Branson, Missouri

Best Places to Retire in Missouri


Branson (population approximately 7,500) is located in southwestern Missouri in the heart of the Ozark Mountains, 40 miles south of Springfield. It was a successful mid-western family vacation spot for many years. Then, in a relatively short span of years it has become known as “Music Show Capital of The World,” and “The Live Music Theater Capital of The World!” Today Branson has more than 45 magnificent theaters, hosts over seven million visitors annually, and has become the jobs, service, and shopping center for an area encompassing two counties. It is second only to Orlando, FL, as the most popular tourist destination in America. The Branson/Tri-Lakes area serves an estimated 65,000 visitors daily, and they pump a billion dollars into the local economy. Most visitors arrive by vehicle, and Branson was “the top motorcoach destination of the last decade,” according to a tourist industry publication. It is a remarkable story. Three beautiful man-made lakes and the natural beauty of the Ozarks surround Branson, which has become a major development area. The lakes offer outstanding bass fishing, boating, swimming, sailing, and cruises featuring a meal – a breakfast, luncheon, or dinner. More than 10 golf courses have been built in the area and there are several family-oriented theme parks, and dozens of family entertainment choices.

With all the activities and excitement in Branson, the presence of the Ozarks remains the same. They are peaceful, wildlife is plentiful, and there is scenic beauty everywhere. Frequent sightings include eagles, deer, wild turkeys, cranes, herons, king fishers, and other water birds. The pristine lakes never freeze over, welcoming the opportunity to wet a fishing line at any time. Bassmasters magazine called Branson one of the “9 retirement fishing hot spots in the country.”

Branson’s theaters, with seating from 75 to 4,000 people, have a total capacity said to exceed the combined theaters on Broadway by about 12,000 seats. The music includes country, pop, gospel, bluegrass, western, rock n’ roll, classical jazz, and Broadway. There are also magic shows, comedy, and other types of entertainment. Shows begin in the morning and are repeated until late in the evening.

Shoppers enjoy three large factory outlet malls, the downtown shops and specialty stores elsewhere in the city. There are also more than 400 eating establishments to choose from.

Arts & Culture

Branson offers a staggering list of shows and entertainment — far too extensive to list here. What follows are several Web sites that will give you much of that information.

Attractions in the area include Ralph Foster Museum at College of the Ozarks. The museum has over 40,000 square feet of exhibits. Foster was an avid gun collector and most of his collection is there. Other exhibits include antiques, Indian artifacts, dolls, and natural history displays. Also on display is the old car from the original Beverly Hillbillies series.

Bonniebrook Museum, Springfield, MO, was the home of Rose O’Neill, creator of the Kewpie Doll. Today it is a museum dedicated to O’Neill and her work.


There are three man made lakes in the area: Lake Taneycomo — a 2,000 acre lake built in 1913; Bull Shoals Lake, built in 1951, is a 45,440 acre lake; and Table Rock Lake, which was completed in 1958, covers 43,100 acres. These lakes, and other waters in the area, are said to offer some of the best freshwater fishing in the nation. Visitors can also choose from horseback riding, backpacking, camping, hunting, boating, or swimming. The Ozarks attract thousands of deer and turkey hunters each year.

Hikers can use established nature trails that wind throughout the local forests and along the shorelines of the lakes. There are 16 public parks and natural wilderness areas totaling 1,817 acres within the Branson city limits.

Silver Dollar City, White Water, Grand Country Square and Celebration City theme parks offer great family entertainment. These include activities such as visiting a pioneer Ozark homestead and watching craftsmen and artisans at work, bumper cars, a roller coaster, water rides and slides, a wave pool, a lazy river ride, amusement park rides and other youthful activities. One of the parks even features a laser light show at night.

Golf is rapidly becoming a major activity in the Branson area. More than 10 courses are in operation and others are being added. Among the choices are Branson Creek, a Tom Fazio designed layout; Holiday Hills, which is a resort course, Ledgestone Country Club, called “a masterpiece of mountain golf architecture;” Top of The Rock, which is a 9-hole resort course designed by Jack Nicklaus; Thousand Hills Golf Resort, and Pointe Royal Golf Course.

Henning State Forest, located just west of Branson in the White River Hills region, offers 1,534 acres of scenic vistas and miles of hiking trails.

Busiek State Forest is located 14 miles north of Branson and covers 2,505 acres with steep, rocky hills and gravel bottom creeks. It offers hunting, fishing, hiking, camping, and birding.

Dogwood Canyon Nature Park is a 10,000-acre private wilderness refuge, with herds of elk, bison, and Texas longhorn cattle that live along with the whitetail deer, turkeys and other wildlife. The park is accessible via a scenic walking and biking path, or by an open air tram tour.

Missouri is known as the “cave state” and boasts more than 5,000 registered caves. Marvel Cave, which is at the site of the Silver Dollar City theme park, has caverns soaring 20 stories underground. Cave exploration is available in the Branson area.

The Roaring River Hatchery and Trout Park, Cassville, MO, produces more than 250,000 rainbow trout each year.


College of The Ozarks, Point Lookout, is a liberal arts college on a 1,000-acre campus overlooking Lake Taneycomo. The school offers more than 31 academic majors and boasts a 14 to 1 student-faculty ratio.

Southwest Missouri State University, Springfield, MO (enrollment 14,600) offers 150 undergraduate and 43 post-graduate academic programs. The campus is 36 miles from Branson.

Drury University, Springfield, MO (enrollment 3,100) is a private liberal arts college located 40 miles from Branson.

Senior Programs

County Senior Centers , 201 Compton Drive, Branson, MO 65616 – (417) 335-4801


Skaggs Community Health Center is a 132-bed community-owned facility with 100 physicians on its staff representing more than 45 specialties.


Springfield/Branson Regional Airport is owned by the city of Springfield and is a major regional hub served by six major airlines.


The average high temperature in January is 43.8 degrees with a low average temperature of 21 degrees. In July, the average high temperature is 84.5 degrees and the average low is 64.5 degrees.


Branson Daily News –
The Branson Courier –

Property Taxes

Missouri Tax Commission –

State Taxes

Chamber of Commerce

State Aging Agency


Springfield – 40 miles
St. Louis – 251 miles
Kansas City – 213 miles
Jefferson City – 208 miles

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