Free Things To Do in Branson MO – 19 Must-Try Activities

Echoes of the past meet modern-day wonders in this endearing town. The best part? You can experience this top-notch family vacation destination without breaking the bank!​

Visitors to Branson, Missouri, encounter 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. Aside from stunning shows, the list of free things to do in Branson, MO, is brimming with activities to suit every type of tourist. 

Once you’ve had your fill of the city, it’s easy to 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!

Penny pinchers looking to take in the town’s charms on a budget will be happy to know there are plenty of free Branson attractions, too. These free things to do in Branson, Missouri, will give you a memorable experience of family fun 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.

Related Post: Upcoming Events and Festivals in Branson

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.  

ground view of building and waterfall at College of the Ozarks in Branson, Missouri, USA
photo credit: College of the Ozarks via Facebook

Table Rock Lake

Sparkling blue water surrounded by lush green trees makes this lake an all-around favorite for boaters, fishers, and swimmers alike. This popular local haunt makes it on the list of non-touristy things to do in Branson.

There are limitless ways to dive in and take advantage of the H2O, from water-skiing to scuba diving. It’s also the perfect spot for hiking and camping if you prefer to keep your feet on dry ground. Don’t forget to explore some of the other ways to mingle among the fish at Table Rock Lake!

man water skiing on Table Rock Lake with green trees in background in Branson, Missouri, USA
photo credit: Pixabay

Table Rock Lake Dam

The massive structure that is 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.

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

While in the area, be sure to stop by the Dewey Short Visitor Center. It’s full of unique Ozark Mountain art and interactive water safety exhibits. The center is open daily from 9 am to 4 pm.

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

Side view of Table Rock Dam in Branson, Missouri, USA
photo credit: Ozarks Water Watch – Beaver, Table Rock, Taneycomo & Bull Shoals Lakes via Facebook

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. Then, stay for the night to camp and truly experience the wilderness life. Remember to reserve your campground in advance. Spots fill up quickly during the peak of the lake season!

Pro Tip: The ever-popular Moonshine Beach is the Ozarks’ idea of a beach day. Bring a picnic lunch, then claim a spot in the sand! Although there is a small fee per car to get in, this bustling spot still makes the list of the top cheap things to do in Branson.

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? Of course, when in Branson, MO, free things to do must include some horsing around! So grab your cowgirl or cowboy hat and stroll by the stable for a walk to remember.

Wide shot of two women in blind cowgirl costumes walking the Horse Walk with horses sticking their heads out to great them at the Dolly Parton Stampede in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, USA
photo credit: Dolly Parton’s Stampede via Facebook

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.

Related Post: Indoor Activities in Branson: 8 of the Best Things to Do

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

exterior view of branson centennial museum
photo credit: Branson Centennial Museum via Facebook

Ruth and Paul Henning Conservation Area

This 1,534-acre area offers 5.6 miles of hiking trails and a jaw-dropping 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 a bunch in one spot. Of all the things to do for free in Branson, MO, this one is a superb activity for the kiddos.

One of Branson’s most popular tourist sites, the Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery, is located below Table Rock Dam. Kids will ooh and ah at the rainbow and brown trout splashing around at the hatchery. Wander through the free conservation center to learn more about the local aquatic life.  

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 Faceboo

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 littles. 

Get outside and get moving with these pristine views of Ozark Mountain glory.

Table Rock Lakeshore Trail

If you’re looking for other nature excursions, there’s even more free stuff to do in Branson. Table Rock Lakeshore Trail is a beautiful 2.2-mile asphalt trail perfect for those who want to get into nature without the difficulty of maneuvering through brush or uneven terrain.

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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.

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

pathway surrounded by greenery with view of lake and sun shining at Table Rock Lakeshore Trail in Branson, Missouri, USA
photo credit: Sonia Harvey via Facebook

Branson Landing

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

Pro tip: The Branson Landing is one of the best free things to do in Branson, MO, for couples. Stroll through the dreamy atmosphere hand in hand with your honey!

