Best of 417 2017

See which food, activities, people and places made the cut.

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

(page 5 of 11)

Editor's Picks: Places & Experiences

Bike rental, lawn games and plenty of shade–not to mention delicious fare–make Sequiota Bike Shop the perfect place for a midday getaway.


Best Easy Breezy Backyard: Sequiota Bike Shop

If you’re like us, sometimes you need to get out of dodge when lunchtime rolls around. When the sun is shining and the breeze blowing, dining al fresco at Sequiota Bike Shop (3521 S. Lone Pine Ave., Springfield; 417-881-4488), a stone’s throw from its namesake park, is just the ticket for an afternoon away from it all. We love the eatery’s tree-shaded outdoor patio, which hums with activity—kids playing, bikers popping in for a post-ride bite, pups romping in the surrounding backyard space. It’s just our kind of spot—a mellow hideaway with tasty fare and a soothing environment. The only downside is that it’s nearly impossible to get up the motivation to head back to the office when your lunch hour’s up.


Best Way to Bond with Your Buddies: 417-Land’s Escape Room Boom

When getting together with friends, we like to think outside of the box—literally—at one of the escape rooms popping up across 417-land (eight so far!). These spots make groups work together to solve riddles, clues and brain-teasers in an epic race against the clock. We love that each room sets the scene with themes, like the local folklore-inspired Ozarks Howler room at 417 Escape Artist, Clue Pursuit’s Indiana Jones Warehouse of Jack Travis and the pirates-themed Queen Anne’s Revenge room at Escape Joplin. Choose your next adventure and get ready to make a great escape.


Best Sunset Serenade: The Sunset Ceremony at Top of the Rock

When it comes to admiring a 417-land sunset, it’s already tough to beat Top of the Rock with its stunning setting and expansive views of Table Rock Lake and the surrounding hills. But from April through November, evenings there are put even further over the top by the nightly Sunset Ceremony in which a bagpiper emerges to play a mix of tunes and a historic cannon fires just as the sun dips below the horizon. The best part is when the bagpiper does a stirring rendition of “Amazing Grace.” We get goosebumps as the music floats through the air and twilight unfurls.


Best Control-Your-Own Coaster: The Runaway at Branson Mountain Adventure Park

For some, the most terrifying aspect of roller coasters is the lack of control. Once you strap in, all you can do is hang on tight. But The Runaway at Branson Mountain Adventure Park, a newly opened alpine coaster whose track follows the area’s hilly topography, is just our speed. That’s because passengers cruise along in individual carts equipped with levers, allowing them to dictate the pace of the ride—which tops out at around 30 mph—as they wind through the pretty forested hillside. 


Best Down-Home Trend: Foodie Events at Farms in 417-Land

With the farm-to-fork movement becoming so ingrained in the region, 417-landers are more enthusiastic than ever to learn about and feast on local bounty—and there’s no better way to do exactly that than the culinary-focused “on the farm” events emerging around the region, like Millsap Farms’ wildly popular Thursday Night Pizza Club, Urban Roots Farm’s mixology-focused Cocktails on the Farm gatherings and Terrell Creek Farm’s new Cheese Nights on the Farm offering tours, live music and tastings of fresh cheeses and other goodies. Of course, the food factor is the major draw, but it’s the sense of close-knit community at these events that we love most. There’s nothing like seeing local foodies enjoying good company and farm-to-fork fare right at its source.


Best Place to Find a Moment of Peace: Valley Water Mill Park

When stress strikes, sneaking off to Valley Water Mill Park (2450 E. Valley Water Mill Road, Springfield; 417-864-1049) is just what the doctor ordered. This hidden gem is less crowded than the Springfield Conservation Nature Center but home to equally pretty scenes and plenty of wildlife. Meandering the mellow hiking trail circling the 13-acre lake (a popular fishing spot stocked with bass, crappie and catfish), it’s easy to forget that you’re no more than five minutes from Interstate 44. Our favorite spot in the park is a small viewing platform near a striking natural spring. Take a moment here to admire the serene surroundings and enjoy some peace and quiet before returning to civilization. 


Best Place to Reenact GhostCreava School for The Arts’ Date Night Pottery Classes

After exhausting the usual date night options (dinner and a movie, lather, rinse, repeat), get creative and follow Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore’s lead at the Date Night Pottery classes offered at Creava School For The Arts. The two-hour, hands-on sessions pair you and your sweetie with friendly instructors who teach how to craft two vessels using a pottery wheel. Plus, you have a terrific excuse for a second date when you two return to Creava in subsequent weeks to glaze your feats of clay.


Best Place For Hooky with Girlfriends: Ms. Gilmore’s Tea Room and Vintage Suitcase 

For a fun afternoon, gather your gal pals at Ms. Gilmore’s Tea Room and Vintage Suitcase, the eatery and shop tucked in the humming Commercial Street Historic District. The cheery tea room bursts with charm, making it the perfect spot for lunch with the girls. After you’ve eaten (desserts like lemon meringue bars are a must), peruse the wide-ranging array of treasures (think antique furniture, cute clothing, perfumes and the like) throughout the boutique’s nooks and crannies. Don’t even try to be self-disciplined: It’s nearly impossible to end your visit without bringing home a darling new trinket. 


Best Event for Budding Barrymores: Moxie Mornings

It’s Saturday morning, the kids are restless and you can’t bring yourself to watch Frozen for the umpteenth time. Enter Moxie Mornings at Moxie Cinema, where youngsters ages 2 to 6 watch imaginative short films and take part in all kinds of hands-on activities. Begun by the arthouse theater’s Executive Director Mike Stevens to introduce his young daughter to short films, the flick-focused get-togethers are a great way for kiddos to have fun in a setting that encourages them to explore and engage with art and film. Plus, the program is funded by a Missouri Arts Council grant, so it’s free for families of all backgrounds to bring their kiddos to the artsy events.


Best Spooky History Lesson: History Museum on the Square’s Haunted History Bus Tours

The History Museum on the Square’s Haunted History Bus Tours are the wheel deal. Offered every October, the excursions scare up a good time and introduce riders to freaky places around town, like a mass Civil War grave and haunted buildings. We love how these tours—led by the museum’s Executive Director John Sellars, with an assist one night this past year from The Mystery Hour’s Jeff Houghton—incorporate humor and ghoulish fun to tell about the city’s spooky past and ghostly residents. Don’t be asleep at the wheel when tickets become available: The events—especially the VIP nights with a Hotel Vandivort reception—sell out quickly.

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