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Visiting Shepherd of the Hills Branson Fish Hatchery

Visiting Shepherd of the Hills Branson Fish Hatchery


The Shepherd of the Hills fish hatchery in Branson, MO often comes up on lists of the best free things to do in Branson, but is it really worth checking out? The Branson fish hatchery is located just a few minutes out of town, right next to Table Rock Dam. It’s very close to Table Rock State Park, which has tons of hiking trails (check out my guide to Branson Hiking Trails for more info!), and also just a couple of minutes from the Dewey Short Visitor Center, which is perfect for doing on the same day as your fish hatchery visit. The Showboat Branson Belle is less than a five-minute drive away, so if you’re looking for something fun and free to do before a dinner cruise, consider visiting the Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery!

If you’re planning to do some Branson fishing, there’s trout fishing on Lake Taneycomo right outside, including a boat ramp, and you can purchase a license or rent a fishing pole here, too! The money from Missouri fishing licenses goes straight back into conservation, which is something they share details of on the fish hatchery tour!

There’s plenty of parking here, both outside the conservation center building and over by the picnic area, which is just a short walk.


Branson fish hatchery conservation center


5 Important Things to Know Before Visiting the Branson Fish Hatchery:

  1. Admission to the Conservation Center and tours of the Branson fish hatchery are both free, but bring quarters if you’d like to feed the fish.
  2. The hatchery is closed on Sunday & Monday most of the year, as well as on state holidays. In the summer months (June, July, August), they may be open 7 days a week. (Check the Missouri Department of Conservation website to be sure!)
  3. Branson fish hatchery hours are 9 am – 5 pm. If you’re planning to enjoy the outdoor areas while you’re here, those hours are different: The conservation area opens at 4 am and closes at 10 pm.
  4. The free Branson fish hatchery tours are offered several times a day. At the time of this post, they’re at 10 and 11 am, and 1 and 2 pm.
  5. In addition to the conservation center, you’ll find hiking trails, fishing areas, a picnic spot, and a butterfly garden.

Want more details about the Shepherd of the Hills fish hatchery in Branson and tips to make your visit great? Read on!


Trout fishing in Branson is a HUGE deal. I live right on Table Rock Lake so I knew that a lot of people come to this area to fish, but I had no idea about the volume. The Branson fish hatchery puts around 700,000 trout into Lake Taneycomo and other Missouri trout management areas EVERY YEAR! Of those, 70% are caught within two months. That’s so many fish! Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery is the largest of the five cold water fish hatcheries in Missouri, and there’s a lot to see here. Now, I’m clearly very into learning about nature and wildlife and fish in general (be sure to check out my post about the Branson Aquarium!) so that definitely factors into my opinions, but I was surprised that I enjoyed my visit to the fish hatchery in Branson way more than I expected to. I wound up spending almost two hours here!


Feeding the Fish at the Branson Fish Hatchery

feeding trout at branson fish hatchery


Trout food is sold in gumball-style machines outside near the fish runs. 25 cents gets you a pretty nice handful of food! I’d recommend bringing a small cup or even an envelope to hold the food in – it’s a little tough to avoid dropping any! It’s kind of fun to decide which fish you want to feed (they’re segregated by age/size, including a special area for the breeding adults at certain times of year). The conservation center had quarters available when I visited, but you may want to bring some quarters along just in case if feeding the fish is something you really want to do. Feeding the fish anything other than the provided food is NOT allowed.


trout at hatchery in branson

Exploring the Conservation Center

While it might look small from outside, there’s a surprising amount to see in side the conservation center!

You may want to start by watching the short video (I think it’s 8 minutes) that’s shown several times an hour and explains what the hatchery does. The room that serves as a mini cinema for that video also contains some VERY cool nature and wildlife exhibits!


