Branson, Missouri, comes alive with the lights of Christmas trees all over the city. Over 700 trees of every description are found on every corner. Imagine a twenty-foot high tree adorned with butterfly figures or a tree fashioned from the metal of a roller coaster.
Gaze in awe at 28 pines alight as you drive through an annual “forest” display. How about an All Elvis evergreen, dedicated to a much-loved musical legend? Walk into a winter wonderland and discover a fifty-foot decorated Norway Spruce.
Evergreens topped with angels and garnished with whimsical elves delight the kids. Picture a pine trimmed in 2000 lights set-to-music, beside a skating rink where you can spin and twirl to the sounds of Christmas.
These are just a few of the multitudes of trees found in America’s Christmas Tree City. Be amazed at the holiday spirit found here and maybe shop for your tree. See a holiday show while in town because no Christmas is complete without a rendition of Dickens’ Christmas Carol.
Attend a parade, go snow tubing, or take in a light show at multiple locations such as at Silver Dollar City, the local theme park. Over 6.5 million lights are integrated into displays, and there are 1000 trees to admire.
Ticket prices for America’s Christmas Tree City vary, although there are many activities that can be enjoyed without cost. You will pay an entrance fee to some of the events, and the expense can be for an individual ticket or by the carload. Viewing the trees at many of the indoor and outdoor locations is free of charge. For example, entering the Silver Dollar City theme park to partake in holiday festivities will range from $50 to $90 per person with an option to buy a two-day pass.
With the Christmas trees being located all over the city, you will want to map out an itinerary of your must-sees for the first trip into town. You may want to make a stop in St. Louis or Springfield as you travel through the state. The country is full of fun landmarks; make a list, and be sure to stop at each one you mark. MoDOT is the site to reference for possible road closures and delays, as well as road conditions in the event of adverse weather.
Parking is plentiful in historic downtown Branson. There are over 1,800 spots to choose from in different locations around town. If you aren’t sure which one will suit your large RV, ask a friendly local or head to the Branson Tourism Center for information. When coming into town to partake in America’s Christmas Tree City, park and walk to several of the activities.
Branson is home to a free and fun trolley system that conveniently stops all around this historic town. The trolley has been named Sparky, and visitors and locals alike take advantage of the service. Wheelchair accessibility is a bonus, and service animals are welcome on board, too.
While there is no onsite camping at America’s Christmas Tree City, you won’t have to drive far to find an RV park or campground. Everything you need to make this road trip a fantastic one is at your fingertips. Full hookups, free WiFi, and tidy shower facilities are easily found within minutes of the downtown action. Claiming a spot within walking distance of the downtown core is even an option.
Plan on exploring this scenic region while here. Sam A. Baker State Park offers camping until the end of November and is known for its fishing and canoeing. The Mark Twain State Park lets you camp amidst a bit of history and is available year-round. Visit the author’s original birthplace and see first additions of his work.
Play it safe when in Missouri’s campgrounds in the winter; in the state parks, the thickness of the ice is not verified so best not to take a chance. Branson KOA Holiday offers a place closer to the sites of America's Christmas Tree City and is only about five miles from the downtown area.
Wear comfortable and warm shoes or boots for exploring and enjoying the sights and sounds of America’s Christmas Tree City. Maneuvering a wheelchair, stroller, or kiddie wagon from one tree display to another will be just fine, but make sure that everyone is dressed for the inevitable chill in the air.
While the temperatures may not be freezing cold as you do the Christmas tree tour, it will be chilly. Dress in layers as the best bet for being comfortable. Boots and a warm jacket usually suffice. Add a festively colored hat and scarf to your outfit, and throw a pair of gloves in your backpack.
The most important piece of gear for this road trip is a camera to record the spectacular lights and fun memories. Along with that, pack the camper with extra blankets, pots and pans, utensils, extra batteries, a portable radio, and a few good books for cozy relaxation in the evening.
Tick advisories are in place in Missouri parks and campgrounds. While not particularly active in the deep winter months, they are still out and about when the weather is cool. Avoid trekking through tall grass and brush, and give your clothes a quick once over before entering your motorhome. The emerald ash borer is attacking trees across North America, and the rule in any campground is not to move firewood from place to place.
Cold days and nights call for hearty meals that warm the body after a lively day or evening out and about. Before leaving home, check propane and water levels so that you have an efficient and operable kitchen. Keep your s’mores preparation in designated fire rings only to ensure that fire stays put and does not create a hazard.
Whether you are heading into Downtown Branson for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, variety awaits. Enjoy waffles for breakfast, barbecued chicken for lunch, and a perfectly grilled steak for supper. A fun dining option that is popular in this historic city is to savor a meal during an entertaining performance like Dolly Parton’s Stampede Christmas and Dinner Show.
Take a break from driving with a bison-viewing hike at Prairie State Park to the northwest before heading to America’s Christmas Tree City to shop. Branson Landing is the place to start. Reindeer sculptures and dancing fountains entertain, and a 50-foot tree decorates the town square. There are two year-round Christmas shops in Branson, perfect for stocking stuffers and unique gifts.
Many RVers invest in a hitch lock if they are hauling a camper. The lock prevents anyone from hooking your trailer up and making away with it. Other security measures include locking your Airstream and closing the curtains every time you leave camp. Keep your campsite tidy and organized, stowing away chairs and other valuable equipment every evening.
Dress warm and with all weather conditions in mind, and you won’t mind if the day brings rain or snow. A waterproof, hooded jacket is ideal. Put a small umbrella in your backpack and pack extra socks in case your feet need extra coverage. America’s Christmas Tree City hosts activities both inside and out, so you won’t have a problem keeping busy.
Antiseptic spray, gauze and tape, antibiotic cream, saline solution, and alcohol swabs are just a few items for your RV first-aid kit. When prepping and re-stocking your kit, make two. A large one can stay in the medicine cabinet, and a smaller one is ideal for excursions like hiking and cycling.