Southwest Missouri has a great deal to offer: Mark twain National Forest covers thousands of acres, there are many caves to explore, and the third largest city in Missouri (Springfield) is located here.
Springfield is on Interstate 44 and is surrounded by some of the most beautiful areas in the state. It reminded me of where my parents lived in the state of Kentucky. Springfield has a Commercial Street Historic District that you should visit. And, if you love railroads, you should go to Frisco Railroad Museum. (543 East Commercial Street). Alan Schmitt, who owns it, has a huge collection of Frisco memorabilia. His hobby became to big so with some other former Frisco employees, he first opened in his garage. But with the help of lots of people, he then opened at Frisco's old centralized traffic control command center and called it Frisco Museum. Now, there is a new 9,000-sq.-ft. building adjacent to the current museum, and it is filled with fifty life-size dioramas fashioned after the Smithsonian's Museum of American History!
It's open Tuesday through Friday from 10am until 5 pm.
I would also suggest seeing BASS PRO SHOPS OUTDOOR WORLD(1935 South Campbell-a major intersection in Springfield). Since Gurnee, Illinois, has a Bass Pro Shop, I had heard about the one in Springfield (which is the largest). It has a two-story log cabin right in the store. It also has a wonderful restaurant like Hemingways that serves lobster dinner and a glass of wine in front of a GIGANTIC aquarium. Then there is an old-fashioned Tall tales Barbershop, the biggest LIVE bass in captivity, and places to actually fish. You'll need plenty of time to peruse this fantastic place.
Don't forget to see Nathanael Greene Park where you can see the oldest house in the city or go on a seven-and-a-half-acre stroll around 3 small lakes at the JAPANESE STROLL GARDEN.
Fondest memory: Outside Springfield on Highway 65 is a tiny town called Galloway that is full of beautiful antiques.
For great food, I would suggest HOGWILD BBQ(22 East Olive St., Aurora, MO) I loved BBQ, and this is some of the best.
If you are a Civil War buff, you will enjoy GENERAL SWEENY'S MUSEUM OF CIVIL WAR HISTORY at the town of Republic just west of Springfield at 528 South Highway ZZ).
Ozark National Scenic Riverways are secluded waters are very cold, spring-fed, and fast-running. These are three of them: the Current, the Eleven Point, and the Jacks Fork. People who love to canoe, love these riverways.
Grand Gulf State Park in Thayer goes back 450 million years when dolomitic rocks were formed The gulf is about 3/4 mile wide with side walls 120 feet high. There is a natural bridge 75 feet high, and it spans 200 feet. When you use the bridge, you might not want to look down!
Off Highway 96 West, you'll find CARTHAGE and its medieval-looking Court House. Built in 1895, the Jasper County Court House stands on the square with its historic turret. Carthage is remembered for "The Battle of Carthage", which was fought on July 5, 1861. For detailed information, go to the Civil War Museum, 205 Grant St., Carthage. This town is an enclave for artists.
JOPLINis the end of the Missouri portion of old Route 66. Joplin City is an old mining town where there are old mines, the Tri-State Mineral Museum, and elegant old homes.
When you get close to Branson, you can probably see SHEPHERD OF THE HILLS INSPIRATION TOWER and SILVER DOLLAR CITY. Then there is BRANSON!
As you can tell, this is a very varied and interesting part of Missouri.
I remember as a child listening to the radio and anxiously awaiting "The Hit Parade". One of my favorite songs was "The Missouri Waltz". The "Missouri Waltz" became the state song of Missouri in 1949. It was first published in 1914, but the song did not do well, and most people considered it a failure. Sales certainly increased when Harry S. Truman became president. Folks say that the "Missouri Waltz" was his favorite song.
Not until 1995 did the Missouri Mule become the official state animal. I have always been fond of mules because it is a hybrid. It is the offspring of a mare (female horse) and a jack (a male donkey). The mule was introduced to Missouri in the 1820s and farmers and settlers used them and admired their hardy nature. Missouri mules pulled pioneer wagons to the Wild West and moved troops and supplies in World Wars I and II. Missouri has been a premier mule producer.
