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By Branson’s Convention and Visitors Bureau | SUBMITTED
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You'll have a blast in Branson
By Kathleen Ostrander

Lakes, mountains, museums, golf courses, fine dining and non-stop family musical entertainment have helped Branson, Mo., earn the nickname of "Live Music Show Capital of the World."

Perched in the shadow of the Ozarks, Branson is about five hours from Springfield. The variety of attractions, as well as accommodations ranging from four-star resorts and spas to family friendly motels, makes it suitable for a romantic weekend getaway or a family holiday.

The Neislers of Pawnee have been going to Branson for the past seven years, usually around the Thanksgiving weekend. Their teens' participation in high school sports has temporarily moved their vacation time, but they are hoping to adjust back to Thanksgiving when schedules permit.

The family stays at the Chateau on the Lake Resort and Spa, and Bev Neisler said they don't miss having Thanksgiving at home at all.

"They've got everything you would want for a Thanksgiving dinner at the resort's buffet and ice sculptures," she said.

"We decided to go to Branson because we had heard so much about it, and we just decided to keep going back," Bev said. Each year they try different shows and a different attraction or two.

"I like the shows," said Chloe, 18. "I was really looking forward to seeing the Chinese acrobats, and it was a great show."

They've seen the Haygoods, which is a high-energy family act, Shoji Tabuchi, Jim Stafford and Andy Williams.

"Some of the shows you might not normally go out of your way to see, but some of them - like Andy Williams - it's pretty neat to say you saw him," said Joe Neisler.

"I know people think it's all country, but we saw the 12 Irish Tenors and the Rockettes," he said. "You can get as 'country' as you want," Bev said, "but there's lots of other things to see and do."

Although Thanksgiving means a rush to the shopping areas, Bev Neisler said the family has been in the city enough times to know the back roads to take to avoid the congestion.

"They do have great shopping," Chloe said.

Changing the vacation to the summertime for their most recent trip to Branson meant Bev could take a turn on the new Segway track and Wyatt, 14, and Joe could go fishing.

"The resorts have beautiful pools inside and outside. You could spend the whole time in the resort," Bev said.

The family has enjoyed the Silver Dollar City Theme Park.

"The kids liked the rides, and they've got all these artisans and craft shops," Joe said.

They've also been to the Dolly Parton Dixie Stampede, which is a dinner-theater show complete with a herd of cattle, four-course meal and ostrich races.

Branson also is home to one of several Hollywood Wax Museums in the United States, the Titanic Museum and the World's Largest Toy Museum. There's always the option of a riverboat cruise.

Bev said they recently discovered the Keeter Center at the College of the Ozarks. The college offers free tuition to students who are willing to work during their college stay.

Students staff and work at the restaurant and the gourmet bakery.

For each of the teens, there is a special thing they always look forward to when going to Branson.

Chloe said the first view of the picturesque resort where they stay signals the start of a relaxing vacation.

"You see it sitting there on the side of the mountain, and it's just beautiful," she said.

Wyatt looks forward to the best milkshakes in the world from the ice cream shop at the resort.

"It's very stress-free there," Bev said.

"You just feel all the anxiety drift away, and although it wouldn't seem so, it's a very relaxing place." Joe added, "it's a place where you can take the children and the grandchildren and make a tradition out of it."

n Visit www.explorebranson.com



Story published Friday, March 5, 2010 ( Volume 5, Number 2 )

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