Branson YouTube | Behind the Scenes with a YouTube and Newsbreak Creator
John takes you into the studio and shares the vision and passion he and Amy have for TPF! Travel on both YouTube and NewsBreak.
Check out the behind the scenes setup and hear about John and Amy's journey as creators. Most importantly, hear about how much YOU mean to them as TPFers!
Here are the links to the TPF! Travel NewsBreak channel: https://www.newsbreak.com/@c/1471605
If you are interested in becoming a NewsBreak creator, go here: http://creators.newsbreak.com/creators?source=open&referral_code=88d5683
Here's a link to the NewsBreak app: https://newsbreakapp.onelink.me/2115408369?pid=mp_1471605&msource=mp_1471605
When you live in a vacation town the fun never stops!
My wife Amy and I along with three of our five children arrived home to Branson, Missouri the other day from a ten-day trip to Colorado and Oklahoma.
The day we returned, we had an appointment set on a private boat cruise on beautiful Table Rock Lake, at sunset, with fireworks popping all around. After a five-hour drive from Oklahoma we found ourselves standing on the dock at a marina at Big Cedar Lodge ready to board. My wife said, “It's like we returned from vacation to go on vacation.”
Living in a tourist destination like Branson, Missouri provides non-stop opportunities for fun, entertainment and relaxation. Over the years we have lived in several “normal” places like the suburbs of Dallas, Kansas City and Detroit, so we understand the typical lifestyles those localities offer. The predictable, “What do you want to do tonight,” is followed by the even more predictable, “How about dinner and a movie?”
We ask that question in our family too, but the answers are vastly different in our hometown.
WHAT SHOULD WE DO TODAY?
The options are endless, and after living here for the past six years we still haven't run out of things to do. (I always find it humorous when people wonder if there's enough to do here over a one-week vacation.)
On any given day or night, wondering what we could do is answered with innumerable fun-packed opportunities. The most difficult part is choosing from them all!
As season pass holders at Silver Dollar City, a short five-minute drive puts us right in the middle of this special place. Walking around, smelling the delicious food, watching the happy people, viewing the beauty of the Ozarks, listening to phenomenal musicians, enjoying remarkable shows and riding world-class rides is at the top of our list when thinking about things to do as locals in Branson. It's not uncommon for us to visit Silver Dollar City three or four times a week.
A day at one of the lakes is an exceptionally good day indeed. Whether you are swimming, fishing, tubing, boating, water skiing, scuba diving, cruising on the Showboat Branson Belle or simply enjoying the beauty from the banks, Table Rock Lake and Lake Taneycomo provide world-class fun and refreshing.
From there the choices multiply by the hundreds. From mini-golf to attractions like Wonderworks, The Aquarium at the Boardwalk and The Butterfly Palace to water parks to incredible shows to golf, hiking, shopping, amazing restaurants and, yes, even movies, you will never run out of things to do.
Add to this the many more amazing places to visit within an hour or so like the unparalleled Buffalo National River and your options multiply yet again. Another hour or two gets you into larger cities like Kansas City, St. Louis, Little Rock, Tulsa and Oklahoma City, so you have the very best of both worlds at your disposal.
WHY SO SERIOUS?
Amy and I have determined there's no place we'd enjoy living more than Branson, but if we had to move it would have to be to another tourism epicenter. Gatlinburg, Orlando and Myrtle Beach are a few localities we've considered.
As we were driving home from vacation (to our never-ending Branson vacation) we wondered why in the past we were so serious. Go to work, mow the lawn, pay the bills, watch some television, go to bed and do it all over again. Truth be told, we've always been more adventurous than that, but it wasn't until we moved out of suburbia that we realized there was so much more!
Yes, we still make sure the lawn is maintained and that our bills are taken care of. We run businesses and do the more serious stuff every day. We are also invested in ministry projects and I find myself writing several days a week for various publications. Life goes on and the mundane stuff happens. But, after that, the party begins!
When we were deciding what niche our YouTube channel should be centered on, it was obvious that it had to be vacation oriented. The result was TPF! Travel which stands for Trips, Places and FUN!
