Joplin is a city in southwest Missouri that started life as a mining boomtown at the end of the 19th century. It is located on Route 66 and is a starting point for tourists driving along this historic road. Certain attractions may be temporarily closed or require advance reservations. Some restaurants are currently offering pickup only. Hours/availability may have changed.
1.George Washington Carver National Monument
© NPS Photo
The George Washington Carver National Monument is a park established in 1943 in Newton County, Missouri. The park is located near the 210-acre farm where George Washington Carver, a world-renowned scientist, educator, botanist, chemist, agronomist, and inventor, was raised. It was the first national monument established in honor of an African American and the first one dedicated to a non-president. Sculptures in the park include a statue of Carver as a young boy and the George Washington Carver Talking Bust. Visitors can see his birth site as they walk along the ¾-mile-long Carver Trail, which also showcases the boy Carver statue and numerous plaques with inspiring quotes by George Washington Carver. Part of the park is also the historic Carver House, the cemetery where the members of the Carver family members were buried, and 140 acres of carefully restored tallgrass prairie.
5646 Carver Road, Diamond, MO 64840, Phone: 417-325-4151
2.Candy House Gourmet, Joplin, Missouri
© Courtesy of Artem Shadrin - Fotolia.com
Candy House Gourmet is large candy factory in downtown Joplin that has been a local delight since 1970. The owners have changed over the years, but the current owner has inherited the old recipes and continues to make everyone’s favorite sweets. They make everything by hand: Chocolates, truffles, English toffee, caramel pecan treats, and gourmet popcorn in all sorts of flavors including brittle, fudge, divinity, pecan logs, sea salt caramels and much more. In the spring, they dip fresh ripe strawberries in chocolate, and in the fall they do the same thing with apples. The factory includes a large showroom where you can browse and load your basket while enjoying free samples. There is a window to the next door factory where they make all the goodies. You can join a tour of the factory and see how it is all made.
510 Kentucky Ave, Joplin, MO 64801, Phone: 417-623-7171
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3.Grand Falls, Joplin, Missouri
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Grand Falls is Missouri’s largest continuously flowing waterfall. It is formed by the water of Shoal Creek dropping down 12 feet into a large pool, which is popular for swimming and fishing. The falls spill over a ledge of chert rock 163 feet across. What makes the fall so unique is that there is water in the creek year round, so the waterfall is always running. Above the falls is a man-made dam, built to form a reservoir that provides water to Joplin. Next to the falls are more outcroppings of chert that are filled with water, creating pools that kids love to splash in.
5685 Riverside Dr, Joplin, MO 64804, Phone: 417-625-4750
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4.Joplin 44 Petro, Joplin, MO
© Joplin 44 Petro
Joplin is nice place to visit, but even if you are just passing through, you have to check out Joplin 44 Petro. It is far more than just a gas station and a place to service your truck. The place is massive, and kids just love the huge truck that rotates in the middle of the store. There are several restaurants, a convenience store, movie theatre, showers, laundry service, snack shop, and all sorts of travel gear for sale. They also host large events such as the 9th Annual Guilty By Association Truck Show, which had more than 400 semis on display.
4240 MO-43, Joplin, MO 64804, Phone: 417-624-3400
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5.Joplin Museum Complex
© Joplin Museum Complex
Joplin Museum Complex is a great place to learn about the city’s past as a mining boomtown. The complex, located in Schifferdecker Park, combines two mining museums with a range of exciting exhibits. The Everett J. Ritchie Tri-State Mineral Museum takes you inside a replica of an old mine shaft, where you can learn about the origins of Joplin as a mining town and see some interesting rocks, some of them glowing. The Dorothea B. Hoover Historical Museum includes exhibits on historic Route 66, Bonnie and Clyde's adventures while in Joplin, the Joplin Sports Hall of Fame, the National Cookie Cutter Museum, the mysterious Spooklight, woolly mammoth fossils, Native American arrowheads, and a giant 6-foot dinosaur made of scrap metal.
