A Visitor’s Guide to Silver Dollar City in Branson, MO. Covers Attractions, Shopping, Dining, Shows, and more!
To many Americans, traveling to Southwest Missouri for a family vacation sounds about as much fun as watching grass grow. What these people don’t know is that Branson, MO, home to over 100 live shows, beautiful golf courses, three lakes, and more go-cart tracks than you can count, is also home to one of America’s greatest theme parks, Silver Dollar City.
Branson – Missouri’s Best Kept Secret
Or at least it used to be. The beautiful small town, nestled into the rolling hills of the Ozarks, has grown immensely over the years. Large theaters, miniature golf courses, go-cart tracks, and great restaurants line Highway 76, or “the strip” as the locals and repeat visitors often call it. Follow Highway 76 a few miles northwest of all the hustle and bustle of town and you’ll find Silver Dollar City, one of America’s finest theme parks.
Silver Dollar City Location
Silver Dollar City is located on Indian Point, a small peninsula that extends out into Table Rock Lake, one of Branson’s three lakes. Believe it or not, parking is still free (at the time of publishing) and tram service is available from all of the lots. Visitors can opt to pay a small fee to park in the preferred parking lot, but the frequency of trams to the other lots makes this almost foolish.
As far as lodging is concerned, if you enjoy staying away from the crowded city, Indian Point has some excellent motels, resorts, cabins, and even a public campground. Staying on Indian Point makes getting to Silver Dollar City easy and returning to your room even easier. Traffic can get heavy towards town on Highway 76, especially around park closing time. Lodging on Indian Point is usually only a few minutes away after a long day of roller coasters, water rides, and walking.
Things You Need to Know About Silver Dollar City
First and foremost it should be noted that Silver Dollar City is located on very hilly terrain. The majority of the park is paved; however, there are some areas that are bark mulch covered. It is extremely important that you wear proper walking shoes. The park also has a wide variety of rides ranging from roller coasters to water rides, and it may be helpful to bring a dry set of clothes if you plan on riding the water rides. Missouri has rather humid summers and clothes can sometimes take a while to dry. Adversely, if you’re visiting the park in late fall or winter, especially for the “Old Time Christmas” festival, be sure to bring a warm jacket. Temperatures may be pleasant during the day, but tend to drop fast as the sun goes down.
Silver Dollar City Rides
With more than 30 rides, Silver Dollar City has something for everyone to enjoy. The Grand Exposition area contains a number of rides for the younger family members, while roller coasters and water rides are found all throughout the park. Take a ride on the old steam train or hop on Wildfire, a roller coaster that reaches up to 66 miles-per-hour. The Flooded Mine puts riders into small boats with shooting-arcade style guns. Riders shoot at anything with a target on it (which is just about everything) and watch the reaction from the different props throughout the ride, all while trying to beat their fellow boat mate’s scores.
Silver Dollar City Shows
Shows vary from season to season at Silver Dollar City. Past productions have ranged anywhere from sweeping, civil war era musicals, to live Nativities around Christmas. The Echo Hollow Amphitheater traditionally hosts an excellent musical variety show that is free to park guests and runs for 1-2 hours after the park closes.
Silver Dollar City’s Marvel Cave
An article on Silver Dollar City wouldn’t be complete without dedicating a small section to Marvel Cave. Originally opened as a tourist attraction in 1894, guided tours were given in the cave long before Silver Dollar City existed. Visitors can still take guided tours of the beautiful cave today. The roughly one-hour-long tour takes visitors almost 500 feet below ground and is well worth the trip to Silver Dollar City on its own. Reservations are taken at the cave desk in the Hospitality House for Lantern Light Tours, where for a small fee, visitors get to traverse the cave with only the light of the lanterns they carry. The tour runs almost double the length of the main tour, and visitors are often taken on paths not used by the main tour. This tour is well worth the time and money; however please remember that reservations are required, and on busy days, should be placed early. PLEASE NOTE: The cave tour can be rather strenuous. Lots of stairs, low ceilings, and tights spaces are common throughout the tour. While most people don’t have any problems with it, make sure you’re in decent health and can handle the above-mentioned situations. Also, be sure to use the restroom before heading out on the tour. It’s a long time to wait for a bathroom and there is plenty of running water in the cave to remind you of your oversight, should you forget.
Silver Dollar City Shopping
As is expected with most theme parks, stores are never in short supply throughout the park. What makes Silver Dollar City different is that many of the feature items made by skilled craftsmen of many different trades. Trade demonstrations are done throughout the day in various locations. Watch glassblowers turn a piece of molten glass into a beautiful vase, a potter turn a lump of clay into a serving dish, a blacksmith turn a shapeless piece of metal into a razor-sharp knife, or everyone’s favorite, watch as two crazy candy makers throw some ingredients together to make homemade peanut brittle, with delicious samples handed out at the end.
Start Planning Your Trip to Branson and Silver Dollar City
Whether you’re looking for a change of pace from busy city life, or simply looking to have a lot of fun in one of the most beautiful theme parks you’ve ever seen; Silver Dollar City is well worth the consideration. Family fun, values, and great entertainment come together to provide an unforgettable vacation experience. Most people who visit remain hooked and come back at every chance they get.