Fall brings cooler temperatures and blazing color so it’s not surprising that increasing numbers of Americans take time out for a fall getaway trip. It’s a great time to travel because summer crowds have diminished but there is plenty to do and see, especially in the Ozark Mountains.
Summer’s end doesn’t mean the fun is over in Branson, Missouri. With the brand new Branson Landing shopping experience now open, Branson has much more to offer in variety. Historic downtown Branson next door is filled with end of season bargains and the home town cafes are cooking up cool weather favorites that will satisfy any appetite. Fall is a wonderful time to take a ride on the Ozark Scenic Railroad from the depot in downtown Branson. Enjoy an excursion into the Missouri hills or down into the Arkansas mountains aboard a vintage Zephyr car with a bird’s eye view of the changing colors.
Another Branson favorite is Silver Dollar City where the American Crafts Festival continues through October with old-fashioned craftsmen and a brand new cowboy theme. Meet Roy Rogers Junior at the park or listen to traditional western music by some of the finest Western groups performing today. Cowboy dishes can tempt tastes at the park and there’s something for every age.
Many of the ever popular Branson shows are going strong so there’s indoor events as well.
Roaring River State Park near Cassville, Missouri never goes out of season. Tucked away into a secluded valley, Roaring River is never more beautiful than at the peak of fall color. Surrounded by the majestic Mark Twain National Forest, Roaring River offers hiking trails, fishing opportunities, a beautiful lodge, and camping sites.
The Ouachita Mountains in Arkansas are crowned by the Queen WIlhelmina Inn on the summit of Rich Mountain overlooking the small town of Mena. For more than a century, folks from all around the nation have headed for magical Rich Mountain where the lodge is cozy with a wood burning fireplace in the lobby and beautiful rooms. The current lodge is a retro version of the original. Delicious dining, hiking trails, and a million dollar view are just some of the ammenities that can be found at the Queen Wilhelmina Inn.
The Ozark Folk Center in northern Arkansas is another delight. This is no amusement park but living history dedicated to preserving the folk crafts, music, and ways of the Ozarks.
Eureka Springs, Arkansas is lovely in any season with Victorian architecture, the Christ of the Ozarks, and those picturesque winding streets but in autumn, Eureka Springs comes alive with dazzling fall color in every direction. Brave souls can spend a night or two at the haunted Crescent Hotel overlooking the town or the more faint of heart may find lodging in any of many delightful bed and breakfast inns.
On the western edge of the Ozark plateau, the city of Carthage, Missouri offers beautiful Victorian homes and is also home to the Precious Moments Chapel. The Precious Moments complex includes the chapel, shopping opportunities, a unique wedding island and much more. VIew the history of artist Sam Butcher’s delightful Precious Moments figurines and take a spiritual break.
Nearby Joplin, Missouri, a former mining town gone boom town in the 21st century, is home to dozens of restaurants, world class hotels, and the best shopping venues in the four state area. Northpark Mall, long the area’s premier mall, is undergoing rennovations and expansion. Next door, the North Crossing is expanding almost daily with shops that include David’s Bridal, Kohl’s, Dress Barn, and more!
Just south of Joplin, the Flower Box City of Neosho blooms each autumn with vivid color. Famous for their friendly flowerboxes, Neosho is also a city of trees. Look for spectacular local parks like Big Spring Park near the historic Neosho Square. In early October, the Rocking R Ranch puts on a fantastic fall festival and local folks are inspired to put up scarecrows, pumpkins, and other fall displays in many yards around town. Don’t pass through without a stop at Crowder College, located on the site of a former Army camp that inspired Camp Swampy in Mort Walker’s cartoon strip devoted to Beetle Bailey. A museum on campus offers an inside look at local history.
Festivals abound in cities large and small throughout the Ozarks during the fall so watch for local events and slow down to enjoy autumn in the Ozarks!!!