Stroll and Shop
Take your gift list downtown to Branson Landing, a 95-acre smorgasbord of shops and restaurants. Bass Pro Shops anchors one end of the pedestrian street that flows through the area. One of my favorite stops is The Fudgery, where I watched as delicious fudge was made. Baseball fans will want to browse Cardinal's Clubhouse.
Dick's Oldtime 5 & 10 has anchored its corner of Main and Commercial for nearly 35 years. It carries everything from pots and pans to stationery, but the best reason to step inside is the inexpensive toys―they make perfect stocking stuffers.
Another favorite shop, Round Tree Pottery, is a few miles away―but worth the drive. It's a treasure trove of local and regional art.
Steaks and Stuff
I love beef, and both the Devil's Pool restaurant and Worman Steakhouse at Big Cedar Lodge get a thumbs-up for their prime rib. Worman, with lovely views of Table Rock Lake, also wins in the romance department. For sunset dining go to Candlestick Inn, which overlooks Branson Landing and Lake Taneycomo. My favorite dish here is the starter of grilled shrimp wrapped in bacon ($13).
Although Cantina Laredo at Branson Landing is part of a chain, it garners praise for the guacamole made fresh tableside ($8.99) and the delicious house margarita ($8).
The Shack, on Commercial Street, enjoys a loyal following at breakfast and lunch. Food and prices rate high ($3.25 for a pancake and sausage or bacon), but when it's time for a coffee refill, your server may be off chatting with the locals.