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Branson, MO

Branson, Missouri, located 35 miles south of Springfield, has a population of about 7,500. It became a booming entertainment town in the 1990s when television's 60 Minutes dubbed it a "Country Music Mecca." Located in the Missouri Tri-Lakes Region, Branson's natural beauty, outdoor recreation, and shows and attractions bring in about 8 million visitors yearly. It is now the 20th most popular overnight leisure destination in the United States.

The famous novel The Shepherd of the Hills, written by Harold Bell Wright in 1907, put the Branson area on the map. Following World War II, Branson welcomed a migration of artists, craftspeople and retirees to the area. Entertainers and natives of the area, The Presleys built the first live show in this self-proclaimed "Live Entertainment Capital of the World" on Highway 76, and today the shows the city is famous for continue to sprout up all along the same route.

Residents are spread out on large rural lots over the 19 square miles that make up Branson's city limits. Many retirees from all over the nation move to the Branson area each year, finding quiet, rural homes nestled in the woods or upon bluff tops overlooking one of the serene lakes or valleys.

Several highways run through Branson-Highway 76, Highway 13, Highway 86 and Interstate 65. There are three airports in the area and 18 motor carriers. Branson maintains close to 450 restaurants and 200 lodging facilities.

The six Branson public schools have a total enrollment of more than 3,600 students. There is an average of 19 students to every one classroom teacher. Branson schools receive a 9-out-of-10 rating, which is higher than 85 percent of schools in Missouri. Additionally, Branson is home to the College of the Ozarks and Ozarks Technical Community College.

ECONOMY AND INDUSTRIES

Branson has an unemployment rate of 8.8 percent. The average salary for jobs in Branson is $26,496 and the median income of households is $31,997. Some of the most common industries for the residents of Branson include accommodation and food services, and arts and entertainment.

The largest employer in Branson is Herschend Family Entertainment, which has more than 2,300 employees. The company owns some of the most famous attractions in Branson, such as Silver Dollar City, White Water, and the Showboat Branson Bell.

Skaggs Community Health Center, the local Branson hospital, maintains more than 800 employees. Tanger Factory Outlet Mall comes in third on the employer scale, with 550 employees, followed by the Branson school system and the city of Branson.

NEIGHBORHOODS AND DISTRICTS

The city of Branson accommodates an urban population of more than 5,300. Neighborhoods and districts of Branson accommodate around 21,000 houses, out of which more than 2,700 are occupied. Of the occupied houses, more than half are owner-occupied, while renters occupy the remainder. The median home price in Branson is around $177,000. This price is higher than the statewide median price which is about $138,000. A house can be rented for about $910 a month. The neighborhoods of Branson have a housing density of around 214 houses or condos per square mile.

The city of Branson is fairly walkable, and restaurants, bars and coffee shops are located close to the center of the city.

FAMILY FUN

Three beautiful lakes circle the site of Branson-Table Rock Lake, Bull Shoals Lake and Lake Taneycomo (known worldwide for its great trout fishing). These serene areas and the trails and parks that surround them provide great opportunities for camping, canoeing, boating, hiking, biking, fishing and bird-watching.

RV parks are a favorite among frequent visitors to the area, and there are many to from which to choose. Additionally, Branson maintains 13 golf courses.

Branson Landing, a shopping center located on the Lake Taneycomo waterfront, has a 1.5-mile scenic boardwalk, a number of great restaurants and hundreds of stores. An additional attraction of Branson Landing is the water, fire, lights and music spectacle-complete with geysers and the works-to entertain shoppers of all ages. The more-than-250 places to shop in Branson also include three outlet malls and many wonderful stores in the historic downtown area.

EVENTS

The number of Branson attractions may seem endless to the first-time visitor or new resident. The main attractions are the 52 live show theaters, with a total of 60,317 seats available (more than the New York City theater district on Broadway). Some of the most popular, ongoing, live shows include The Presleys Country Jubilee, Baldnobbers, Tony Orlando, Mickey Gilly, Yakov Smirnoff, Kirby VanBurch, Jim Stafford, Legends in Concert, Andy Williams, Dino and Shoji Tabuchi. Patrons can take in any type of musical performance, including bigband, bluegrass, Broadway, classical, country, gospel, jazz, patriotic, pop, swing, even rock.

Other Branson attractions include:

  • Silver Dollar City: an old-time theme park built over Marvel Cave, steeped in the lifestyle of the Ozarks in the 1880s, including crafts and folklore displays, but also offering roller coasters and activities that appeal to modern day thrill-seekers.
  • White Water: Branson's only water park, open in the summer months, with super soakers, water blasters, speeds slides and a wave pool.
  • Showboat Branson Bell: a two-hour cruise of Table Rock Lake, including dinner and a show.
  • Branson Titanic: a replica of the sunken ship, where visitors relive the last few hours before its demise with interactive exhibits and tours.
  • The Shepherd of the Hills: a live outdoor re-creation of the famous novel by Harold Bell Wright.
  • Branson IMAX Theater: on-site, live entertainment at the Little Opry Theatre,plus a theater with three gigantic screens.
  • Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede: a four-course dinner and show, including ostrich races, trick horse riding and audience participation.
  • Ride the Ducks: a single vehicle that takes riders on a tour of Branson by both land and water.

There is also a number of events Branson residents and visitors can participate in throughout the year:

  • The Polar Bear Plunge, held each Februaryon Table Rock Lake.
  • Ozark Mountain Spring (formerly Branson Fest), held in April.
  • Silver Dollar City World-Fest, held in April.
  • Silver Dollar City's Bluegrass and BBQ Festival, held in May.
  • Silver Dollar City's KidsFest, held June through August.
  • Fireburst, the Fourth of July fireworks show.
  • Veterans Homecoming, held in November.
  • Ozark Mountain Christmas, held throughout November and December.