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The Time Traveler at Silver Dollar City is billed as the world's fastest, steepest and tallest spinning coaster. We passed on this one! (Photo provided)

Featured Article

Branson or Bust

Silver Dollar City, Aquarium, Wax Museum and Beautiful Table Rock Lake Among Attractions

Article by Jerri Culpepper

Photography by Lindsey Davies and Provided

Originally published in OKC City Lifestyle

On June 17, I packed my bags and took to the road for a summer vacation in Branson, Missouri. With me were my sister Lori; niece and City Lifestyle columnist/photographer Lindsey Davies; and Lindsey's 6-year-old son, Liam. Oh, and two dogs!

Branson was one of the three options we had considered, the others being the beaches of Corpus Christi or the mountains of Colorado. We chose Branson in part because of the relatively short drive time (necessary with a rambunctioius 6-year-old and two aging furbabies).

It's been years since my last trip to Branson, and I found it greatly changed, with a mind-blowing number of things to do, most of them family-friendly.

We visited Silver Dollar City, the popular 1880s-themed park, on a Wednesday, thereby avoiding some of the huge throngs of folk who come over the weekend. 

In the kiddie zone, Liam most enjoyed the FireHouse Play Place, a two-story interactive training course filled with foam balls, hoses and cannons for mock firefighting practice.

His other favorite attractions were the Frisco Silver Dollar Line Steam Train ride, in which "train robbers" briefly interrupt the ride in a humorous stick-up attempt; swinging bridge; and Grandfather's Mansion, featuring mystifying rooms with slanting floors, mirrored walls and dizzying effects.

I had hopes of riding the Fire in the Hole, billed as "the world's most historic indoor roller coaster," which will be retired at the end of the 2023 season, and making my third or so tour of Marvel Cave, around which the theme park was originally built, but neither really worked well with a child Liam's age.

However, we enjoyed a glassblowing demonstration, visiting the many quaint shops dotted throughout the park, and checking out the downhome food options at Molly's Mill Restaurant.

We split our visit into a morning and afternoon session to more fully enjoy the experience. Patrons may come and go as they like during the day of their visit; just make sure not to lose your tickets!

Silver Dollar City offers numerous thrilling rollercoaster and other rides, live shows, and 18 dining options. SDC's Ozark Summer Celebration ends Aug 27. For details, visit

What else is there to do in Branson? As it turns out, a lot!

We bought tickets to the Aquarium at the Boardwalk (, which were pretty pricey at over $200 for four tickets, but they turned out to be a bargain, as your purchase also allows access (within the next two days) to the Hollywood Wax Museum, Castle of Chaos, Hanna's Maze of Mirrors and Shoot for the Stars Mini-Golf. We visited them all, some twice!

We also visited Talking Rocks Caverns (, which is smaller than Marvel Cave but really quite beautiful. We only made it through part of the tour before Liam decided it was all a bit too much, but I'm glad we got to see as much as we did. Definitely worth your time!

Our last full day in Branson, we visited nearby Table Rock Lake ( for an afternoon of swimming. Table Rock came in at the top spot in's listing of the 14 Best Lakes in the U.S. in 2023. 

As for the dogs, they were able to go with us inside Big Bass Pro Shops in Springfield on our way to Branson. They also accompanied us to the lake and on a short trail hike. The rest of the time, they were happy to hang out in our room at the pet-friendly La Quinta By Wyndham.

If you go: Check out Silver Dollar City's White Water water park (open through Aug. 27) and the Showboat Branson Belle dinner cruise. (Both linked off SDC's home page.)

Silver Dollar City offers several thrilling rollercoaster and other rides, live shows, and 18 dining options. 

  • The Time Traveler at Silver Dollar City is billed as the world's fastest, steepest and tallest spinning coaster. We passed on this one! (Photo provided)
  • 6-year-old Liam Davies gives Silver Dollar City's swinging bridge a try.
  • Liam loved the FireHouse Play Place, a two-story interactive training course filled with foam balls, hoses and cannons for mock firefighting practice.
  • Ham it up for fun photos using handy props at Branson's Hollywood Wax Museum. (Photo by Lindsey Davies)
  • Talking Rocks Caverns near Branson is one of several caves in Missouri that's worth the trip. Warning: It does have steep steps going down some 100 feet. .
  • Explore 10 zones of fish & fun at the Aquarium at the Boardwalk in Branson. (Photo by Lindsey Davies)
  • One of my favorite displays at the wax museum is this one of Johnny Depp, aka Jack Sparrow. (Photo by Jerri Culpepper)