Branson, Missouri

9 Branson Day Trips to Add to Your Calendar

Be a tourist in your own backyard with these road trip ideas

Excited for an upcoming day off or open weekend? Then, it’s time to put that free time to good use and explore one of the unique places located just a short drive from Branson, Missouri. Plan your getaway with this guide to Branson day trips.

Lay of the land

The Branson 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 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 of the opportunities for exploration surrounding the Branson/Lakes Area. Read on to find getaway inspiration for nine fun-filled day trips from Branson.

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Springfield, MO

Springfield is Missouri’s third-largest city. The Queen City is home to the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, the Springfield Cardinals AA baseball affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals, who play at Hammons Field, Jordan Valley Ice Park, Juanita K. Hammons Hall for the Performing Arts, the Springfield Conservation Nature Center and the historic Landers Theater.

The Discovery Center of Springfield is a place for families to interact with hands-on learning for kids of all ages. Visitors can browse the original Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World, 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 complex. Adjacent to Bass Pro Shops is Wonders of Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium.

Allow for some wiggle room in your schedule to 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.

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Walnut Shade, MO

Copper Run Distillery is the first legal moonshine distillery in the Ozark Mountains since prohibition. They offer free tours daily and space for private events.

National Tiger Sanctuary, a non-profit rescue organization, offers educational programs to foster a love and appreciation for nature.

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Hollister, MO

The historic town of Hollister shares the banks of Lake Taneycomo with its sister community, Branson. Once a major train depot stop for early visitors, the town’s main thoroughfare on Downing Street has retained its Old English feel and is home to the annual grape festival.

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Forsyth, MO

The Taney County seat is popular with those who enjoy fishing, boating and hiking, offering a variety of camping facilities, lake access, resorts, shops and restaurants.

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Rockaway Beach, MO

Rockaway Beach, the first “Family Resort Community” west of the Mississippi River, was founded in 1917. The small, friendly lakeside town, known for its speedboat racing, is 10 miles northeast of Branson. With a one-and-a-half-mile shoreline stretching along Lake Taneycomo, fly fishermen come to enjoy one of the top rainbow and German brown trout fishing lakes in America.

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James River

In the 1800s, several of the area’s earliest pioneer settlements were located along the river, drawn by abundant fishing and wild game. In the 20th century, the locals invented the jon boat, a long, narrow wooden boat that was stable yet easy to maneuver in the shallow, swift current of the Ozarks’ rivers. Established in 2001, James River Outfitters offers a wide range of services including full RV hookups and outfitting for canoeing, fishing, tent camping, floating and swimming. While at the river, visitors can try nature photography or bird watching, or just sit back, relax and enjoy the scenery.

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Buffalo National River

The Buffalo River begins as a trickle in the Boston Mountains of northwest Arkansas, and the first national river flows 150 miles to the northeast through the Ozarks and into the White River. 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.

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Holiday Island, AR

Holiday Island is a vacation getaway minutes from Eureka Springs, Arkansas, and less than an hour from Branson. Enjoy a wide variety of recreational amenities, including a marina, RV park and nine- and 18- hole golf courses. Explore beautiful wooded hillsides, scenic valleys and the outdoor paradise of Table Rock Lake.

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Eureka Springs, AR

Southwest of Branson, 52 miles into Arkansas, is the only town in America where the entire downtown is on the National Register of Historic Places. Eureka Springs boasts 63 springs within the city limits and miles and miles of limestone walls. It was originally founded because of the belief in the healing powers of the springs.

A Victorian village with more than 230 streets that wind around the hills leading to gourmet restaurants, wedding chapels and scenic public parks, the town is home to 250 Victorian painted lady houses, bed & breakfasts and historic hotels. More than 400 local artists and crafters offer a wonderful array of paintings, sculptures, mobiles, fountains and jewelry inside dozens of downtown shops and galleries.

Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge provides lifetime care for abandoned, abused and neglected big cats, with an emphasis on tigers, lions, leopards and cougars.

The Great Passion Play, named “America’s Number 1 Attended Outdoor Drama,” presents the epic story of Jesus Christ’s last three days on earth.

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