Aerial view of the Landing's Fire and Ice show with fall autumn foliage in the Ozark Mountains in Branson, Missouri, USA
photo credit: Branson Landing via Facebook

Lake Taneycomo

A lake that truly has it all, whether you’re looking for an outdoor excursion or a lakeside city jaunt, is Lake Taneycomo. 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.

Related Post: Discover the Natural Wonder of Cave Tours in Branson MO

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

Three people in the boat fishing near some trees on Lake Taneycomo in Branson, Missouri, USA
photo credit: Explore Branson via Facebook

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.

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

crowd gathers to watch the fire and ice show at the branson landingHistoric 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.

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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

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.

Find a map of all 12 trolley stops to plan your trip. This out-of-the-ordinary mode of transportation is one of the most unique things to do in Branson, MO!

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.

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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. During chilly winter visits, this is one of our favorite free things to do in Branson at night!

Aerial view of Big Cedar Lodge with a sunset sky in Branson, Missouri, USA
photo credit: Big Cedar Lodge via Facebook

Take a Scenic Drive

No matter the season, coasting along Highway 160 or 165 is a breathtaking experience filled with tree-lined skylines left and right.

Related Post: The Top 5 Places to See Branson Fall Foliage

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 want this stunning view on your Instagram story! As a bonus, there’s an ice cream shop called Scoops right across the street. So add grabbing a cone to your list of cheap family things to do in Branson, MO!

photo credit: Mehnaz Sharna Nitu via Facebook

Shrine of the Holy Spirit

This peaceful respite is a nondenominational chapel. It was constructed following a vision received by Gene Bicknell, then dedicated in 2010. Wander the grounds to admire this architectural wonder! Then, spend a quiet moment to take a breather from your sightseeing bustle.

Golf Courses

Branson is home to several beautiful golf courses. While golf isn’t an activity easy on the budget, you can catch sight of the grounds for free! Some of the top courses in the city include Thousand Hills Resort & Golf Club, Johnny Morris’ Top of the Rock Golf Course, and Branson Hills Golf Club.

view overlooking the Top of the Rock Golf Course and orange fall autumn tree foliage in with Tablerock Lake in the background in the Ozark Mountains in Branson, Missouri, USA
Top of the Rock / Facebook

Which Free Things to Do in Branson, Missouri, are You Most Excited About?

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. A myriad of family-friendly attractions means there’s something for everyone. Plan your own Branson adventure today!

Have You Been to Branson, Missouri?

What was your favorite budget-friendly activity?

Leave us a comment below!

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Written by Michaela Satterfield

Michaela is a journalist who views every story she writes as an adventure, leading her to explore new places and meet new people....

11 comments about “Free Things To Do in Branson MO – 19 Must-Try Activities”


November 12, 2021 at 10:36 am

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


November 21, 2021 at 9:41 pm

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


November 23, 2021 at 11:17 am

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!

Skippy mcgee

August 17, 2022 at 6:21 pm

This comment aged well


December 4, 2021 at 7:14 am

The Dewey Short Visitors Center is a nice place to visit also. Right between the dam and Tablerock Lakeshore Trail. We like to take a picnic there for before or after we walk the trail.


December 4, 2021 at 2:31 pm

Hello Kerri! Yes, we love the Dewey Short Visitors Center too! Unfortunately, it is temporarily closed. We have tried calling to find out a reopening date, but we have not received a response. Therefore, we left it off of our list for now. But we will be sure to add it back on as soon as they reopen! Thanks for the suggestion!

Cindy G

August 28, 2022 at 12:37 pm

Any news on this opening?

avatar of Teresa in blue tripster shirt


August 31, 2022 at 8:05 am

Hi Cindy! The Dewey Short Visitor Center is open! We have updated the article to reflect this information.

Sam Williams

October 19, 2022 at 9:42 pm

Come to Soap and candle works inside the IMAX and watch crafters hand carve candles and make other hand made products.

bob grawey

February 16, 2023 at 12:41 am

If you go to the Branson Centennial Museum, be sure to check out the large exterior wall mural a block down at an alleyway. It’s one block before Main Street on the same side of the street as the museum and depicts Ozark life in earlier days. Look up Old Branson Mural on Google maps for exact location.

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