We like to take the "scenic route" from Stillwater to Branson on 412.. There are lot of places to stay overnight or you can drive on to almost all the way to Branson on 412. There is an Oklahoma State Park at the Oklahoma-Arkansas State line that is nice to visit picnic take short walks etc.
If you like to shop at antique malls, about 30 miles north of Branson off of 65, Jackson street exit, there about 5 or 6 big antique malls there. Kids that age might make it through one before they get bored.
This place is about 10 minutes north of Branson. Zip line and synthetic tubing are a blast!
I love to drop down to I-40 and take it east to Russellville, then take highway 7 north through the Ozark mountains. It take a lot longer, but it's an absolutely beautiful drive, especially after the leaves have changed in the fall.
Head over to the Buffalo National River in Arkansas, then it is straight north to Branson. You can do some canoeing or just sightseeing at Buffalo River, it is a beautiful place. Total drive time that way is about an hour longer than taking 44 up to Springfield and then heading south to Branson.
The Precious Moments Chapel in Carthage, MO is the creation of artist Samuel J. Butcher as a gift of thanks to God; recognizing the many blessings given by God. The Chapel has often been described as “America’s Sistine Chapel” as an artful representation of Michelangelo’s own Sistine Chapel in Rome.
The Precious Moments Chapel welcomes thousands of visitors annually, offering FREE Chapel tours daily. Serving as one of Missouri’s most beautiful attractions, the Chapel grounds include an inviting Visitor Center, Gift Shoppe, Royal Delights Cafe and beautifully manicured gardens adorned with bronze statues and fountains. The Visitor Center is the home to the world’s largest Precious Moments Gift Shoppe, as well as Chapel Exclusive figurines.
And fireworks stands in Missouri where pop bottle rockets are still legal.
Eureka Springs and Branson are close to each other. Branson has somewhat died from prior popularity and Eureka Springs is growning in popularity. You can actually take a boat from nearby Eureka Springs to Branson. When Branson had some of the big name stars they often lived near Beaver Lake in Mansions and some boated back and forth to Branson for their daily shows. Branson and Eureka Spings somewhat close down for five-months from November to March every year.
Many folks who used to go the Branson are now flying or driving to Orlando for a week to ten days as flights and Hotel prices have gone down to go to Orlando and all the Parks in Orlando.