The Itinerary at a Glance
A crossroads of culture lies tucked away in the Ozarks of Southwest Missouri, where Interstate 44, Interstate 49 and historic Route 66 meet.
Duration: 3 Days Available: Year-round This Itinerary is Ideal For: Adults over 21
Begin your Southwest Missouri adventure in the historic Civil War-era town of Carthage, which is located on original Route 66. Groups will begin their visit on the Carthage Square at the Jasper County Courthouse (30 minutes), Carthage City Hall (10 minutes) and Civil War Museum (30 minutes). They may opt for a historic homes drive-by tour or choose to walk through a historic home.
Groups can choose to dine on the square or head over to Red Oak II for lunch. Red Oak II is a re-creation of an early 20th century country village, featuring a general store, church, one-room schoolhouse, town hall, 1920s cottage-style Phillips 66 gasoline station, Belle Starr’s home and much more.
George Washington Carver National Monument, a 240-acre park located about 20 minutes south of Carthage, encompasses the site where renowned African-American agronomist, educator and humanitarian George Washington Carver was born into slavery. The visitor center highlights Carver’s contributions to science, and includes a museum, theater, discovery center and gift shop. Step outside and experience Carver’s outdoor “lab” by walking the nature trails (one is paved) and visiting the 1881 Moses Carver house and Carver cemetery. The park, founded in 1943, was the first national monument dedicated to an African-American man and non-president.
Check into one of Joplin’s dozen group-friendly hotels for a two-night stay, Conclude your first day beneath the neon lights at Wilder’s Steakhouse. Wilder’s has been a part of the Joplin community since 1929 and is known for its elegant meals.
Kick off your morning with a step-on guide who will take you through Joplin and share stories about what made it the fourth-largest metropolitan area in Missouri. Stops will
include Shoal Creek Conservation Area, Cunningham Park and Downtown Joplin Historic Building Tour (this is only available for bus groups and must be booked through a Visit Joplin staff member). The building tour includes stops at the former Newman Department Store, built in 1910 and now City Hall, and home to the last signed mural by Thomas Hart Benton; Frisco Building, built by the Frisco Railroad Company in 1913; and former Fox Theater, now Central Christian Church, built in 1930.
Now that we have your attention we will continue our journey to the Joplin History Museum, which appeals to all kinds of interests. Explore the national cookie cutter museum or head to the Merle Evans Miniature Circus room. You can also see poems and jewelry the Bonnie and Clyde Gang left behind after the historic Joplin shootout. Head over to the mineral wing and view Smithsonian-quality mineral specimens that made this area the world’s largest producer of lead and zinc ore and gave birth to the city of Joplin. During lunch in the museum’s Newman Room, hear stories from the museum director about what it was like working in the mines and some of the notorious stories that came with the lifestyle of a mine worker.
Jump the Missouri border to Kansas by traveling original Route 66. Your first stop is Galena to learn about how this quaint Kansas town was the inspiration for the Disney Pixar Cars movie. Continue west to Baxter Springs to view the iconic Rainbow Bridge and a visit to Baxter Springs Heritage Center & Museum to learn about America’s first Cow Town and its ties to the Civil War. Head over to downtown Baxter Springs to check out the area’s newest classic car museum, Decades of Wheels, and grab a treat from the onsite restaurant. If cars aren’t your thing, there is great antique shopping and the Route 66 visitor center and gift shop.
After a busy day, relax on the countryside of Southwest Missouri watching a beautiful sunset while sipping locally made wine at Keltoi Winery. Enjoy a catered meal accompanied by a musical group like the Ozark Bards, who perform traditional Ozark tunes.
You can’t leave Joplin without a visit to the sweetest house in Joplin, Candy House Gourmet. Take a behind-the-scenes tour of the factory to learn where all the magic happens. After a tour, be sure to pick up a few treats at the retail shop to share with friends or keep for yourself. We recommend the English Toffee.
Before heading home, walk off all that candy by wandering through the 50,000-square-foot showroom at Sandstone Gardens. As the premier home and garden destination in the Midwest, Sandstone Gardens amazes the most discriminating enthusiasts. Finish up your shopping adventure with a gourmet lunch and handmade desserts at the Sandstone Bistro.
Nap time on the way home.