504 S Schifferdecker Ave, Joplin, MO 64801, Phone: 417-623-1180
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6.Red Onion Cafe, Joplin, Missouri
© Red Onion Café
Red Onion Café is a cozy, pleasant restaurant in historic downtown Joplin. Located in a nicely renovated 100-year-old building, the unpretentious decor with industrial touches, exposed pipes on the ceiling, and comfortable banquettes creates a perfect atmosphere for family dinners as well as business lunches. The menu is traditional mid-Western with specialties such as David's Fried Chicken Salad and a smoked chicken dip. Red Onion Café prides itself on fresh salads that are chopped every morning, house-made salad dressings, steaks that are cut daily in their own kitchen, and every entree cooked to order. Red Onion also offers first-class catering for events of any size.
203 E 4th St, Joplin, MO 64801, Phone: 417-623-1004
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7.Route 66 Park, Joplin, Missouri
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Route 66 Mural Park is a public park opened in 2013 in Joplin, Missouri. It serves as a touchstone for tourists exploring US Route 66 and as a focal point for preserving the historic route in Missouri. Inside the park are two large tile murals designed by artists Jon White and Chris Auckerman and produced by Images In Tile USA, named Cruisin’ into Joplin and The American Ribbon. One of the park’s most popular features is a red mock 1964 Corvette that visitors like to sit in for a photo opportunity. Near the intersection of Main and 7th Street is another mural that covers the south side of the iconic green hardware store Pearl Brothers.
619 S. Main Street, Northeast Corner Joplin, MO 64801
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8.Sweet Caroline's, Joplin, Missouri
© Sweet Caroline's
Located in the beautiful old Gryphon Building on Joplin’s Main Street, Sweet Caroline’s is the place where the locals go for their coffee and ice creams. High ceilings, large pillars, and cute retro blue seating create a unique, cool atmosphere where you can spend hours sampling their ice creams. There are 32 flavors and they often change them. If you ask, they will give you free samples to help you choose, not an easy task. These ice creams are artisan, hand-dipped, and perfect, while their coffee is robust and full-flavored and you can smell it as soon you enter the shop. They also sell gourmet chocolates – try their salted-caramel turtles – as well as all kinds of old-fashioned candies for every occasion.
1027 S Main St, Joplin, MO 64801, Phone: 417-624-3000
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9 Best Things to Do in Joplin, Missouri
- George Washington Carver National Monument, Photo: NPS Photo
- Candy House Gourmet, Joplin, Missouri, Photo: Courtesy of Artem Shadrin - Fotolia.com
- Grand Falls, Joplin, Missouri, Photo: Courtesy of munst64804 - Fotolia.com
- Joplin 44 Petro, Joplin, MO, Photo: Joplin 44 Petro
- Joplin Museum Complex, Photo: Joplin Museum Complex
- Red Onion Cafe, Joplin, Missouri, Photo: Red Onion Café
- Route 66 Park, Joplin, Missouri, Photo: Courtesy of slonme - Fotolia.com
- Sweet Caroline's, Joplin, Missouri, Photo: Sweet Caroline's
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of munst64804 - Fotolia.com
A great place to learn about the city’s rough past as a mining town is the Joplin Museum Complex, with a range of exhibits that include some unique rocks, a tooth of a wooly mammoth, and an exhibit on the robbers Bonnie and Clyde, who spent some time in the city in 1933. Nature lovers will enjoy Grand Falls, which spills down 12 feet into a pool popular for swimming and fishing. The Wildcat Glades Conservation and Audubon Center protects the vulnerable chert glades as well as the unique biodiversity of the area, while the George Washington Carver National Monument celebrates works of the world-famous scientist and naturalist George Washington Carver.
