A Weekend Trip in Springfield, Missouri

*This trip was sponsored in full by the Ramada Oasis and Springfield Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. All opinions expressed are my own.

A few weeks ago, I was presented with a unique opportunity to become a weekend tourist in Springfield, Missouri- an area that is often too close to home to consider for a vacation or weekend getaway. Springfield is the closest city to me (about a 45 minute drive), and we visit frequently- but when we do, our days and evenings are filled with gymnastic meets, basketball and volleyball games, and more boring things like medical appointments and grocery shopping.

It has been a while since my hectic life and work schedule has allowed me to enjoy some of the more leisurely activities that Springfield hasto offer, so I was really excited to visit some familiar places, along with exploring new ones!

Five bloggers attended the event- Stefany from To Be Thode, Bobbi from Living in Retrospect, Fawn from Instead of the Dishes, Erin from Humble Hardy Happenings, and myself. Our host for the weekend was the lovely Susan Wade from the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.  Susan planned a weekend packed full of delicious food and artsy activities.

This post is written as an overview of the weekend, but I will be expanding on several of the stops in the coming weeks.

 

Ramada Oasis

 

Our luxurious accommodations were provided the Ramada Oasis.  It was such a neat and quirky hotel!  It was originally the largest Howard Johnson motel, but has been turned into a hotel that could not be named more appropriately.  The rooms all have a patio overlooking the atrium, which was full of fountains, palm trees, and the pool area.

We began our adventure with a meet and greet dinner at the Fire and Ice restaurant, which is located in the Ramada Oasis.

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We got up bright and early on Saturday morning to enjoy breakfast at the hotel, then headed to Creative Escapes Glass to create suncatchers.  I’ll admit, my creative juices are far from flowing at 9:00 a.m., so I was a bit unsure of what to create.  The technique is great for beginners, and Rebekah taught us exactly how to layer, cut, and secure the glass to make the patterns we wanted.

Once we got started, we had a lot of fun.  I would recommend it especially to groups of friends looking for something a little different and crafty to do for girls night.  Projects start at just $12 and can take as little as two hours to create, so there’s something for almost every budget and schedule.

Creative Escapes

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Photo by Susan Wade

I was a bit nervous as to how mine would turn out.  I wanted it to match my kitchen and display a lot of light, so I went with large and bold pieces.  (Have you seen my modern retro farmhouse kitchen?)  I had nothing to worry about- it turned out great!

After we left Creative Escapes, we headed on over to Springfield Hot Glass to watch a glass blowing demonstration and look over their beautiful creations.  Although both, Springfield Hot Glass and Creative Escapes, are focused on glass art, the techniques are so different that each visit was a truly unique experience. Springfield Hot Glass does offer individual classes, but it is a much more labor intensive and time consuming process.  I recommend swinging by and watching a demonstration, it is a truly mesmerizing process.

Springfield Hot Glass

 

 

We headed over to Relics Antique Mall to do a little shopping and enjoy lunch in their tea room.   I had no idea how large the store was!  We spent the better part of an hour and a half browsing and didn’t even make it through half of the store.  We were joined for lunch in the tea room by the owners, Beverly and Matthew Robb, along with the mayor of Springfield, Bob Stephens.

The tea room was very busy, and after we ate, I learned why.  The food was spectacular!  Most of us tried the locally famous Chicken Waldorf Sandwich, and we all ordered dessert.  I indulged in the Lemon Berry Mascarpone cake, which is already tempting me to make a return trip.

Relics Waldorf Chicken Salad

 

While we waited on our desserts, we walked over to see the event center that was debuted last fall.  It was decorated for a wedding show, and it was a beautiful space for any event.

Relics Flea Market

 

After lunch and shopping, we made a quick stop at the Springfield Art Museum, then headed on over to Askinosie Chocolate, where we lucked out and had a chance to talk to Shawn Askinosie, a former defense attorney turned chocolatier, about his products and truly unique mission.

Askinose Chocolate

Askinosie Chocolate is a direct trade company that is highly involved with the farmers and decision making. Chocolate is sourced from four countries: Honduras, Ecuador, Philippines, and Tanzania- each with a highly distinct taste.  Profits are  shared with communities to help create sustainable resources, such as lunch programs in areas stricken with malnutrition.

