The Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce and Convention & Visitors Bureau represents a primary service area referred to as the Branson/Lakes Area. The cities and towns within the primary service area are located in Stone and Taney Counties, and include, but are not limited to: Blue Eye, Branson, Branson West, Forsyth, Galena, Hollister, Indian Point, Kimberling City, Kirbyville, Notch, Reeds Spring, Rockaway Beach and Taneyville. Branson is centrally located in the Lakes Area and serves as a great home base for ventures into neighboring towns. We encourage you to check out all the opportunities for fun and exploration throughout the Lakes Area. Springfield and Carthage, Missouri, and Eureka Springs, Arkansas, make great day trips from Branson.
Springfield is Missouri’s third-largest city and home to the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, the Springfield Cardinals AA baseball affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals major league baseball team, Jordan Valley Ice Park, Juanita K. Hammons Hall for the Performing Arts, the Springfield Conservation Nature Center, the historic Landers Theater and more. The national headquarters for Bass Pro Shops is located in Springfield. Guests can browse at the original Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World sporting goods store and boating center, visit the hunting and fishing gallery, gaze at the giant aquariums and enjoy a meal at Hemingway’s Blue Water Café, all located inside the giant complex. Located adjacent to Bass Pro Shops is the Wonders of Wildlife Museum & Aquarium, currently closed for major renovations. Wonders of Wildlife is expected to reopen in 2011. The Discovery Center of Springfield is a place for families to interact with hands-on learning for kids of all ages. Visit these other notable sites: Fantastic Caverns (a 50-minute guided tour following an ancient underground riverbed filled with massive formations), Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield for Civil War buffs, Dickerson Park Zoo, Wild Animal Safari and The Laura Ingalls Wilder Home and Museum in nearby Mansfield. Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau (800) 678-8767 www.springfieldmo.org
A beautiful 30-minute drive west of Branson is the historic James River. Named after one of the first settlers in this area, the river had been a favorite Native American camping site for thousands of years. In the early 1800’s, several of our earliest pioneer settlements were located along the river, drawn by the clear, pure water and abundant fish and wild game. Early in the 20th century, the locals invented the “jon” boat. These long, narrow wooden boats were very stable yet easy to maneuver in the shallow, swift current of the local rivers. To experience the natural beauty of the Ozarks where float fishing was invented, go to visitmo.com
A short drive southwest of Branson 50 miles into Arkansas will take you to Eureka Springs, the only town in America where the entire downtown is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Eureka Springs has 63 springs within the city limits and more than 100 springs just outside the city. Originally founded because of the belief in the healing powers of the springs, Eureka Springs remains a charming, Victorian village with more than 230 streets that wind around the hills leading to picturesque Victorian-style bed and breakfast inns, art galleries, gourmet restaurants, wedding chapels, public parks and numerous specialty shops. The town is home to more than 250 Victorian painted lady houses, bed & breakfasts and historic buildings such as the historic 1886 Crescent Hotel and Spa and the 1905 Basin Park Hotel. More than 200 local artists and crafters offer a wonderful array of paintings, sculptures, mobiles, fountains and jewelry inside dozens of downtown shops. The Great Passion Play, named “America’s #1 Attended Outdoor Drama,” presents the epic of Jesus Christ’s last week on earth and features a cast of hundreds in an outdoor drama performed from the last Friday in April through the last Saturday in October. Other on-site attractions include the New Holy Land Tour, Christ of the Ozarks Statue, Bible Museum, Sacred Arts Center and more. Greater Eureka Springs Chamber of Commerce (800) 638-7352 or www.eurekasprings.org
The Buffalo River National Park begins as a trickle in the Boston Mountains of northwest Arkansas and our country’s first national river flows 150 miles to the east through the Ozarks and into the White River. The Buffalo River is considered to be one of our nation’s last significant naturally-flowing rivers in regards to its size, wild qualities, Karst formations and associated natural, scenic and historic resources. The Buffalo River National Park offers hiking, camping, hunting, fishing and canoeing and has designated trails and wilderness areas. Horseback riding is also permitted in small groups and on the owners’ horses.
The town of Hollister shares the shores of Lake Taneycomo with its closest neighbor, Branson. The downtown district is well-known for its Old English village look. The main street of town is Downing Street. http://cityofhollister.com/
The Taney County seat is popular with those who enjoy fishing, boating and hiking. The town offers a variety of camping facilities, resorts, shops and restaurants. www.forsythmissouri.org
Rockaway Beach, the first “Family Resort Community” west of the Mississippi River, was founded in 1917. The small, friendly lakeside town is 10 miles northeast of Branson. With a one-and-a-half mile shoreline stretching along Lake Taneycomo, fishermen come to enjoy one of the top Rainbow and German Brown Trout fishing lakes in America. Legend has it that years ago Al Capone vacationed in Rockaway Beach during his heyday. You can see his alleged hideaway across the lake from downtown. http://www.rockawaybeachchamber.com/
Conservation areas such as the 31-acre Ashe Juniper natural area, located approximately 11 miles southwest of Branson, surround the Branson/Lakes Area. The 181-acre Boston Ferry conservation area can be found about five miles north of Branson. Other natural areas include Shelvin Rock Access, Delaware Town Access, Hilltop Tower Site, H.L. Kerr Access, Wire Road Wildlife area and the Jessie Hollow Conservation Area. Department of Conservation (417) 895-6880 www.missouriconservation.org