As many of you may already know, Branson, Missouri was hit by a tornado and severe storm in the early hours of this morning, February 29, 2012.  A destructive tornado reportedly touched down west-northwest of Branson near Kimberling City and Table Rock Lake, before heading into Branson, cutting a path down the entertainment district.  The tornado jumped from side to side of Hwy 76, known as “The Strip”, before heading to the downtown area.  Notable target areas were the Wal-Mart on Highway 76, the Branson Convention Center and Hilton Hotel, the Branson Landing, and the Downtown Branson area.

Several businesses were affected by the storm, to varying degrees.  Branson has over 50 theaters, but thankfully, only three are reporting severe damage.  They include:
  • Americana Theater
  • Branson Variety Theater
  • Dick Clarks’ American Bandstand Theater
Of the over 200 hotels in Branson, the properties reporting severe damage include:
  • 1st Inn Branson
  • Angel Inn
  • Blue Bayou Inn
  • Best Western Center Pointe Inn
  • Grand Oaks Inn
  • Holiday Inn on the Strip
  • Hilton at the Branson Convention Center
  • JR’s Motor Inn
  • Melody Lane Inn
  • Ramada
  • Ria Inn

Branson attractions that sustained damage include:

  • Lost Treasure Mini-Golf
  • Ride the Ducks
  • Track #3
  • Track #4
  • Veterans Memorial Museum
As Branson is home to a large assortment of businesses, we are proud and relieved to report that many Branson businesses did not sustain damage.  Some of the specific businesses that were saved from the tornado include:
  • Baldknobbers Theater
  • Dixie Stampede
  • The Duttons Theater
  • The Grand Palace
  • Jim Stafford
  • Presleys’ Theater
  • RFD-TV Theater
  • Ripley’s Believe It or Not
  • Sight and Sound Theater
  • Silver Dollar City
  • Shoji Tabuchi
  • Titanic Museum Attraction
  • White Water
  • Yakov
If there is any good news in all of this, it is that it seems much of Branson received minimal damage and although severe damage was sustained in specific areas, Branson can and will recover. At this point, clean-up and debris removal is top priority as is restoring power lines and servicing those that live in the Branson area.  Branson should be operational within a few days, and should be 100% up-to-par by the time visitors with Spring Break plans flock to the area.  If you have a vacation in Branson planned within the next week, please contact the specific lodging establishment and theater you have reservations with to ensure they are fully operational.
Stay tuned for more details.  We will provide you with up-to-date information as we receive it.

Branson is famous for its entertaining shows and thrilling attractions, but one thing you might not think of when Branson comes to mind are wineries and distilleries. However, Missouri’s wineries have received worldwide recognition and are worth a closer look.

Planning a toast the town tour in Branson? Here’s what you need to know:

Stone Hill Winery
601 State Hwy 165
Missouri’s oldest and most awarded winery is Stone Hill Winery. It has been in operation in the Ozarks since 1986 and entertains visitors with over 12,000 square feet of space. When you visit this winery, you’ll be taken on a guided tour where you’ll witness the step-by-step winemaking process, view a short film about the history of Stone Hill and enjoy free wine tastings. The wines range from the dry, full-bodied Norton, a red wine that has captured international recognition, to the sweet and fruity Pink Catawba and Concord. My favorite wine produced by Stone Hills is the Norton (Norton is Missouri’s state grape) but the cream sherry they produce is an award-winning dessert wine with unique flavors of oak and caramel and is worth a try. Tours at Stone Hill Winery start every 15 minutes and are completely free. Do bring some money, though, as I’m sure you’ll want to purchase some wine in the gift shop before leaving.

Mount Pleasant Winery
3125 Green Mountain Drive
Mount Pleasant Winery was founded in 1859 in Augusta, Missouri but opened its doors in Branson in 2007. The winery has several interesting things to do for visitors. First, they offer free wine tastings throughout the day featuring their award-winning Villagio (similar to a pinot grigio), Vignoles, and, of course, it’s Norton. The highlight of a visit to Mount Pleasant, though, is bottling your own dessert wine. You’ll have the opportunity to pour and cap your own bottle of port from a 600-gallon barrel. These bottles are a fantastic souvenir of your vacation in Branson. A free 15-minute wine tasting class is also available. It gives you a quick lesson in the basics of wine tasting, so even if you’re new to the wine scene, you’ll learn how to distinguish your chardonnays from your spumante. An hour class, with admission fee, is offered if you want a more in-depth wine tasting class. Mount Pleasant Winery features local artists every month and also hosts happy hour nights with live music.