Missouri amphibians at fish hatchery in Branson MO

You can see several different types of live wildlife native to this area, including turtles, frogs, salamanders, and snakes. There are also exhibits that don’t have live animals but do let you see things you might never see up close otherwise, like different bird nests and different stages of fish development.

eastern tiger salamander missouri


Tip: If you aren’t sure if your kids will enjoy the Branson Aquarium at the Boardwalk or Wonders of Wildlife Aquarium in Springfield, bringing them here is a great FREE way to see how they react to fish and animals! If they get excited about watching these guys, they’ll LOVE the aquariums!

Branson Fish Hatchery Tours


Free Branson fish hatchery tours

Tours of the Branson fish hatchery are FREE and fun! They start inside the conservation center, last about 45 minutes, and are about 1/3 indoors and 2/3 outdoors, so be sure to come prepared for whatever the weather (you may want to bring bottled water on hot days). They’re great for curious kids who won’t interrupt the tour guide, as well as adults who love learning.

I’d suggest arriving at the conservation center at least 15 minutes before a tour, taking some time to explore the building, going on the tour, and then feeding the fish/exploring the outdoor areas on your own.

Note: There are restrooms inside the conservation center, as well as some out in the picnic area near the hiking trails.


Outdoor area of fish hatchery branson missouri

The runs in the outdoor area are filled with tens of thousands of trout at all different stages of development. Fish come in to breed in the fall and the babies stay here about 15-18 months – until they’re large enough to be released. If you visit at just the right time, you might see Table Rock Dam open in the background!

Just a note – As someone currently studying captive wildlife care and conservation who is pretty sensitive about how animals are treated, I’m not entirely sure how I feel about the whole hatchery thing in general. Trout aren’t even native to Missouri, but they’ve become a HUGE part of Branson Missouri fishing since they were introduced to Lake Taneycomo in 1959. I don’t know if the conditions are exactly ideal in terms of welfare, but I’d much rather have people out having a great time catching fish in the lake and eating that than buying fish from commercial fisheries that are endangering so many species of sharks and fish, plus the ocean ecosystems in general. The tour guides will tell you that due to how hot summers have been lately, they do lose quite a few fish to the heat, but on the other hand, all of these fish are totally protected from predators through their vulnerable youth stages. I do think the Dept. of Conservation give the trout the best treatment possible given the space and resources they have. I just wanted to mention all of this here because I do try to be careful about which animal-related tourist attractions I recommend visiting.  I still think the fish hatchery is one of the best free things to do in Branson, since it’s fun, free, something you can’t just see every day, and educational, but your opinions might differ.


map of Branson fish hatchery and trails

Other Things To Do at the Shepherd of the Hills Branson Fish Hatchery

You can definitely spend a few hours exploring everything to do on-site at the fish hatchery in Branson if the weather is nice! Here’s a handy checklist:

Things to do at the Branson Fish Hatchery:

  • Explore the conservation center and see some native wildlife.
  • Take the FREE fish hatchery tour
  • Visit the butterfly garden filled with native plants
  • Feed the fish (bring quarters!)
  • Explore the four nature trails
  • Get a fishing license and fish in Lake Taneycomo, just steps away!
  • Bring a picnic lunch and relax in the covered picnic pavilion.

I talk about the different nature/hiking trails in depth in by Branson Hiking Trail Guide, and I’m planning to write a detailed post just about the fish hatchery hiking trails soon, but overall they’re short, easy trails suitable to just about anyone, and three of the four have really stunning lake views!


Lake Taneycomo view from Branson fish hatchery trails


The trails start behind the picnic area just across the road from the conservation center. Look for these little bridges:


Branson hiking trails along Lake Taneycomo

You can find a map of the trails on the Missouri Department of Conservation Website.


While you’re out in this area of Branson, you may also want to check out the Dewey Short Visitor Center (also free but closed in winter!), the hiking trails at Table Rock State Park, go for a cruise on the Showboat Branson Belle, or have dinner or drinks at Chateau on the Lake! If you’re looking for more free things to do in Branson, I have a helpful list coming soon!