We then headed back into downtown to tour Hotel Vandivort, which is a newly opened boutique hotel located in the old Vandivort Theater.  The hotel was nothing short of spectacular, with intricate attention to detail and highly knowledgeable staff.

We followed with dinner at the newly opened Civil Kitchen and Taproom (due to the lighting, I was unable to get a clear picture of my dinenr), which was fabulous!  Being a new restaurant, they were experiencing an unexpected crowd due to some local events in town, so a few mistakes were made early on during our visit, but they were promptly remedied by a fabulous and hilarious server who more than made up for the mishaps.  I highly recommend stopping in if you are looking for delicious and unique foods and desserts.

Hurts Doughnut

 

Of course, no visit to Springfield is complete without a stop by Hurts Donut, which we indulged in on Sunday morning.  As you can see, I grabbed a half dozen to bring home to the kids!

Fantastic Caverns

From there, we headed to Fantastic Caverns, America’s only ride through cave, located just outside of town.  I was very excited to take a tour that wasn’t as a field trip chaperone, so that I could focus on the story being told, along with hearing some new, darker tales of the cave’s history such as the cave’s strong presence during prohibition.  The most fascinating is that the cave was originally explored by 12 female members of a local athletic club who answered a newspaper ad asking for explorers.

We decided to finish up our trip with lunch at the Aviary, which was fabulous, as always.  My photos didn’t do the food justice, so some things are better left to dream of.  We visited the location at Farmer’s Park, which I had never been to before.  I was delighted to see that they now have a patisserie!

It’s not often that I get to step back and enjoy the local attractions and destinations, especially with such a gracious and knowledgeable guide.  Not only did I get some time to relax and view some of the finest the city has to offer, I gained several new friendships.  I look forward to sharing more local destinations and in-depth stories in the future!

 

 

 

Missouri Day Trips: Warm Springs Ranch

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Located on the outskirts of Boonville, Missouri is Warm Springs Ranch, the breeding facility for the Budweiser Clydesdales.  I was invited to participate in their media day, which just so happened to fall over Spring Break.  The kids, especially Katie- the horse lover, were very excited to attend- so excited, in fact, that when we woke up to a blustery 30 degree forecast, we packed up and headed out to Warm Springs Ranch anyways!

We went on the VIP tour, which included taking a tractor and wagon through various pens, including a hands on stop with the mommas and their new babies!

DSC_0843The wagon ride was frigid, to say the least, so we had to cut it short, but not before we got to see the foal that was featured in this year’s Super Bowl commercial.

The first stop in our indoor tour was the breeding room, which doubles as a bar for a free beer tasting at the end of the tour.  A mare’s desire for breeding is determined by parading a ‘teaser’ stallion around their pen.  If a mare shows interest, she is then brought to the breeding room.  A different, more enthusiastic stallion is paired with her and brought to the room… a little bait and switch.

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The horses are cleaned regularly, on cold days they are vacuumed instead of washed!

The ranch manager lives on site and all of the ranch hands live within 5 minutes of the ranch.  This is necessary because of the quick duration of labor and delivery.  Each horse is implanted with a sensor that will call the ranch manager when the colt begins to pass through the birth canal.  Delivery only takes around 15 minutes after that!

You can learn more about Warm Springs Ranch and buy tickets here: Warm Springs Ranch

The trip was fantastic and there were a lot of great places to stop along the way.  We stumbled upon the Burgers Smoke House facility and outlet store, located in California, Missouri.  They are only open Monday-Friday, but we got loads of goodies at great prices!

We also enjoyed a drive through Eldon, which is a neat town, with lots of vintage buildings, including an original Walmart store!  There are several long standing restaurants, such as The Philly Cafe, which we will be visiting on our next trip through!

 

Conoco Cares | Treat Your Car Event

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On Sunday, June 23rd, 2013, Conoco set up a FREE car wash event in the East lot of Hammons Field before the Cardinals game to surprise some lucky fans.  I was lucky enough to get to stop by to get my car washed and hang out with the group providing the car washes before the game. 

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My car was in desperate need of a wash, and they had it squeaky clean in no time!

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Even though it was a scorching hot day, there were cheers every time a car pulled into the lot.  Everyone was so enthusiastic about helping out.

