Explore the Ozarks

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Join us on a journey through the Ozarks as we explore renowned attractions and uncover hidden gems that add a touch of magic to the rolling hills. We’ll dive into the heart of the region and unearth the treasures that make it a haven for travelers seeking both the famous and the extraordinary. Get ready to be captivated by the allure of Branson, the quaint charm of Eureka Springs, and the cultural richness of Bentonville – because in the Ozarks, every adventure is a story waiting to be written.

Explore the Ozarks sign.

Branson, MISSOURI

I’m fortunate enough to be within driving distance of Branson, but if you’d like to fly in for your Ozarks adventure, Frontier Airlines offers low-fare, direct flights from Dallas, Denver, Chicago, and more. Whether you choose to drive or fly, Branson will likely be the first stop on your Ozarks journey. Here are a few things to enjoy (and eat!) while you’re there.

Hilton of Branson

If you’re wondering where to stay during your visit to Branson, I can’t recommend the Hilton of Branson enough. Besides all the luxury and amenities, you’ll be within walking distance of Branson Landing and a couple of other things featured in this post. 

Ceiling inside of the Hilton of Branson, Missouri.

Clocker’s Cafe

Just a short walk from Hiltons of Branson you’ll find Clockers Cafe which is a popular breakfast spot for locals.

Clockers Cafe sign.

With delicious, Southern breakfast spreads like the ones we enjoyed it’s easy to see why Clockers is popular.

Breakfast platter with eggs, hash browns, grits, bacon, and pancakes.

We were seated and served quickly but if you find yourself with a little wait time on your hands you’ll be entertained by admiring the restaurant’s enormous clock collection.

Clockers is located at 103 S Commercial Street in Branson and is open daily from 6:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.

Illusionist Rick Thomas

Branson is famous for its shows and if you don’t have time to see them all during your visit, at least ensure Illusionist Rick Thomas at Andy Williams Performing Arts Center makes it toward the top of your list. A 2:00 matinee is currently available on Fridays and Saturdays which frees up your nights for different shows.

Moon River Theater.

Rick Thomas brings his Las Vegas magic and showmanship to the Ozarks so get ready for not only jaw-dropping illusions (including making a helicopter disappear!) but also lots of laughs and audience participation. This show is suitable for the whole family and I would like for my kids to see it one day soon.

Rick Thompson in front of a helicopter.

Grand Village Shops

Stop by the Grand Village Shops in Branson to browse 27 different stores. Kringles Christmas Store, Lori’s Soap Market, and Peter Engler Woodcarving Designs were a few of my favorites.

Grand Village shoppes.

Sugar Leaf Cafe

Don’t leave the Grand Village Shops without visiting Sugar Leaf Cafe for a meal, dessert, coffee, or all three.

I started with a scrumptious salad and a side of fruit. 

Salad with red onions, peanuts, and wonton strips.

Paired with fresh-squeezed lavender lemonade, my salad and fruit plate was plenty to make a memorable lunch.

But then dessert happened and happened WELL. You’ll probably have a hard time deciding on dessert at Sugar Leaf so feel free to order several. I won’t judge.

Dessert assortment.

And you’ve got to love autumn in the South where you’re sipping on lemonade one minute and enjoying hot chocolate the next. If that’s not a metaphor for our mercurial weather I don’t know what is!

Sugar Leaf Bakery is located at 2800 W 76 Country Boulevard and is open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.

Million Dollar Quartet

After your tummy is full and you’ve purchased treasures to bring back home, settle in for Million Dollar Quartet at Welk Theatre.

Storytelling, acting, plus a beautiful set and costumes combine to give Million Dollar Quartet that Broadway musical feel that won it a Tony award. I was expecting a simple performance of favorite classics and got so much more! 

People sitting inside of a theater.

The performers really own their roles and in addition to the raw talent they naturally possess, you can tell they’ve spent hours honing their characters’ mannerisms, body language, and voices. Music lovers and history buffs alike will enjoy Million Dollar Quartet. 