Branson Missouri fish hatchery trout

10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About the Aquarium at the Boardwalk in Branson, MO

10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About the Aquarium at the Boardwalk in Branson, MO

Branson Aquarium at the Boardwalk


It’s pretty hard to miss the giant octopus in Branson, MO. This shimmering silver sculpture overlooking the 76 Strip marks the entrance to the Aquarium at the Boardwalk, one of Branson’s newest and most enchanting attractions.


Image courtesy of Aquarium at the Boardwalk

Disclosure: I received complimentary admission to the Aquarium at the Boardwalk to facilitate my posts, but no payment was received and all opinions are my own.


The Aquarium at the Boardwalk opened in late 2020 and invites visitors to explore underwater wonders with more than 10,000 creatures from over 260 different species showcased in over 400,000 gallons of water.

While it’s easy to simply stroll through the exhibits wonderstruck by the fascinating fish that surround you, I wanted to put together a list of fun facts for people like me who delight in the details. The aquarium’s director of husbandry was kind enough to share his wealth of knowledge with me and answer a few million of my endless questions to help me create this post filled with fishy facts to keep in mind while visiting the Aquarium at the Boardwalk in Branson for an even more memorable experience.


octopus number graphic  Keep an eye out for octopuses! 

It’s not every day you see a 34-ton octopus. (Actually, if you *do* see one every day, I have questions.) The massive steel sculpture that decorates the aquarium entrance certainly sets the mood for the wonders inside. This 55-foot tall structure was created by the art studio Demiurge in Colorado and transported to Branson in pieces on a fleet of 27 flatbed trucks, which stretched the length of three football fields. (Am I the only one who thinks football would be more interesting with a giant octopus on the field?) After arriving in Missouri, the sculpture took six weeks to assemble. It instantly became a Branson icon and a popular spot for photos.


Octopus sculpture at aquarium in branson mo


The giant octopus sculpture outside is just the beginning! Inside the aquarium, you’ll encounter Aquarius the Giant Pacific Octopus at the souvenir photo spot and in the 5-D movie, as well as meeting the real deal in one of the first exhibits you come to. I’m a huge octopus fan, so I can’t think of a better way to begin your journey through the Aquarium at the Boardwalk!

Branson octopus going through tube in aquarium

Wondering about that tube that connects the two tanks? An octopus can fit through pretty much any hole that’s larger than their beak, which is the only non-squishy part of their body. This makes them experts at escape, since they can slip through any tiny opening in their habitat. Above, you can see Aquarius stretching an arm through the tube to decide if the seagrass is greener on the other side!

The octopus is a master of camouflage, though, so be sure to keep an eye out for Aquarius as you travel through the aquarium! There are nine hidden octopus sculptures to find as you explore, and spotting them is both surprisingly challenging and a lot of fun!

Aquarium in Branson Octopus Sculpture

If you read my other post about the Aquarium at the Boardwalk, you’ll have a good idea of where this one might be hiding!



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   The custom-made music sets the mood.

The first time I visited Branson’s Aquarium at the Boardwalk, I actually didn’t even notice the spellbinding soundtrack until I got home and looked at the videos I’d taken. It enhances the experience without being intrusive, which isn’t surprising since it was created by Jay Flood, an award-winning composer who has worked on movie and video game soundtracks. When you first enter the building, you’ll hear current pop music that amps you up and fits the boardwalk theme, but once you reach the Grand Aquarium, you’re immersed in an original score that makes the beautiful visuals feel even more cinematic.



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The perfect soundtrack for a sharky shipwreck!


cownose ray branson boardwalk aquarium


Branson MO Aquarium Mealtimes are carefully measured… and kind of mouthwatering?

If fresh seafood gets you excited, you might be a little jealous of what the fish here get to eat every day. Restaurant-quality ingredients ranging from tiny brine shrimp to fresh leafy greens make up the menus, which are designed to mimic what each species would eat in the wild as closely as possible. As you can imagine, that can be a bit of a challenge when you live in a landlocked state!

