The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Best of Branson

August 13, 2012

Dave Woods: Branson offers many solutions to beat the heat

JOPLIN, Mo. — I’ve spent a lot of time in Branson this summer, and one question keeps popping up: “Hot enough for y’all?”

I hear it while waiting for a show to begin, or stalking tourists for a quick comment. When I overhear -- OK, eavesdrop on --Êfolks standing in line near me I often pop off with my suggestions for     beating the summer heat in Branson.

After all, I get to spend a couple of weekends a month working in the Midwest’s Music City and I think I’ve figured out how to beat the heat.

It’s all about planning and timing. Here are a few suggestions for having a cool summer:

See a show: Catching a morning show is a sweet way to beat the Ozarks heat and Branson traffic. Many theaters offer shows beginning at 10 a.m.

Don’t be fooled Ð morning shows offer quality entertainment and a relaxed feel. Pick up a Best Read Guide Branson in your hotel lobby for a complete show guide and Branson’s best map. Show times vary for afternoon     productions.

When temps are around 100 degrees, a cool, dark theater is darn appealing. Many evening headliners offer a couple of afternoon shows a week.

After the sun goes down and the temperature drops, take a chance outdoors: Hit the Shepherd of the Hills outdoor drama. It’s great family fun with a little area history tossed in.

Longtime favorite: I never get tired of Silver Dollar City. The park has been an     obsession of mine since I was a kid. I remember being soaked when the Rainmaker conjured a downpour on town square.

The Rainmaker isn’t there anymore, but there are abundant opportunities to get wet. The American Plunge, Lost River and River Blast will keep kids and adults cool.

The theaters at the park stage a variety of shows and festival attractions.

Best of all, they are climate controlled. It’s easy to bounce from show to show and theater to theater, only facing the heat during the treks between.

One of the coolest places you will find in the Ozarks is Marvel Cave. The cave, the park’s original attraction, offers multiple, climate-controlled subterranean tours daily.

Life on the lakes: There are countless ways to get wet in the Branson Tri-Lakes Area. Table Rock Lake and Lake Taneycomo are home to numerous outfitters for fun on the lakes. Kayak, paddleboat, jet ski and boat rentals are a great way to keep the family wet and happy. A simple online search will net you plenty of results.

Go to www. explorebranson.com, for a great resource list of lake-centric Branson-area options.

State Park Marina on Table Rock is home to an assortment of outdoor options including parasailing and the Spirit of America catamaran and other recreational activities. They have a good gift shop, too.

Inside out: A great way to enjoy a wet weekend and avoid the sun is to check out one of the area’s indoor water parks.

Welk Resort’s Splash-A-Torium and Splash Country, at Grand Country Square, offer indoor water parks and outdoor areas in which to sun. Both complexes offer a variety of shows, have restaurants and snack bars and lodging options and package deals.

White Water’s season ends Sept. 3, but there is still time to grab a cabana and relax on a sunny Saturday or Sunday.

Attractive attractions: Titanic Museum Attraction is cool inside and an exciting experience for youth and adults alike. Kids love sticking their hands in iceberg-cold water to see who can last longest with hands immersed. Doesn’t hurt to cool down and learn a thing or two. It’s the 100th anniversary of the great ship’s maiden voyage and interest is high.

If you’re interested in some Ozarks history, check out the Dewey Short Visitors Center and take a Table Rock Lake Dam tour. It’s cool inside the dam’s walls and power house.

Have a drink: After window shopping at Branson Landing, drop in at Cantina Laredo and grab a frozen margarita or swing buy the new Black Oak Grill and check out one of their signature creations full of floating fruit. Both sport patio seating for those not done with summer sun.

Cosmopolitan Bistro, Wine Bar and Ultra Lounge is new in Branson. It’s a long name, but worth the effort. The beer was cold, the cucumber cocktail refreshing and the tenderloin skewer appetizer was great. I’ll go back.

The late night crowd at the Andy Williams Moon River Grill is always entertaining. Moon River has a solid after-show menu, nice bartenders, a good wine selection and is centrally located. They have happy hour all day and night, too.

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