAND). There are also several rooms built for celebrating special occasions, making it a popular spot for birthdays and other parties.
Walking throughout, it's almost as if someone has taken the toys so many of us know and love and created a life-size playground with them. Many of the exhibits focus on a theme from the toys, whether ninja training or acting as Merlin’s apprentice. Kids can also learn how LEGOS are made in the factory tour. Though the discovery center is especially suited for fans of the LEGOs toys, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
Known for its stage shows and musical performances, the Americana Theater is a longstanding part of Branson's cultural landscape and has hosted shows since 1973. The theater offers a variety of acts at any given time, from country music and tribute shows to improv comedy performances.
The Mickey Gilley Grand Shanghai Theatre has been a landmark theater in Branson since the 1990s, when Mickey Gilley became one of the first country music stars to set up a theater residency in Branson. Guests visit the state-of-the-art theater to see a wide variety of shows, including music, comedy, and acrobatics.
Animal lovers shouldn't miss a visit to the family-friendly Butterfly Palace and Rainforest Adventure, which brings tropical adventure to the hills of Missouri. Enter the aviary and walk among thousands of exotic butterflies, stop by the twisting mirror maze, and visit critters in the Living Rainforest Science Center.
The city of Branson, Missouri is famous for its many theaters and entertainment venues, and one of the acts visitors have been enjoying for more than 25 years is at the Clay Cooper Theatre. Clay first performed in Branson at the age of 16 in a band with other kids, and he loved the atmosphere so much he ended up staying. At the Clay Cooper Theatre, he's been performing with his Country Music Express – a country music variety show – for more than 25 years.
Entertainers in the Clay Cooper Music Express include a cowboy trick roper, a comedian, dancers, and a talented band. There are other regular acts at the theatre, and some special acts that appear for short engagements.
A testament to the men and women who defended American freedom over the 20th century, the Branson Veterans Memorial Museum
presents memorabilia, art objects, and ephemera from decades of American military activity. Find 10 halls of exhibitions all under one roof, and learn about American wars from World War II to Korea to Vietnam.
American has a long history of "the world's largest" attractions, and the World's Largest Toy Museum Complex in Branson is an especially nostalgic one. Reminisce about your own childhood (or share it with your kids) at this family-friendly destination, where you find toys from decades past, from Barbie Dolls and steam trains to BB guns.
Downtown Branson, Missouri is the historic heart of the city and truly a destination in its own right. Streets lined with brick façades and Victorian lampposts provide a constant reminder of the city’s 125-year history. This is where you will find Branson’s first theater, its oldest commercial building and the spot of Branson’s first show, the Baldknobbers Jamboree. With more than 130 unique shops, galleries, theaters and restaurants, Downtown Branson will keep you busy for at least a day.
A variety of unique “mom and pop” shops are scattered among the flea markets and fine arts shops, including Dick’s Old-time Five & Dime, one of the most popular downtown attractions. Locals sometimes say if you can find something at Dick’s, you don’t need it. If you need a break from shopping, stop by the Branson Centennial Museum to learn more about the city’s storied past or catch a ride on the Branson Scenic Railway, which departs from the Depot on Main Street.
Downtown Branson also hosts a number of festivals throughout the year, including Plumb Nellie Days, the Fiddle Festival, Autumn Daze, the Piccadilly Women’s Event and an annual Veteran’s Day Parade.
More Things to Do in Missouri
The Dutton Family Theater is home to nightly shows featuring three generation of Dutton family performers. As finalists in the popular television show America’s Got Talent, they showcased their musical talents on stage ranging from rock and roll to Opera to Country and Bluegrass. Consisting of the mother, father, and seven children, combined the family has over 31 years of gracing the stage. Multitalented family members play instruments ranging from harmonica and fiddle to violin, piano, bass, cello, banjo, keyboard and drums. Family members have frequently won international competitions for their musical talents.
It was after touring the globe that the Dutton Family began to put on on this entertaining show, and it has been received with rave reviews. Together the family members bring a level of professionalism, talent, and camaraderie to the stage. Their two-hour shows feature a variety of music, dance, and comedy with a masterful range that suits the entire family. They perform over 300 shows a year at this location alone.
The Hughes Brothers Theatre in Branson, Missouri is a home away from home for the illustrious Hughes Brothers, musicians who both manage the landmark theater and perform in many of the shows. Catch their award-winning performance, or see the other musical shows hosted here, including a gospel supergroup and a contemporary vocal band.
The College of the Ozarks is a private Christian school near Branson, Missouri, that has long been famous for its policy of not charging admission to its full-time students. Founded in 1906, the school has never charged admission. Instead, students work on campus 15 hours a week during the school year and also work two 40-hour weeks during each break between semesters. The motto of the school is “Hard Work U.”
Enrollment at the College of the Ozarks is roughly 1,500 students, and there are work opportunities on campus in every academic and administrative department. With more than 40 possible majors to choose from, that means students get an education as well as potentially valuable work experience in a related field. Not only that, students graduate from C of O with no debt.
