Best of 417 2011: Places

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Best Branson Attraction

Silver Dollar City >>>
Branson Landing
Titanic Branson

It has shops. It has shows. It has a cave. It has a big enough variety of food to please the whole family. And, it has rides! Certainly, Silver Dollar City has  a whole day’s worth of fun and memory-making, so it’s no wonder it was your pick for Best Branson Attraction.

Editors’ Pick: Best New Thrill

Zip lines
• Branson Zipline & Canopy Tours,
• Adventure Ziplines of Branson,
• Zip Line USA,
• Stonewater Cove Resort,
• Vigilante Extreme ZipRider at Inspiration Tower,
At last count, there were five (five!) zip lines in 417-land that didn’t exist a year or so ago. Talk about a trend popping up out of nowhere. The good news is that they are super-fun and a great addition to a region that has the natural beauty to make a zip line worth it. Each one is in a different southwest Missouri setting. Whether it’s the short zip from the top of Inspiration Tower or the several-zips-long adventures through the woods that other companies offer, zip lining is certainly our newest 417-land thrill.

Editors’ Pick: Best Cheap Date

$5 movies
Springfield movie theaters
Again this year, restaurants in downtown Springfield paired up with Hollywood Theatres and the Moxie to get $5 movie tickets into the hands of all those in search of an inexpensive night out. Eat dinner at one of the participating Dinner and a Movie restaurants, and you can purchase a discount ticket to either theatre. But the offer comes and goes for limited periods of time, usually in the winter. So keep your eyes open for it. Another cheap movie day to watch for: Movies are only $5 on Sundays at Dickinson Springfield 8. It’s a great way to break routine, get out of the house and have a couple of hours of “us” time... and it only costs you a Lincoln per ticket. Not too shabby!

Best Back-to-Nature Day Trip

Greer Spring >>>
It’s only about two and a half hours east of Springfield, and it’s worth every second of the drive. Greer Spring is the second-largest spring in the Ozarks, pumping almost 350 cubic feet of water per second out of a hillside in Mark Twain National Forest. It takes just a short hike through the woods to get to the spring, which is bright blue, bubbling with white water and surrounded by beautiful and lush green foliage. On our last visit, the sun was shining through the trees and throwing dramatic shadows all over the spring. A friend commented that it looked like a unicorn could appear at any moment. She was joking, but… it’s that beautiful; it looks like a fantasy. Go there. (Aside: The spring meets up with the Eleven Point River, making this a great spot for a hike/float combo.)

Editors’ Pick: Best Place for Fresh Art and Fresh Air

First Friday Art Walk
Downtown Springfield,
There’s a certain sense of camaraderie when you squeeze into a shop or gallery with your fellow art-appreciating Springfieldians, grab a glass of wine, and enjoy the night. Between each stop, you get a burst of fresh air as you walk around the streets of downtown Springfield. And inside each stop you get to take a peek at what the region’s talented local artists are up to. It’s a great time to see the paintings that everyone’s about to be talking about.

Editors’ Pick: Best Place to Warm Up

The Butterfly Palace & Rainforest Adventure
4106 W. Highway 76, Branson, 417-332-2231,
There’s snow on the ground, and you’re cold. But inside The Butterfly Palace, it’s warm. And humid. And cozy compared to a southwest Missouri winter. The kid-friendly spot is home to thousands of butterflies and plenty of tropical plants, so the warm and humid temperatures are necessary to keep everything thriving. But it works to your advantage. Not only do you get to see a little not-so-Missourian nature, but you get to warm your fingers and toes while you’re at it.

Editors’ Pick: Best Under-Appreciated Historic Site

Wilson’s Creek Battlefield
6424 W. Farm Road 182, Republic,
This year is the 150th anniversary of The Battle of Wilson’s Creek, so there’s no better time than now to remind you what a great historical site this is. (In fact, a reenactment is scheduled for August 12–14.) For Civil War buffs and history fanatics, it’s a dream come true: There’s a research library, a Civil War Museum, an historic house, a restored cabin, a visitor’s center full of exhibits, and the battlefield, of course. About 200,000 people visit the park each year, and you should be one of them. At least once.\

Editors’ Pick: Best Purchase by the People’s Republic of China

The White House Theatre for Chun Yi: The Legend of Kung Fu
2255 Gretna Rd., Branson,
This show—which features an engaging storyline that’s totally upstaged by the performers amazing onstage feats—was originally part of the Beijing Olympics. It includes kung fu, aerial ballet, music, dance and some awesome lighting effects... and the most impressive performers of all are the kids. This is a show that’s definitely worth seeing, and its arrival was a nice change of pace for Branson.'

Editors’ Pick: Best Way to Feel Like You’re On Vacation at Home

Rent a boat on Table Rock Lake
The greatest thing about Table Rock Lake isn’t that it’s beautiful. And it isn’t that its waters are clean and safe. No, the greatest thing about Table Rock Lake is that it’s ours. It’s accessible to everybody. You don’t even have to own a boat to take a vacation day on the lake because it’s so easy to rent one. (There are tons of options, but we like State Park Marina.) It won’t break the bank to take a boat out for a day of swimming, fishing, skiing, water picnicking (whatever your style), but it will make you feel like you’ve just had a true-blue getaway. That’s because Table Rock is a gorgeous sight to see any time of day. And for most of the people in 417-land, it only takes a short drive to get there.

More Readers' Choice Winners

Best Place to Take a Visitor
Bass Pro Shops
Branson Landing
Silver Dollar City
Downtown Springfield

Best Place to Go for a Belly Laugh
The Skinny Improv
Ernie Biggs Chicago Style
Dueling Piano Bar
Yakov Smirnoff

Best Branson Show
Dixie Stampede
Shoji Tabuchi Show
Andy Williams Show
Jim Stafford Show

Best Place to Dance
Icon Nightclub
Cartoon’s Oyster Bar & Grill
Zan Nightclub

Best Day Trip
Eureka Springs
Table Rock Lake

Best Overnight Stay in Branson
Big Cedar Lodge
The Hiltons of Branson
Chateau on the  Lake

Best Place for a Kid’s Birthday Party
Air Time Bounce Centers
Jump Mania
Discovery Center of Springfield
Chain Winner:
Incredible Pizza Company

Best Charity Event
Rock’n Ribs
Cattle Baron’s Ball
Ball of the Wild

Best Place to Get in Touch with Nature
Springfield Conservation Nature Center
Nathanael Greene Park
Dogwood Canyon

Best Place to Be Seen
Downtown Springfield
Metropolitan Grill
Touch Restaurant


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