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Attraction Spotlight: The Wildcat Glades Conservation & Audubon Center
The Wildcat Glades Conservation & Audubon Center is located in Joplin, Missouri, a small town in the southwestern corner of the state. The site is home to almost half the acreage of the world’s only 60 acres of Chert Glades, a wetlands habitat found only in southwest Missouri. In partnership with the City of Joplin and the Missouri Department of Conservation, the Audubon Center teaches respect for nature, and lives what they teach through ongoing conservation efforts.
Over 4 miles of trails wind through the acreage of the Wildcat Glades and offer visitors everything from a leisurely stroll to a robust rugged hike. The St. John’s Creek Trail takes guests past the historic site of the Redings Mill Bridge, where the foundation of the old mill can still be seen. Birds frequently seen along this trail include osprey and the belted kingfisher. The Bluff Trail overlooks Shoal Creek with a 50-foot climb up a chert bluff, which opens into Mother Nature's Gap, a large 40-foot deep fissure in the chert rock. The Rotary Centennial Trail is an easy hike to a viewing platform that overlooks a pond and the chert glades. The Audubon Center trails also intersect with the City of Joplin trails, paved stretches of trail that are suitable for pets and cycling as well as hikers.
The variety of habitat at the Wildcat Park lends itself to spectacular bird watching. Next to the nation’s last remaining chert glades are chert cliffs and savannah, bottomland forest, and the upland forest typical of the Ozarks, with oak and hickory trees. Wildlife seen at the park includes 163 species of birds. 48 of the seen species have been confirmed to nest in the area. Species unique to the Wildcat Glades include the Neosho Mucket Mussel, the 2-inch long eastern narrowmouth toad and the cave salamander, known for a tail longer than its body.
Indoor and outdoor exhibits at the Audubon Center are suitable for all ages and educate guests on the chert glades ecosystem, the Missouri Ozarks, and the wildlife found in the Wildcat Glades. Small children and others can easily use the Wentzscopes, which allow guests to view microscopic life in the water and see magnified samples of plant and animal life. A 1,300 gallon aquarium and terrarium system displays fish, turtles and snakes native to the area.
Outdoor exhibits include interpretative signage throughout the chert glades, the trails and an on-site cave. A new American Kestrel aviary is home to several Kestrels, rescued by the Audubon Center and unable to return to the wild. Wildlife viewing easily occurs from the Audubon Center’s deck. Bird feeders and native plants attract several different species throughout the year, including Missouri’s state bird, the eastern bluebird.
History: The Wildcat Glades Conservation & Audubon Center operates in partnership with the City of Joplin and is home to the offices of the Missouri Department of Conservation. The LEED Certified Audubon Center opened in 2007. The site is one of 41 Audubon Centers nationwide, each of them under the arm of the National Audubon Society, a non-profit environmental organization founded in 1905 and named after John James Audubon who famously catalogued and illustrated America’s birds in his Birds of America book in the mid 1800’s. The Wildcat Glades Center is free to the public, and as a non-profit organization relies on membership and donations to support the Audubon Center and its programming.
Ongoing Programs and Education: Educational programs at the Audubon Center include school programs for groups and homeschooled children of all ages. Programming varies by age group and ranges from animal classification, to animal lifecycles, to the study of ecosystems and green technologies. On-site programs for school groups range from 2-hour tours to full day studies with lunch included. Pre-school programs take place the second Saturday of each month and incorporate nature education with story time and puppet shows. Adult group programming is customized based on the needs and special interests of each group. The Center frequently hosts workshops and classes related to gardening with native plants.
Annual events include the Shoal Creek Water Festival. The family friendly August event is free, and includes a cardboard boat contest, shoebox boat race, children’s fishing contest, and dunk tank alongside educational booths and nature programs.
Past and Future Exhibits: The Audubon Center is home to two gallery spaces that showcase the work of local artists. Products of the Center’s programming are also displayed, such as youth artwork from the Center’s Nature's Artwork Summer Day Camp.
201 Riviera Dr, Joplin, MO 64804, Phone: 417-782-6287
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