18 Reasons to Visit Branson, Missouri's Christmas Wonderland

Silver Dollar City
Photo: Silver Dollar City

When it comes to our love for Christmas, we don't beat around the bush. Whether picking out the perfect Christmas tree, driving around to see the neighborhood lights, or binging on our favorite Hallmark movies, we're squeezing every bit of holiday cheer out of the season. We believe no venture could be more festive than visiting a Christmas-crazed destination straight out of our holiday-loving dreams. And we've found the ultimate holiday hot spot in Branson, Missouri. Taking notes from the holiday celebrations of Walt Disney World and the charms of our beloved small towns, Branson gives a holiday experience like no other. You can go all out at An Old Time Christmas at Silver Dollar City, with its over 6.5 million lights, or venture around town for impressive displays and holiday boat rides. No matter what, you're bound to run into the man of the season—Santa. Here are 18 reasons to head to Branson, Missouri, this Christmas.

01 of 18

Visit a City of Lights

Silver Dollar City
Silver Dollar City

Head to Silver Dollar City for over 6.5 million lights and 1,000 Christmas trees. This park transforms into a winter wonderland, a festival called An Old Time Christmas, complete with so many twinkling lights, Christmas trees, and events that you'll never want to leave. Christmas musicals, train rides, and parades keep visitors feeling festive.

02 of 18

Gaze at Dazzling Displays

Christmas in Midtown
Silver Dollar City

Christmas in Midtown is a light show spectacular with over 1.5 million lights. This display adds to the Christmas celebration at Silver Dollar City, definitely making it one of the most illuminated places we've ever heard of. Christmas scenes and displays, such as an overhead canopy of angels, give a wondrous touch to the annual festival.

03 of 18

Enjoy the Parade

Rudolph’s Holly Jolly Christmas Light Parade
Facebook/Silver Dollar City Attractions

Rudolph's Holly Jolly Christmas Light Parade is a crowd favorite. If you love the Christmas parade at Disney World, this musical parade with lights, characters, and festive floats will hit the spot. The parade kicks off after sundown to make sure the Christmas lights get to be on full display.

04 of 18

Take in a Show

Live musical shows
Silver Dollar City

Watch classic Christmas stories come to life at the holiday musicals. You can stop in and take a seat for "A Dickens' Christmas Carol," "It's a Wonderful Life," and "The Living Nativity" to watch your favorite live Christmas stories.

05 of 18

Hop Aboard

Steam Train
Silver Dollar City

The Frisco Sing-Along Steam Train takes you on a short scenic train ride through the Ozark Mountains, with carols and a telling of the nativity story along the way. This steam train is super popular with kids and reminds us a little of our favorite Polar Express!

06 of 18

Shop Till You Drop

Christmas Hollow
Silver Dollar City

Find gifts and traditional holiday decor at Christmas Hollow, the year-round holiday shop. This place is a collector's dream. Abounding with decorated Christmas trees, thousands of ornaments, and nativity sets of all styles, this Christmas shop gives a new meaning to holiday decorating.

07 of 18

Take a Trip Down Memory Lane

Dick’s 5 & 10
Branson/Lakes Area CVB

Dick's 5 & 10, an authentic dime store located downtown, opened in 1961 and has been stuffed full of one-of-a-kind gifts, quirky finds, and vintage toys and gadgets since. It gets positively festive during the holidays, and you can find just about any gift for a loved one there (especially a great gag gift!).

08 of 18

Grab Some Famous Fruitcake

College of the Ozarks
Courtesy Branson, Missouri

Students attending the College of the Ozarks churn out thousands of fruitcakes, jams, preserves, and apple butter all year long (but ramp up production for the holidays!) to earn their tuition at the College of the Ozarks. The heavenly holiday aroma wafts from the student kitchen as they use the original, old-fashioned recipe that was used when the operation began in the 1930s. You can purchase these goodies for your family and friends and look forward to receiving a fruitcake in the mail with a handwritten note from a student!

09 of 18

Drive Through the Lights of Joy

Gift of Lights
Branson/Lakes Area CVB

This magical mile might be the brightest drive-thru light attraction we've ever seen, featuring all LED lights and displays that keep getting bigger. We love how you're charged by the carload, not by the number of individual guests. (Just like the old drive-ins!)

10 of 18

Check Out the Gingerbread Village

Chateau on the Lake
Branson/Lakes Area CVB

The Chateau on the Lake Resort transforms its lobby into a sugar-filled gingerbread village with impressive (entirely edible) architecture made by a chef and volunteer team. This lakeside resort gives beautiful views and a comfortable home base for a holiday trip with your family.

11 of 18

Take a Spin on the Wheel

Branson Ferris Wheel
Facebook/Branson Ferris Wheel

The Branson Ferris Wheel was a standout on the Chicago skyline until 2016 when it moved to Branson. It offers views of the Ozark Mountains and features hundreds of thousands of LED lights for an electrifying holiday display that you get to experience on and off the wheel.

12 of 18

Cruise with Santa

Showboat Branson Belle
Branson/Lakes Area CVB

Sail the waters on the Showboat Branson Belle, an 1890s-style paddlewheeler. While you can do a classic evening cruise on this showboat any night on Table Rock Lake, we recommend the Santa's Pancakes and PJs Cruise for a festive holiday breakfast with fun musical entertainment, a visit from Santa, and family fun in your pajamas. It's a perfect treat for your little ones.

13 of 18

Say Cheese

Showboat Santa
Branson/Lakes Area CVB

Onboard the Showboat Branson Belle you'll get a visit from Santa and see his show. It'll give a great photo opportunity with Santa and your little ones in their Christmas pajamas too!

14 of 18

Experience Christmas with Dolly

Christmas at Dixie
Facebook/Dixie Stampede

If you're a fan of Dolly Parton (who isn't?), then this Western show that's kin to the Pigeon Forge park could be a great outing for your family this year. Watch a high-energy show with rodeo clowns, horse riding, and holiday décor (you're sure to fall over laughing); and during the holidays, the show turns into a live-action nativity story with interludes featuring animated elves and the Sugar Plum Fairy.

15 of 18

Marvel at Over 1,000 Trees

Christmas trees
via Branson Travel Planning Association

Not only are there 1,000 decorated trees at Silver Dollar City, but throughout the rest of the town, you can experience dozens of beautifully decorated trees, including the 60-foot tree at Branson Landing. After an afternoon of holiday shopping, stay for the tree lighting.

16 of 18

Get in the Spirit

Christmas parade
Courtesy of the Branson Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Branson Adoration Parade rings in the meaning of the season with the lighting of the area's largest nativity. Overlooking Lake Tanycomo, the evening celebration is followed by a parade of floats, bands, and, of course, Santa.

17 of 18

Get Lost in the World's Largest Toy Museum

World’s Largest Toy Museum
World's Largest Toy Museum

Branson is home to this impressive store filled to the brim with toys of all types. Vintage toys, rare collectibles, entire donated collections, and everything in between. It's now been expanded into eight museums that each focus on different collections.

18 of 18

Run Into Santa All Season

Branson/Lakes Area CVB

In Branson, you get plenty of opportunities to run into the most popular man of the season: Santa. Every event, attraction, or holiday scene usually gets a visit from the big guy, especially on weekends. On your visit, make sure to tell him your Christmas wishes before heading home!

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