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Loop Through Branson, Neosho & Springfield
We’re heading from Branson to Springfield with a major westward detour. We’ll see Civil War battle sites, Hollywood celebrities, and the oldest operating federal fish hatchery. History, ziplining, and Historic Route 66 await you in southwest Missouri.
Found in the northern Ozark Mountains, and flanked by Branson West and the Mark Twain National Forest, Branson is a scenic city with plenty to see and do.
Branson is known as the Live Entertainment Capital Of The World, and has plenty of shows to prove it. Found mostly along 76 Country Boulevard, Branson is home to dozens of theaters featuring performances like the Dixie Stampede Dinner Show, the Acrobats Of China Show, and the Price is Right Live Show.
Film buffs, be sure to check out the Hollywood Wax Museum – one of three in the country. Also found along Highway 76, Branson’s Hollywood Wax Museum houses favorites like Samuel L. Jackson and Marilyn Monroe.
Be sure to explore the Ozarks at the Table Rock State Park, a 40,000-acre playground great for boating, fishing, and even scuba diving.
From Branson, head west on Missouri State Route 86 for about 90 miles until you reach Neosho. Known as the City of Springs, Neosho sits in the southwest corner of Missouri at the northwest edge of the Ozarks.
Check out Big Spring, the largest in the City of Springs, near historic downtown Neosho in Big Spring Park. Other springs include Bell's Iron Spring, Bethesda Spring, Birch Spring, and more.
Speaking of, why not peruse the Neosho Commercial Historic District – which just happens to be found on the National Register of Historic Places. See historic structures, and enjoy shopping, dining, and sightseeing.
Visit the Neosho National Fish Hatchery – the oldest operating federal fish hatchery in the country. Established in 1888, the Neosho hatchery features a visitor center and gift shop, plus picnic areas, fish feeding, and walking and biking trails.
Get on Interstate 49 and head north about 25 miles to Joplin, home to Missouri Southern State University. From there, head north until you reach Historic Route 66, leading you to Carthage and more fun.
The Battle of Carthage State Historic Site commemorates the 1861 battle if the very early American Civil War. This site is a must for history fans, and is open throughout the year – and see if you can catch a reenactment during your visit.
Be sure to see Precious Moments Park & Chapel – a roadside attraction if ever there was one. Other unique Carthage activities include the Carthage Route 66 Drive-In, the Powers Museum, and the annual Maple Leaf Festival.
Spanning nearly 4,000 acres, Prairie State Park is found about an hour north of Carthage by Interstate 49 and US Route 160. Activities include hiking, nature viewing, bird watching, picnicking, and exhibits at the Regal Tallgrass Prairie Nature Center.
From Carthage, stick to Historic U.S. 66 for approximately 60 miles until you hit Springfield – Missouri’s third largest city. A full itinerary awaits you here, as Springfield is known as the Queen City of the Ozarks and the Birthplace of Route 66 – and is home to Missouri State University.
Check out the Commercial Street Historic District – better known as downtown Springfield. Springfield’s initial Federal Register Historic District, the district spans from Washington to Lyon Avenue. Here you try local eateries, browse antique shops and art galleries, hit the C-Street Market, or wet your whistle in Springfield’s oldest tavern.
If you’re stopped for the night, try one of Springfield’s many breweries. Try Mother's Brewing Company, Springfield Brewing Company, White River Brewing Company, and the Leaky Roof Meadery.
Why not end your road trip with a bang? Sign up for Branson Zipline Canopy Tours at Wolfe Creek Preserve. Test your fear of heights with ziplining and sky bridges on your way out of Springfield.
From Springfield, it’s a straight shot down U.S. Route 65 for 45 miles to Branson – completing your southwestern Missouri loop tour. Hope you loved it!