As a lover of birds, I was impressed when I found that the bluebird is the official state bird of Missouri. The bluebird has always been a symbol of happiness and is a lovely little creature about six to seven inches long. Its upper body is covered with light blue plumage; its breast is cinnamon red (turning rust in the fall). You can see the bluebird in Missouri from early spring until late November.
Fondest memory: Those of you who know me realize that my great love is for flowers and trees; naturally, I was interested in finding what tree Missouri adopted as the state tree. In 1955 the flowering dogwood (Cornus florida L.) became Missouri's official state tree. It's a small tree, rarely getting over 40 feet in height or 18 inches in diameter. It sprouts tiny greenish-yellow flowers in clusters, each flower surrounded by four white petals. In the fall, the upper part of the leaves turn scalet or orange and bright red fruits grow on the tree. In the Spring (when Jill and I were there), the Flowering Dogwoods were magnificent.
The Missouri State Flower Emblem is the white hawthorn blossom. It's known as the "red haw" or "white haw",;the hawthorn is a member of the rose family, which resembles the apple group. They have greenish-yellow centers and form in white clusters. There are more than 75 species of the hawthorn grown in Missouri, especially in the Ozarks.
I think that it is appropriate that the State of Missouri selected the honeybee as its state insect. This bee is yellow or orange and black in color; it is a social insect which collects nectar and pollen from flower blossoms in order to produce honey. There are many beekeepers in Missouri who cultivate the bees for producing this honey.
I discovered several other items, animals, minerals, etc. that Missouri has made official (too many to mention), but I always find it fun to discover such trivia.
I always do research before I travel so that I'm somewhat "in the know" whenever I reach my destination. Here are some interesting "tidbits" that I discovered about Missouri.
Did you know that Bob Cummings, Don Johnson, Bradd Pitt, John Goodman, Walt Disney, and Kathleen Turner all have some connection to the state of Missouri?
While in Missouri in April, 2004, we stayed very near Bonne Terre, and I discovered that Jacques Cousteau filmed a "deep-earth dive" in Bonne Terre!
Did you know that almost all of Missouri's larger cities began as river ports? What are these cities, you ask?
Jefferson City (the capital), Kansas City, Saint Charles (the first capital), Westport (formerly Westport Landing), Lexington, Saint Joseph, Washington, Boonville, and Hermann. What about Hannibal, St. Louis, Ste. Genevieve, New Madrid, and Cape Girardeau? The were all ports of call on the Mississippi
Fondest memory: I found the history of Missouri the most interesting. For instance, 24th to become a State (1821), The Pony Express, Lewis and Clark Expedition, The Santa Fe Trail, Frank and Jesse James, The Civil War years, Mark Twain, the 1904 World's Fair, and President Harry S. Truman.
That's a history to be proud of, except for the notorious Frank and Jesse James.
So, whether you prounounce Missouri as (Missour-uh) as they do in western Missouri or (Missour-ee) as they do in eastern Missouri, I pronounce it GREAT!
Note: Flag picture is not my photograph.
For a long time, people elsewhere thought of Kansas City as a "hick" town where you could get a good steak to eat.
Times have changed! This up-and-coming town has a lyric opera, a ballet company, a modern zoo, and a baseball (Royals) team and a football (Kansas City Chiefs) team. One of KC's names is CITY OF FOUNTAINSbecause it is home of more fountains than any city in the world besides Rome. Today, it's an unwritten policty to incorporate a fountain into the design of new commercial buildings. THE FIREFIGHTERS FOUNTAIN was completed in 1991, and is one of the largest in the city. There is a memorial terrace with the names of the city's fallen firefighters carved in granite. See the photo.
In addition, there's a great new futuristic BARTLE HALL SCULPTURES. ART is BIG in Kansas City.
The Nelson-Atkins Museum has a wonderful Oriental Art collection; The Kansas City studio of artist Thomas Hart Benton is now a state park!