Copper Run Distillery
1901 Day Road
Copper Run Distillery may not be a winery, per se, but if you’re toasting the town of Branson it is a must see. Located off the beaten path in Walnut Shade, Copper Run is the first legal distillery in the Ozark Mountains since prohibition ended in 1933. Their distillery concocts casks of moonshine and rum using century old methods. A 140 gallon, direct fire, copper pot still is the centerpiece of their operation, as is using the best local ingredients. Stop by for a free tour and tasting. If you’re able to visit on Sundays, you’ll be treated to live music and jam sessions.

March is the premiere time for college hoops and the Tri-Lakes area is no exception to that rule.  The NAIA Tournament will return to the College of the Ozarks March 7 – 13, 2012.  This is the 13th year C of O has hosted the Division II Men’s Basketball National Championship.

The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Championship is a 32-team, single elimination tournament featuring the champions of the Division II conferences and at-large berths.  All games are played in the Keeter Gymnasium at College of the Ozarks. 
The tournament has become a Branson tradition for visitors and locals alike. With tickets only $15 for reserved seats and $10 for general admission, it is an affordable way to see athletes from across the nation compete for championship glory.  Plus, with so many things to do in Branson, many people take in a game and also see a Branson show or two while they’re here. 
If you plan on attending games at during the NAIA Championship at C of O, check-in to The Keeter Center.  Its rustic lodge design combines beautifully with the scenic landscape of the Ozarks and it is located right outside the gates to College of the Ozarks, putting you in a perfect location for the games and just a few miles from the heart of Branson.   

The Titanic Museum in Branson, Missouri is honoring the Titanic’s legacy with a full year of events, including several that pay tribute to the 100th anniversary of the Titanic’s tragic sinking.

Here’s what you can look forward to seeing during your trip to the Titanic Museum Branson:

     

    The Unsinkable Molly Brown
    • Margaret “The Unsinkable Molly” Brown Gallery:  For the first time, an entire gallery will be dedicated to one of Titanic’s most popular, colorful passengers: Margaret “the Unsinkable Molly” Tobin Brown. You’ll see personal possessions, rare never-before-seen Molly Brown photographs, and priceless costumes Debbie Reynolds wore in the 1964 MGM hit movie musical, The Unsinkable Molly Brown.  This exhibit was made possible by Helen Benziger, Brown’s great-granddaughter.  She will be at the Titanic Museum on March 22 to dedicate the gallery.  Brown was also from Hannibal, Missouri, adding to the interest in her person and legacy.
    • Irish Month at the Titanic: This popular month-long annual event brings out the Irish in everyone who comes aboard. Music, singing, dancing, tall tales and Gaelic humor will rock the boat in joyous celebration of the men, women and the country that gave birth to Titanic.

       

      Rose Petal Tribute
      • Titanic’s Rose Petal Memorial Tribute: Through April 1, visitors to the museum will be given a rose petal that will be placed in a memorial case to go out to sea on April 10. All of the rose petals will be placed out to sea by the United States Coast Guard International Ice Patrol at the exact site where we lost Titanic 100 years ago.
      • Survivor’s Wall of Stories: Ever wondered what happened to the survivor’s aboard the Titanic.  This exhibit guides visitors through the individual journeys of each of the survivors on the new exclusive Survivors’ Wall of Stories. Learn the details of their lives following the greatest maritime disaster of all time.  Available through the end of spring.
      • Titanic Branson Presents “A Night to Remember: An Original Musical Tribute to Titanic: On April 14 the museum is hosting “A Night to Remember: An Original Musical Tribute to Titanic,” honoring the 100th anniversary of the night the ship struck an iceberg on its maiden voyage. Musical performances, historic ceremonies and appearances by actual descendants of Titanic’s passengers and crew will highlight the production honoring the 2,208 people aboard the ship. The musical tribute will begin at noon (Central) on April 14 at the Titanic Museum Attraction in Branson.  Separate tickets are required for this event.  Ticket Holders will receive a limited edition memorial dedicated to the ship’s history, including a DVD containing video tributes of the personal stories of selected passengers and crew. Share this milestone with your family. You will never forget it.

      These are just a few of the unique events available at the Titanic Attraction in Branson.  Check back soon to see what else the Titanic Museum has in store for 2012.

      Mel Tillis is returning to Branson for a limited engagement at the Clay Cooper Theater.  Tillis’ shows are scheduled for September 6 – December 6, with most shows taking place at 2pm. 

      Mel Tillis is a Branson icon and country music legend.  He had a theater in Branson, Missouri for many years before he decided he wanted to hit the road and tour nationally. He’s made several appearances in Branson since he sold his theater, but this is the longest engagement he’s had in quite some time.  In all, Tillis has performed over 4,000 shows in Branson and we’re glad to have him back.
      Grand Ole Opry member and Country Music Hall of Fame Inductee, Mel Tillis has made his mark as an entertainer as well as a song writer. His many hits include “Detroit City,” “Ruby,” and “Coca Cola Cowboy” to name a few. Visitors who purchase tickets to see Mel Tillis can expect to hear a variety of songs from his over 36 top ten singles as well as hear some of Tillis’ signature humor.  Tickets are less than $35 and will sell quickly.  Get your Mel Tillis tickets today to ensure you get the best seats available. 