2024 Update: The “boys” now perform at the Playhouse Dinner Theater. There are 2 showtimes: 4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Dinner is served immediately followed by the show. Tickets are $59 + tax for adults and $34.75 + tax for children ages 4-12.

White River Fish House

Located at Branson Landing, the White River Fish House is within walking distance of the Hilton hotel. It’s an ideal location to enjoy a relaxing dinner after a day of fun in Branson.

Bass Pro Shops Fish House.

I went all out with crab-topped redfish, the cornbread that’s included with entrees, and an appetizer of fried cheese curds (clockwise from top left in the photo below.). If you have land-lubbers in your party, the brisket sandwich might just be their new favorite. 

Fish House food.

White River Fish House is located at 5 Bass Pro Drive and is open daily from noon until 7:00 p.m.

Silver Dollar City

There’s always something unique going on at Silver Dollar City. This was my first visit to the theme park and I was fortunate enough to experience their first Pumpkin Nights festival. Over 10,000 pumpkins adorn the park during Pumpkin Nights. 

Tree made out of pumpkins.

2,500 of them are hand-carved and 500 of them were done by master carver Barry Brown who created many of the pumpkins you see in the movie Hocus Pocus! Check out the video below to see what the park looks like during Pumpkin Nights and to learn some of Barry’s pumpkin carving tips.

YouTube video

Silver Dollar City offers seasonal-inspired desserts for fall and Christmas. From pumpkin whoopie pies to churros with a whipped pumpkin dip, there’s something to please everyone. The pumpkin funnel cake was my favorite and judging by how many people I saw enjoying one that night I’d say I have good taste.

Desserts at Silver Dollar City.

Another special feature of Pumpkin Nights at Silver Dollar City is that the park stays open until 9:00 PM. This allows guests to ride some of their favorite rides in the dark. This is particularly cool for two reasons:

  1. Silver Dollar City coasters are purposely not lit at night
  2. Silver Dollar City is located in the mountains and away from any metropolitan areas which means you don’t have the twinkle of city lights or the glow of a large urban area nearby

The result? Bigger thrills!

The Time Traveler ride at Silver Dollar City.
The Time Traveler ride at Silver Dollar City.

My favorite ride is the Time Traveler which is the world’s fastest, steepest, and tallest spinning roller coaster.

The inside of a clock.

Riding it in the dark made me disoriented in the best of ways. I screamed and giggled throughout the whole ride and the fantastical steampunk theme delighted my soul.

There will be even more fun to be had during Christmastime in Branson. Don’t miss it!

Eureka Springs, ARKANSAS

Just an hour southwest of Branson by car lies the charming town of Eureka Springs, Arkansas. This Ozark town captured my heart with its quirky shops, rich history, and of course the Crescent Hotel. Let’s see what’s in store for you during your visit to Eureka Springs.

Spring alongside a large rock.

Tram Tour of Eureka Springs

Probably the best way to learn about the history of the town, see some of the original springs that initially drew settlers, and meet some locals is to take a tram tour

Eureka Springs.

Eureka Springs is walkable (yet hilly!) but you’ll learn so much more with the help of your guide on the tram tour, especially if you have limited time. There’s quirky architecture like this duplex with addresses on two different streets, 

Yellow house on two streets.

and the residence of Arkansas’ first female doctor,

Blue Victorian House.

which has a carriage step just outside that I would have missed if I wasn’t on the tour.

Tennis shoes on a carriage step.
Carriage Step

What’s a 19th-century town without a former house of ill repute? You’re not imagining the..erm..symbolism of the sign shape. Locals have nicknamed it “The Phallus Palace” and if that doesn’t make you giggle like a 6th-grader, you need some more levity in your life. 

Palace Hotel and Bath House.
*giggles and points*

Eureka Springs Shopping

Shops galore line the street of the shopping district in Eureka Springs. I found everything from crystals sourced from local rockhounds to unique pieces created by local artisans to tarot and psychic readings.

