When the warming temps are tempting you to get outside, spend a weekend in Excelsior Springs, Missouri. The town of about 11,000 boasts decades of history alongside locally owned wineries, shops and restaurants to keep your agenda full.
Before you pack up and hit the road, book a room at The Elms Hotel and Spa (401 Regent St., Excelsior Springs, 816-630-5500, elmshotelandspa.com). Right in the heart of Excelsior Springs, this lavish hotel has been around for more than 100 years and was recently renovated in 2012. Carve out some time to book an appointment at the Spa at The Elms to indulge in a facial, massage or any of their treatment packages. The hotel is also home to 88 at The Elms, offering breakfast, lunch and dinner; The Tavern, a lounge providing cocktails and pub grub; and Cafe at The Elms, serving up fresh-baked pastries and local coffee and espresso.
When your stomach starts rumbling, make dinner reservations at Ventana Gourmet Grill (117 W. Broadway Ave., 816-630-8600, tasteofmissouri.com/ventana). The menu lists both Midwestern and Italian favorites, made with plenty of fresh ingredients. Try one of the many flavorful pastas or a lighter seafood dish, and stay for a gourmet homemade cheesecake.
Once you’ve unpacked and settled in, head over to Willow Springs Mercantile (249 E. Broadway Ave., Excelsior Springs, 816-630-7467,
shopthemercantile.com), one of the town’s boutiques selling all things Missouri-made. You’ll find Missouri wines and spirits, hand-crafted soaps, jewelry, photography and artwork, gourmet foods, fresh coffee beans, teas and more. If you’re there during lunch, stop in to the Basement Bistro, serving up homemade sandwiches, salads, wraps and flatbread pizzas.
To get your wine fix, spend an afternoon at Fence Stile Vineyard & Winery (31010 West 124th St., Excelsior Springs, 816-500-6465, fencestile.com). The family-run winery is set in the rolling hills of the town, and you can stop in for a wine tasting or to sip a glass on the patio and by the fire pit. You can bring a picnic, and the winery will help pair your food with their wine. Or you can call ahead and have a custom picnic ready when you arrive. Take your kids and pets along to enjoy a tour in the property’s caves, or listen to some live music on most weekends.
The town of Excelsior Springs was established around the demand for the healing mineral waters of the springs nearby. You can learn more about the town’s history at the Hall of Waters Visitor Center & Cultural Museum (201 E. Broadway Ave., Excelsior Springs, 816-637-2811, exspgschamber.com). For even more Missouri history, buckle up and make a short drive to Kearney to see Jesse James’ Birthplace (21216 Jesse James Road, Kearney, 816-736-8500, claycountymo.gov). Tour the restored home and see a collection of James family artifacts before walking the trail to the farmhouse where Jesse and Frank grew up.