Most people know Kansas City as the birthplace of jazz. In the 1920s- 1950s, 18th & Vine in Kansas City was where everyone went to hear the greatest jazz musicians. Some of that festivity can be found today at the MUTUAL MUSICIANS' FOUNDATIONin the old Musicians' Union Hall at 1825 Highland Avenue. Best time to go is either Friday or Saturday Night. (Note: it's the only place inside the city limits that is on the National register of Historical Places.) Jazz is alive in KC. Visit the KANSAS CITY JAZZ MUSEUM at 1616 East 18th Street It's an interactive museums, and if you love the greats such as Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, or Ella Fitzgerald, you'll love it here.
While in Kansas City, you must try some BBQ.
Here are some suggestions:
1. Little Jakes
2. Arthur Bryant Barbecue
3. B.B.'s Lawnside Bar-B-Que
1205 East 85th St.
4. Gates and Sons Bar-B-Q
Fondest memory: The old Kansas City Union Station at 2300 Main Street has been restored to its original beauty; it now is an urban plaza and an entertainment center. There are restaurants, movie houses, & Science City. Similar to St. Louis & its Union Station, the preservation-minded people of Kansas City have saved a landmark & made it functional for today's world.
NEGRO LEAGUE BASEBALL MUSEUM at 1616 East 18th St, (816)221-1920 which gives incredible information on the league that played in the 1920s and 1930s before Blacks were accepted into the all-white leagues. Such famous players as Ernie Banks, Satchel Paige, Willie Mays, Roy Campanella, Jackie Robinson, & Hank Aaron got their start here. THE KANSAS CITY MONARCHS were the best in the Negro League. This is a super museum that recreates the sounds, the look, and feel of the game.
Other places of interest:
a. Gem Theater Cultural and Performing Arts Center
1615 East 18th Street
b. Black Archives of Mid-America
c. City Market is located downtown
On Sat. mornings you can buy fresh produce.
d. Planters' Seed and Spice Co.
Give Kansas City a try. I promise, you'll be surprised.
Although Kansas City, Missouri has a population of just under 500,000 both the city street and sidewalk traffic seemed to be very light. This 11 AM Friday view from the Hyatt Regency hotel shows a few cars parked along the streets but even fewer actually driving.
This was good, it just made it that much easier for me when I picked up my rental car and drove back into the downtown area for some extra sightseeing before I took off on my drive down through Kansas!
Saint Louis was founded in 1764 when French explorers established a settlement on the muddy banks of the Mississippi River.
Following the Lewis and Clark expedition in 1804, trappers and explorers used the small settlement as a jumping-off point for their voyages to the far West. The explorers and trappers returned to Saint Louis to sell their pelts and tell tales of the West. Later, pioneers left Saint Louis in their covered wagons on their way to the Rocky Mountains and beyond. This gave rise to the city's nickname of "Gateway to the West."
The city's location just downstream from where the Missouri River merges with the Mississippi River ensured that Saint Louis would become an important transportation center for the region. Its dominance as a commercial center was helped by railroad bridges built over the Mississippi River that connected the city to the east.
Nowadays, Saint Louis is the largest metropolitan area in Missouri, with about 2,880,000 inhabitants.
The motto on the Missouri license plates is "Show Me". But Missouri is the only state I've been to recently where there was no visitor's center on the roads entering the state. I was on US 65 - maybe that's not a major enough road. So I guess Missouri wants me to show them, but doesn't want to Show ME.
When I look for the Welcome Centers on the internet, I find that in Missouri, these are only on the Interstates. They are I-29 in Rockport (northwest), I-44 in Joplin (west), I-55 in Marston (east), and I-70 in Chain of Rocks (southeast). This is in contrast to Virginia which has 11 welcome centers.
Fondest memory: The Missouri DMV website says:
Missouri's License Plate Design
"Missouri's standard license plate design was created in 1996 by St. Louis artist Bill O'Donnell. His design features the state name in green block letters with a wavy blue line to represent the state's many rivers, lakes, and streams. The license plate background is made of shades of blue and green on a field of white. The words "SHOW-ME STATE" appear across the bottom in blue. "
Missouri also has personalized plates in three categories (in addition to the standard plates like "God Bless America". There are military plates, collegiate plates, and organizational plates (one of each illustrated). The site allows you to personalize your plate on line.
