12 Non-Touristy Things to Do in Branson That Locals Keep Secret

Jun 06, 2024

12 Non-Touristy Things to Do in Branson
By Westgate Resorts

12 Non-Touristy Things to Do in Branson That Locals Keep Secret

There are some things every tourist has to do at least once in Branson: see The Haygoods show, shop at Branson Landing, go to Silver Dollar City, and visit the TITANIC Museum.

A drive down Country Boulevard makes it clear that many of the most popular things to do around Branson are tourist attractions designed for out-of-owners. But locals have a great time because they know where the hidden gems are.

So, once you’ve checked out the best shows in Branson, it’s time to veer off the beaten path and discover the best natural wonders, hidden places, and inside secrets Branson locals love.

Hidden Gems in Branson That Locals Keep Secret

From delicious restaurants to the great outdoors, Branson has many hidden gems that are a real treat.

Many locals often head out to Hollister, MO, which is only a 15-minute drive from Branson and is much less crowded. Plus, it’s surrounded by the beautiful Ozark Mountains.

So, without further ado, here are the best non-touristy things to do while visiting Branson!

1 | Visit the 165 Scenic Overlook | Also known as the Branson Scenic Overlook, this beautiful nature area gives you breathtaking views of Lake Taneycomo, the city of Branson, and the Ozark mountains.

This overlook is part of a 22-mile scenic drive along Route 265 that delivers exceptional views and a relaxing way to spend an afternoon.

There is also a cafe nearby, where you can grab a drink to sip and savor or take one for the road.

WHERE: 5329 Historic Hwy 165, Hollister, MO 65672 | WHO: N/A



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2 | Explore Mark Twain National Forest | For scenic views in Branson, visit the Mark Twain National Forest.

The 1.5-million-acre forest offers incredible hiking paths, biking trails, picnic areas, horseback riding trails, and more! Grab a map from the ranger’s station and start exploring the many exciting trails.

WHERE: 401 Fairgrounds Rd, Rolla, MO 65401 | WHO: (573) 364-4621


3 | Tour the Ruth and Paul Henning Conservation Area | Visitors looking to spend some time exploring Branson’s natural wonders will love this gem.

Located in western Taney County in the White River Hills, the 1,534-acre area is filled with rolling hills dotted with oak trees. There are also open glades, offering scenic views and beautiful photo opportunities.

A trek to the lookout tower is one of the best ways to get in touch with nature and enjoy some peaceful Ozark scenery away from the city.

WHERE: 4106 State Hwy 376, Branson, MO 65616 | WHO: (417) 895-6880


4 | Eat at Billy Gail’s | If you want to eat like a local, head to Billy Gail’s for massive pancakes, bacon, and eggs in a classic American diner overlooking Table Rock Lake.

Billy Gail’s gives off warm, welcoming vibes and a relaxed atmosphere that attracts plenty of locals before they head out for a day of hiking or trout fishing in Branson.

This downhome, country-style breakfast and lunch restaurant doesn’t take reservations, so walk in whenever you’re hungry! There’s also a kid’s menu for the little ones.

WHERE: 5291 State Hwy 265, Branson, MO 65616 | WHO: (417) 338-8883


5 | Body Sculpt at Kom Hot Yoga | There’s no better way to channel your energy than with a session at this Branson yoga studio.

From partner yoga to hot yoga and barre classes, there are plenty of ways to work up a sweat while zoning in on your Zen.

Classes last an hour, and the studio offers plenty of perks to make your visit truly restorative, including infrared light, eucalyptus-infused towels, and relaxing playlists.

WHERE: 2001 State Hwy 248 Suite 4, Branson, MO 65616 | WHO: (417) 544-0311


6 | Book a Tasting at Copper Run Distillery | This rustic distillery in Branson features a tasting room where you can enjoy samples of the distillery’s signature moonshine, whiskey, and rum.

The Copper Run Distillery isn’t just special for its spirits, it also happens to be the first legally operated distillery in the Ozark Mountains since prohibition ended in 1933.

All of the brews draw inspiration from local flavors and nature, like limestone-rich Missouri water and Missouri white oak. You can even book an appointment to learn how the distillery’s whiskey is made and take home your own signature barrel!

WHERE: 14720 Business 13, Branson West, MO 65737 | WHO: (417) 587-3336


7 | Chill at Hollister Coffee Company | When locals crave a good cup of joe, they head to Hollister Coffee Company. Just a short drive from Branson, this cozy coffee shop serves up lattes, pastries, and brunch staples like avocado toast in a warm, homey atmosphere.

Bring a book or just enjoy the atmosphere as you pull up a seat on one of the comfy couches or at a table. There’s also a drive-thru if you’re in a hurry and want your order to go!

Check out the artful blackboard menu and find your next favorite treat when you visit!

WHERE: 2004 Business Hwy 65, South, Hollister, MO 65672 | WHO: (417) 230-8678


8 | Listen to Music Under the Stars at Echo Hollow Amphitheatre | Located in Silver Dollar City, this amphitheater offers a surreal musical escape.