Many of the aquarium residents, like the sharks and stingrays, are carefully observed by one team member as another feeds them so that detailed records can be kept about exactly what and how much each individual animal eats. These records make it easy to spot changes in appetite and watch for food preferences. Want to know what this particular cownose ray ate for breakfast a year ago? That info is filed away somewhere!


Coral Reef Aquarium Branson Missouri

 Octopus aquarium Branson The systems that keep the water clean and the fish happy are mind-blowingly complex.

I had the opportunity to peek into a few different “backstage” rooms where the water is transformed from ordinary tap water to fish-friendly saltwater with the perfect temperature, PH levels, and salinity to keep the aquarium residents happy and healthy. If you’ve ever had an aquarium at home, you have an idea of just how tricky keeping everything balanced can be, but imagine having to fine-tune water conditions for hundreds of different species! There are more than two miles of pipes beneath the building, ultraviolet sterilization, a whole separate system for the touch tanks to handle water that hundreds of human hands go into each day, an entire life support team in charge of water quality, and even smart technology that can send an alert to staff members if something goes wrong in the middle of the night.


School of Fish Branson Boardwalk Aquarium

Octopus Branson Aquarium at the Boardwalk  Social Life in the Sea Is Complex

Complex social lives aren’t just for reality TV and vague social media posts. While many people think of fish as very simple creatures just swimming through life, their social lives are often more intricate than you might imagine!

coral reef aquarium in branson moCoexisting in the Coral Reef

When designing the Grand Aquarium, which is home to more than 100 species and over 2,000 total fish, the aquarium team had to choose fish that could live together in harmony for their entire lives, which meant picking species that wouldn’t eat each other (always a plus), wouldn’t aggressively compete for food and territory, and would gravitate towards different parts of the exhibit.

The structure was designed to mimic a natural habitat as closely as possible so that, for example, smaller fish who would naturally spend their time hanging out in the shadow of a coral shelf can do exactly that, while others like sharks and rays have plenty of open water to glide around in. Can you imagine how much knowledge and experience it takes to choose fish who not only meet all of the above criteria for getting along but are also beautiful, fun to watch, and able to be obtained from ethical sources? I hope they’re incredibly proud of the thriving underwater community they’ve put together because it seems to be a huge success. It’s almost impossible to pry me away from this exhibit, which has multiple viewing points throughout the aquarium.


Grand Aquarium at the Boardwalk Branson

Majestic Sea Flap Flap (That’s definitely a scientific name.)


But it gets much more intricate than just sharing space and food! I became an instant fan of these colorful creatures:

Twospot Anthias at Aquarium in Branson

On Wednesdays, they wear pink.

While their bold fashion choices definitely get a thumbs-up from me, what makes the Two-Spotted Anthias so cool is their social structure, which is common among several Anthias species. They have an intricate social hierarchy that influences their coloring (They become more vibrant as they climb the social ladder), they’re all born female, and if there’s no male around, one of the large dominant females will just become male. Problem solved!

Branson Boardwalk Aquarium pink two spot Anthias

This fish is just daring you to challenge her place in the social hierarchy. Bring it on. 


Branson Aquarium Mermaid Palace

Image courtesy of the Aquarium at the Boardwalk in Branson

Branson Aquarium Fun Facts   Don’t overlook the art!

As a person who spent their last birthday flying 1,100 miles to go to an immersive art exhibit with my BFF I might be a little biased here, but the incredible artwork that decorates the aquarium really adds to the experience. I was chatting with Dani, one of the awesome aquarists who works so hard to take care of the animals here, and she mentioned that all of the amazing artistic details almost make it feel like an art gallery filled with fish! (Be sure to check out her Instagram – amazing fish photos and you’ll learn so many fun facts!) If you’re curious about the artists who made the aquarium so beautiful, check out this page on the Aquarium at the Boardwalk website to learn all about who created each aspect of the overall design.

The Mermaid Palace (pictured above) is decked out in gold leaf, custom-designed flooring, hand-painted murals, and hand-carved statues. It’s even prettier in person with the lighting and the music and the swirling sardines in the center display!