We come alive when we are at theme parks, water parks, shows, hiking on trails, on our scooters in exciting new lands and discovering amazing new restaurants, attractions and places to visit. Living in a place like Branson, Missouri (the best places in the nation to live, in our opinion) makes all of that easy to accomplish. The videos on our channel reveal just how much fun we are having and we believe it shines through to our friends and fans.
The thought of living anywhere except an entertainment-focused region makes us a little sad. Living in Branson keeps things exciting, and when we travel we aren't disappointed when the vacation ends. All that means is our year-around vacation in Branson is set to continue!
As I peruse the various Branson vacation related Facebook groups, one of the top questions I notice from visitors is, “What are some fun things to do for kids?”
Well into a dramatic transformation that includes a much greater focus on kids and family, many still presume Branson to be mostly for the older generation. While Mom, Dad, Grandma and Grandpa have a myriad of exciting choices in entertainment, Branson is also overflowing with fun things to do for the kiddos!
Silver Dollar City
Those who ask if Silver Dollar City is good for kids have never been to Silver Dollar City. Entire sections of the park have been designed with children in mind. You'll find theming and attractions that are a huge draw for toddlers, teenagers and everyone in between. Both Firemans Landing and the Grand Exposition have several fun rides for the youngsters.
In addition to these kid-focused areas of the nation's number one theme park, riding toddler and kid friendly mainstream rides like Tom and Huck's River Blast, The Flooded Mine and the Frisco Silver Dollar Line ensure the entire family will have a full day of fun. Of course, the older kids will be all about Mystic River Falls, Outlaw Run and the many other coasters and thrill rides. Silver Dollar City is a must do on your next Branson vacation.
Every child regardless of age loves a water park, and Branson has both indoor and outdoor varieties. Whether it's Silver Dollar City's White Water, Splash Country Water Park or the lesser known local favorite Branson RecPlex you'll find a way to stay cool as you splash and float with the kids.
The shallow pools for toddlers, the giant buckets and water playgrounds along with all of the more daring adventures will satisfy everyone in your family.
After the recent opening of Copperhead Mountain Coaster at the Shepherd of the Hills Adventure Park, Branson is now home to three thrilling mountain coasters. In a double capacity coaster, a child can ride with mom or dad (or an older brother or sister) and enjoy the twists and turns through the trees. A splendid feature of mountain coasters is the ability to choose how fast or slow you go. If zipping through the mountainside is a bit too extreme for the younger ones, pull on the breaks and enjoy a leisurely cruise along the ultra-smooth rails. Not only will a slower ride make your experience longer, but you'll enjoy some extra quality time together on one of Branson's truly unique experiences.
A visit to the free fish hatchery at the base of Table Rock Dam along the shores of Lake Taneycomo is a must do for families with kids. Mom and Dad will appreciate the beauty and wonder of this part of Branson but the kids will have a blast watching thousands of hungry trout battle for the fish food they toss into the water.
Mesmerized is the right word to describe the reaction your entire family will have as butterflies flutter all around. Be sure to bring your camera as this is a prime spot for capturing some epic memories.
While kids of any age can experience many escape rooms (some have age limits, so be sure to check before booking), kids over five or six will have an especially amazing time. Of course, some themes may be less appealing to some kids, but many are perfect for people of all ages. Stepping into dramatic, mysterious and exciting themed environments that are filled with wonder is sure to be something the entire family talks about well after the experience is complete.
It would seem axe throwing would not be an obvious choice for a kid-friendly attraction, but you'd be quite surprised at how much the older ones love it! Depending on the requirements at your local axe venue, kids who are at least eight to ten or so have the time of their lives hitting bullseyes along with your entire family.
Little one's eyes light up at everything they can do at The Track Family Fun Parks. You'll find go-carts, rides and other attractions designed for various ages. Bumper cars, bumper boats, the giant Ferris Wheel and other options will keep you going all day (until mom and dad decide it's time for a nap)!
Buckets N Boards
The extreme energy, musical wizardry and incredible rhythms will capture even the most distracted kid's attention at Buckets N Boards. This show was designed with kiddos in mind all while keeping your entire group at the edge of their seats.
Other shows the younger ones will enjoy include Hamners' Unbelieveable Family Variety Shows, the Amazing Pets Show at Grand Country and Reza.
