In a state as diverse as Missouri, you will find an abundance of great family vacation destinations. When I think of a couple of the best areas with something for everyone in the family, two places immediately come to mind: Branson and Lebanon.
If it has been a while since you have been to Branson, your memories may be like my childhood memories: slow moving traffic jams on Highway 76 and long wait lines at Silver Dollar City. There have been a lot of changes over the years and with bypasses and alternate routes, it is a breeze to get around the area. The development of Lake Taneycomo’s lakefront has transformed old downtown Branson into an upscale shopping and convention area complete with several outstanding restaurants and a Bass Pro Shops outdoor store.
Big Cedar Lodge and the sunset view from Top of the Rock golf course and restaurants will make any mom feel she is in the lap of luxury. Dad might enjoy a round on the course or a guided bass fishing trip on Table Rock Lake. Big Cedar has its own outdoor water park and lots of fun youth activities.
Any trip to Branson wouldn’t be complete without a trip to one of America’s top theme parks, Silver Dollar City. White Water Park will cool off any hot summer day. Nearby you will find top-rated go-cart tracks and opening later this summer, Chicago’s Navy Pier’s iconic Ferris wheel that has been recently relocated to Highway 76.
If you can find the time, you will want to take in one of the fantastic music shows, but for me, no trip is complete without some fishing on one of the best brown and rainbow trout fisheries in the country, Lake Taneycomo. My favorite place to stay when fishing tournaments is Table Rock State Park, which is centrally located and just a few minutes drive from all of the activities. I love their free Wi-Fi to keep me connected and it is always fun to have Domino’s Pizza delivered right to my camper.
Right off Interstate 44 you will find shopping and a host of chain restaurants, but I head straight for Bennett Spring State Park. It never ceases to amaze me how, when I start down the hill into the park, my stress level goes down about three notches and problems of the world just seem to fade away.
This gorgeous rainbow trout fishing destination is complete with a trout hatchery, nature center, lodge restaurant, fly shop, cabins, full hook-up and primitive camping sites, hiking trails, children’s playgrounds, plenty of area for bike riding and even a large swimming pool complete with lifeguards. Sitting streamside listening to the babbling water flow makes a great place to just sit, relax, read and let the world go by. Nearby outfitters can arrange canoe and raft trips on the Niangua River, providing not only excellent trout fishing but some trophy smallmouth bass fishing as well.
If you have never had the opportunity to visit either of these outstanding family destinations, they should definitely be placed on your bucket list; and if you have been there before, you know exactly why you need to head back soon.