I’ve traveled to Missouri dozens of times (in college I dated a guy who attended Drury University) and while I’ve visited some of the “Show Me State’s” most popular attractions I was still a bit taken aback by a recent statistic that made headlines regarding Branson, Missouri.
The family-friendly Ozark resort town, which is known for its country music roots, attracted more than 8 million visitors to the area last year alone.
So what’s the draw? I’ve compiled this list of reasons why people from around the world are putting Branson at the top of their must-visit lists:
Affordable. Branson tourism officials say costs for travelers are below national averages. The average daily hotel rate in Branson is $75.90, compared with a national cost of $103. In addition, industry researchers point out that the average show ticket in Branson is $29, while Las Vegas shows currently average $130 to $150 per ticket.
Accessible. Unlike coast hugging cities such as L.A. and Orlando where most visitors arrive via plane, Branson is considered a drive-to destination.
New Attractions. Branson is already known as one of the most family-friendly entertainment capitals in the world and the addition of a new massive multi-million dollar theater (it features a wraparound stage the size of five basketball courts) is only adding to the city’ allure. The $65 million, 2,085-seat Branson Theater will reportedly be the first new location for Lancaster County, Pennsylvania-based Sight & Sound Theaters, which bills itself as “the Christian Broadway.”
New Productions. On May 24th Branson’s newest theater will debut “Noah — The Musical,” based on the Biblical story. The Gospel epic reportedly features massive sets, dozens of actors, 100 live animals and 200 animatronic animals.
New Expansions. Coming this summer to Branson’s popular Celebration City theme park is a new $2-million Roaring Falls water ride, which drops visitors five stories.
Old Favorites. Branson Landing, an outdoor pedestrian shopping center on Lake Taneycomo opened two years ago. It has its own Hilton hotel and sits across the street from a new convention center. City leaders say what was designed as a shopping center has turned into a major tourist attraction. The Landing features a lakefront walkway, a fire and water fountain, waterfront restaurants and major retailers that appeal to women and men such as Victoria’s Secret and Bass Pro Shops.