Show Me the Show Me State
July 12, 2010 10:15 AM   Subscribe

We're spending a week in Nowheresville, Mo. What to do?

The first week of August I, my husband and our 7 year old son are traveling to Cabool, Mo to visit the inlaws. It's apparently 3 hours from St. Louis and 2 hours from Branson. We already have plans to do Silver Dollar City but aside from that, we have no idea what else there is to do.

Is Silver Dollar City fun for people who are used to roller coasters and rides that you find at Disney and Universal? Is there enough to do that you'll spend all day?

My husband and I would like to get away for one night while we have a sitter, and we don't mind driving a few hours. Is there anything we should definitely not miss in Springfield or St. Louis? Or anywhere else for that matter?

We aren't very outdoorsy types but like history and old buildings and museums.

Any suggestions would be great!
posted by hollygoheavy to Travel & Transportation around Mooresville, MO (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I dunno if I was just especially hungry, but the DQ in Cabool made one of the tastiest salads I've ever had. Yeah, a DQ. I know.

We always hit the Springfield Nature Center when we're there. You've also got to see the Bass Pro in Springfield - it's huge, and crazy, and is rather more of a way of life than a store. The restaurant in it is remarkably good. Dunno if the wildlife museum next door is back open - it was closed for a while.

Your seven year old will love you forever if you go to the City Museum in St Louis.
posted by scruss at 10:43 AM on July 12, 2010

It's a bit out of the way, but it's worth the trip down from Branson to Eureka Springs, an old Victorian resort town.
posted by zsazsa at 10:48 AM on July 12, 2010

Best answer: Southeast Missouri is one of the prettiest parts of the state. While you might not be outdoorsy people, there are a number of state parks in that area that you might find interesting. Alley Spring State Park, a number of interesting caves, the Ozark Scenic Riverways... these are all right in the neighborhood of Cabool. I hope you'll go out and take a look, because I am always wishing that I would take more time to explore that area. Here's a link with a rundown of the neat places near Eminence, Missouri (about an hour away).
Onondaga Cave State Park is about 1.5 hours from you (in Leasburg, MO), which has a really cool tour. Your son would probably love it.

From what I've heard, Silver Dollar City is a pretty nice theme park. It has the Six Flags type roller coasters, but also a number of craftsmen and folk arts (like a hill people, Ozarkian Renaissance Fair). Branson has a number of attractions itself, of course, and is probably worth a drive through even if you're not the tourist type or into the particular style of music. A lot of Missourians (especially city people) heap derision on Branson, but the town does employ a huge number of musicians.

Springfield is a nice sized town, but if you're already heading to Branson one day, it might be better to head up to St. Louis another day. St. Louis is a major city and has a number of different attractions, including the Arch, Cahokia Mounds Historic Site, steamboats on the Missouri River (if flooding is not a problem), the City Museum, the Art Museum, the Old Courthouse, and Shaw Gardens (and many others). If you bring your son along to St. Louis, you would have a great time at the City Museum (he will love it more than you will, even though it is cool enough for adults), the Magic House, Grant's Farm, and the St. Louis Science Center.

But I hope you won't overlook the beauty in southern Missouri. There are many interesting geologic areas. I have traveled through there a few times, but I can't say that I've fully explored it. Many people from my area travel down that way to do float trips, camping, and photography. I know you say you're not outdoorsy, but definitely give the area a chance.
posted by aabbbiee at 11:01 AM on July 12, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks everyone-this is exactly what I'm looking for! Any other suggestions would be fantastic.
posted by hollygoheavy at 11:19 AM on July 12, 2010

St. Louis has one of the best zoos in the country, and (unlike any others I know of first-hand) it still does not charge admission (but you will get well and truly scalped at the concessions).
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 11:55 AM on July 12, 2010

Silver Dollar City isn't bad, but the rest of Branson is kind of a hellhole, IMO. I suppose some people like endless outlet malls, cheezy tourist attractions, and pseudo-folksy country shows, but it certainly doesn't do much for me.

