This rings especially true when traveling as a family, as you don’t have to be a math whiz to know family-fun can really add up. As someone who knows the ins-and-outs of the Ozarks, I can recommend free things to do in Branson with kids that will leave the “I’m bored” groan at home.
1) Branson Landing
You might think of Branson Landing as only a place to shop, but think again! There is a magnificent free fountain show that runs hourly (after noon). Kids love it because it combines cannon fire with 120-feet high water spouts and musical favorites. After watching the free show, stroll along the waterfront towards the park area to feeds some ducks.
2) College of the Ozarks
No matter how old your kids are, it’s never too soon to visit this college campus. Dubbed “Hard Work U,” College of the Ozarks students work 15 hours per week towards their tuition. The working campus is very picturesque, and the student-ran Edwards Mill, a 1880s gristmill, and Creamery, a student-ran dairy farm, are unique stops. In addition, the Ralph Foster Museum is a fine collection of Ozark history and is also home to the original Beverly Hillbillies car. (Museum has small entrance fee.)
3) Dick’s Old Time Five & Dime
Stores like Dick Five & Dime are hard to find these days. Stocked with over 50,000 different items, it’s fun to look around at the kooky novelty items for sale. The décor, such as a 60-foot baseball wall of fame, WWII aviation art and two model trains circling the ceiling, add to the charm. Word to the wise, though, you may just find something to buy!
4) Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery
If you’ve got a little fishermen on your hands, take them to the Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery. They can view fish up-close in several beautiful aquariums showcasing Missouri’s native fish. You can even feed them! Families love to walk through the fish hatchery and learn more about the world around them. Self-guided and conducted tours are available.
5) Moonshine Beach
What does every kid love? Swimming! A day at the lake doesn’t get any better than at the shores of Moon Shine Beach on Table Rock Lake. This pick isn’t free, as it does cost $4 per car to enter, but after that you’ve got a day of free lakeside fun ahead of you. Make a day of it by picking up some cheap sandwiches and drinks at the local grocery (Price Chopper is the closest). It’s an easy way to enjoy the true appeal of Branson while spending next to nothing.
These five free things to do in Branson with kids will keep you busy and your budget intact. Have any ideas you'd like to share? Tell me about them in the comments.