(UPDATED ON July 1, 2020) Springfield is Missouri’s third-largest city and a great place to explore. Often referred to as “Queen City,” Springfield has many cool things to see and do, as well as fantastic food and drink options. From iconic Route 66 attractions to jaw-dropping caves, there are dozens of options for your itinerary in this Midwestern city. Here are my suggestions for two fun-filled days in Springfield, Missouri.
Day One in Springfield: Breakfast
Breakfast at The Aviary, a place serving seriously good eats with creative crepes and dishes, is a must. The decor is homey, yet chic, with a fun vibe. Try the mashed sweet potatoes as your side dish and an Italian cream soda–both the peach and raspberry are fantastic. The Crepe Lorraine with Applewood smoked bacon, spinach, and mornay is to die for!
Springfield is home to the original Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World. This mammoth property contains a hunting and fishing gallery, giant aquariums, and a cafe at the complex. Johnny Morris started the successful Bass Pro Shops company here in Springfield. Rest assured that the businesses with his name on them are world-class.
One of the coolest things in Springfield is a feature property of Johnny Morris, The Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium, adjacent to the Bass Pro Shop. This unique attraction is devoted to conservation education and features amazing crystal clear aquariums with a vast dichotomy of taxidermies (stuffed dead animals) on display from around the world. You could easily spend the whole day doing everything both attractions offer.
Enjoy brunch seven-days-a-week or dinner at The Order, Hotel Vandivort’s modern restaurant. The Sous-Vide Carrot & Roasted Beet Salad and The Order Burger are both excellent (and tasty) choices. For a more adventurous dish, try the Count of Monte Cristo, a bologna and ham sandwich on French toast with Edgewood Creamy Plain Jane cheese and blackberry fig jam. Oh, my!
Beer Sampling and Dinner
Established in 2011, Mother’s has a cool taproom with an awesome outdoor patio. I was a fan of the Imperial Grind Coffee stout and the Strawberry Ginger Gose. This is one cool place to hang out!
At Lost Signal, taps change often, but you’re most likely going to LOVE whatever you try. The Safecracker IPA, Smoked Pecan Porter, and Lost Signal Lager are all tasty beers to choose from, while the in-house smoked BBQ should not be missed either. Lost Signal Poutine and Loaded BBQ Nachos (with beer queso) are delicious appetizers to share.
Day Two in Springfield: Breakfast
On day two in Springfield, enjoy a tasty breakfast or early lunch at Gailey’s Breakfast Cafe. Yummy, yet healthy choices at this eatery include the Hippy Omelet (avocado, walnuts, hummus) or the Gailey’s Stuffed Oatmeal. Splurge with the El Jefe Skillet (eggs, chorizo, jalapeños, avocado, queso) or the Breakfast Casserole (bacon, sausage, hash browns, biscuit crumbles, and cheese) topped with hollandaise (yes, please!) or sausage gravy.
Since Missouri is “The Cave State,” you should visit Fantastic Caverns, a one-of-a-kind caving system. Board a jeep-drawn tram for a 50-minute tour to explore America’s only drive-through cave. Enjoy the spectacular display of stalactites, stalagmites, soda straws, and draperies as you ride through the comfortable 60-degree cavern.
A Historical Lunch
Order lunch from the first Steak ‘n Shake on the iconic Route 66 highway. Made fresh-to-order burgers, fries, and milkshakes are all the rage at this popular hamburger chain. This particular Steak ‘n Shake location is decorated with iconic Route 66 pictures and memorabilia, which is even more photogenic at night if you get the chance to drop by.
Another tasty option is to eat burgers, chili, and fries from Casper’s, an offbeat fixture in Springfield for more than 100 years. The colorful 30-seat hut is worth a visit just to check out the nostalgic decor, even if you aren’t eating.
Late Afternoon Activity
Tour the Route 66 Car Museum with more than 65 unique cars spanning every decade, including some film and movie vehicles, classics, brass era, and sports cars. Kids will love Batman’s Gotham Cruiser, while adults will appreciate the 1991 Ghostbusters Cadillac wagon and the 1926 Hudson Speedster from the “Grapes of Wrath” movie fame. With names like Rolls Royce, Packard, Horch, Delorean, Ford Model T, and Studebaker, there is a car for everyone to fall in love with.
While you are in the area, drop by the History Museum on the Square, for a stroll down memory lane back to the Birthplace of Route 66 heyday and how things appeared during that time. Favorite exhibits were those of fast food dining options, gas station attendant uniforms and way of life, and everybody’s favorite Wild Bill Hickok and the Wild West stories and lore.
Dinner and Drinks
Bruno’s Italian Restaurant serves authentic Italian cuisine in a historical setting. The Beef Carpaccio and Tomato Bruschetta are excellent appetizers to whet your appetite. Let Chef Bruno and his team create a lovely dinner for you, such as Veal Scaloppine, Spinach & Ricotta Gnocchi, or Linguine with Clams. Pizzas are popular entrées, too.
Enjoy an after-dinner cocktail at Missouri Spirits, offering custom-made vodka and whiskeys made from ingredients grown in the Midwest. Enjoy the spacious and welcoming venue as you swing, play games, or socialize. If you are not in the mood for Italian food, you get dinner here. Missouri Spirits serves shareable plates (pimento cheese, crab cakes, smoked pig nachos) and satisfying sandwiches such as the Fried Bologna Griller.
My favorite spot in Springfield was the Golden Girl Rum Club, an upbeat place to have an Instagram-worthy premium rum drink and sing along to songs everyone knows and loves. Found in Springfield’s Park Central Square, Golden Girl Rum Club has a tropical party vibe that works remarkably well. Adorable cups and mugs (plus vibrant bendy straws) that hold these tantalizing tikis and classic cocktails add to the festive spirit. Every city needs a Golden Girl Rum Club!
Where to Stay in Springfield
The University Plaza Hotel & Convention Center has large rooms, big enough for families to fit comfortably, and free breakfast. An inviting indoor pool and coffee shop are onsite, as well as a fitness center and restaurant. University Plaza’s location is excellent for seeing downtown Springfield on foot, plus parking is free.
Previously a Masonic temple, Hotel Vandivort is now a luxury boutique hotel. An onsite rooftop bar in a glass-enclosed area draws clientele from near and far. Hotel Vandivort is Silver Weed certified, meaning they do all things positive for the environment while showcasing buying and using local in every possible aspect. Even if you are not staying there, at least take a gander at how beautiful Hotel Vandivort is.
If a more historical or cultural stay is what you crave, consider the Best Western Route 66 Rail Haven Motel, on historic Route 66. This charming, yet nostalgic motel (circa 1938) is perfect for getting those cool Route 66 photos and offers a comfy bed and modern conveniences.
Springfield, Missouri: A City You’re Going to Love
Springfield, Missouri, is a wonderful place to spend time getting to know the local attractions and historical setting. It is a great Midwestern destination to satisfy both your big city and small town desires.
Here’s hoping my itinerary for Springfield, Missouri will come in handy for your vacation or weekend getaway.
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Thanks to Visit Springfield and NATJA for arranging my travel. As always, opinions and reviews are 100% mine and unbiased.
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