Posts Tagged ‘MO’

Road Trip to Branson, Mo

Posted July 13, 2015 10:14pm by Jane

We just got back from a fantastic family trip to Branson, MO, and it reminded me of why my parents loved taking us there when we were kids! The good news: It’s an easy drive, and there’s tons more to do today than there was back when we were young.

silver dollar cityOf course, Silver Dollar City is still one of the biggest family highlights of the entire trip. The kids loved the roller coasters (especially long-time fave Fire in the Hole), the water rides, and exploring Marvel Cave and the old-fashioned town within the theme park. But they had just as much fun chilling out while experiencing the steam engine train (complete with an old-fashioned train robbery attempt) and watching craftsmen, including a blacksmith, wood carver, glass blower, and weaver, show them how they hand-craft the things they make. They even got to try their hand at weaving a rug.

Our kids wanted to buy all the hand-crafted items for sale, but we handled that by giving each child a limited amount of money to spend on their own. It was a big lesson for both in budgeting their money.

There are rides for all ages at Silver Dollar City, so if you have younger kiddos, everyone can still have fun. The Grand Exposition and Fireman’s Landing both have plenty of rides and fun activities (including a gigantic “tree house”) for kids, and the calm water rides allow smaller ones who are accompanied by an adult.

ride the ducksSome other great places to explore in Branson include:

  • Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede: I wasn’t sure what to expect at this foot-stompin’ show, but it sure delivered! The show includes some amazing horsemanship, including trick riding, and a friendly competition among audience members. The family-friendly entertainment also includes music, dancing, comedy, and a pre-show juggling show. We’re not sure which our kids loved more: the trick riding or the fact that dinner is served chuck wagon style (no silverware), so they got to eat with their hands.
  • Ride the Ducks Branson: Discover the Ozarks in this unusual road/lake tour. These military vehicles will take you right into the water for a historical look at Branson. We liked it because it was a relaxing way to see more of the natural beauty of Branson and Table Rock Lake.
  • Table Rock Lake: Whether boating, fishing, camping, swimming, hiking, animal watching, or any other lake activity is your thing, Table Rock Lake is sure to have it. Spirit of America offers a great way to enjoy boating and swimming, but there are tons of other places around the lake offering boats, hiking trails and other things to explore.
  • The Branson Strip: If you don’t enjoy nature, check out the hundreds of activities and restaurants on the strip in Branson. Miniature golf, shopping, Branson’s Wild World, arcades, Titanic Museum, bumper boats and dozens of live shows are just some of the things you’ll find to occupy your time on the strip.

On a final note: One of our kids has food allergies, and I was concerned about finding places he could eat in Branson. It turns out, I shouldn’t have worried. Everywhere we went, including Silver Dollar City and the Dixie Stampede, had great food options for all of us to enjoy.

I’d love to hear about some of your family’s favorite spots in Branson in the comments below!

Photos courtesy of Branson Tourism Center.

Powell Gardens

Posted June 23, 2014 10:30pm by Jane

Powell Gardens 2My son wants to be a “nature scientist” when he grows up, so we spend each summer heading to the Kansas City Zoo, Deanna Rose Farmstead, area ponds, local parks, and even the backyard so he can do his “research.”

As he gets a little older, Powell Gardens is quickly becoming a serious contender for his attention with all it has to offer. And frankly, every family member has come to love exploring this special place.

Each summer, Powell Gardens has a different theme. This year, kids can enjoy Gardens Gone Wild–The Amazing Animal Quest, complete with 26 bronze animal sculptures around the gardens by nationally acclaimed artist Dan Ostermiller. Meet  a 12-foot elephant in the Fountain Garden, a pair of wrestling bears, or Priscilla, the 5-foot-tall hen in the Heartland Harvest Garden. Snap a pic of your kids with one of these animals, and you can even enter their contest to win great prizes!

My family’s recurring favorites include the Heartland Harvest Garden: Fun Foods Farm, which was designed specifically to teach kids – in a fun, interactive way – about where food begins. We also bring towels and a change of clothes in preparation for a visit to the The Fountain Garden. Complete with an ever-changing fountain display, everyone is welcome to jump in, get wet and cool off.

Finally, Powell Gardens offers some pretty fantastic festivals, including the Booms & Blooms Festival, and the 2014 Festival of Butterflies. Booms & Blooms takes place July 3, and features tasting stations at the Heartland Harvest Garden, special activities for kids, live music, and a fireworks display at approximately 9:30 pm. The Festival of Butterflies celebrates, well, just what you’d expect: butterflies. hundreds and hundreds of them in the indoor conservatory. Taking place August 1-3 & 8-10, it’s a special visit complete with storytelling, a parade, caterpillar hunt, and other fun butterfly-related activities for the kids.

Check out Powell Garden’s calendar for a running listing of all the events offered. This Saturday alone, there’s a Puppet Making Workshop, Plant Prints and Flower Pounding, and an evening Astronomy session available, to name a few. I hope you have as much fun out in nature as we do!

Powell Gardens is located at 1609 NW US Highway 50, Kingsville, MO 64061. Parking is free, and standard admission is $10/adults, $9/seniors, $4/children ages 5-12; Festival admission is $12/adults, $10/seniors, $5/children ages 5-12.

Photo courtesy of Powell Gardens.

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Labor Day Weekend is upon us.  In case you missed this post,  there are two wonderful annual festivals that are sure bets for a weekend full of family fun!

The 11th annual Kansas City Irish Fest is Friday, Aug. 30 through Sunday, Sept 1, 2013 at Crown Center Square.  This year’s festival features over 30 musical acts on 7 stages and over 20 heritage workshops (any genealogy fans out there?!).  There’s a massive children’s area, with lots for kids of all ages to do!  Hours are:

FRIDAY, AUGUST 30           –      5pm -11pm

SATURDAY, AUGUST 31             –    11am – 11pm

SUNDAY,  SEPTEMBER 1            –   11am – 11pm

On Friday, Aug 30 through Monday, Sept 2, 2013, the Independence Chamber of Commerce will present the 41st annual Santa-Cali-Gon Days®Festival on the historic Independence Square in Independence, MO.

Santa-Cali-Gon Days® celebrates Independence as the starting point of the three trails, the Santa Fe, California and Oregon Trail that took pioneers to the West during the 1800s. The festival is a free, fun, four day family event.  The festival features one of the Midwest’s top arts and crafts shows, over 300 commercial vendors, and a carnival (carnival tickets cost extra) for kids of all ages.

In addition, the majority of food booths and parking lots are operated by not-for-profit organizations, who in turn use the money for their local projects and causes.  The festival draws about 225,000 visitors each year. The festival offers three stages for entertainment, including the Main Stage, Gospel Stage and the Community Stage.

As the Kansas City metropolitan area’s most established Labor Day weekend event, Santa-Cali-Gon Days® hosts approximately 225,000 visitors each year.  For a complete entertainment schedule visit the festival web site at or contact the Independence Chamber of Commerce at 816-252-4745.  Have fun!!

FRIDAY, AUGUST 30      –    12:00 PM – 11:00 PM

SATURDAY, AUGUST 31 –    10:00 AM – 11:00 PM

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 1         –    10:00 AM – 11:00 PM

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 2    –    10:00 AM – 5:00 PM