Branson Missouri Aquarium Mermaid Room



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The beauty isn’t limited to just this room, though, you’ll spot gorgeous design details all throughout the aquarium.

And speaking of artwork…


trompe l'olei mural john pugh branson octopus

Aquarium in Branson Missouri Visitor Info     The back of the building features a breakout work of art!

I’m embarrassed to admit how long it took me to notice the BACK of the aquarium. It’s easy to get distracted by the giant silver octopus out front, but the more time you spend examining the mural on the other side of the building, the more amazing you realize it is!


John Pugh mural in Branson

This spectacular optical illusion was painted by John Pugh, who specializes in Trompe l’oeil images (which literally translates to “deceiving the eye”). This acclaimed artist is also an underwater enthusiast, and he used the Giant Pacific Octopus’s reputation for being a skilled escape artist to create this captivating mural of an octopus literally breaking out of the building!


  So Many Sardines and Spectacular Seahorses!

We discussed the gorgeous Mermaid Palace back in #6, but the incredible art isn’t all there is to see in that room!


Branson Boardwalk Inside Aquarium Sardines

If the central cylinder of sardines was one of those games where you guess how many jellybeans are in a jar, I would have lost. Terribly.

This fantastic fishnado is actually home to almost 3,000 sardines – by far the most of any species in the building!

Aquarium in Branson Missouri Seahorses

The seahorse exhibit in this room is also noteworthy! Most aquariums have fairly small seahorse tanks since they don’t get very big (lined seahorses like these only grow to about 6″ long), but the Aquarium at the Boardwalk wanted to give these beautiful animals a palatial residence! Be sure to keep an eye out for a the Mandarin Dragonet fish that share this tank with the seahorses. They’re gorgeous!


branson missouri aquarium scuba diver cleaning

Branson MO aquarium info So much love and dedication goes into making your experience memorable.

From sparkling clean glass to happy, healthy animals, so much work goes into making the aquarium both beautiful and a place you can feel good about visiting. It actually reminded me a bit of my Walt Disney World cast member days because just like at the theme parks, there are a million things going on “backstage” to make the guest experience great that you’d never think about – chopping up ingredients for meals in the fully-equipped kitchen, testing water samples, and even scuba diving into the big tank for regular cleanings.

Branson aquarium inside

This is also a good place to mention what goes into bringing the fish to their new home at the Aquarium at the Boardwalk in Branson! Every single fish you see was ethically sourced and transported as quickly and carefully as possible to ensure their health and safety. This involved some long road trips, including one to pick up the resident sea turtle, who was injured by a boat and not eligible to be released into the wild after she was rehabilitated. Since sea turtles are endangered, the US Fish & Wildlife Service has incredibly strict regulations for facilities that care for them (Yes, I read through their entire document on care requirements – #nerd), so you know she’ll be living her absolute best life while hopefully inspiring visitors to protect the oceans and their inhabitants!

Sea Turtle Aquarium in Branson Missouri

Branson Boardwalk Aquarium Fun Facts   You’re basically saving the planet by visiting.

Your visit to the Aquarium at the Boardwalk in Branson helps to support the Coral Restoration Foundation, which is using innovative methods to restore the devastated colonies in Florida’s Coral Reef. Coral reefs are incredibly important – They’re complex ecosystems that support around 25% of all marine life, reduce coastal erosion, and are even being used to develop new life-saving medicines for humans! Without them, the fishing industry would collapse, the loss of habitat would be devastating to countless plants and animals, the tourism around snorkeling and diving would drastically diminish, and weather events like typhoons and hurricanes would wreak even more havoc on coastal cities.


