I have often been asked by friends who live out of the area, "Why Branson?" They want to know what is it that is so special about this place. "What makes you want to live there?" "What's so great about the Ozarks?" The answer is complex. There is far more here than what you might see on a leisurely drive down Hwy. 76. While the entertainment industry is alive and well in Branson, shows and attractions are not the only reason to visit, or even stay.
Living in a 'destination town' such as Branson is different from living anywhere else. When we stop at the convenience store in the morning for our coffe, over half of the customers are most likely tourists. At restaurants during any given meal service, the ratio of tourists to locals goes up over 50%. Our grocery stores are full of visitors to the area. We have to always keep in mind that a visitor's perception of Branson as a whole can depend on one small incident. Meaning, if we're running late for work, but had to stop at Wal-Mart first and pick up two shopping carts of items, we must be cordial and accomodating to the guy who just stepped in front of our cart and asked us where to find the Branson souvenirs. One short or snappy answer could cause that visitor to return home with a negative experience, which he will certainly share with his friends and family. Branson's entire economy depends on tourism, and we, as locals, are sometimes the first and last impression a visitor might receive.
You might think that all of this is a pain, but it isn't. It insures that almost everyone in the town is friendly, and helpful. We want you to visit, and return often. We enjoy sharing the beauty of the Ozarks with our visitors. After all, you might to decide to move or retire here! Lots of folks do just that, based on their Branson vacation experience. Some people come for the opportunity to work in the entertainment industry. Some folks move here because they are avid golfers, and we have many, many excellent courses to enjoy. Others move here because they enjoy the shows and want to attend them and experience all of the attractions. Once you've seen "The Strip" at night with all of the lights and people, you might decide that Branson is perfect for you. If you're a history buff, this area is rich with history and local lore. Even as an area local, I am constantly amazed and delighted at the discovery of a piece of history I hadn't previously known about. Roots run deep here, and there are families whose ancestors have lived here longer than they can remember. The stories they can tell!
I have to confess, while I enjoy the shows, it is Table Rock Lake that was the draw for me. As a child, I spent many days at both Table Rock and Taneycomo Lake with family and friends, just swimming and floating on rafts, or riding in my uncle and aunt's boat. I thought that no one on earth was as lucky as I was when we were out on the middle of the lake, dangling my hand over the side of the boat to feel the water splash up as we cruised. I loved to watch my uncle drive, and my aunt ski behind their pretty red and white boat. I used to dream about what it would be like to grow up and live the 'lake life'. You could say I was absolutely enchanted with the lake, and I still am. Boat rides, fishing, BBQ's, water sports such as parasailing (yes, you can do that here!), wakeboarding, water skiing, tubing, diving off ancient Ozark's bluffs into clear lake water, enjoying dinner lakeside with friends - the 'lake life' is everything I dreamed it would be as a little girl.
Each morning, on my way to work, I am surrounded by clear lake waters, beautiful hills and clean air. The beauty of the area is like no other. Each season in the Ozarks holds it's own unique beauty. Fall paints the hillsides with deep, rich colors that reflect on the lake's still waters. Winter offers mile-long mountain views of pale sunlight glinting off of the early morning frost and mist rising from the valleys. The countryside is dotted with wildflowers and flowering trees in the spring, making it appear that pastel paint has been splashed through the hills. But summer...oh, sweet summer. Long days, family, food, fun and friends at the lake, fishing, and yes, riding in the boat. Pontoon, ski boat, sailboat, pedal boat, or even a personal watercraft...it doesn't matter. Just let me out on the water!
There is something else that keeps me here in addition to the lake. There is a peace in the Ozarks hills that you have to experience to understand. It's sweet and uplifting in the early morning when the world is still, except for the songbirds. It can wrap itself around you in the twilight hours just before night falls. You can feel it in the quiet gentle breeze that winds through the valleys and brushes by you. In those brief moments, all is right with the world. This is what generations of area residents have come to know and love about the Ozarks.
We want to share all of this with you. Whether you come for vacation, or come for a lifetime, it's yours to enjoy. No matter what the reason is that draws you here, we want you to know you are welcome to experience all that Branson holds. Who knows? We might just end up becoming neighbors!