Best of 417 2012

Our 13th annual guide to the Best Of everything in 417-land!

DISCLAIMER: The information in this article was fact checked and accurate at press time, but 417 Magazine cannot guarantee its accuracy indefinitely.

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Most Exotic Getaway Spot
Zulu Lodge
Our beautiful Ozarks mountains have plenty of out-of-the-way places to enjoy the wild. But nothing is wilder than the Zulu Lodge cabins at Turpentine Creek in Eureka Springs. Turpentine Creek is a wild cat refuge that houses rescued tigers, lions and other exotic animals. And as you turn in for the night in the charming little one-room African-themed Zulu Lodge cabins that surround a fire pit and hot tub… well… that’s when that wildcat refuge comes to life. You can actually hear lions roaring in the night as you drift off to sleep. It... is... awesome!

Best New Local Experience That You Don’t Want To Miss
Events at Mother’s Brewing Company
In addition to the tasty brews that are created at Mother’s Brewing Company, the spot is also home to plenty of community-focused events that makes us love it even more. Bocce anyone? How about an Oktoberfest celebration? There’s plenty to keep beer-loving, community-minded 417-landers busy.

Best Cycling Spot
Frisco Highline Trail
This 36-mile-long trail is so incredibly beautiful. It winds all the way from Springfield to Bolivar, paved for the first 8 miles with gravel covering the rest of the trail. While serious riders might go the full 36 miles, there are many mini-routes that are perfect for a leisurely afternoon or a day trip with the family. We particularly love riding the 8.5 miles from Walnut Grove to Wishart, where the trail is flat and shady and crosses over several scenic bridges. Plus, the flora and fauna are second to none. On a recent trip, we spotted perky wildflowers, wild hops, two friendly snakes, a terrapin, a hawk and countless butterflies.

Best New Water Feature
Sequiota Park
The stones beg you to play in the water. It’s great for pets. It’s great for kids. It’s great for romantic dates. All that time spent wishing for our park back during construction was worth it. This spot is lovely.

Best Little Comedy That Could
Hamlet Vs. Zombies: Something is Rotting in the State of Denmark
This play (an adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet) was written by two hilariously brilliant locals, Jeff Jenkins and Bryant Turnage, for the 2011 Shakespeare Project Summer Festival. Since then, the comedy has gained national attention. It was featured at the San Francisco Fringe Festival, for example, and wound up being (very positively) reviewed by The Huffington Post. Why we love it? Well, it’s Shakespeare and the undead, which is clever enough on its own. But Jenkins and company dealt with a tiny budget by coming up with clever solutions to expensive problems. Instead of using prop guns, actors shout “Bang! Bang!” These ingenious ideas didn’t go unnoticed by critics nationwide.

Best Rumor-Starter
When the gigantic 72,000-square-foot concrete mega mansion (built to withstand a tornado) started to take shape in Highlandville, the rumors began. It’s being built by Brad Pitt! It’s going to be a military bunker! It’s for aliens! No, it isn’t any of those things. But, it was fun to hear people speculate. (The mansion is in fact being built by Steven Huff, who is designing it to showcase green-building techniques and technologies.)

Best Educational Fun
Cooking Classes
Suddenly, there’s a wealth of local educational kitchens. There’s one at Hy-Vee, as well as at the Kansas Expressway Price Cutter, both offering culinary classes. YOUR Commercial Kitchen has classes for both adults and children. Gem of India offers classes in Indian Cuisine. And Silver Dollar City has the Culinary & Craft School. (Oh, and did we mention 417 Magazine Cooking Classes at Metro Appliances and More?) If you’ve ever wanted to brush up on your culinary skills, there’s no better time than now.

Best Place to Run Into a Celeb
Hilton Garden Inn
We heard of some Michael Bublé sightings when he was in town for a concert. (Swoon!) Colbie Caillat stayed there, too. Is this the new visiting celebrity hotspot? Put on your best paparazzi binoculars during the next big concert, and let us know.

Best Hidden Fun
The petting zoo at Silver Dollar City
If your kids are too little for the rides, they will get a kick out of the petting zoo area at SDC. It’s tucked away behind McHaffie’s Homestead. Our advice: Seek it out! Find this animal-filled spot, and spend a morning making your kids very, very happy.

Sound of Freedom
Some of us sing too loudly in the car. Some of us throw a living room dance party. Some of us play racquetball or run a few miles. And then some of us… well... some of us massage out the stress of a crazy week by firing off a few rounds. If shooting guns is your thing, Sound of Freedom is one of the cleanest and nicest gun ranges around. You can even rent and try out a gun while you’re there. So, put whatever you need to on that target, and fire away.

Best Step Forward for the City
Alcohol is Allowed Outside
During this year’s Taste of Springfield and Oktoberfest Village event on Park Central Square, event-goers got to experience something a little new for downtown Springfield: Beer sales on the street. They could purchase a cold brew to sip while they made the rounds to all the delicious food booths (rather than be sequestered in a little parking lot beer garden). The atmosphere was fun and casual and filled with camaraderie. If the new alcohol plan caused major problems, we didn’t see them during our time at the event.

Best Place to Feel Like You’re Feeding Both Your Body and Your Community
Greater Springfield Farmers’ Market
The food is fresh. The farmers are right there, so you can talk to them an ask questions about their veggies or their meat. There’s the warm scent of herbs over here. The yeasty aroma of freshly baked bread over there. And everywhere you look there are other farmers’ market shoppers to chat with. You can eat fresh, meet your neighbors and support local farmers, all in one place.

Best Place to Take Visitors
Branson Landing  
Silver Dollar City  
Bass Pro Shops

Best Belly Laugh
The Skinny Improv
Ernie Biggs Chicago Style Dueling Piano Bar
Fair City News
Best Branson Show
Dixie Stampede
Shoji Tabuchi

Best Branson Attraction
Titanic Museum Attraction
Silver Dollar City
Dixie Stampede

Best Place to go Dancing
Icon Night Club
Savoy Ballroom
Zan Night Club

Best Day Trip
Eureka Springs
St. Louis
Ha Ha Tonka

Best Kids Birthday Party
Discovery Center
Runners Up
Firehouse Pottery
Dynamic Gymnastics
Chain Winner
Incredible Pizza Company

Best Charity Event
Rock’n Ribs
Runners Up
Sertoma Chili Cookoff
Ball of the Wild

Best Nature Spot
Springfield Conservation
Nature Center
Dogwood Canyon Nature Park
Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden

Best Place to Be Seen
First Friday Art Walk
Metropolitan Grill
Touch Restaurant

Big Cedar Lodge
Chateau on the Lake
Branson Hiltons

Whether you’re enjoying nature or snuggling with your honey, you must love Big Cedar. You voted it the best!

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