17 Absolutely Free Things To Do in Branson, Missouri

November 18, 2021

In Branson, visitors can have fun without spending a fortune to do so.

Ready to save your wallet with our list of favorite free things to do in Branson?

Branson, Missouri, offers visitors a swirl of exciting sights, shows, and scenery. Known for its live entertainment, you’ll come across plenty of toe-tapping, knee-slapping shows near the hub of the town on Country 76 Boulevard, sometimes called the main strip.

Afterward, it’s easy to get out of the city and escape into the wilderness marvel of the surrounding Ozark Mountains.

But, if the pace set by nature is too slow for you, there’s an adrenaline rush waiting at the Silver Dollar City theme park.

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Penny pinchers who are looking to take in the charms of the town on a budget will be happy to know there are plenty of free things to do in Branson, too. These activities will give you a memorable experience without coughing up the dough.

Aerial view of the Williams Memorial Chapel at the College of the Ozarks in Branson, Missouri, USA

photo credit: College of the Ozarks via Facebook

1. College of the Ozarks

College campuses like College of the Ozarks are often their own little worlds, with rich greenery kept up by careful landscapers and an aura of bright, limitless potential.

At this campus, you can see that potential in the form of amenities staffed by students who are working to pay for their debt-free education.

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Soak in the atmosphere created by the architecture and fountains as you stroll along the walking paths.

Stop by Edwards Mill for a free tour, where students will be grinding whole-grain flour and hand-weaving baskets.

Don’t miss the neo-Gothic Williams Memorial Chapel or Missouri’s official Vietnam memorial at Patriots Park, where you’ll have to get some pictures.

If you have a little spending cash, grab a bite at the Keeter Center Restaurant and check out the Beverly Hillbillies truck at the Ralph Foster Museum.  

aerial view of table rock lake in the fall near Branson, Missouri, USA2. Table Rock Lake

Sparkling blue water surrounded by lush green trees makes this lake an all-around favorite for boaters, anglers, and swimmers alike. There are limitless ways to dive in and take advantage of the H2O, from water-skiing to scuba diving.

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It’s also the perfect spot for hiking and camping if you prefer to keep your feet on dry ground. Explore some of the other ways to mingle among the fish at Table Rock Lake!

Side view of Table Rock Dam in Branson, Missouri, USA

photo credit: Ozarks Water Watch - Beaver, Table Rock, Taneycomo & Bull Shoals Lakes via Facebook

3. Table Rock Lake Dam

The massive structure of the Table Rock Lake Dam was completed in 1958 and is responsible for holding back the White River to create the Table Rock Lake we know and love today.

The dam is large enough to view from several spots throughout Branson, ranging from hiking trails to the Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery.

Photo Alert: Take Highway 165 to drive right over it, then stop to snap a picture of this classic Branson landmark.

Ground view of the marina at Table Rock Lake State Park in Branson, Missouri, USA

photo credit: Branson Shows via Facebook

4. Table Rock State Park

Located on the shore of Table Rock Lake, this state park is the perfect setting for outdoor activities, whether you prefer to get wet or stay dry. The park includes a marina, so you can easily rent a boat or jet skis.

Come for the day to picnic, hike, and bike. Stay for the night to camp and truly experience the wilderness life.

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Remember to reserve your campground in advance. Spots fill up quickly during the peak of the lake season!

5. The Horse Walk at Dolly Parton’s Stampede

Did you know you can check out the horses that star in Dolly Parton’s Stampede for free? We’re not horsing around!

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Grab your cowgirl or cowboy boots and take a stroll by the stable for a walk to remember.

exterior view of branson centennial museum

photo credit: Branson Centennial Museum via Facebook

6. Branson Centennial Museum

History buffs can get an inside look at the history of Branson at the Branson Centennial Museum, located in historic downtown Branson.

This museum is free to visit and explores the timeline of Branson from its simple roots to the popular vacation destination it is today.

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Rotating exhibits focus on everything from what makes Branson unique to the stories behind some of its biggest musical entertainers.

7. Ruth and Paul Henning Conservation Area

This 1,534-acre area offers 5.6 miles of hiking trails and a big payoff in the form of a scenic overlook. Get a glimpse of the sweeping forests that characterize the Ozark Mountains while getting some steps in. Keep an eye -- and your camera -- out for native wildlife sightings. 

Fun Fact: Paul Henning was the creator of The Beverly Hillbillies TV show. 

Close up photo of a fish in water with rocks under it at Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery in Branson, Missouri, USA

photo credit: Aaron Hatcher via Facebook

8. Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery

There may be plenty of fish in the sea, but a hatchery is the only place you can find them all in one spot.

One of Branson’s most popular tourist sites, the Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery, is located below Table Rock Dam.

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Kids will ooh and ah at the rainbow and brown trout splashing around at the hatchery. Then, wander through the free conservation center to learn more about the local aquatic life. 

9. Lakeside Forest Wilderness Area

The Lakeside Forest Wilderness Area is a 140-acre nature paradise located in the middle of Branson.

Finding these beautiful trails and glades in the heart of the city is like stumbling upon a secret garden, complete with a nature playground and covered porch swing for the kiddos.

