Thanks to a sluggish economy, many parents aren't ready (or able) to drop big bucks on expensive family vacations and weekend trips. If you live in the Midwest, however, and are looking for a low-key, low-cost vacation destination, then Branson, Missouri may be the place for you.

Wondering what fun things families can do in Branson? Here are just a few suggestions, all of which are perfect for a fun fall weekend, even after the children are back in school.

1. Go to Silver Dollar City

Silver Dollar City is a popular Branson theme park where you can spend an entire day screaming on roller coasters, watching live shows, and enjoying seasonal festivals and family-friendly entertainment. There are special events and shows each year. This outdoor adventure is especially fun to visit in the fall.

2. Enjoy Table Rock Lake

It may be an artificial lake created as the result of a dam on the White River, but the natural beauty of the Ozarks makes Table Rock Lake a favorite among tourists. Camping, swimming, boating, tubing, fishing, and scuba diving are just a few of the many activities your family can enjoy.

3. Eat at the Dixie Stampede

Branson is considered the "live music show capital of the world," and Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede is one show you don't want to miss. Not only will you be thoroughly entertained, you'll also get a four-course meal served country-style — no silverware allowed!

4. Ride the Ducks

If you want to tour the Ozarks in style, then you have to Ride the Ducks. The sightseeing adventure is unlike any other, and is one that kids in particular will enjoy. Word to the wise — don't sit in the back of the "duck" (unless you want to get wet).

5. Explore Branson Landing

Situated along the banks of Lake Taneycomo, Branson Landing is one of the area's newest shopping and dining destinations. Grab a meal, stroll along the lake, watch The Fountains, or let the kids burn off steam at the playground.

6. Visit (or Stay at) the Grand Country Inn

With a variety of shows, an indoor and outdoor water park, an on-site pizza parlor, and a family "fun spot" complete with arcade games, bumper cars, and glow-in-the-dark miniature golf, The Grand Country Inn is one of the most family-friendly hotels in Branson.

7. Try Ziplining

Ziplining has become a popular vacation activity in recent years, and the rustic beauty of Branson makes it an ideal location to enjoy this adventurous form of outdoor entertainment. Age and weight requirements vary, so this activity may be better suited to families with older children.

8. Ride the Branson Scenic Railway

Learn about the history of the railroad by taking a trip on the Branson Scenic Railway. Dome cars, dining cars, and vintage coach seating are all part of this entertaining and educational excursion — and if you visit during the winter season, be sure to check out the special holiday Polar Express!

Have you visited Branson? What is your family's favorite thing to do there?