Branson, Branson West and Kimberling City are just a few of the communities within the lovely Tri-Lakes region of Missouri. Other communities in the area include Reeds Spring, Galena, Hollister, Ridgedale, Blue Eye, Lampe, Walnut Shade, Shell Knob and Forsyth.
Surrounded by the Ozark Mountains, the three lakes making up the Tri-Lakes region are a haven for those who enjoy swimming, water and jet skiing, boating (sail, motor, house, canoe, or kayak), scuba diving, parasailing and fishing. Lake Taneycomo flows through Branson and is a favorite spot for trout fishing. Table Rock Lake Dam is just outside of Branson. Table Rock Lake has over 700 shore line miles that include Branson, Branson West, Kimberling City, Reeds Spring, Galena, Ridgedale, Blue Eye, Lampe and Shell Knob. The secluded Bull Shoals Lake is 20 minutes away. The lakes have campgrounds and picnic areas along with full service marinas and boat rentals. Wildlife is abundant at the lakes and includes deer and a variety of water birds, as well as eagles and wild turkey. Trails around the lakes and into the Ozarks allow hikers to see nature up close.
Golf courses for all levels are found in the Tri-Lakes area. Many of the championship courses have spectacular views of the Ozarks, the lakes and the countryside. Shopping areas range from downtown Branson with shops and booths to Factory Outlet malls. Many shops feature traditional Ozarks crafts and handmade items including pottery, metal objects, and quilts. Restaurants in the Tri-Lakes area satisfy every culinary longing, from traditional family fare to ethnic foods.
Marvel Cave and Shepherd of the Hills Homestead are two of the area’s visitor attractions. Marvel Cave is a geological wonder located at the Silver Dollar City theme park. The cave is 500 feet below the theme park. Three miles of paths wind through the wet limestone cave, beginning in a room that is 400 feet long and 20 stories high. Silver Dollar City combines a recreated 19th century pioneer village with roller coasters and flume rides. Live theatre and comedy shows operate alongside skilled artisans demonstrating the crafts of the pioneers.
Shepherd of the Hills Homestead is the setting for the novel “The Shepherd of the Hills” by Harold Bell Wright. Visitors to the homestead can take a tour past the lead character’s cabin and to Inspiration Point where statues of the characters in the book stand. There are also shows, games and crafts for all ages.
Another major local attraction is 76 Country Boulevard, or “The Strip,” where millions come to see comedy shows, music performances and down-home family-friendly theatre at more than 45 venues. Music ranges from country and bluegrass to pop, jazz and rock. Area events and festivals include World Fest, the Great American Music Festival, the National Children’s Festival, Festival of America and an Old Time Christmas.
The Ozark Mountains were once home to farmers from the Carolinas, Tennessee and Kentucky. The isolation of the area inspired original music and folktales in an attempt to soften the hard life of Ozark Mountain living. As more people moved to the area, wild game was depleted and the soil, which was never rich, washed down the hillsides. The lumber industry was the first to be successful in the Ozarks. The cleared hills became tomato and strawberry farms.
“The Shepherd of the Hills” novel, published in the early 20th century, lured vacationers to the area to see the simple lifestyle of those living in the remote Ozark Mountains. Silver Dollar City and Marvel Cave opened in the 1960s, followed by a pageant based on “The Shepherd of the Hills.” Country music artists began playing for visitors during the summer and in 1967, the Presley’s opened a theatre. The theatre and performance boom began and the Branson area was no longer just a place for outdoor enthusiasts. The region continues to draw tourists and permanent residents alike.
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