The state of Missouri operates six welcome centers, located at the major highway entrances to the state. These are excellent resources for maps, directions or brochures about attractions, events, restaurants, and hotels. They are also a great place to take a break or ask advice about road conditions, weather, accomodations, etc. The locations and telephone numbers of the Welcome Centers are as follows:
Highway Rest Area, I-44
Blue Ridge Cutoff, I-70
Marston Rest Area, I-55
Hwy Rest Area, I-29
I-270 at Ridgeview Drive
( See travelogues below as well) Visit the 'Fish Hatchery' and be sure to visit 'Big cedar lodge'. A great place to stay or just have Sunday Brunch.
Fondest memory: Have breakfast at Big Cedar lodge. Seeing shows at theaters of which there are so many now. All the big artists now have thier own theater here in Branson.
When we visited Missouri in January, it has snowed, so I don't usually think of Missouri as a southern state.
While I have been traveling around the south in the winter, I've visited various Revolutionary and Civil War sites. When I visited Wilson's Creek, I found out that Missouri, like Maryland was officially a Border State.
The so-called 'border states' include the states south of the Mason Dixon line that had slaves but did not secede. This included Delaware (which never considered secession), Maryland (which was put under martial law and secessionist leaders were arrested and jailed), Virginia (and West Virginia seceded from Virginia after Virginia seceded from the Union), Kentucky which was VERY important to the Union, and Missouri.
Fondest memory: In Missouri, the state government under secessionist Governor Claiborne F. Jackson, evacuated the state capital of Jefferson City and met in exile. They adopted a secession ordinance that was recognized by the Confederacy on October 30, 1861. But the Union organized a competing government for the state by calling a constitutional convention, which had been originally convened to vote on secession. During the Civil War, Missouri adopted a new constitution as a free state.
If you like outdoors and scenery, visit eastern Missouri places like Elephant Rocks State Park, and Johnson's Shut-Ins. Also Ozark National Scenic Riverways if you like fishing and boating. All are great places for hiking and are very peaceful in the early fall.
Outside of Farmington is a place called Pickle Springs Natural Area, this is not found on most maps but a very unique place to hike and see some rare scenery.
Near Lake of the Ozarks in mid-mo you'll find Ha Ha Tonka State Park, it has so much to see and do!
Fondest memory: I will miss the parks I mentioned before, Ha Ha Tonka, Ozark National Scenic Riverways, also St Louis has so much to do.
You must go to St.Louis! The Zoo is wonderfull. You can go to Bush Gardens to see those famous Clydesdale horses and to Bush Stadium to see Mark Macgwire hit those home runs! Don't forget to go up in the arch and pay a visit to Six Flags!
Fondest memory: The people are wonderfull and the city is breathtaking.
You must visit the Ozarks. Try canoeing a crystal clear Ozark river. The Missouri State Parks are among the best in the nation.
Fondest memory: Growing up in St Louis and going to Cardinal games to see my favorite - Stan Musial.
St. Louis has the world's longest bicycle and pedestrian bridge, the Old Courthouse where Dred Scott was tried, a dockside casino near the famous Gateway Arch, the restored home of Scott Joplin, the home of Ulysses S. Grant, tours of the Anheuser-Busch brewery and the Clydesdale stable, the first public school kindergarten and lots more.
You can take boat cruise and tours in the area.
This is a picture of the Clydesdales.
Favorite thing: Independence, Missouri offers several places to visit about Harry S. Truman. there are the Truman Courtroom and Office and the Truman Library and Museum (pictured here.) The Truman National Historic Site has two parts: Independence Grandview and Independence Home.
If you’re looking for a quiet room – you might want to look elsewhere. I had an awful experience...more
It has always been pleasant when staying here-even though that was years ago for me. I have received...more
We were looking or something with more than one room since we had 3 adults and one infant and this...more