Coral Restoration at Branson Aquarium

Image courtesy of the Aquarium at the Boardwalk in Branson

You can see dozens of different kinds of coral in the aquarium and learn more about how amazing corals are and how the we can support them in this interview on the Coral Restoration Foundation’s website! (No seriously, it’s a great read! Go learn things!)


zebra eels inside Branson Aquarium

Which of these 10 fun facts got you the most excited to visit the Aquarium at the Boardwalk in Branson? Leave a comment and let me know! And as great as it looks in all of the photos here and over on my Instagram, it’s definitely something you have to see in person! If you’re planning a trip to Branson, be sure to put the aquarium on your must-do list!

Check out my other Aquarium at the Boardwalk in Branson post for Branson Aquarium prices, ticket deals, and other handy info that’s helpful to know before you go!

Branson Aquarium at the Boardwalk Fun Facts

The Branson Aquarium at the Boardwalk – Branson Aquarium Review and Tips

The Branson Aquarium at the Boardwalk – Branson Aquarium Review and Tips

Branson Aquarium at the Boardwalk


Have you heard about the new aquarium in Branson MO? While the Branson Aquarium at the Boardwalk opened back in November 2020, it still feels like a new and exciting addition to the city!

Aquariums are a perfect vacation activity for pretty much anyone, from a solo traveler like me to a family getaway to a fun date night. The colorful Boardwalk theme at the Branson Aquarium at the Boardwalk is definitely kid-friendly without being over the top, making it a hit with visitors of all ages.


New Aquarium in Branson MO Boardwalk Theme

Disclosure: I received complimentary admission to the Aquarium at the Boardwalk to facilitate my posts, but no payment was received and all opinions are my own. Some links in this post may be affiliate links, which help support this site at no additional cost to you.

If you’re planning a visit to the Aquarium at the Boardwalk in Branson, I’ve got all the info you need for a fantastic visit!


What Kind of Animals Can We See Inside the Branson Aquarium at the Boardwalk?

I’ve seen a lot of people ask “Does the Branson aquarium have sharks?” and the short answer is yes, but the longer answer is way more fun. Whether you’re a fish fanatic or just looking for fun rainy day activities in Branson, there’s something for everyone here. If you’re anything like me you’ll be completely charmed by more than one of the aquarium inhabitants. The diversity of species and enchanting exhibits make it impossible not to get excited about exploring this underwater world.

Does the Branson Aquarium have sharks?


There are more than 260 different species living in the 400,000+ gallons of salt water inside the Aquarium at the Boardwalk. These amazing animals have come from all over the world and great care was taken to make sure every one was ethically sourced. Just a few of the creatures you’ll see inside (as of the time of this post’s publication) are:

  • Brownbanded Bamboo Sharks
  • Blacktip Reef Sharks
  • Clownfish (Yes, you can find Nemo!)
  • Fluorescing Corals
  • Guitarfish
  • Lionfish
  • Dragon Eels
  • Cownose Rays
  • Eagle Rays
  • Seahorses
  • A Giant Pacific Octopus

Yes, the amazing octopus statue out front is definitely eye-catching, but it’s not the only octopus you’ll see here! Aquarius the Giant Pacific Octopus is the mascot for the Aquarium at the Boardwalk, and you’ll spot him in several locations inside!

First, at the souvenir photo spot as you enter:

souvenir photos at the Branson aquarium at the boardwalk

…and then “in person”! (In fish?)

octopus Branson Missouri Aquarium


But the octopus fun doesn’t end there! There are several sneaky sculptures of Aquarius the Octopus hidden throughout the aquarium. You’d think that finding them would be easy, but some were quite tough to spot! Octopuses are masters of camouflage – they can change colors in an instant and even change their texture to blend in with rocky or smooth surfaces!


New aquarium in Branson MO interactive fun


You’ll also meet Aquarius and Finn the golden puffer in the fun 5-D movie/ride experience that transports you down into the underwater world you’re about to explore.


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Meet Finn! I was torn between this or Coldplay’s “Yellow” for this reel. Did I make the right call?


Okay, I was planning to only use my photos here but I just Googled what a golden puffer looks like when they puff and I WAS NOT DISAPPOINTED.
You’re welcome.


How Long Does It Take To Go Through the Branson Aquarium at the Boardwalk?