      Have you ever looked to the sky and thought of surfing the clouds?  If so, Branson has an all-new attraction that is perfect for you – the Sky Surfer.  Located on the famous stretch of road known as “The Strip,” the Sky Surfer is directly across from the World’s Largest Toy Museum.  The attraction promises to be one of the most thrilling rides to hit the Branson scene in some time. 

      Sky Surfer officially opened on February 17 and is already attracting a lot of attention.  You may find yourself asking what exactly the Sky Surfer is.  It is the very first motorized, computer controlled zipline ride in the world.  There are three ways to ride the Sky Surfer:
      ·         Standing Up: The best position to surf the sky.
      ·         Sitting Down: Take yourself on a magic carpet ride.
      ·         Lying Face Down: Fly like a super hero!

      The requirements to Sky Surf include:

      ·         Weight of 275 pounds max.
      ·         Minimum height requirement of 42 inches.
      ·         Pregnant women or those with heart problems are not allowed to ride.
      ·         All ages 5 and up are allowed to ride.
      Add Sky Surfing to your next Branson vacation.  It’ll give you a whole new way to see the Ozarks!

      It” is one little word is creating a lot of buzz in the Branson show scene.  “It” is an all-new show from the Hughes Brothers, one of Branson’s biggest families and longest running shows.  A lot of questions have been asked about the show, namely what is “It”?

      The new variety show covers a lot of ground and packs a lot of entertainment into two hours.  When the Hughes Brothers were discussing the show in 2011, they struggled to come up with a name that identified all the show encompassed.  The name “It” started out as joke but over time it grew on the family and they decided “It” was the way to go. 

      Even though the Hughes Family encourages Branson visitors to see what “It” is about for them, they do make note of the deeper ideas of family, friends, faith and love, combined with music, and the powerful affects they have on us all.  These ideas are really what “It” is all about but these ideas come alive once you seem them on the Hughes Brothers Theater stage.

      The Hughes Brothers have been performing in Branson, Missouri for 17 years.  Throughout the years they have added to their clan and to their show, with wives and children joining the production.  Part of the reason behind the new show is the size and age of the Hughes Family, which is now around 50, including 30 plus children.  As the younger generation has got older, their talents have grown and with that in minds, the Hughes Brothers wanted to create a new platform for the entire family.  It the Show” is that platform and, with over $1.5 million invested, “It” is sure to be the buzz about town for some time.

      Are you ready to see an incredible line-up of international performers, enjoy delicious cuisine from around the world and enjoy some of the best thrill rides in the Midwest? Then, head to Silver Dollar City in Branson for World-Fest. This annual festival welcomes visitors April 12 through May 6, 2012.

      Traditional favorites and all-new performers create the line-up of entertainers, all of which showcase the beauty of cultures found both near and far away. This year’s festival has an all-new Italian flair.

      The line-up of international performers includes:

      • La Bella Musica: Located in Red Gold Hall, La Bella Musica showcases classically trained operatic tenor, Aaron Caruso, soprano Melanie Goerlitz and World Accordion Champion Cory Pesaturo.
      • Viva Italia: Italian flag throwers, living vines and statues, stilt walkers and a colorful costume parade bring the Red Gold Courtyard to life.
      • The Mariachi Divas: The Grammy award winning, all-female ensemble features members from across Mexico, Cuba, Samoa, Argentina, Columbia, Honduras and others.
      • Traditional Hawaiian Country Music Show: This show stars four-time Grammy winner George Kahumoku
      • Peruvian Yawar Chicchi Scissor Dancers
      • Kenyan Sarakasi Acrobats
      • Russian Academic Band
      • Dearbhail Finnegan
      • Ecuador Manta
      • Slovenion Polka Party

      Be sure to bring your appetite to the Tastes of the World, located in the Frisco Barn, where you can sample everything from Italian classics to sizzling south of the border selections to Orient-style dishes.

      Some of the countries highlighted at Tastes of the World include:

      • Germany
      • Greece
      • Ireland
      • Italy
      • Mexico
      • China

      Guests to Silver Dollar City’s World-Fest can also take a class at the Culinary & Craft School where you can learn international recipes to recreate some of the delicious items at the Tastes of the World.

      Purchase a Silver Dollar City Vacation Package today to see the world in Branson, Missouri.

      Spring Break will be here before you know it which makes now a great time to start planning your vacation.  Luckily, Silver Dollar City makes it easy with their money-saving vacation packages.  They also host Family Spring Break Days March 15 – 18 & 22 – 25, 2012.  During Family Spring Break Days you can be the first to ride Fire in the Hole, Thunderation and PowderKeg in 2012.  You can also catch special entertainment provided by Pure Heart, Sons of the Silver Dollar and the Doc Gizmo Science Center.

