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10 Surprising Adventures in Branson, Missouri


This Midwestern town is packed with thrilling adventures, from spelunking by candlelight to tracking Bigfoot. Read on for a list of 10 fun activities all ages can enjoy.

Ride Chicago’s Ferris Wheel
After two decades in the Windy City as the Navy Pier Ferris Wheel, this 15-story stunner moved to Missouri as the Branson Ferris Wheel in June 2016. By day, it affords a view over the Ozarks; at night, you can take a 15-minute ride during the Electrify show, when 144,000 LED lights “dance” up and down the spokes. 3345 W. Hwy. 76;; 417-334-1612; adults, $12; children 4–11, $8

Explore Underground Tunnels
Calling all grown-ups who never outgrew jungle gyms: Fritz’s Adventure is a fully loaded attraction (with extra safety measures) for daredevils of all ages. You can glide through subterranean tubes, climb tree houses and a water tower or explore an airplane cockpit. 1425 W. Hwy. 76; 417-320-6138;; adults, $30; children 4–11, $22

Search for Bigfoot
Bigfoot on the Strip is a new Sasquatch-themed activity center with a 200-foot free-fall Gravity Bomb ride, 18-hole adventure golf course and more. The highlight just might be the 80-minute search for Bigfoot in an open-air safari truck. During the expedition you’ll look for signs of Bigfoot on a working farm filled with photo-worthy Scottish Highland cattle. 3608 W. Hwy. 76; 800-562-2416;; adults, $38; children 10–16, $28; children under 10, $18

Ride the Rails at Your Own Pace
As roller coasters go, the Runaway Mountain Coaster is far from standard-issue. It’s entirely gravity powered, and thrill seekers ride in individual carts, which enables them to control the speed of the ride with hand brakes as the cart winds downhill, over Fall Creek and through a leafy forest canopy. 935 Hwy. 165; 417-334-7337;; rides, $15 per driver; $10 per rider

Eat Award-Winning Barbecue
The barbecue at 1950’s-style diner Gettin’ Basted has won Grand Champion at the Rock’n Ribs BBQ Festival multiple years running. Consider ordering the Blackout sandwich, which includes smoked brisket, pulled pork, pulled chicken and sausage, all slathered in sauce and pimento cheese. Bonus: It comes with a chocolate malt. (Tap here for more great barbecue spots across the country.) 3115 W. Hwy. 76; 417-231-4445;; dinner for two, $32*

Zip Line Sitting Down
Parakeet Pete’s Waterfront Zipline is especially great for anyone who’s after a scenic view without having to strap into a zipping harness. Instead, you can whiz 700 feet over 2,080-acre Lake Taneycomo in what’s essentially a zippy ski-lift chair. 1113 Branson Landing Blvd.; 417-561-2500;; rides, $25 a person

Tour the Countryside
On a 40-mile jaunt aboard the Branson Scenic Railway, you can wind through tunnels and over trestles while taking in the Ozark Mountain scenery from the train’s restored 1940s and 1950s-era coaches. Don’t miss sitting for a spell in the domed observation cars, keeping your eyes peeled for common Branson-area birds, such as cardinals, chickadees and cobalt and indigo “blue” jays. 206 E. Main St.; 417-334-6110;; adults, $27.50; children 3–12, $17

Get Really Creative
You’ll find more than rides at 1880s-inspired theme park Silver Dollar City. Throughout 2017, the park is celebrating artisanal goods and innovative dining with the Year of Food & Crafts festival. You can watch blacksmiths hammer roses out of metal, see glassblowers puff out multihued drinking glasses and try something new (often on the menu: alligator kebabs, peanut bacon brittle and pork-belly fries). 399 Silver Dollar City Pkwy.; 800-475-9370;; adults, $62; children 4–11, $51; meals not included

Go Spelunking by Candlelight
Book ahead to nab a spot on Marvel Cave’s evening lantern-lit tours. Led by guides in 19th-century costume, visitors descend some 500 feet into the limestone cavern at Silver Dollar City. Keep an eye out for the ladder left there by Spanish prospectors circa 1541. 399 Silver Dollar City Pkwy.; 800-475-9370;; tours, $12 a person, ages 8 and up only

Listen to a Legend
Self-taught 1970s country and comedy icon Jim Stafford opened his own venue in Branson in 1990. Music lovers can take in shows at the recently renovated Jim Stafford Theatre, where artists range from Grammy nominee Billy Dean to illusionist Taylor Reed and Stafford himself. 3440 W. Hwy. 76; 417-330-8080;; tickets, from $31 a person

NOTE: Information may have changed since publication. Please confirm key details before planning your trip.