bybmg: Spring Break to Branson, Missouri on a Budget

Spring Break to Branson, Missouri on a Budget


This winter in Iowa has been one of the longest ever. We have had more snow than we've had in over 20 years and a lot of the bad weather happened on the weekends, which just made for more cabin fever. When we were in the depths of it, I thought forward to Spring Breaking really wishing we could do something fun. A beach sounded fantastic, but it wasn't in the cards with our budget. Instead, we looked at Google Maps, drug southward from Iowa, and landed on Branson. Neither of us had ever been to Branson before, but we figured being 6 hours south, it had to be a little warmer than we would be in March and so we booked three nights in a hotel with a water park and called it a trip!

We ended up going with one of Russ's coworker's family who had kids in the 2-4 year range, and it turned out to be a lot of fun!

I prepared for the 6 hour drive with charged iPads, movies ready for the van DVD player, LOTS of snacks, and a little goodie bag for each boy. I put in simple items from the Dollar Tree like a note pad, sheets of stickers, multicolored pens, and some gum and candy. The ring pops and gum were a huge highlight.

We stayed at the Castle Rock Hotel and Water Park. We chose this place because it was affordable and it had a water park, which we knew would keep our boys busy.

The water park had two slides, two "baby pool" options, a deeper pool, and a lazy river. Some of the pools struggled to maintain warm temperatures some of the days we were there which was a little bit of a downer and on the last full day, two of the pools were closed down because of poop incidents (is that the appropriate way to say it?!). But still, the boys had a blast and I even tried out one of the slides.

I didn't get a picture of it, but you can check out what it looked like on the hotel website here. The hotel room was nice because it had two full beds plus a little cove with a bunk bed.  With a family of five sometimes hotel rooms can be tricky if there are just two beds and no one is in a crib anymore, but this one worked out great for us.

The first night we got into town, we checked into the hotel, swam a little, then hit up a Mexican place for dinner.

There are TONS of things to do in Branson! We really tried to stick to things that didn't break the bank. Everyone said go to the Dixie Stampede or Silver Dollar City, but each of those would have cost our family over $200 for the visit, so we decided to opt out and maybe go when the boys are a little older. We had heard fun things about Dick's 5 & 10. It's an old fashion 5 & 10 store with everything you can think of under the sun! We went there our first morning.

We went into the store and the boys were amazed at all the things. I think we walked around for a good 30+ minutes just looking. I had a mental budget in mind of $10 - $15 for each boy, and they all came out happy under the $15 mark. I think Calvin's trucks were even under $10. Wesley got slime and a little doll. Henry got mini rock 'em sock 'em guys and a some slime.

After that, I hit up the local outlet mall with Wesley while Russ and the other two swam. The highlight was a Kate Spade Outlet because we don't have any in Iowa! I got a cute clutch and a pair of stud earring which I neglected to get pictures of!

For lunch the first full day, we ate in our hotel room. I brought Lunchables for the boys and Russ and I got subs.

We spent the afternoon swimming and Calvin napped, then we headed out for some more fun.

There are many mini golf courses in Branson, and the other family we were with had a kiddo who loves dinos, so we went to the Dinosaur Canyon Mini Golf Course. The course has two 18-hole options to choose from. We played the Raptor course. A couple things to note about this course for the budget conscious is 
1) There's a $1 off coupon per person on their website.
2) Ages 3 and under are free if they play with a plastic putter.
3) If you bring your card back within 7 days, you get a discount on a second round.

If we'd stayed more days, I think we would have gone back to play the second 18-hole course.

For dinner, we hit up Pasghetti's!

Besides having an amazingly huge meatball and fork out front, Pasghetti's was delicious! They had classic Italian food and free bread sticks for an appetizer which was great for the kids. I always love a free appetizer and it helps eating out be more successful for us.

Calvin went on and on about how he wanted to ride The Branson Ferris Wheel, so we said YES! It was about $40 total for all of us to ride, I think Calvin was free, but it was a beautiful sight. 

After that, we went to check out the outside displays at the Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum. You could pay to go inside the museum, but the boys were happy just running outside! There were lots of fun things to see like a gorilla made of tires, the huge transformer robot, and the cars covered with coins.

Russ had talked to a coworker who had been to Branson before and she steered us away from some attractions and also told us about the fish hatchery that we should check out. 

Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery was a fun morning stop. It was very educational and kept the boys's attention for almost an hour, AND it was FREE (besides the 25 cents we paid for fish food)! They had lots of creatures on display including a 2-headed snake and a tarantula. We also watched a quick 8 minute video about the hatchery. 

We swam again, then headed out for lunch.

We hit up Billy Bob's Dairyland for some classic burgers, fries, and yummy desserts. The boys shared a huge brownie sundae for dessert and couldn't even finish it all. Billy Bob's was super cute. One thing to note is that they don't take credit cards, cash or check only.

After lunch, I took Calvin back to the hotel to nap and Russ took the older two out to go-kart! He didn't get any pictures, and it still working on editing the video he made with the GoPro, but they had a BLAST!

That evening, we went to the pizza buffet at the Grand Country Resort. The buffet was pretty budget-friendly. 

After dinner we played a few games in the arcade.

The next morning, we packed up and headed home! We made a quick stop in Kansas City on the way through to Fritz's Railroad Restaurant. If you haven't been to Fritz's and you go through KC, you need to stop. The food is delivered by train and the kids love it.

All-in-all it was a great trip! Having a hotel with a water park was perfect for our boys and we had lots of fun without spending a fortune. It was a perfect little trip for our spring break and we got home to still enjoy the weekend and catch up on laundry before we head back to school next week. I think Calvin said it well when we walked in the door to our house, "I am happy to be home, but I had a lot of fun in Branson."

Have you visited Branson before? What are your tips for a budget-friendly vacation?

Della at Della Devoted, Whitney at Polka Dotty Place, Whitney and Come Home for Comfort, Tif at Bright on a Budget, and I want to welcome you to High Five for Friday! Each week we share the best parts of the week and hope you'll join us! Remember you can link up your highlights post or up to THREE of your favorite posts from this past week!

No comments:

Impact-Site-Verification: 574454573. Powered by Blogger.