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Posts Tagged ‘Branson’

 

Here’s a great little trip you can take, especially to see the fall foliage in the Ozark Mountains, but also good in late spring or during the summer.  The Ozark Mountains in Arkansas beckon you.  I wrote once about Mountain View, a mountain music and crafts center mecca but this area is also great to visit.

Let me tell you a little about the Hot Springs area.  Everyone knows Bill Clinton was born in Hope but about 70 miles north nestled in the mountains is Hot Springs.  He moved there as a young man and I remember hearing stories of how his mother loved playing the ponies at the Hot Springs horse track.

But there are a lot of other things to do in this area known for its thermal springs and bath houses. The water that flows from the underground springs are believed to have healing abilities and were first discovered hundreds of years ago by Native Americans.

While here you may want to consider a sunset dinner cruise aboard the Belle of Hot Springs riverboat.   A visit through Hot Springs National Park is also a must. Then onto the opulently restored Fordyce Bathhouse on Bathhouse Row is a site to behold.  (this is also where the National Park has their Visitor Center).  Finally check out the Gangster Museum where you are transported back to the 20s, 30s and 40s when gambling and bootlegging coexisted with the warm mineral waters of this awesome little valley town.

Nestled in the foothills of the Ozarks, the quaint town of Van Buren offers a chance to step back in time by strolling through the beautifully restored Victorian Main Street.  Then you can climb aboard the Arkansas-Missouri Scenic Railroad. The turn of the century passenger cars with their elegant mahogany interior which was the norm in the golden age of rail travel, is fun to ride.

Since you are a hop skip and a jump away from Branson why not continue on to this music mecca.

An evening aboard the showboat Branson Belle with dinner and entertainment is a great end to a wonderful day.  This was the best tasting food I have ever had on a riverboat and the entertainment was good, too. Since you are in Branson, what else can you do?  Take in a show, of course.  There are morning shows, afternoon shows and evening shows.  Some of the shows you can take in are The Osmonds, The Million Dollar Quartet, Down Home Country, The Brett Family Show, the Clay Cooper Country Music Express, The Haygoods Show, and #1 Hits of the 60s and the 50s.

And if you enjoy these shows come back anytime in November and December to see their special Christmas shows.

So much to see and do in magical Arkansas.

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This is a tour for people who love their music.  For our tours we either motorcoach from Chicago to St. Louis or you can fly to St. Louis.  Whichever way you choose, the tour begins with a city tour of St. Louis before continuing on to Branson, MO in the heart of the Ozarks.   
This particular tour highlights two other cities, Memphis and Nashville.  If you only want to go to Branson, you can go by many different tour companies or you can drive on your own.  An escorted tour is a good choice because Branson gets so crowded and when you are on tour you can avoid many of the traffic snarls and have all of your shows lined up for you in advance.
Branson is a tiny little town of roughly 7,000 people that attracts seven million travelers to one hundred glitzy shows in forty-nine theaters every year. The theaters are located on a neon lit road that is referred to as the “Strip.”   So as I said before you can tour here for several days seeing many shows but this particular article is going to concentrate on a tour that does three different music cities, so you can have a little taste of each of them.
The evening we arrive, we see Branson’s “”First Family of Entertainment,” the Presleys, which features four generations of family members.  You really can’t miss by going to any show in town.  They are all very professional staged with wonderful entertainers. 
The next day it’s off to see a very unique attraction, the Titanic museum.  This ship marks its 100thanniversary in 2012 and the museum allows you to experience what it was like to walk the halls, see the cabins and even touch a real iceberg.  There are over four hundred artifacts from the ship and its passengers in this museum.  After that attraction, there is a little free time before boarding the Branson Belle showboat which cruises Table Rock Lake.  This is another fun filled evening of entertainment and dinner.
The next morning we sadly leave Branson, knowing there is so much more to see.  We make a stop at the William Jefferson Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock, AR before continuing on to our next stop, Memphis, TN.
Memphis is a fun city with much to see, including Beale St. and the famed Peabody hotel where the ducks march from the rooftop to the lobby twice a day to the music of John Phillip Sousa. We also see the Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King was assassinated.  Naturally we visit Graceland, Elvis’ home, but a special treat is the city tour.  The first time I did this particular city tour, I was shocked. We went by all the famous sites, including St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, and the guide never pointed out any of these places.  Instead we are taken on a musical tour, including early homes of Elvis, Johnny Cash, BB King, along with Sun Studios and Stax Records.  And wherever we stop, our guide, who has a guitar, sings a song famous to that area or person.
As we bid Memphis adieu we are now off to our last music city, Nashville.  There is time that evening to have dinner and explore the Opryland Resort.  And, the next morning the fun continues.  A local guide shows us all the sites of the city including the Ryman Auditorium, Music Row, the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Centennial and Bi-Centennial parks, including an exact replica of the Parthenon in Greece.   That evening features “The Show That Made Country Music Famous,” the granddaddy of all shows, The Grand Ole Opry.
  Sadly our tour ends, all too soon, as most tours do.  But then you can always go back to one or more of these cities to sample more things.
So, if you are a fan of country, gospel, blues and/or rock n roll music, this is a must trip for you.

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