Starting with the place I’ve spent the majority of the last ten years, Springfield, MO. Yes, most people have heard this area of the country referenced as “the Ozarks”, “Branson” or my personal favorite, “Arkansas.” For these accusations, I’d like to say, “close, but no cigar.”
Springfield is actually just northeast of the Ozark Mountains and a short jaunt from the tourist trap of Branson, MO (I’ll get to this in another post). It sits on a flat plateau and usually attracts families, public college students, and a plethora of freak storms.
Although there isn’t much for tourist-y stuff to do, Springfield does have something special happening right now.
The revival of downtown Springfield. Now, it’s been a few years since I’ve spent much time there, but I do make a point, on occasion, to visit friends who are doing their victory lap(s) at Missouri State University.
First, why did I want to live and go to college somewhere that is a) flat b) had ONE dumpy drinking hole and c) has lack-luster sports teams? Well, it’s a very simple explanation, and I’ll just go ahead and put it out there now so that we’re all on the same page… They paid me. There, I said it! (Missouri State offers some wonderful scholarship opportunities for the high school brainy kids.)
Back to Springfield now. What used to be vacant, abandoned buildings and a park central square filled with homeless people is now blooming with local enthusiasm! In just a few short years, the local “Springfieldians” have opened a number of restaurants and bars, including Grad School, Aviary and Dublin’s Pass.
Don’t quote me on this, but I believe the only chain eateries currently in downtown Springfield are Pickleman’s and Jimmy Johns, and who am I to scoff at the opportunity of a good sandwich?
Of course, some local businesses have been holding down the fort as Springfield was trying to put humpty-dumpty back together again, so if you’re looking for a more established local place to chow, you could hit up Ophelia’s for Italian, Maria’s (for some dang good Mexican), or my personal favorite and a staple of downtown Springfield, Big Whiskey’s American Bar and Grill.
Of course, if you’re considering visiting a college town you are probably wondering about the “hot spots” and drink specials. That, my friends, is something I cannot help you with. However, I will say that the locals and college students alike are a friendly bunch, and with luck, you’ll run into someone with the drink specials memorized by day of the week. For example, you can rest assured that Big Whiskey’s has 1/2 priced burgers on Mondays.
After you figure out the “place to be” for the night, do your thing and plan on being done at 1 am. Although this may seem early for city-folks that are used to raging night life, this gives you the perfect opportunity to hit up something besides Taco Bell for your late night snack. (Gosh, I’m really all about the food here, aren’t I?)
The Bistro Market is right downtown and offers a wide-array of indulgent breakfast food selection until 2am, there’s usually a hot dog cart (or two!) with pick-your-own toppings, OR for a really delightful treat, hop in the line for sliders that will make you drool at Whisler’s!
Besides the thriving food and drinks in downtown Springfield, there’s a variety of art galleries, a couple live theatres, a independent movie theatre, a regular movie theatre, plenty of live music options, and the minor league baseball team, the Springfield Cardinals! Check out the full list of activities in poppin’ downtown Springfield, Missouri at http://www.itsallaboutdowntown.com
Thanks for reading! Until next time, adios, ciao, sayonara, good bye!
Published August 2013.