      Silver Dollar City is also making it easier than ever to travel to Branson on a budget with Silver Dollar City Vacation Packages. They feature Branson attractions like Ride the Ducks, Showboat Branson Belle, TitanicMuseum and Dixie Stampede and a variety of approved area lodging. The combination of Silver Dollar City’s theme park with Branson shows and Branson hotels allow customers to book Branson vacation packages in one convenient, money saving package.

      The all-inclusive design of the Silver Dollar City packages makes creating and reserving a Branson vacation package easier than ever.

      Visitors can choose from seven different packages:

      Reserve your Branson vacation today to see all the ways you can play in Branson!

      It’s no secret that Branson is typically associated with the older crowd. And while it’s true that Branson does have plenty to offer for senior citizens, it’s also becoming the go-to destination for the under 30 crowd looking for a quick and affordable weekend getaway. Sound surprising? Read on.

      Shopping

      Branson is a mecca for shoppers. Outlet stores, malls, and specialty shops make planning a weekend trip for some retail therapy well worth it. Sure, there are plenty of stores that are packed with antiques, souvenirs, quilts, and crafts, but also plenty more that offer fashion, cosmetics & beauty, and contemporary home décor.
      Branson Landing
      Gorgeous outdoor mall located on Lake Taneycomo? Yes, please! Any Branson shopping guide must begin with Branson Landing. The beautiful promenade notwithstanding, it offers some of the best shopping in town.

      • Apricot Lane – With brands like BB Dakota, 7 For All Mankind, Gentle Fawn, and AG Denim, this place is a must-do.
      • Bath Junkie – It is what is says. Find amazing beauty products like exfoliating salt scrub, moisturizing detox rocks, and Aloe-lu-yah lotion. Custom blend your own scents.
      • Devo Olive Oil Co. – For the foodies. Shop over 50 kinds of extra virgin olive oils, balsamic vinegars, homemade pastas, and sea salts.

      Tanger Factory Outlet

      Outlet stores abound in Branson, but there are a few gems worth checking out at Tanger.
      • Coach Factory
      • LOFT Outlet
      • BCBGMAXAZRIA Final Cut
      • Under Armour
      • Banana Republic Factory Store
      • Esprit
      Attractions
      If shopping isn’t your thing, Branson has lots of other options.
      • Wineries & Distilleries – Missouri wineries have received worldwide recognition for wines made with regional grapes like the Norton, Chambourcin, and Vignole. Plan a winery trip with stops at Branson Ridge Winery, Mount Pleasant, Stone Hill, and Copper Run Distillery.
      • Zip Lines – If you’re the more adventurous type, check out the numerous zip line tours around town.
      • Outdoor Activities – There is no shortage of things to do for the nature-lover. Spend the day boating, kayaking, or canoeing. Or take a scenic hike through Table Rock State Park. Head a little further out and enjoy swimming and scuba diving at Bull Shoals Lake.
      Nightlife
      Don’t be deterred by all the billboards advertising family shows. Here are some places to have fun with the 21+ crowd.
      • Waxy O’Shea’s Irish Pub – Located at Branson Landing, enjoy Irish food and live music in a great environment.
      • Vintage Paris Coffee and Wine Café – Coffee and pastries by day, wine bar with live music by night. Enjoy a cheese plate with a glass of your favorite vino at this tucked away café located in Hollister.
      • SIX – For those of you who would feel remiss about visiting Branson without going to a show, go see SIX. Made up of six brothers, this show will have you convinced you’re listening to a full band and not just six voices.
      • Ernie Biggs Chicago Style Dueling Piano Bar – Dueling pianos, full bar, and great food. Ernie Biggs is located in Branson Landing.
      • Clear– Located in the Hilton Branson Convention Center Hotel, Clear is a great spot for music and cocktails. When the weather’s right, enjoy the fire pits and cabanas.
      Dining
      It may not be New York or Chicago, but Branson can hold its own when it comes to gourmet dining.
      Chateau Grille
      • Cantina Laredo – Make sure to get the guacamole made table-side and the mango margarita. In nice weather try to snag a table at the patio overlooking Lake Taneycomo.
      • Big Cedar Lodge – Choose from several dining options from casual to more upscale. Also great for live music.
      • Chateau Grille– Overlooking Table Rock Lake, savor foods like Goat Cheese Stuffed Lamb Lollipop, Warm Brie En Croute, and Grilled Yellow Curry Barramundi. And don’t forget about the award winning six-page wine list.
      • Level 2 Steakhouse– Located in the Hilton Branson Convention Center Hotel, this is one of the hottest new places to eat in Branson. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.