John Ray stood in his cornfield watching the nightmarish scene unfold before him, the rest of his family crouched in the farmhouse cellar. Cannon booms resonated in the usually quiet setting. Soldiers’ cries pierced the hot, humid summer Ozark air as bloody bodies fell. The Battle of Wilson’s Creek, in which 1,317 Union Soldiers and 1,222 Confederate soldiers lost their lives, is considered the first significant Civil War battle west of the Mississippi River. John Ray’s farmhouse is the only original structure that still stands today. It is one of the eight interpretive stops at Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield in Springfield, Missouri. Read more
The young man at the Hurts Donut counter in Springfield, Missouri, told us, “When they first started, people were like, people aren’t gonna wait out in a line for a donut.” Yet, two days before our visit, a Sunday morning, there was a line out the door for four hours. What’s all the hype over donuts? One look in the donut cases will tell you. Hurts donuts are the wackiest, most over-the-top donuts I have ever eaten. Read more
I’ve tasted artisan dark chocolate candies from shops throughout the Midwest. I have savored every bit of every chocolate I’ve nibbled: chocolate infused with flavors like rosemary or chili; beautiful chocolates with a colorful coating painted like artwork; and decadent dark chocolate truffles. But until I discovered Askinosie Chocolate, I had never had an artisan chocolate made completely from scratch, starting with the bean. Read more
What better place to hold a murder mystery dinner than a haunted castle, especially as a prelude to a ghost tour? A murder mystery would certainly set the mood for the haunted tour that we would attend later that night. We approached the daunting limestone Pythian Castle just before dusk, walking up the stairs toward the massive wooden entrance doors. Read more
A good farmers market is a foodie’s gold mine. Veggies and fruits, organic meats and eggs, artisan breads and organic honey brought to the market directly from the growers and producers are as fresh as you’ll find. The Farmers Market of the Ozarks (FMO) brings all of that, and more, to you each week, year-round. The impressive market opened in April of 2012. Only one year later it was named the number 15 farmers market in the country by The Daily Dish. Read more
It was 1938, the heyday of The Mother Road, when brothers Elwyn and Lawrence Lippman built eight sandstone cottages on their grandfather’s apple orchard along Route 66 in Springfield, Missouri, and accented the property with a rail fence. By 1946 the motel had grown to 28 rooms and in the early 1950s became part of the newly formed Best Western chain of motels. The property went through many upgrades from the mid-1950s to the early 1970s, including changing from cottages to a strip motel. However, by the early 1990s, the Rail Haven had started to slip.
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Under new ownership, “Route 66” was added to the name and the motel was fully remodeled to include modern amenities but to maintain its vintage flavor, exactly what we found on our recently stay. In fact, we stayed there once before, a few years ago, and it was apparent the rooms have been updated again since then.
The 93-room motel, made up of several strips, is still an outdoor access, park-at-your-door type of motel, each room with its own porch light and many with a chair for sitting outside.
Inside, the rooms are like many lower priced but nicely kept mid-range motels. You won’t find a big fluffy duvet or a dozen pillows on the bed, but the rooms are comfortable and clean with plenty of room for an easy chair, desk and other standard motel furniture and amenities. Our room also included a microwave and refrigerator.
The small bathroom had obviously been updated with new fixtures, which I was glad to see. Outdated, worn bathrooms are one of my pet peeves. My only complaint is that the small sink doesn’t leave much room for toiletries and grooming appliances. I ended up plugging my flat iron in at the desk and doing my hair there.
The complimentary breakfast is served in the building that is also the motel lobby. Gas pumps and a vintage 1950s-era Ford sedan outside the building add to the Route 66 nostalgia. Breakfast includes your standard spread of pastries, cereals, make-your-own waffles, a couple of hot items and beverages, definitely enough to keep you energized until your Route 66 lunch stop.
The Best Western Route 66 Rail Haven is located at 203 S Glenstone in Springfield, Missouri. Check the web site for room rates and availability.
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