We have good friends who live in Kimberling City on the lake. Absolutely beautiful country for walking boating, other recreation.
Downtown Branson is kind of nice and picturesque. The strip can only be classified as a dump. Jaw-droppingly ugly. Everyone points to the Andy Williams place as the class act of the neighborhood, and from the outside that seems to be true. Of course, whether it's ol' Andy performing there or a Disney audio-animatron seems to be open to some question. I hear Donald Trump is investigating that.
Our friends enjoy driving visitors through that awful strip--bumper-to-bumper traffic and all--just to see them (us) recoil in horror. Our pal Nan spent her earlier years in professional musical comedy (the original national tour of "How to Succeed" with Robert Morse, among others). She just gets crosseyed with laughter telling us about some of the shows. On the other hand, to each his own. But she's not the only pro who's told me that most of it is pretty third-rate. Then again, most of the musical revues on ships are pretty third-rate too, and people seem to like them.
But there's no getting around the beauty of the general area. The Ozarks are really, really nice. For those who care, there's a church literally on every block, and Jim Baaker and his latest wife have opened up a new establishment which seems to combine prayer, a restaurant, a cable TV show, and some sort of real estate development "project." It sort of looks like the front of a Holiday Inn Express, and I'm not really sure what's going on there.
And the above note about visiting Eureka Springs, Arkansas is right on. This is a beautiful little town, and very welcoming, where there's an obvious and very friendly gay community, lots of good food, and very lovely things to see. A few months ago we were there on a Sunday for brunch. Afterward we were walking through downtown and came upon an establishment called Scarlett's, which is a local, non-chain version of Victoria's Secret. Plenty of scantily-clad mannequins in the windows. We wanted to go in and look around, but we couldn't. The sign on the door said, "Scarlett's observes the Lord's Sabbath." We have a great photo, but posting photos here is a pain. Take my word for it. We laughed till our sides hurt. But it's a lovely welcoming little town which we found FAR more enjoyable than Branson.
On the negative side, despite all the professed Christianity, there is a great deal of overt hate in those parts, expressed most commonly on those tacky lighted-from behind signs with movable letters that you see at motels, convenience stores and the like throughout the south. Just ignorant, hateful, and patently un-Christian statements of intolerance. We also passed a couple "tableaus" set up in open fields along the road with things like wrecked cars bearing signs like, "This is what we do to. . ." Also "likenesses" of the president and others hanging from trees. This part of the Ozarks is distressing, but we concentrate on the beautiful stuff when we visit.