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Branson Landing Cruises
Branson Landing Cruises at night.

 

BRANSON
Nestled in the forested hills surrounding Table Rock Lake, the “Live Music Show Capital of the World” is a little slice of Nashville dropped in the middle of the Ozark Mountains. But there’s much more than country music going on here. Branson is likewise loaded with championship golf courses, dozens of attractions and museums, an award-winning theme park, shopping galore, a full range of dining options and a host of hotels, resorts, RV parks and campgrounds.

You can’t miss the outdoor activities. Spanning 43,000 acres of water and 800 miles of shoreline, Table Rock is one of the top fishing lakes in the country, with an abundance of largemouth and smallmouth bass, crappie, catfish and bluegill. If angling isn’t your thing, the area is also ideal for swimming, watersports and even diving. The Showboat Branson Belle takes passengers on lunch and dinner cruises complete with live music. Or, for a truly wet and wild experience, Ride the Ducks has “land and lake” tours aboard vehicles based on the World War II DUKW amphibious design.

Main Street Lake Cruises at Branson Landing, an open-air shopping and dining mall in town, also offers excursions aboard its Lake Queen, a riverboat replica, and Lake Princess, a 100-foot yacht. Each cruise culminates with a performance of the Branson Landing Fountains, a synchronization of water, light, sound and fire.

Tie up at Table Rock Lake or the neighboring bodies of water. (Lake Taneycomo is on the opposite side of the Table Rock Dam, and Bull Shoals Lake begins where Taneycomo ends and flows eastwardly into Arkansas.) The Army Corps of Engineers maintains numerous public boat ramps on the lakes, and some of the area resorts also have ramps.

State Park Marina, centrally located in Table Rock State Park, has 600 slips and is home to the Boathouse Boutique, a dive shop, boat rentals, Danna’s BBQ and the new Oasis Hawaiian shaved ice. Indian Point Marina is a full-service marina also with boat rentals and a dive shop, plus a tackle shop and floating cafe.

Mark your calendars for summertime. That’s when the local festivals heat up and that stars come to town. This year’s touring artists include Tim McGraw, Merle Haggard, Trace Adkins and Lynryd Skynyrd.

Visit nearby Rockaway Beach, the first “family resort community” west of the Mississippi, founded in 1917. The small lakeside town is 10 miles northeast of Branson. With a one-and-a-half mile shoreline stretching along Lake Taneycomo, fishermen come to enjoy the acclaimed rainbow and German brown trout fishing. Al Capone reportedly vacationed in here during his heyday, and you can see his alleged hideaway across the lake.

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