Eureka Springs shops.

Bring your camera along because this area is pure eye candy for the shutterbug.

Cleopatra statue.

Plan at least a few hours here to browse the stores, take fun photos, and enjoy lunch.

1886 Crescent Hotel

America’s Most Haunted Hotel earned its moniker honestly. You can stay the night in an “active” (haunted) or “inactive” room to take advantage of all the hotel has to offer or just make a night out of it by enjoying dinner in The Crystal Dining Room followed by a ghost tour. 

Haunted hotel in Arkansas.

Read all about my adventures at the Crescent Hotel and watch the video tour below.

YouTube video

Thorncrown Chapel

On the outskirts of town on your way west toward Bentonville, you’ll pass Thorncrown Chapel. This free attraction (they do accept donations) is a wonderful place to sit for a little while in contemplation. 

Glass church in nature.

Due to the architecture of Thornecrown Chapel, you’ll feel like you’re in nature minus the heat, cold, rain, or bugs. It’s a lovely atmosphere and perfect for meditation, prayer, or just resting a bit on your journey.

Inside of a glass church.

Thorncrown Chappel is located at 12968 Highway 62 West in Eureka Springs.

Bentonville, ARKANSAS

21C Museum Hotel

21C Museum Hotel is a 104-room boutique hotel located within walking distance of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art (more on that later.) An art museum, hotel, and restaurant in one, 21C Museum Hotel has hosted some famous guests thanks to a local film festival.

Woman posing with a green penguin.

Guests are encouraged to interact with the hotel’s flock of penguins from taking them to dinner at The Hive to bringing one up to your room.

There are around 12,000 square feet of gallery space tucked throughout 21C Museum Hotel. Once you’re done wandering and making penguin friends you’ll want to enjoy a meal at The Hive.

The hotel is located at 200 NE A Street.

The Hive

Chef Matthew McClure has won culinary awards galore and you can sample some of his creations at The Hive

The Hive building.

Art flows from the hotel into the restaurant so you can enjoy it while you eat (and even bring a penguin along for a bite.) I had The Hive Power Bowl to fuel the rest of our busy day in The Ozarks and was not disappointed. 

Woman sitting underneath a large replica of a bee hive.

The Hive is located at 200 NE A Street.

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

We had three hours to spend here and could easily have spent six. In addition to 50,000 square feet of gallery space, you’ll find a restaurant on a glass-enclosed bridge overlooking the ponds, a Museum Store, a library featuring more than 50,000 volumes, plus sculptures that link the museum’s 120-acre park to downtown Bentonville.

Lake at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.

Perhaps most spectacular of all is that entry to the permanent galleries and nature trails is always free. FREE. I would probably live at Crystal Bridges if I could. I mean there’s food, nature, art, community, and serenity. Sign me up. 

Teal colored glass sculpture hanging from the ceiling.

In addition to the always free permanent collections, installations, and outdoor acreage, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art also hosts rotating, temporary exhibits that are ticketed.

Crystal lover that I am, I was on cloud nine in this exhibit. I tried to take a selfie with this bad boy, but at 1,500 pounds he deserves the photo to himself. 

Large white quartz block on display.

Bentonville residents, I hope you know how lucky you are to have a treasure like the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in your backyard! 

The museum is located at 600 Museum Way and it is open on Mondays and Wednesdays from 11:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m., Thursdays and Fridays from 11:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m., and on Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. (The museum is closed on Tuesdays.)

Horse sculpture in the woods.

With so much to do and see in The Ozarks, I can’t wait to go back. Only in The Ozarks can you be entertained in Branson, revel in the history and mystique of Eureka Springs, and appreciate all the art that Bentonville has to offer. 


When Jennifer isn’t creating delicious recipes at Sweet T Makes Three, she’s exploring family-friendly destinations across the Southeast with her husband and two children.

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