You’ll be surrounded by nature and get to experience the beauty of the Ozarks with live entertainment. Shows vary throughout the year, so check out the listings and find an artist you like!

Although there aren’t concerns happening year-round, it’s worth planning a trip to experience music outdoors at Branson’s largest theater.

WHERE: 399 Silver Dollar City Pkwy, Branson, MO 65616 | WHO: (417) 336-7100


9 | Visit the Branson Auto & Farm Museum | You may have heard about the Branson Celebrity Car Museum, but there’s another destination auto enthusiasts should check out in the city.

This museum offers a wide collection of vintage vehicles and farm equipment. It’s one of the many fun things to do with kids in Branson, especially if you have a child who can’t get enough of anything on wheels.

WHERE: 1335 State Hwy 76, Branson, MO 65616 | WHO: (417) 335-2600


10 | Go Horseback Riding with Ozark Mountain Trail Rides | Horseback riding in Branson is a beloved pastime for many locals, and Ozark Mountain Trail Rides offers some of the best tours for the whole family.

Saddle up and head out onto a beautiful nature trail with an expert guide who can tell you all about the Ozarks.

All of the horses are professionally trained and tame. A relaxing ride in the afternoon will put your mind at ease and help you get in touch with nature.

WHERE: 6549 MO-376, Branson, MO 65616 | WHO: (417) 545-0061


11 | Kayak on Lake Taneycomo | Nothing beats taking a kayak out onto the water on a beautiful, sunny day in Branson. White River Kayaking & Outdoors offers rentals and easy access to the stunning Lake Taneycomo.

Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned kayaker, the lake is a beloved spot in Branson known for its amazing fishing, stunning views, and diverse wildlife.

When you book with White River Kayaking & Outdoors, the expert staff will ensure you’re fitted with a proper life jacket. Plus, they'll give you a map of the area to help you navigate. You can also choose to be dropped off upriver or launched right from the rental spot.

WHERE: 187 1st St, Hollister, MO 65672 | WHO: (417) 335-2210


12 | Picnic at Lakeside Forest Wilderness Area | A waterfall, hidden cave, and grotto await at this 140-acre park in the heart of the Ozarks. So, if you’re looking for some of the best hiking Branson locals love to trek, look no further!

The area features 5.3 miles of trails and 315 stone steps leading to Lake Taneycomo, making this an outdoor lover’s dream adventure.

Pack along a lunch and enjoy it surrounded by trees at the large picnic pavilion near the entrance, which also includes a nature playground for the kids.

WHERE: 6549 MO-376, Branson, MO 65616 | WHO: (417) 545-0061


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Frequently Asked Questions About Non-Touristy Things to Do in Branson

Absolutely! One hidden gem beloved by locals is Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery. It's educational, serene, and perfect for families wanting to escape the tourist crowds. Plus, it's free to visit!

Locals often escape to Table Rock State Park. With its scenic trails, tranquil picnic spots, and opportunities for fishing and boating, it's a budget-friendly option for outdoor enthusiasts.

Definitely! Venture to Hollister and try out Downing Street Pour House. This local haunt offers delicious food, craft beers, and a cozy atmosphere away from the hustle and bustle.

The Ralph Foster Museum at the College of the Ozarks is both educational and fascinating for children. It's often overlooked by tourists but cherished by locals for its historical exhibits and engaging displays.

Locals love to escape to Lakeside Forest Wilderness Area. Just a short drive from Branson, it offers serene hiking trails, scenic overlooks, and a chance to reconnect with nature without the tourist crowds.

Certainly! The Branson Auto & Farm Museum is a hidden gem. It's a fascinating journey through automotive and farming history, perfect for a rainy day or a break from the usual tourist attractions.

Absolutely! Head to Lake Taneycomo for a tranquil experience away from the hustle and bustle. Locals love to take a leisurely stroll along the Branson Landing boardwalk or rent a kayak for a peaceful paddle on the lake.

Yes! Explore historic downtown Branson for unique boutiques and locally-owned shops. It's a refreshing change from the typical touristy shopping areas and offers one-of-a-kind finds.

Certainly! The Mabe Performing Arts Center hosts intimate live performances by local artists, providing an authentic taste of Branson's vibrant arts scene without the crowds of the larger theaters.

Go Off-The-Beaten Path in Branson

There are plenty of underrated attractions, quiet places, and things to do that will help you see a new side of the city. Have fun exploring and discovering all the secrets and unexpected surprises Branson has to offer!

From the hidden restaurants to overlooked attractions, and even the best tattoo shops in Branson, check out more locally recommended hotspots on our Westgate Resorts Travel Blog.


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At Westgate Resorts, when you Check-In, there’s a LOT to Check-Out! Your Branson vacation awaits! Explore our Branson resorts today or talk with a vacation planner at 888-852-2959 or 407-355-2690.

* Westgate Resorts is in no way affiliated with the attractions featured in this article. Items or places listed are current as of the publishing date of this article. Please call or visit the respective website for the most up-to-date offerings and details.

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