The 76 Strip (also known as Country 76 or the Branson Strip) is the center of activity in Branson, Missouri. It sprung to life in the late 1960s, when the Presley Family first established a permanent show and were soon joined by the Baldknobbers, a musical group named after outlaws who once frequented the Ozarks. The Strip’s transformation to become a major tourist destination began in the 1980s when the Roy Clark Celebrity Theater opened and started to lure major country music stars to Branson. By the 1990s, it had gained a reputation as the “live music capital of the entire universe.”
The 76 Strip now features a variety of theme restaurants, amusement parks, shopping areas, hotels and more than 100 theaters, including ones owned by major stars such as Andy Williams, Dick Clark and Dolly Parton. Theaters and attractions worth checking out include Andy Williams’ Moon River Theater, Spirit of the Dance, the Twelve Irish Tenors, Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Grill and Theater, the Titanic Museum, the Jim Stafford Theater, the Grand Palace Theater and Ripley’s Believe It or Not. Staying at a hotel along the Strip will provide you easy access to some of the best entertainment that Branson has to offer.
The Branson Scenic Railway is a unique vintage-train experience that takes passengers through the Ozark foothills beginning at the historic 1906 depot in downtown Branson, Missouri. The narrated ride brings the area’s past to life, and also details local wildlife and the railroad’s role in the history of the Ozarks.
Featuring a lively boardwalk along the shores of Lake Taneycomo, Branson Landing is the only lifestyle retail, entertainment and waterfront entertainment district in the region. At its heart is a town square that terraces down to a unique water attraction that mixes water, fire, lights and music. The spectacular show features 120 foot high water geysers and booming fire cannons, choreographed to music and light.
Covering 95 acres, Branson Landing attracts more than 4 million visitors annually. It boasts a 450,000 square foot retail complex anchored by Bass Pro Shop and Belk Department Store and features both casual and fine dining options along the waterfront. A 1500 seat amphitheater often hosts concerts while the Town Square is home to a variety of other special events throughout the year. Branson Landing is also the jumping off point for scenic cruises and sightseeing tours around Lake Taneycomo, including a “Riding the Ducks” adventure that takes you through downtown and into the lake.
The Grand Country Music Hall in Branson, Missouri offers a variety of family-friendly shows multiple times a day throughout the year. Take in one of the theater’s two country music shows, enjoy a gospel group or vocal quartet, have fun at a comedy show, or take the kids to an animal show featuring trained dogs, cats, and birds.
With numerous live venues in the city's Theatre District, Branson has a well-deserved reputation as a regional entertainment hub. The Jim Stafford Theatre stands as one of the more popular venues, where visitors can see Jim Stafford's classic stage show—which combines music and comedy—or tribute shows.
This Kansas City museum celebrates African American athletes and their contribution to the sport of baseball. Dating back to as early as the 1800s, it examines the evolution of the sport through hundreds of archives, artifacts, and stories.
The exhibits tell the story of the formation of The Negro Leagues, an important but often overlooked period of sports history. Operating from 1920-1960, the Negro Leagues were of a period of time when baseball was still segregated. The museum preserves uniforms, statues, signed memorabilia, and more from this era. A short film takes visitors through the history of the league with video footage and personal stories. Another highlight is the collection of bronze statues, most of which are life-sized tributes to National Hall of Fame players.
Often combined with a visit to the nearby American Jazz Museum, it’s one of the largest specialized collections of its kind in the country.
Branson Famous Theatre is known for its diverse lineup of shows that range from musical groups to top-notch illusionists to comedy revues. This performance space just off of Branson’s famous Highway 76 generally hosts three different live acts at a time and offers multiple performances every week.
As you pass by rare primates, towering giraffes, and striped zebras, you might forget that you’re in Missouri, when you visit Branson'sPromised Land Zoo. Perfect for a family outing or a chance to unplug, the zoo offers intimate animal encounters that are sure to please curious kids and animal-loving adults alike.
Celebrating what is perhaps the most American form of music, the American Jazz Museum catalogs the sound and history of jazz from its origin. With interactive exhibits and media, a jazz club, theater, and rotating gallery, it is the only museum in the world dedicated exclusively to jazz music.
Exhibits showcase the legacy of jazz music’s legendary artists. There are more than 100 recordings of what most consider to be the finest jazz music ever performed, so there is plenty to be heard. The permanent collection details the historical, cultural, and artistic evolution and impact of the music through memorabilia and storytelling. Objects on display include iconic instruments and stage costumes worn by the greatest. Rare photos, film screenings, and interactive touchscreens also bring the music to life.
The museum holds exceptional live performances and community educational programs. With the aim of encouraging the next generation of great jazz musicians, there are also a variety of programs for youth. Tours often include a further stop at the nearby Kansas City Juke House or the nearby Negro Leagues Museum.
Branson's Wild World is part aquarium, part zoo, and part theme park—all under one roof. Kid-friendly activities include mini-golf and 3D movies, while animal lovers of all ages find creatures such as wolves and sharks. With its convenient location, Wild World is a great indoor destination for the whole family.
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