The average visitor spends around 60-90 minutes, but my visits have been more like two hours and up because fish are awesome.

That said…

My absolute #1 tip for visiting the Aquarium at the Boardwalk: Slow down. Take time to experience each exhibit fully. It’s easy to notice the big charismatic animals like sharks, but if you just take a minute to pay attention, the little guys in there are just as fascinating. For example, in one of the small tanks pictured below you might spot a colorful little striped fish that’s rare to see in person because they live in such deep water that they’re out of reach for SCUBA divers. This cool little fish was collected via submersible submarine and made the journey from the Atlantic Ocean to Branson, MO so that you can have a peek at him without descending to great depths.

Aquarium Branson MO shrimp exhibits

This is one of those spots where I really recommend taking a few minutes to stop and look closely! Each tank gives you a little peek into life underwater and how different species interact with their surroundings. They may be small, but you’ll see some of the aquarium’s most unusual animals here!

Leaf scorpionfish branson missouri aquarium

Take your time or you might miss something incredible like the leaf scorpionfish, which has venomous spines and sheds its skin twice a month! 


Also, be sure to read some of the signs near each exhibit. They’re filled with interesting information and traits you can look for, plus a little humor thrown in when you least expect it.

The new aquarium in Branson has pajama cardinalfish



Mirror Mirror On The Wall…

(Aquarius is the fairest of them all. You won’t change my mind.)

Two of the most photographed exhibits in the Branson Aquarium at the Boardwalk use multiple mirrors to create the feeling of infinite space, a bit like being surrounded by the seemingly endless expanse of the ocean. The Bloom Room, which is filled with cylindrical tanks of moon jellies, is probably one of the coolest exhibit designs I’ve seen. (Although I do have to give a shoutout to the fantastic flashlight fish exhibit here, too.)

Aquarium in Branson MO with moon jellyfish

While the jellyfish themselves are a translucent white-ish color, there are buttons you can push to change the color of the light in each tank. The moon jellies are hypnotizing to watch! They’re almost like a living lava lamp.

The other mirrored exhibit leads to a really beautiful tank filled with colorful tropical fish. I could easily get lost in watching this one for hours.



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Get Your Cameras Ready!

The mirrored rooms above aren’t the only popular photo spots inside the Aquarium at the Boardwalk!

Branson MO Aquarium Photo Spots

You’ll find a few specially-designed photo spots throughout the aquarium where you can become part of the action! Try on a mermaid tail, sit atop a seahorse carousel, or hop into the dive suit for instant Instagram-worthy pictures! (Dear Jason Momoa, if you’d like to come pose with the tail and the trident, I will 100% buy you a ticket. Just sayin’. 🧜‍♂️)

The glass tunnel that runs through the Grand Aquarium is also a great spot for photos!

Grand Aquarium Branson

Speaking of photo fun, please be sure your flash is OFF when taking photos of the aquarium exhibits! Not only will a flash give you terrible photos because of the glare from the glass, but a lot of the fish are sensitive to light and will definitely appreciate your consideration.


Family Friendly Fish Fun

While the entire Aquarium at the Boardwalk is family-friendly, there are a few activities specifically designed to keep children engaged.

Branson attractions for kids - play area at Branson aquarium

In some exhibits, you’ll find a tunnel that kids (or limber adults!) can crawl through for a unique perspective on the aquariums. Scurry through a shark-filled shipwreck or pop up among a school of lionfish!

Branson Boardwalk Aquarium Lionfish


The Finn-Tastic Creations station lets kids color a picture of a fish and have it come to life on a big screen, while the 24-foot tall Kelp Forest offers energetic kids the perfect place to stretch their legs!


Climbable Kelp Forest at Branson Aquarium


Interesting fish at the Aquarium in Branson MO

Those fish are pretty cute. Can I cuddle them?

