Thursday, November 04, 2004

Travelogue: Branson, Missouri

Greetings from lovely Branson, Missouri. We are here for 5 days, 4 nights with both sets of the boy's grandparents. My in-laws booked a time-share at Fairfield Resorts at Mountain Vista which is new and very nice. It has been cloudy, cold, and rainy which is fine since the resort has an indoor pool, although the boys seemed perfectly satisfied with the whirlpool bath tub in the room.

On the way here, we stoped at Shady Beach Family Campground and canoe rental in Noel, Missouri, which is owned and operated by my step-sister's family.

Some Branson attractions of note:

The Chateau on the Lake overlooks Table Rock lake. The hotel has a castle-like appearance, and the main meeting room (huge!) has murals of European castles painted on the walls. The lobby features a 2-story waterfall and river surounded by a variety of real (caged birds, fish) and fake (vines, beaver) plants and animals, including what has got to be the largest artificial tree in existance. I almost jumped out of my skin when I saw the stuffed squirel.

Shoji Tabuchi is a Japanese violinist who plays country music. Really. His theater, where he performs twice-daily, has restrooms that can truly be called amazing, are described on the website as follows:

"The ladies' powder room is complete with wainscoting and ceiling reproduced from the 1890's Empire Period. To the ladies amazement, there are live cut orchids at every granite and onyx pedestal sink. Add to all that stained and jeweled glass and magnificient chandeliers! The gentlemen's lounge is no less imposing, with black lion head sinks imported from Italy, black leather chairs and a marble fireplace. The billiard room [in the men's restroom] contains a hand carved mahogany billiard table, a viewing gallery, and a burled walnut mirror that was built in 1868."

Both restrooms also feature changing stations stocked with several sizes of diapers. However, the show itself rated only a 4 out of 10, according to my parents who attended.

Grand Country Inn is an all-in-one entertainment complex, with a hotel, show theater, video arcade, shopping, country-style buffet, Branson's only indoor miniature golf complex, and an indoor/outdoor water park. The buffet is only so-so, but the whole complex is worth a look-see, and great if you have older kids or a range of age groups and interests that all want to do different things.

The Stone Hill Winery is the oldest (150 years) winery in Missouri. Prior to Prohibition, the winery produced over a million gallons of wine every year. Stone Hill makes about 18 different varieties of wine. The actual vineyard and the majority of the wine production takes place in Hermann, Missouri, but two varieties are aged and bottled in Branson. Tours and wine tasting are free.

Broadway it's not, and Orlando it ain't either, but all in all, our time in Branson was a great trip and we survived our first major (8 hrs. each way) road trip with 2 kids under the age of four. Can't wait to go home so we can get some rest...


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tip on Branson attractions! I'll be sure to check out the Shoji

Anthony said...

Another great winery in Missouri is the St. James Winery. They are right off I-44 Mile Marker 195, and if you try any of their wines, try their Norton.