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.
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.
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!
Table Rock Lake Dam
Photo Alert: Take Highway 165 to drive right over it, then stop to snap a picture of this classic Branson landmark.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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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!
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.
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.
Window shopping is not for the faint of heart… or faint of wallet.
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In lieu of a shopping spree, make it a game to see who can find the most unusual product.
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.
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.
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 hot cocoa beforehand, and you’ll be all set to take in the magic of the holidays.
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.