Springfield offers perfect weekend getaway options

Living in the center of the state has its advantages, one of which is that there are a few destinations in the surrounding area for a quick and lively weekend getaway.

Springfield, Missouri, is less than a gas tank—about 140 miles southwest of Jefferson City—and is known for many aspects, such as the birthplace of Route 66, the origin of the cashew chicken and the city of the Academy Award. Winning Actor Brad Pitt.

But the city has a lot to offer.

If you’re looking for a short getaway from Mid-Missouri, Springfield might call you by your name.

During the weekend, start your morning with a flight. A coffee trip, that is. Springfield is home to over a dozen coffee shops, the favorite being the Black Lab Coffee Co downtown. You shouldn’t visit without choosing four lattes from their menu for a coffee trip, served hot or iced.

“Our first draw is our café excursion, plus we’re within walking distance of all the shops and everything downtown,” said owner Case Howard. “This is a fun thing to do on a coffee date.”

For first-timers in Springfield, there are a few must-dos to put on your itinerary, and catching a Springfield Cardinals game at Hammons Field downtown should be at the top.

Since you’re already downtown, stop at The Order, located inside the Vandivort Hotel, for a cocktail or appetizer. You can’t go wrong with a sweet corn fondue or a Vandevoort-style chicken cashew. In addition, one of the features of the V Hotel is that it is known for having the best selfie mirrors in town.

“Our point of view is very local cooking, and most of the ingredients are sourced within an hour of the hotel,” said Kyle Little, Food and Beverage Manager. “For this reason, we are proud to showcase the flavors of the Ozarks in innovative and exciting ways.”

Two minutes down the street, you’ll find Springy Jeans, a place to buy vintage and recycled clothing. They are known for their timeless Nike apparel and Levi’s jeans.

About 10 minutes north of downtown is Historic Commercial Street, which features gorgeous architecture, unique shops, and quirky restaurants, one of which is Van Gogh’s Eaterie – a piece of Holland in southwest Missouri. The menu includes unusual entrees, such as pannenkoken (Dutch pancakes) and croquette (croquette).

If you are a fan of the outdoors, 417 has plenty of places for you. Springfield Conservation Nature Center is a peaceful enclave just off the James River Highway with three miles of walking trails and convenient picnic spots.

“The trails are twofold. Number one, they give you exposure to nature, but second, there’s also therapeutic value,” said Frances Scalecki, a media specialist for the Missouri Department of Environmental Conservation. “The Nature Center is definitely something to stop by.”

Located in Nathanael Greene Park, the Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden is another quiet spot in one of Missouri’s busiest cities, complete with traditional Japanese landscaping, a koi pond, tea house, and meditation garden.

While locals might say it’s cliched, Bass Pro Shops are a must-visit for nature lovers. Covering nearly 500,000 square feet, the original Bass Pro hotel has waterfalls, aquariums, TRACKER boat showroom, Hemingway’s Blue Water Café, and more. Attached to the massive building is the Wonders Of Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium, which opened in 2017 and is now the world’s largest fish and wildlife attraction.

Are you looking for family friendly activities? Check out Andy B’s bowling alley. Besides bowling, they have arcade, virtual reality, underground laser tag and a stocked menu (notable features include unwrapped crab dipping, hot honey chicken noodles and cheesecake and funnel-shaped fries).

The 1984 Arcade is another popular spot for families. The ’80s themed arcade game has all your favorite classics, including Pacman, Asteroids, Donkey Kong, Tetris and more; $10 will get you in the door and you’ll have all the fun.

Haruno Sushi Bar & Grill is a favorite for date night and has the best sushi in town.

A lesser known place for romantic fine dining is Gilardi’s on East Walnut Street. They have focused on high-quality local ingredients, and the pasta and braised dishes are better than most other Italian courses in town.

Chef and owner James Martin said: ‘Atmosphere – this is a very intimate and inviting Italian restaurant set behind a beautiful Victorian house which is an Airbnb. “This spring, we also built a gazebo in the middle of the garden, so people can dine in the gazebo, which is a unique offering in this city.”

It is important to stay away from all the hustle and bustle from time to time.

Although Springfield may not be at the top of your mind when considering vacation spots, the city has a lot to offer. So pack your weekend bag, and adventure awaits.

Springfield Conservation Nature Center (provided photo)
Photo Pasta Gilardi at Gilardy’s in Springfield is a dish of homemade ricotta pasta with Italian sausage and a spicy tomato cream sauce. Other menu highlights include tortellini, polpette al vino marinara, and tiramisu. (Jordan Thornsbury/News Tribune Photo)
Photo Black Lab Coffee Co. offers Downtown Springfield has a coffee trip on their menu. Customers can choose up to four dog lattes, hot or iced, to savor on the trip. The café is dog friendly and encourages customers to bring their fur babies. (Jordan Thornsbury/News Tribune Photo)

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