Did you grow up vacationing somewhere with your family every year? Is there one place that you can always visit that takes you straight back to your childhood and make you feel like a kid again? That’s what Branson and Silver Dollar City are for me.
I started visiting SDC when I was six years old. I’m almost thirty-two now, and the second I walk through the gates and see that water clock, I’m immediately taken back to my six-year-old self, complete with a ponytail, HUGE hair bow, and rain jacket tied around my waist. I can see my little brother in his ball cap tugging on my dad’s hand, while Mom raves about riding Fire in the Hole for the nineteenth time of the morning as we get our tickets. I can smell the asphalt and amazing food and hear the blacksmiths cracking away at their creations, and I know it’s going to be an amazing day.
This particular trip, though, was even more special than the others – because I went with my mom and my two sons. I got to push them up and down all the hilly walkways around the park and get dizzy with them in Grandpa’s House, ride the giant barn swings, buy souvenirs that I picked out for myself as a kid (hello cap guns!), and watch all the craftsmen and women make amazing treasures.
Silver Dollar City’s motto is “We Create Memories Worth Repeating.” That phrase could not possibly have held more meaning than it did when we took my 2.5 year old over to the measuring stick and excitedly realized that he was tall enough to ride Fire in the Hole! You see, my mom has also been coming to Silver Dollar City and riding Fire in the Hole religiously since SHE was a kid. That’s why bringing my brother and me as kids was so special to her.
We jumped into the 5 and 6 slots of the roller coaster cart as I have done countless times over the last 24 years, but this time, I got to hold my youngest’s hand while my mom sat with her arm around my five year old. We all laughed at the lady who yells at the man for not having any pants on and squealed as the ride dropped into the darkness and splashed water on us. Getting off the ride, my mom and I both had the biggest smiles on our faces, knowing what a special memory we had just made.
Another exciting part of our trip was the Showboat Branson Belle. It’s no secret there’s a massive level of talent in Branson, and that’s exactly what we experienced aboard the Belle. We were served a delicious dinner, all while being mesmerized by an incredible show of singers and dancers. During intermission, we were able to walk outside on the boat and view the beautiful Table Rock Lake. My boys were mesmerized by the paddle wheel that pushed the boat along.
I can only hope that someday they will want to bring their children aboard the Branson Belle to carry on these memories!
Silver Dollar City is clearly the largest attraction in Branson, but it’s definitely not the only fun thing to do with your family! We were also fortunate on this trip to ride the Branson Scenic Railway, which was lucky for me because I have a train OBSESSED five year old. It was as if we traveled back through time taking a vintage passenger car through the beautiful treed landscape of Missouri and learning about the history of Branson and the railway. My boys gazed out the huge windows as they played with their trains at the table. Fun fact about the Scenic Railway – It is owned by the Kamp family, which is kin to Kamps’ Grocery Store in Downtown OKC!
Branson is also known for its amazing shows! We got to watch the Rick Thomas Illusionist show at the Mickey Gilley Grand Shanghai Theatre, and my boys were mesmerized. Not only was he extremely talented, but he engaged his audience and made us all feel like we were the most special people on earth. My five year old is still randomly throwing his hands about saying, “I call this….. beautiful!” and pretending to be an illusionist.
Before we came back to Oklahoma City, we stopped at the Branson Aquarium at the Boardwalk. I’ve taken my kids to a lot of aquariums, but I can honestly say this one takes the cake! At the beginning of the tour, we were greeted by an incredible 3D ride that sets the stage for the aquarium experience and really gets everyone excited! The exhibits inside were incredible and very informative, and the end of the tour includes a massive “kelp” playground for kids to climb on, as well as an interactive “create your own fish” activity where your kids’ artwork actually shows up on an ocean live screen. We were blown away by the thought that went into creating the aquarium.
Our final stop of the trip was lunch at Local Flavor – an ADORABLE cafe owned by an Oklahoma native! They served the greatest fried green tomatoes and had live music that took you back in time to make you feel right at home.
Clearly I’m a partial to Branson and Silver Dollar City since they hold such a special piece of my childhood, but if you’re on the fence about bringing your family here to create lasting family memories, then run, don’t walk to grab your tickets and plan a vacation today! You will not regret it! Hurry and get to creating some memories worth repeating!