I second the recommendation to spend some time in the outdoors, even if you don't think it's your bag. I bet your son would love to take a float trip down one of the many rivers in the area. The lazy streams are a lot of fun whether you do it in a canoe, a raft, or just sitting in an innertube and floating. You'll find lots of places catering to you no matter which one you like.
posted by chrisamiller at 12:45 PM on July 12, 2010

I spent time west of where you were (in a town of 75 people), but I'll second the SL Zoo - it's very pretty, and it's also got a bunch of the buildings from the World's Fair still up and active. I took most of my photos there of the buildings. The art museum ranges from modern to ancient - mummy was in the basement when I went.
posted by cobaltnine at 1:08 PM on July 12, 2010

Best answer: Elephant Rocks state park was one of my favorite places when I was a kid. Also Johnson Shut-Ins.

Both were great fun for my seven-year-old self, and somewhat near where you are going.
posted by overhauser at 2:41 PM on July 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

I meant to say "steamboats on the Mississippi River", not Missouri. I am not sure they have them on the Missouri.

I also second Elephant Rocks State Park and Johnson's Shut-Ins, near Ironton, MO. They are both pretty cool parks, especially for a 7yo. However, that is much further drive than Onondaga or the parks around Eminence. If you were making more of an event of your side trip to St. Louis (to take advantage of the kid-friendly stuff there- did I mention the Magic House? I loved that place as a kid), they would make a good stop on the route.
posted by aabbbiee at 3:04 PM on July 12, 2010

Best answer: I live there, so I'll call myself an "expert".

I won't really add anything to what has been brought up, so I'll just reinforce my preferences.

I LOVE camping in Southeast Missouri. I always do my "real" camping at Silver Mines State Park, and make the little 20-minute day trips to Elephant Rocks and the Shut-Ins. If you're not camping, I suggest you hit Elephant Rocks earlier in the day and get all hot checking out THE REALLY AMAZING ROCKS then make the 20 minute drive to Johnson Shut-Ins to cool off in MOTHER NATURE'S MOST AMAZING WATERPARK! Your 7 year old will lose his shit. Later in life it will all seem so fantastic years later he will be certain he dreamed it. I promise (in case you haven't noticed I hold these places very dear to my heart and one of my favorite things in my life is to take friends to these places for the first time just to see the rapturous shock).

Branson: I'll give you this, even The Jaded have a good time at Silver Dollar City, a child especially so. The live local musicians are usually REALLY good. YOu may want to get the package pass to their sister water park, White Water.

Date night: Get the sitter. Then go to Eureka Springs (it's less than an hour from Branson) Amazing architecture, and this is where hippie craftsmen go to retire in one of the coolest looking towns ever. I kinda resembles a mountainous Swiss village in layout. Often the front of a building will be 1 story tall while the back is three. Lots of artisan shops and the like. If can manage an overnight stay be sure to stay at the Basin Park/Crescent hotel--a luxury hotel right from the 1800's. It was in Ripley's for some reason--I forget why.

This is all doable. The time from Cabool to the St Francis Mountains (Elephant Rocks, Johnson Shut-ins) is less than 2 hours. From Cabool to Branson is under 1 1/2 hours. From Branson to Eureka Springs is less than an hour.

I can't think of anything in Springfield to bother with.
posted by sourwookie at 4:41 PM on July 12, 2010 [2 favorites]

PS. Eureka has some of the narrowest, steepest streets you'll ever see--totally old world. Rent some scooters, they're a blast.
posted by sourwookie at 4:43 PM on July 12, 2010

like history and old buildings and museums

Let me re-suggest Eureka for that reason. It's also a popular honeymoon destination.
posted by sourwookie at 4:45 PM on July 12, 2010

Response by poster: Thank you so much everyone-we had an amazing time in Mo. and can't wait to go back. One surprise to us was how hot it was there-we live in Florida and never thought anyplace else could be hotter in August than home, but 109 degrees was insane.

We didn't make it to Eureka but Overhauser and Sourwookie: Elephant Rocks was hands down the best part of the trip! Thanks so much again-the hive mind is great!
posted by hollygoheavy at 11:19 AM on August 18, 2010

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