I get it, I’ve definitely been tempted to smooch a stingray or two. While you can’t exactly snuggle up with a shark (Netflix and Krill?), the Aquarium at the Boardwalk does have two awesome touch pools where you can safely get up close and personal with several different animals! Feel the rough skin of a small shark and the smoothness of a stingray in the coral reef touch pool, then visit the invertebrate tide pool to shake tentacles with an anemone and stroke a starfish.

anemones in touch pool at branson boardwalk aquarium

Their tentacles will cling to your finger when you touch them! It’s like a tiny hug from a fishy friend. And yes, anemones are animals! They’re closely related to jellyfish.

Branson Aquarium Tickets

Ticket prices for the Aquarium at the Boardwalk vary a bit depending on when you visit: Weekends and peak season are a few dollars more, visiting in the off season and weekdays will save you a few dollars.

Branson Aquarium Tickets


The best deal on Branson Aquarium tickets is the Five’r Pass, which covers not only admission to the Aquarium at the Boardwalk but also four other attractions including the Hollywood Wax Museum, mini-golf, Hannah’s Maze of Mirrors, and the Castle of Chaos. You can purchase tickets at the aquarium or online here. They also offer discount tickets for local residents, groups, and military.


You can find the current Branson Aquarium Hours here!


Hotels Near Branson Aquarium

I’ve had a few people ask about hotels in Branson MO near the aquarium, so here are a few options if you’re looking to stay nearby!

    • The Clarion Hotel Branson is just two doors down and puts you within a very short stroll of the aquarium and several local restaurants, but they do have some recent negative reviews on TripAdvisor.
    • On the opposite side of the aquarium, the Radisson Hotel Branson is less than a quarter mile walk away. They’re a bit more expensive, but they get much better reviews.
    • If you’re traveling with family or friends, I found a VERY cute VRBO cabin that’s less than a mile from the aquarium and sleeps up to 7 people for about the same price as two hotel rooms. It has a private deck, a charcoal grill, a jetted tub, and a fully-equipped kitchen. You can check prices and availability here!


Branson MO Aquarium garden eels

Are you excited to visit the Branson Aquarium at the Boardwalk Yet??

You guys know that I don’t do anything halfway, so I have something extra for you! I chatted with some of the people who helped design and run the aquarium to put together a super fun list of 10 Things You Didn’t Know About the Aquarium at the Boardwalk in BransonRead this before you go for the hidden gems you definitely want to look out for during your visit!

If you have questions that I didn’t cover here, feel free to drop them in the comments!


Boardwalk Aquarium in Branson

Hiking Trails at Ruth and Paul Henning Conservation Area in Branson, MO

Hiking Trails at Ruth and Paul Henning Conservation Area in Branson, MO

Branson hiking trails at Henning Conservation Area


The hiking trails at Ruth and Paul Henning Conservation Area are popular with both Branson locals and visitors because of the variety they offer. Whether you have 20 minutes or two hours, you can enjoy a quiet walk in the woods and not worry about venturing far from town.


💭 Summary: The hiking trails at Ruth and Paul Henning Conservation Area in Branson are a great choice for those who don’t want to venture far from the city’s entertainment district. Trails range from quite easy to moderately challenging, and you can enjoy sweeping views from the parking area.


Henning scenic overlook in Branson

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Incredible Artifacts and Interactive Fun at Shipwrecked Treasure Museum in Branson, MO

Incredible Artifacts and Interactive Fun at Shipwrecked Treasure Museum in Branson, MO

Located at the Branson Landing, the brand new Shipwrecked Treasure Museum in Branson, MO just had its official ribbon cutting ceremony last Thursday. This interactive treasure museum is filled with fascinating artifacts recovered from miles beneath the ocean’s surface!


Branson shipwrecked treasure museum


I received complimentary museum admission to facilitate my review.

Whether you’re a history buff, a pirate enthusiast, a rare coin collector, or just a fan of visiting museums while on vacation, Shipwrecked Treasure Museum offers something for everyone. I loved learning the stories behind each exhibit, and it’s crazy to look at artifacts like a piece of pottery that was literally underwater for thousands of years!

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