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I wish I’d had more time to interact with the car wash recipients, but it was also free Oscar Taveras bobble head day at Hammons Field, and everyone was in a rush to get in line for a chance to snag one. 

 

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There may be an event coming soon in your area!  The only way to find out is to watch #treatyourcar on Twitter and look for the signs pictured above.  There are some great surprises along with the free car wash- make sure you swing by!

I’ve partnered with Conoco to bring you this #treatyourcar post.  All opinions provided are mine.

SWMO Deal: $25 for 8 Swimming Lessons at the YMCA

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Groupon is offering a great deal on swim lessons at the Ward and Pat Jones YMCAs in Springfield.  You will get 8 lessons for just $25 and you don’t need to be a member of the YMCA to use this deal.

There are classes for different ages and skill levels, along with several time slots to choose from.  Now is a great time to take swimming lessons to prepare for summer!

CLICK HERE TO GET THIS DEAL

Get Fresh Louisiana Seafood in Missouri for Your Super Bowl Party- Live Crawfish, King Cakes, Shrimp, and More!

I love helping out local businesses that I feel bridge a gap in our community, and Big Pop’s Fresh Louisiana Seafood does just that.

For years, we’ve had our shrimp flown in, made the drive for crawfish, or just skipped seafood altogether.  We just couldn’t get good seafood here, everything is produced in countries with little to no food regulations.

A couple of years ago, a chance occurrence led us to Big Pop’s.  He was just starting out delivering shrimp to the Ozarks, setting up at small farmer’s markets and by home delivery.  Over the past two years, he has grown into a full fledged seafood and Cajun market.  He takes specialty orders, keeps many products on-hand, and even has fresh fish flown in from time from time.

He’s gone now to Louisiana so he can bring back live crawfish and King Cakes in addition to his normal market fare.  He will be set up at the Farmer’s Market of the Ozarks on Republic Road from 9-3 on Saturday to help you with all of your Super Bowl and Mardi Gras needs. 

You can see his pricing, menu, and more by visiting their Facebook page at Big Pop’s Fresh Louisiana Seafood  They are also running a giveaway for a Super Bowl Party Pack- the winner will be drawn on Friday.

Zaycon Foods to Bring 93/7 Ground Beef to the Midwest

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Zaycon Foods is coming back!  In just a few days, they will be taking orders for 93/7 ground beef.  I do not yet know the price, as it’s based on current market value.

They’ve also announced that they will start fall chicken deliveries in mid-September

What’s Zaycon Foods?  Check out this post we did last summer on the chicken. 

All you need to do now is to register on their site.  When orders open up, you’ll receive an email.  (It won’t show that they are in your area until they open ordering).

Louisiana Crawfish Boil in Missouri

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We hosted a crawfish boil last Saturday, courtesy of Big Pop’s Louisiana Seafood.  My husband grew up in New Orleans and fresh crawfish is one of his favorite things.  It’s nearly impossible to find good seafood here, much less fresh.  We used to go as far as to have gulf shrimp shipped in! 

We were in Springfield one day last summer, driving behind a red pickup with a freezer and some signs in the back.  We’re both not really paying attention, but a few of the letters caught my eye.  The signs were stacked where I could make out ‘Lou’.  As the truck turned off, the sign moved enough that I could see an ‘mp’.

Brad and I both yelled ‘He’s got SHRIMP!’ at the top of our  lungs.  We were too far past the intersection to follow him, so we cut across a couple of parking lots and chased him to his barber’s.   Brad jumps out, runs to his truck, and lo and behold, we were right.  The guy had a freezer FULL of large gulf shrimp.  He had just closed up shop at one of the local farmer’s markets.

When Brad asked him how much it was, I about fell over.  At the time it was $8 per pound, 9-12 count shrimp.  I had paid well over $20 per pound before!

His business has grown tremendously over the past year and continues to flourish.  He now brings oysters and shrimp regularly, and he’s now bringing up live crawfish- and cooking them, too!

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Last weekend, Big Pop’s supplied us with a crawfish boil.   We spent all weekend preparing and invited our closest friends and family.  Everyone was so excited!

