*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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!