Following the Midwest Travel Conference, I was fortunate enough to be invited on a FAM trip to Springfield, Missouri. Springfield is located about three hours from Kansas City. Our group of four writers gathered at the Doubletree Hotel for dinner, where we were briefed on the itinerary for the next two days. Our meal was delightful, and we were eager to see the best of Springfield, Missouri, in 48 hours.
Going Underground in Springfield
After breakfast at the hotel the following day, we visited Fantastic Caverns, a unique cave attraction with propane-powered jeep-drawn wagon tours. The cave was discovered in 1862, and the first ride thru tour wasn’t given until 1962.
Our guide, John, provided a fascinating history of the cave on the hour-long tour. Although there were some places where all the riders had to duck, overall, it was a comfortable and enjoyable way to tour the cave. You will get to experience ‘total darkness’ during the tour. The tour is a fun and unique way to tour a cave.
For lunch, we headed to Leong’s Asian Restaurant, where the famous Springfield Cashew Chicken originated. We savored several dishes, including the delicious cashew chicken.
After the restaurant, we visited the Springfield Art Museum to view an exhibit of remarkable watercolor paintings. Then we were off to the Wonders of Wildlife and Aquarium, which adjoins the country’s original and largest Bass Pro Shop. Johnny Morris founded Bass Pro in Springfield in 1972, and the exhibits and aquarium were genuinely impressive. I even discovered some Presidential history during my visit, which you can see here.
That evening, we had dinner at Springfield Brewing in downtown Springfield. The food and beer were good, and we enjoyed the musical duo that performed for the patrons.
Zoo Mania in Springfield
The following day, we had a behind-the-scenes tour of Dickerson Park Zoo that included kangaroos, snakes, tortoises, giraffes, and Diva, a rescued eagle. We also met the zoo’s veterinarian and toured the medical facility. This was a fascinating visit. We saw the animals up close. The snakes may have been a bit too close for me.
Retail therapy was on tap for our excursion on C Street, which also yielded lunch at Café Cusco, a Peruvian restaurant. We indulged in some chocolates from the local shop, Askinosie. We were all fascinated with the Peddlers Bicycle Museum.
In the afternoon, we stopped by Andy’s Frozen Custard for a sweet treat and went on to learn about dinosaurs at the Missouri Institute of Natural Science. I was astonished to know that a T-Rex fossil had been discovered near the museum.
We concluded our day at Finley Farms, just outside of Springfield, with a scrumptious dinner. The venue is set in an old mill and farm. The food and drinks were topflight. We decided to end our evening with a leisurely walk through the gardens at Springfield Botanical Gardens and visited the Butterfly House. Overall, it was a fantastic introduction to Springfield, filled with great food, unique attractions, and excellent company.
Missouri Presidential history
Everyone knows that President Harry Truman was born in Missouri. I was able to find two more Truman historical sites to explore.
On my way to my next stop, Wichita, I visited Harry Truman’s Birthplace in Lamar. He was born there on May 8, 1884. Unfortunately, it was closed on a Monday, but I could see and photograph the site. You can learn more about it here.
I also visited Grandview, Missouri, where the Truman Family Farm is located. There is not much to see here except for the house and the grounds, but it is a piece of Truman’s family history. Truman worked there for 11 years, beginning in 1906.
This was my first extended visit to Missouri, and I have since returned to visit other parts of the state. If you journey to Springfield, you can see its best in 48 hours.