MO: The places you can visit!
The Show Me State is home to some of the most beautiful scenery, geography and people, so it’s no wonder our state offers such a wide variety of unique travel destinations to explore. From the young to the young at heart, I hope you will hit the road this fall and enjoy one of the many fun diversions Missouri has to offer. I’ll briefly detail some of my favorite attractions in this month’s column, starting in our southwestern community.
Of course, the setting for many stories from our area is nostalgic Route 66. The Mother Road served as a path of hope during the Great Depression for people escaping poverty and what was left of the Dust Bowl and moving west in search of better opportunities. More than 200,000 visitors experience the “mysticism and romance” of “The Main Street of America” each year. The Route 66 Museum and Research Center in Lebanon offers a free self-guided tour featuring a 1950s-style diner and gas station, antique cars, and a collection of items. Dubbed the birthplace of Route 66, Springfield also has a visitor center reminiscent of simpler times. Located at the “Crossroads of America” or the intersection of Routes 66 and 71 in Carthage, guests at the Boots Motel can enjoy rooms restored to 1940’s decor.
Another feature of southwest Missouri is the prairie land. When our state joined the Union in 1821, over 30% of its topography was tall grass prairie, but over time that percentage has dwindled to less than 1%, a portion of which is found in Prairie State Park in Barton County. In addition to the park’s panoramic views, swaying tall grass, and seasonal wildflowers, visitors can also observe the resident herd of bison that roam and graze in the area. Within the park, the Regal Tallgrass Prairie Nature Center features several exhibits and interpretive programs, including a diorama of the prairie’s changes between spring and fall. The park office phone number is 417-843-6711.
If you like to hunt for berries, mushrooms, plums or honey, you’ve come to the right place at Persimmon Hill Farm in Lampe. Established in 1982 as a “You Pick” farm where persimmon trees once grew, diners will want to indulge in one of their signature Blueberry Thunder Muffins and other specialties after filling up on fresh produce. Call 417-779-5443 for details.
Are you ready for a hard-boiled egg eating contest or a battle with cackles, cackles, or crows? Make plans to attend Cackle’s annual chicken festival at their hatchery in Lebanon on October 6th and 7th. Cackle Hatchery is a third generation family business that has offered more than 200 varieties of US Pullorum poultry since 1936. and they will mail them directly to your local post office.
History buffs will enjoy a trip to Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield in the Republic to learn about the pivotal second major battle of the Civil War. Over 2,500 people were killed on both sides in the first five hours of fighting on August 10, 1861. The battlefield visitor center features an educational film, museum, and rotating exhibits, and then guests can take the 5-mile guided tour by car or walking trails to see markers from the battle. Their phone number is 417-732-2662.
It will take a bit of planning, but one of Ellen’s favorite trips is to Quilt Town, USA. Nestled in the rural community of Hamilton in Caldwell County, northeast of Kansas City, the 12 shops that make up this quilter’s paradise are centered around the original boutique, Missouri Star Quilt Company. Since 2008, Jenny Doan and her team have been offering quilting essentials, the world’s largest selection of precut fabrics, and quilting and sewing classes, made famous by her YouTube channel, Quilting with Jenny. Hamilton is also the hometown of clothing giant James Cash Penney.
I close with what is considered Missouri’s modern day marvel, the Bonne Terre Mine, an abandoned lead mine in eastern Missouri that has been converted into an underground hiking, boating and diving adventure. Named “One of America’s 10 Greatest Adventures” by National Geographic, visiting this underwater ghost town of a once-thriving mine should definitely be on every Missourian’s bucket list. Boat and walking tours are offered to give visitors a closer look at Billion Gallon Lake and the surrounding artifacts and machinery used to chisel lead from the mine walls prior to 1962.
Of course, this is just a handful of exclusive places to visit in our incredible state. Visit Visitmo.com for travel ideas, events, and hundreds of other things to do in Missouri, and heed this advice from Dr. Seuss: “…They’re going to great places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, so get going!”
This column appeared in the Joplin Globe publication Better Living on September 2, 2022.