Table Rock Lake
Whether you splash around on a beach or rent a pontoon boat for the day, kids young and old will have an incredible time. From swimming to fishing to tubing, Table Rock Lake provides loads of fun for all! Plan on spending the entire day on the lake or just a few hours. A picnic lunch works great or head out on your boat to one of the lakeside restaurants.
Dolly Parton's Stampede
Watch your kid's eyes light up as they jump up and point at the beautiful horses as they are ridden across the arena, through a right of fire and around obstacles. Other animals also make an appearance as does hilarious comedy and a delicious meal!
Aquarium at the Boardwalk
I don't know if I've met a child who doesn't love aquariums, and Branson's offering is absolutely stunning. You can also upgraded to their FIVE'R ticket and enjoy the Hollywood Wax Museum, Castle of Chaos, Hannah's Maze of Mirrors and Shoot For The Stars Mini-Golf. This will give you a full day of big fun for all of the kids and adults in your group.
What kid wouldn't love to venture into a massive upside-down house? Wonderworks offers hours of fun and education in this science-oriented adventure.
This is just the tip of the iceberg of things to do for kids in Branson. (Speaking of an iceberg, don't forget to check out the Titanic Museum too!)
Depending on their age you could also consider summer snow tubing at the Snowflex at Wolfe Mountain, ziplining, Ripley's Believe it or Not, Bigfoot on the Strip and other exciting attractions. The list seems quite endless. Whatever you choose to do with the kids on your trip, it's sure to be a vacation filled with wonderful family memories!
It seems the pleasant, cool seventy-degree afternoons in Branson were with us just yesterday. As season pass holders, my wife Amy and I would walk around Silver Dollar City several days a week just to enjoy the atmosphere, watch the shows, listen to some music and smell the amazing aromas, all without breaking a sweat. Oh, how times have changed.
Enjoying Branson in our new reality of mid to upper nineties takes some thought and planning to ensure we are cool and refreshed while we have the vacation of our lives.
Silver Dollar City
No vacation is complete (in our not so humble opinion) without a visit to the nation's number one theme park. As one of this beautiful park's top fans I must admit that the roasting heat can make a trip there much less comfortable. With shade trees battling with acres of burning blacktop the mission to remain cool is a challenging one indeed.
We have a few tips that will help make your visit much cooler and more enjoyable.
Did you know you can receive free ice water from most food and drink vendors? There's no need to haul around a cooler full of water bottles or even spend a dime to remain hydrated. Just ask for free ice water, and if that place doesn't offer it they will be glad to point you in the right direction.
If you do plan to bring along a cooler then, by all means, load it up with ice cold drinks. While you are at it throw in some snacks. We have to stop short of recommending hauling your homemade lunch around the park as we absolutely love the various food options that Silver Dollar City offers. But, you do you!
Of course, riding the water rides will cool you down in a splash. Mystic River Falls, The Great American Plunge and Tom and Huck's River Blast are great ways to stay cold and wet. Indoor rides like Fire in the Hole and the Flooded Mine are nice and pleas
Especially days that are both very busy and very hot it's best to arrive as early as possible. Start your day well before rope drop and enjoy a delicious breakfast and watch the inspiring opening ceremony. The air is cooler and the lines to your favorite rides will be very temporarily shorter when the park officially opens. If you are less rushed and want to sleep in or take in other Branson attractions during the day, consider a later afternoon arrival. The last few hours of the day are typically cooler and less busy.
Lastly, the sixty-two degree Marvel Cave is a can't miss when visiting. This is a tour that will cool you off as you venture deep under the ground.
Of course nothing beats the heat like water slides, lazy rivers and wave pools. White Water is Branson's premier water park and your entire family is sure to stay icy cold as you splash around pools and shoot down slides.
Branson has several other watery options including Splash Country Indoor and Outdoor Water Park and the little known yet inexpensive and very nice Branson RecPlex.
Within thirty to ninety minutes from Branson you will find some beautiful rivers to float. One of our all-time favorite things to do in this area is a four to six hour float on the Buffalo National River in Arkansas. You'll shift from a slow cruise underneath massive bluffs to zipping through mild rapids. Of course, there are constant opportunities to stop and swim, have lunch and relax.
You can also consider the James River in Missouri if a float trip is your way to beat the heat.
