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