Even though I thought I knew what to expect, the amount of food he cooked for us took me by surprise.  Yeah- that’s an enormous cooler!  It was unbelievable!

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He cooked potatoes, corn, and live crawfish in his customer cooker- which was awesome, too!

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We ate until we were sick- then ate some more… I even snuck a bag into the freezer so I could have a little more next weekend!

He is going to be set up selling seafood both live and cooked at the Eastland Famer’s Market on St. Louis street every weekend.  This weekend, they are going to be at the new market on Republic Road first thing Saturday, and back at Eastland cooking by 11:00.  You have GOT to stop and see them.  You won’t be sorry!  Tell them I sent you to save $1 per pound on shrimp.

They are all over the place, check out their Facebook page for more information. 

See- sometimes a little stalking does pay off!

Fresh Louisiana Seafood + FREE Crawfish Tasting

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If you’re out and about in Springfield today, stop by Big Pop’s Fresh Louisiana Seafood in front of the old Blockbuster in the Food 4 Less shopping center to for a free tasting of fresh crawfish that arrived straight from Louisiana yesterday.

They will have live oysters, live crawfish, and the biggest shrimp you’ve ever seen at great prices. They are offering tons of specials today, swing by and see what’s going on! Tell them I sent you to get those monstrous shrimp for $8/lb.

Groupon Deal | Grand Country Inn Waterpark Packages

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Need a little winter getaway?  Today’s Groupon deal for Springfield is a stay at the Grand Country Inn in Branson.  There are several options available:

Stay for two adults and up to four kids in a king or two-queen room

  • $139 for a one-night stay with buffet dinner for two with drinks, two tickets to choice of two shows, and two passes to mini golf
  • $199 for a two-night stay with breakfast or lunch buffet with drinks for four, four tickets to choice of one show, and four passes to bumper cars
  • $185 for a two-night stay in February with breakfast or lunch buffet with drinks for four, four tickets to choice of one show, and four passes to bumper cars
    Included in all options:
  • $20 popcorn-and-soda credit (covers four popcorns and four sodas)
  • Up to six passes to Splash Country indoor water park

You can also spin Clicky the prize wheel here:  Groupon for your chance to win a free Groupon credit.

Local Deal | Davis Cellular To Offer Free Kindle Fire with Wireless Card Purchase

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Davis Cellular will be offering a free Kindle fire to customers on Black Friday that purchase a new wireless card.  They can work directly with your Verizon plan!

There are locations in: Lebanon, Marshfield, Ozark (2), Nixa (2), Branson, Rogersville, Willard, Aurora, Mount Vernon, Lamar, Baxter, Camdenton, Warsaw, California, Hollister, and West Plains.  Most locations open at 10:00 a.m., others will open at 9:00 a.m. 

To view information, check out their website and Facebook page.

Places to Eat on Black Friday (SWMO)

I’ve been hearing bits and pieces about what restaurants will be open for Black Friday shoppers.  This is not an official list by any means and if you know of a place that will be open, please post in the comments below!

Subway:

Lebanon, Camdenton, and Bolivar locations (in Walmart stores) will have a 6” turkey sub, chips, and drink for just $5.  They will open at 6:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving and remain open until 9:00 p.m. on Black Friday.

Panera Bread:

The location across from the Battlefield Mall will be opening at 2:00 a.m. serving coffee and food.

McDonald’s:

The location in the Battlefield Mall parking lot will be opening at 6:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving.  I believe the East Sunshine location will be open also.

Want to discuss Black Friday shopping?  Check out our Facebook Group:  Black Friday Shoppers

SWMO Deal | Free Horse Drawn Carriage Rides: Springfield, Missouri

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I LOVE Downtown Springfield, MO (Missouri)- so much to do, such great flavor!  I found this great freebie earlier and I thought I’d share it with you. 

Take a relaxing horse drawn carriage ride through downtown. Hear the relaxing jingle bells and hoofs as you tour downtown.

Date: Saturday, November 19th and November 26th

Start Time: 6 p.m.

End Time: 9 p.m.

Location: Park Central Square

Sponsored by the Downtown Springfield Community Improvement District.

For more information, click here:  It’s All Downtown Events

**Important: Just because this is free, it doesn’t mean you have to be cheap.  Be sure to tip the driver for providing such a great service!