Rent a pontoon boat on Table Rock Lake and spend the afternoon investigating, swimming, fishing and tubing. Table Rock State Park and other local resorts and arenas offer a variety of vessels including ski boats and jet skis. You'll want to reserve early (weeks in advance) as boats are limited.
Lake Taneycomo is a cold water lake, and while it might be tempting to jump in when triple digits are searing your body, it's not a lake meant for swimming. However, the ice cold water does provide a bit of natural air conditioning if you'd like to kayak, boat or spend time along the shore.
A clear and obvious answer to evading the heat while on vacation in Branson are the many amazing indoor attractions. From places like Wonderworks, Beyond The Lens and the Aquarium at the Boardwalk to escape rooms, axe throwing, interacting with butterflies and incredible music shows, it's easy to have loads of fun while keeping the temps crispy cool.
As one of America's top vacation destinations it's well worth it to visit Branson, Missouri no matter the weather. Planning ahead and considering your options will help ensure your visit is fun and refreshing for the entire family.
Is the new Tasting Passport at Silver Dollar City Worth it? Yes!
After trying out Silver Dollar City's Tasting Passport during the recent Street Fest and Dollywood's Dining Pass during their Flower and Food Festival, we were excited to see if Herschend Family Entertainment could outdo themselves.
The could. They did.
For $30 you receive a badge and lanyard that provides you many delectable options to choose from. At Dollywood you find a QR code on the Dining Pass that hangs around your neck. While a quick scan opens up an informative website with all of the food items and their locations in the park, we found Silver Dollar City's method preferrable.
Every option was printed clearly on the badge, or as Silver Dollar City calls it, the Passport. Additionally, everything could be seen in larger print in the Pathfinder, Silver Dollar City's free newspaper and park guide.
Opening day of the festival gave us perfect weather to walk the park and enjoy a great variety of bluegrass music and non-stop, diverse aromas as we passed by all of the various food stands and restaurants.
While we enjoyed our day at Dollywood recently, we didn't prefer the majority of the Dining Pass stops to be located in one section of the park. We found ourselves aimlessly wandering the nether regions of Dollywood wondering when we might stumble into a kiosk. It wasn't until we moved back toward the front of the park that we found the food.
At Silver Dollar City it's an entire park experience. The cooks are joyfully and artistically creating their edible masterpieces at every corner of the park. Whether you are on Main Street, by the Grand Exposition, near Mystic River Falls or down by Fire in the Hole, temptations abound.
The only time we had to ask for directions was for the last punch of our passport. I was desperately seeking a BBQ bacon mac and cheese waffle cone, but didn't know to look right on Main Street for the kiosk. A wonderful Silver Dollar City citizen pointed us in the right direction and before long I was devouring a waffle cone made out of fortune cookie batter filled with a curious and mouth watering mix.
Our favorite item of the day was probably the barbecue tater twist dog. It was truly amazing, and the portion size was large.
The Tasting Passport is not meant to be a meal replacement, but rather a fun and adventurous sampling of new and unique foods. While the idea is for each item to be snack sized, if you plan your day of tasting carefully, you'll find some samples are larger than others. In fact, like our tater twist dog, some are full sized.
We'd recommend considering eating a full meal at lunch and also purchasing a single Tasting Passport that can be used throughout the day for snacks and desserts. Between the two of us both times at Silver Dollar City and also once at Dollywood we purchased only one Passport and shared each of the five items. This worked great for us and we weren't at all hungry doing it this way. Of course, if you are zeroed in on treats others in your family are not, then you'll be very happy securing one all for yourself.
So, is the Tasting Passport worth it? We can't answer for everybody, but for us the answer is a resounding yes!
It does seem as if the portion sizes have increased some from the previous festival, which is great.
This time around we didn't get any desserts on the list. It took every ounce of restraint to say no to the temptations that were all around. Suffice it to say the desserts were our favorite foods the previous two festivals here and in Tennessee. My mouth is watering just thinking about them.
Silver Dollar City 2021 | Huge Crowds and Sir Willow!
John and Amy connect with Sir Willow and talk about Silver Dollar City, theme parks and MORE!
Then, John and Amy head out into the park…and it was packed! It felt so good to see the energy all over Silver Dollar City!
They also meet some amazing fans of TPF! Travel as they venture through the park.