Ozark woodcarving of fisherman

Ozark tourist at heart! Travel to the Ozarks

How to be an Ozark Tourist

My son on mule at Silver Dollar City, an Ozark visitor from 1970
Fun trip to Silver Dollar City, 1970 – nothing like a mule ride!

I am an Ozark tourist every day. It’s one of the perks of living in Harrison, a burgeoning city in the Ozarks.

Because I have lived in the Ozarks for over 30 years, I officially attribute “hillbilly” to my nomenclature.

Travelers flock to the Ozarks because  (1) it is an amazing place for family vacations  and (2) it is within a day’s drive from the big cities of St. Louis, Chicago, Kansas City, Dallas, Oklahoma City, etc.

For instance, over 71 million tourists have passed through the gates of  Silver Dollar City, alone,  since it opened in 1960.

Shoe Essentials for an Ozark Tourist

Eric caught a trout on the White River
Trout, caught in the White River

Campers and RVs roll into Branson, filled with fishermen and show goers. When the tourist season rolls around, I become a tourist, too — I throw on my flip flops and sun glasses and off I go. That’s the beauty of living in a tourist region.

Further, in a mountainous terrain filled with lakes and rivers means countless occasions for entertainment. Suggested shoe wear: cowboy boots, wading boots, hiking boots … flip-flops, boating shoes, water shoes, sandals, tennis shoes, loafers, golf shoes, pumps, slippers, and heels.

Now that spring has sprung, I started to think about the fun outings we might take this summer as an Ozark tourist.

Top of the Rock sculpture
This iconic sculpture by James Earle Fraser, “End of the Trail,” is located in the middle of an infinity pool at Top of the Rock. This metal sculpture is a place holder for a bronze sculpture, currently being made.

Ozark Tourist To-Do List

You will need a ticket for some Ozark destinations, but many await you with open doors.

World Class Attractions

  • Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium: located in Bass Pro Shops, Springfield, Mo., this museum and interactive aquarium celebrate conservation
  • Ancient Ozarks Natural History Museum (at Top of the Rock): a museum gallery of exhibits  showcasing important Native Americans, Wild West frontier cowboys, and the Civil War. I was moved to tears halfway through this historical journey, as I walked through hallway after hallway filled with the culture of Native Americans. You see Johnny Morris’s reverence for the land and those who settled it. Someday, Johnny Morris will be awarded for this testament to a great people. Don’t miss it.  Plan the day at Top of the Rock. Tour the cave on a golf cart and have lunch or dinner at one of its restaurants. Come back and play a round or two of golf. I have. Best times ever.

Branson – Hollister

Golf

Listing a few courses for starters, but a more complete list is on my Golf Envy page.

  • Buffalo Ridge Springs 18 Hole: Tom Fazio re-design, with sightings of Buffalo, deer, and a road runner on a good day. Beautiful, sculpted greens and fascinating landscapes, open 365.
  • Top of the Rock 9 Hole, Par 3 – Jack Nicklaus designed: here’s a hole-by-hole view of this dazzling course
  • Mountain Top 13 Hole Short Course – Gary Player designed: sets on a mountain top above Buffalo Ridge Springs – great restaurant and pro shop. You will want to play this course over and over again. Great social course for you and your golfing friends.
  • Ozarks National, a Ben Crenshaw course –  Coore/Crenshaw design, site for the Bass Pro Shops 2019 Legends of Golf Tournament.
  • Thousand Hills 18 Hole: highly rated course in the heart of Branson
  • Branson Hills, a membership golf course, nestled in the hills of Branson, off HWY 65
  • Harrison Country Club, with club memberships – golf, pro shop, golf pro, dining, tennis, swimming

Ozark Outdoors

Eclectic Ozarks

  • Eureka Springs: founded on the supposed healing power of its natural springs, a historic tourist destination with art, shopping, spas, jazz, haunted hotels, cottages, under-ground tours, art, and good food
  • Crystal Bridges, American Art Museum, Bentonville, AR: free General Admission to this amazing art museum, thanks to Wal-Mart and the Walton family and foundation support. Visit their website for times and details.

Foodies

  • Level Two Steakhouse at Hilton Conference Center, a premier restaurant in Branson for gourmet diners
  • Dana’s Barbecue – popular – closed on Sundays
  • Neighbor’s Mill (Harrison, Ark.; Springfield, Mo.; Rogers, Ark.) – wholesome ingredients for yummy sandwiches, salads, soups, bakery, and more
Spring also means our backyard airport is busy

The juncos took off on their return flight to Canada, and the Carolina Wren landed at our bird feeder, all within days of each other. It will soon be too hot in Arkansas for the juncos, so they will split. The Carolina Wren has come for cooler temps where he is sure to find more buggy things to munch.

Ozark tourist arrives to our bird feeder, a Carolina Wren
Our first Carolina Wren for the summer season

Darrell jumped for joy and grabbed the camera when he saw the first Carolina Wren of the season on our trellis. He explains that the Carolina Wren is a spunky bird and likes especially to hunt tasty spiders and bugs under my canopy table and under the hedges and eaves. Today, the wren was at the bird feeder, and I felt like a good host to have seed waiting for this weary traveler.

Everything in life is someplace else, and you get there in a car.
—E.B. White
Happily, I live in one of my favorite places, and more favorite places are simply a gas tank away.

Climbing the ropes at SDC
Another fun day at Silver Dollar City
My first time to drive a golf cart in the Ozarks
Cave Tour at Top of the Rock, a must see for any Ozark tourist
In the driver’s seat at Top of the Rock

 

Ozark tourists at heart on a golf cart taking the cave tour at Top of the Rock
Emma thought it was a perfect occasion for a “selfie” photo with her cousin Stephanie

On Valentine’s Day, we zoomed through the cave tour on a golf cart, and had a blast!

As soon as the girls climbed into the back seat, they shouted, It’s a convertible! They could see the magnificent mountain views and touch the waterfalls, all from a golf cart convertible.

Woolly Mammoth fossil at Top of the Rock
Woolly Mammoth welcomes you to Top of the Rock and the entrance of the Ancient Ozarks Natural History Museum

From the cave ride, we jumped on the five-minute shuttle to Top of the Rock for more vistas, sculptures, dioramas, murals, stained-glass windows, restaurants, fossils, and … a Woolly Mammoth.

Another memorable day in the life of an  Ozark tourist.

The whole thing about our outing is we were thinking the cave tour could not be
particularly beautiful on a winter day, mid-February, but it was spectacular.

Top of the Rock terrace, over looking Table Rock Lake
Looking out at Table Rock Lake from the top terrace at Top of the Rock

Published by

Patricia Wiskur

My love for art comes from years in the studio of Wiskur Productions, with my husband, Darrell Wiskur, a designer and photographer. Also, I was an editor and photographer in the real world for 17 years ... all the while, thankful for an artful life and cherished memories. Photos are ©2019 Darrell D. Wiskur