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Get outside and get moving with these pristine views of all the Ozark Mountain glory as the backdrop.

Close up photo of the sign for Table Rock Lakeshore Trail in Branson, Missouri, USA

photo credit: NWA Indian hike/trek via Facebook

10. Table Rock Lakeshore Trail

We can't think of a better free thing to do in Branson than hiking on a beautiful day.

This gorgeous 2.2-mile asphalt trail is perfect for those who want to get into nature without the difficulty of maneuvering through brush or uneven terrain.

Hikers and bikers of all ages will be right at home on this trail. It runs from the Dewey Short Visitor Center to the Table Rock State Park Marina.

Related Post: Hiking Branson: Table Rock Lakeshore Trail Guide

Take in the view of Table Rock Lake and keep your eyes peeled for native tree species, like Dogwood trees blooming in the spring and Maple trees bursting into color in the fall.

Pro Tip: Be sure to grab a map before you go to ensure you don’t get lost!

Ground view of the Fire and Ice show at Branson Landing in Branson, Missouri, USA

photo credit: Branson Landing via Facebook

11. Branson Landing

The Branson Landing offers some of the best shopping and dining in the area, but you don’t need to spend a dime to enjoy strolling through the bustling atmosphere.

Promenade down the lakeside boardwalk before you catch the fountain show. It’s a $7.5 million attraction that merges water, music, light, and fire in the evenings for a sizzling explosion of wonder.

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Stop by the town square to take in the spectacle for free at the top of every hour.

Lake Taneycomo with a bright pink sunset reflecting on the water in Branson, Missouri, USA

photo credit: Branson Guided Fishing Trips

12. Lake Taneycomo

Whether you’re looking for an outdoor excursion or a lakeside city jaunt, Lake Taneycomo truly has it all. The body of water, stocked with over 750,000 trout every year, is a premier fishing spot.

Make sure you find a spot on a dock or grab a boat, as most of the lake isn’t shallow enough to wade in.

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If fishing sounds more slimy than fun to you, stick to the boardwalk along the lake, where you can take in the lively view of the Branson Landing.

Store Fronts and People Walking at the Branson Landing - Branson, Missouri, USA

photo credit: Branson Landing via Facebook

13. Window Shopping

Window shopping is not for the faint of heart… or faint of wallet.

Between Tanger Outlets, Branson malls, the Branson Landing, and an array of charming local shops, the town is a treasure trove of native goodies, and brand-name finds.

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In lieu of a shopping spree, make it a game to see who can find the most unusual product.

close up of green Welcome Historic Downtown Branson Sign in Branson, Missouri, USA

photo credit: Downtown Branson via Facebook

14. Historic Downtown Branson

To get the full experience of the city, head downtown. While downtown is the modern hub of most cities, it’s a quaint walk down memory lane in Branson, as one would expect.

Browse the old-time variety store Dick’s 5 & 10 to reminisce on times past. Have some spare change? Grab an old-fashioned malt at Mr. B’s Ice Cream Parlor

close up of two red trolley's downtown in Branson, Missouri, USA

photo credit: Downtown Branson via Facebook

15. Sparky the Trolley

Get around town in a totally free, totally unique way when you take Sparky the trolley. The trolley runs year-round and, aside from Branson’s off-season in January and February, it keeps going seven days a week.

Pro Tip: Review the map of all 12 trolley stops to plan your trip.

As for the name? Sparky was inspired by a lady named Pearl “Sparky” Spurlock, who ran a tour and taxi business in Branson in the 1920s. 

Big Cedar Lodge decorated with Christmas lights of all different colors in Branson, Missouri, USA

photo credit: Big Cedar Lodge via Facebook

16. Christmas Lights at Big Cedar Lodge

There’s nothing like a whopping one-million lights at Big Cedar Lodge to brighten up your Christmas season!

The best part is there’s no cost to drive through the stunning display. It’s typically open from the beginning of November until a few days after Christmas, but check their website or call ahead to make sure.

Grab a hot cocoa beforehand, and you’ll be all set to take in the magic of the holidays.

17. Take a Scenic Drive

No matter the season, coasting along Highway 160 or 265 is a breathtaking experience filled with tree-lined skylines left and right. Shuffle your favorite playlist and jam out as you cruise past a fiery autumn landscape, snow-capped hills, fresh spring greenery, or sun-drenched treetops. Enjoy rugged nature views from the comfort of your car!

Photo Alert: Get out and stretch your legs at the Branson Scenic Overlook on Highway 165. You’ll definitely want this stunning view on your Instagram story! As a bonus, there’s an ice cream shop called Scoops right across the street.

Did We Miss Any Free Things to do in Branson?

Why break the budget when there are plenty of ways to take in the charming city of Branson sans moolah? This tried-and-true favorite vacation spot is yours for exploring and there are plenty of free things to do in Branson.

What are some of the other free things to do in Branson, Missouri? Let us know in the comments below.

    • Thanks for letting us know, Diane! We have updated this article and would love to know if you have any other suggestions!

  1. I am really not sure you found any free things to do in Branson with the price of gas just to get there . Just sayin

    • We wish we could control the cost of fuel prices to travel.😕 All we can do is help you save money once you get there!

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