Every once in a while an adventure leads you to a magical place … and this time, our adventure to Springfield exceeded our wildest expectations. Neither of us had visited Springfield before, and truth be told, Calie thought we were headed to Illinois (surprise – we were headed to Missouri!).
We arrived Thursday morning and enjoyed an adventure filled four days. We endured slight rain and wind, but enjoyed every minute none-the-less.
After picking up the rental car, we headed straight to Red’s Giant Hamburg! No – that’s not a misspelling, it’s name was cut off early-on due to a signage issue – Hamburg – no ER 🙂
After lunch, we were on our way to the Route 66 Visitor Center, where we met Barbara. Barbara is the perfect Route 66 ambassador sharing not only the history of Route 66, but also Springfield. In her regaling tales of history and adventure, we took almost every single one of her recommendations of places to visits, things to do & where to eat.
Having booked our “hotel” months in advance, we were BEYOND excited when we drove through the autumnal tree lined lane to the Mansion at Elfindale. We LOVED this place so much! Unbeknownst to us, our home away from home was a world premier bed and breakfast with an incredible history and welcoming hospitality! Here, we met Myra- officially she’s the “wedding coordinator” but something tells us she’s so much more than that (Did we mention she’s been working at the Mansion for over 30 years?) She welcomed us into “her home”, showed us to our room, and then gave us a tour of the wedding chapel and church. We were the only guests the first night, so we were able to peek into each of the guest rooms- all uniquely appointed and rich in history of their own. We could not have chosen a better place to stay!
Between both Barbara and Myra’s recommendations – we headed straight to Lambert’s Café for dinner – but not just a typical sit-down, read the menu, here’s your food dinner. This was an entertaining experience where we learned all about “throwed rolls”!
The next morning, we headed out to explore. All of our pre-adventure research really paid off. Turns out, everything we had on our to-do list, was within 10-15 miles of the Mansion. After breakfast at Cedar’s, we headed to Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium – where we spent almost four hours walking around, taking pictures and interacting with various exhibits. We were blown away by sheer vastness of the aquarium, as well as the amount of time and attention invested in the environment, education and conservancy.
After meeting up with long-time friends for dinner, we headed to the Pythian Castle for their night-time ghost tour. Since it was Halloween weekend, we thought this would be fun. A one and a half hour experience with a tour guide who shared with us the complete history of the castle, the previous owners, residents, as well as possible ghosts who still roam the halls. Even though we didn’t see/hear/feel any paranormal activities, it was a fun experience.
On Day 3, we enjoyed a nice breakfast at the Mansion where we were introduced to Mr. Post. An ever delightful gentleman whose story it turns out is much like ours. Met his wife 45 years earlier, reconnected and married. We were so taken with his story, that we’re actually considering visiting his neck of the woods in 2022 (Stay tuned!).
Not having any real plans for the day, we headed to Branson – 50miles outside of Springfield. Both of us were captivated by all the different types of trees, leaves in every hue of green, orange, yellow and red -which is not something these two Arizonans see a lot of!
As we drove State Hwy 76/Country Blvd, we saw places we had only heard about. Branson’s Scenic Railway, Dolly Parton Stampede, Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Theater, Branson’s Auto and Farm Museum, as well as the Aquarium at the Boardwalk – just to name a few. Across the street from the Aquarium, we found ourselves walking around and enjoying the sites at the Grand Village Shops. Calie absolutely loved Kringle’s (Missouri’s largest Christmas store). Kringle’s has so much Christmas in fact, that they have two stores here in the Village.
Our day in Branson would not have been complete without lunch at Mel’s Hard Luck Diner. Famously known for their “singing waiters”. And sing they do! We were serenaded by a nice medley of hymns and family appropriate songs sung by the talented waiters. A definite place to eat if you’re ever in Branson.
To walk off our lunch, we headed to the Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield (just a few miles away in Republic, Missouri). After stopping in the visitor’s center (to pay the National Park entrance fee), we headed out to the Battlefield where we learned the rich history of the areas Civil War history. We stood in the same place where over 12,000 soldiers once stood. The area is a 5 1/2 mile loop where you are then able to drive, walk, bicycle or horseback through. Since it had finally stopped raining and the sun was out, was opted to both drive and walk. We even saw some deer grazing in the fields.
On the way back to the Mansion, we stopped in at Fassnight Creek Farm – a family owned, 15 acre farm located in the middle of Springfield. It was so fun to walk through their pumpkin and flower fields, chatting with the young gal at the store learning that she had worked with Farmer Dan for almost a decade. This was a great way to end our day.
On day 4, it was time to say good bye to Springfield and our new friends. Bittersweet indeed. We left Springfield feeling our lives have been made richer by being open to the history, the architecture, the different way of life, as well as the Southern comfort food and sweet tea! The people were amazing and the hospitality extended to us was unlike any other. Rick is already planning our return trip 🙂