Valdosta Daily Times


June 2, 2013

The other Branson

Missouri’s music city has more than songs to offer


- — Branson Scenic Railway

A vintage train comprised of restored 1940s and 1950s cars offers 40-mile roundtrip excursions through the Ozark foothills of Southwest Missouri and

Northwest Arkansas. Two-hour trips depart from the historic 1905 station in downtown Branson. Railway employees offer commentary on the history of the train, its cars, and sites along the way. Snacks and drinks are available for purchase aboard the train. The number of daily departures varies depending on season and day of the week. Candlelight dinner excursions operate each Saturday from April through early November. The train becomes the Polar Express for late afternoon and evening runs from mid-November through late December.  

Dogwood Canyon Nature Park

Twenty-six miles southwest of Branson, Dogwood Canyon Nature Park offers a variety of outdoor activities on 10,000 acres of some of the most beautiful country in the Ozarks. Visitors can choose to hike, bike, fish, take Segway and Jeep tours, or choose horseback riding and Wildlife Tram Tours. You can even participate in a cattle drive. Guided fishing and fly casting clinics are also offered. The nature park annually welcomes about 50,000 guests, less than 1 percent of the visitors to Branson. The quiet, scenery, and outdoor activities make this a nice change of pace. We found Dogwood Canyon to be one of the highlights of our recent trip to Branson.

College of the Ozarks

Two miles south of Branson, College of the Ozarks is open for public tours and is certainly a worthwhile visit. Appropriately nicknamed “Hard Work U,” students pay no tuition but are required to work 15 hours per week on campus. Student jobs range from custodial and landscaping (usually allocated to freshmen) to working in the dairy, the fruitcake and jelly kitchen, the grain mill, the fire department, producing crafts for the gift shop, or cooking and serving gourmet meals in the restaurant. Students assisted in the construction of many of the campus buildings including the chapel and the beautiful rustic Keeter Center where the restaurant and lodge are located.

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