There’s no doubt about it: Branson has plenty of things to do for visitors. From thrilling theme parks like Silver Dollar City to entertaining shows like the Haygoods, there’s no shortage of fun to be had. However, there are also some pretty amazing places to visit that are just a hop, skip, and a short drive away.
1) Springfield, Missouri
Distance from Branson: 42 miles
Head about 45 minutes north of Branson to visit Springfield, Missouri. As the third largest city in Missouri, this city has a lot to offer. Families will enjoy visiting the Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium, an award-winning 350,000 square foot attraction boasting awe-inspiring wildlife galleries, a 1.5 million gallon aquarium, and much more. While you’re there, be sure to stop by its sister property, Bass Pro Shops. This massive outdoor store is more than just a shopping destination for hunting, fishing, and camping fans. Thanks to its live alligator exhibit, shootings ranges, indoor waterfalls and aquariums, this store is an experience!
The reasons to visit Springfield don’t end there, though. The “Queen City,” as it’s known, is also home to the Springfield Cardinals, the AA affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals. And, history buffs will want to trek to Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield, a site famous for being the first Civil War battle fought west of the Mississippi. Avid shoppers will want to stop by Battlefield Mall, too, to check out the name brands and unique stores available while beer enthusiasts will want to visit Mother’s Brewing Company in Downtown Springfield to sip and sample some local brews.
2) Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Distance from Branson: 52 miles
Another gem you’ll discover on day trips from Branson is Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Nestled in the Ozark Mountains, this charming town features distinct Victorian architecture and over 60 natural springs. With its entire downtown district on the National Register of Historic Places, you really do feel like you’ve stepped back in time when you stroll these streets. In addition, there’s plenty of things to keep you busy while in Eureka Springs. From art galleries to boutiques to gourmet restaurants and unique festivals, this Northwest Arkansas town has it all.
Even if you’re only visiting for a day trip, you’ll want to spend time exploring the city’s historic hotels. The 1905 Basin Park Hotel has a fabulous Balcony Restaurant with delicious food and wonderful views of the downtown district. Likewise, the 1886 Crescent Park Hotel is known or it’s beautiful architecture, gorgeously landscaped grounds, and relaxing spa. Oh, and did we mention it’s also rumored to be one of America’s most haunted hotels?
3) Buffalo River National Park
Distance from Branson: 60 miles
When it comes to day trips from Branson, visiting the Buffalo River National Park is a must for any outdoor enthusiast. As America’s first national river, the Buffalo River is a pristine waterway ideal for kayaking and canoeing. Winding its way through over 130 miles of breathtaking landscapes, this river is surrounded by staggering bluffs, wildlife-filled forests, and interesting historic sites.
The Buffalo National River area also boasts excellent hiking trails. A few that we recommend include
- Lost Valley: Home to caves, shelter bluffs, and waterfalls
- Hemmed-in-Hollow: Featuring the tallest waterfall between the Appalachian and Rocky Mountain ranges
- Hawksbill Crag: A rocky outcropping over a lush Arkansas Valley with endless stunning views
Which Day Trip Will You Take?
As you can see, there are some unique places to explore outside of the Branson city limits. From big city fun to engaging outdoor destinations, these day trips from Branson are sure to add a little bit more fun to your vacation.