Getaway to Carthage, Missouri

Just one hour west of Springfield, Carthage is home to a darn cute town square, charming Victorian buildings, one of the last drive-in theaters in the state, and a hopping food truck scene.

By Katie Pollock Estes

Jun 2022

Food trucks lined up at night in Carthage, Missouri
Photo courtesy CarthageDon’t forget to fill your belly with delicious food on Food Truck Fridays at Carthage’s Central Park.

1. Appreciate the Architecture

Carthage’s historic district is one of the largest in the state with a National Register of Historic Places designation. Park at the end of Grand Street to take a self-guided walking tour of the road’s gorgeous Victorian homes built between 1870 and 1910. Or, schedule a private tour by contacting Carthage Historic Preservation

2. Do Something Quirky

Stroll through Red Oak II, a little bitty fake-historic, super-retro village that gives off some serious ghost town vibes. It’s named after the very real Red Oak, Missouri, a town that faded away after World War II. In the late 1980s, a former Red Oak resident named Lowell Davis rebuilt it as a faux community with a jail, diner, gas station, town hall and more.

3. Shop on the Square

Take a walk around the cute town square and discover the local shops. Carthage Olive Oil Company has more than 40 varieties of olive oil and vinegar, perfect for cooking. You could snag some stylish women’s fashions at Village Square Boutique and browse around for treasures at Goad’s Antique Mall.

4. Get Your Fill

Hungry from all your exploring? Food Truck Friday takes place at Carthage’s Central Park every week, and vendors from around the region show up to feed hungry patrons in a scenic setting. A few favorites include Chuy’s Tacos, Lae’s Authentic Egg Rolls and Churros Colima. There is live music too—plus fun balloon animal artists for the kids.

5. Cuddle up for a Movie

There are only a handful of classic drive-in movie theaters left in Missouri, and one of them is located in Carthage. The 66 Drive-In opened for the season in April. On warm nights, it’s an awesome activity for date night or a night out with the kids. Tickets are less than $10, the retro sign is lit up in bright neon, and the vibe is pure nostalgia.