Surprising Branson

We explore
Branson, Missouri
(and environs)
in depth
May 1-8

Been curious about Branson for years without any real knowledge of what was there. In checking with friends and associates, their comments were generally:
1. Where (or what) is it? or
2. That hokey place where they play country music and eat BBQ.

Called the Branson Chamber of Commerce and received a wealth of info.
When told there was more live entertainment here than any other city(!) we decided it was time for a first hand look.

Four of us:
Joseph Cillo, Events Editor
Mary Buttaro, Photo Editor
Catherine Valentine, Special Projects Editor
Patrick Valentine, Recreation Editor
went for a one week immersion trip -- goal: see and experience everything possible

Boy, were we surprised!! Branson is a don't miss experience.

Below are highlights of what we experienced in our one week (not enough) visit.

Click here for entire trip photo journal, or view each day's photos.
Read our trip diary; view each day and photos -- enjoy as we did.

Saturday May 1 -- travel to Branson -- photos here

flew to Tulsa, Oklahoma -- drove to Branson, Missouri
stayed at Big Cedar Lodge -- click here for website
Private Honeymoon Cabins(!)

Sunday May 2 -- Branson -- photos here
10 AM toured Big Cedar Lodge
Worman House Restaurant -- rustic elegance, gourmet Sunday Brunch
Devil’s Pool Restaurant -- dining in casual yet special experience
Buzzard Bar, Valley View Lodge

2 PM Dogwood Canyon and Nature Park -- click here for website
Sampled Canyon Café Signature menu
Dyan Baughan, food service manager

Tram Ride of the Preserve
Hope Wilderness Chapel

7 PM Top of the Rock Restaurant -- dinner
Robert Stricklin  Executive Chef

Sunset at Top of the Rock overlooking Table Rock Lake
gorgeous, perfect ending to 1st day

Monday May 3 -- Branson -- photos here
Met with management to learn Big Cedar Lodge history
(Special Food/Wine Event coming up -- Celebration of Taste weekends in February)

toured more of Big Cedar Lodge

4 PM Showboat Branson Belle river boat -- click here for website
cruise Table Rock Lake
three-course meal and dinner show
lots of fun

7:30 PM IMAX Show -- click here for website
Lewis and Clark, Great Journey West
McFarlain’s Family Restaurant
tasty Ozark Cuisine in IMAX Complex

Tuesday May 4 -- Springfield and Branson -- photos here
visited Noble & Associates, Springfield -- click here for website
John Scroggins, Director of Public Relations
visited their focus group restaurant "Teatro"

lunch at Avanzare Italian Dining -- click here for website
Tony Garcia, Executive Chef
outstanding cuisine, voted #1 chef in Springfield

2 PM Bass Pro Shop -- click here for website
toured #1 tourist attraction in Missouri
"Granddaddy of all Outdoor Stores" (300,000 square feet)
Hemingways Blue Water Cafe

4 PM Bass Pro Shops Fabrication Shop
behind scenes tour -- where they make fantastic interior items

back to Branson
7 PM Andy Williams - Ann Margaret Show -- click here for website
met afterwards with Andy and Ann-Margaret, both very cordial
Andy has his own signature wine

Wednesday May 5 -- Branson -- photos here
Big Cedar Lodge
9 am Garden Tour

10 am Silver Dollar City -- click here for website
toured park
5 Family Fun Festivals and Events throughout the year
met with Mark Momany Food Division Manager
lunch at Mary’s Springhouse
demo – making Mozzarella cheese
went down 300 feet into cave where Silver Dollar City began

5 PM Move to Chateau on the Lake -- click here for website

6 PM Kyle Petty and 10th aniversary Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America rolled into hotel -- 220 riders, 25 first timers -- click here for website
Pat interviewed Petty -- autographs, pictures

7:30 PM Shoji Tabuchi show -- click here for webite
"Branson's #1 Attraction"
Wonderful, big production numbers

Thursday May 6 -- Eureka Springs, Arkansas and Branson -- photos here

Eureka Springs
1 PM Lunch Grand Taverne Restaurant and Lounge -- click here for website
Lunch -- outstanding
Executive Chef David Gilderrson

3 PM Eureka Springs highlights -- click here for website
Tour and sight seeing
The Writers' Colony at Dairy Hollow -- click here for website
Only resident writer's colony in the world with a test kitchen

7 PM Dinner Branson
Candlestick Inn Restaurant & Lounge -- click here for website
Travel Host says: one of "Best Dining experiences in Branson"

Friday May 7 -- Branson -- photos here
9:30 am(!) Yakov Smirnoff Show -- click here for website
Branson Two-Time Comedian of the Year
wonderful, wholesome, patriotic comedy

Lunch at Chateau on the Lake

2 PM Met with President Paul Rasmussen at McFarlains
Sampled McFarlain’s Double Feature -- fried green tomatoes and French fried sweet potatoes

Tour of Table Rock Lake by speed boat -- Joe Cillo tour guide

Met with Bob Haislip,
Chateau on the Lake Assistant General Manager & Director of Food and Beverage
Discussed new Preview Menu

8 PM Presley’s Country Jubilee -- click here for website
"Branson's Original Show on the Strip"

11 PM Chateau on the Lake, Library
4th Course After Dinner Delights and Aussy Benjamin Port
plus music in the lounge -- Eli Barsi

Saturday May 8 -- leave Branson -- photos here
Breakfast at Chateau on the Lake
Brioche French Toast -- Raspberry filling -- dipped in Waffle batter and served with maple syrup

Drive to Tulsa
Lunch in Tulsa
Big Daddy Barbeque -- #1 BBQ in Tulsa

Fly home -- collapse

All pictures taken by
Photo Editor Mary
Buttaro with
Olympus C-5050
digital camera
Olympus Cameras

Thank you -- to all who facilitated our exploration
We saw/experienced a great deal in a very short time, thanks to the courtesy, hospitality, efficiency of so many:

Dawn Erickson
Branson Convention & Visitors Bureau
Pam Critchfield
Martha Hoy-Bohner
Lynn Berry
Eureka Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau
Big Cedar Lodge
Dogwood Canyon and Nature Park
Canyon Café
Top of the Rock Restaurant
Showboat Branson Belle
McFarlain’s Family Restaurant
Noble Associates
Avanzare Italian Dining
Bass Pro Shops
Hemingways Blue Water Cafe
Andy Williams - Ann Margaret
Silver Dollar City
Chateau on the Lake
Kyle Petty
Shoji Tabuchi
Eureka Springs
Grand Taverne Restaurant and Lounge
The Writers' Colony at Dairy Hollow
Candlestick Inn Restaurant & Lounge
Yakov Smirnoff
Presley’s Country Jubilee
Eli Barsi
Big Daddy