Written by Anna Mercer
Students are able to survive the most frigid winter months by looking forward to one thing: spring break. The customary week off in March is often regarded as the gateway to summer, but explorers don’t need to travel far in order to make the most of break. The following 10 activities are located across Missouri, and there’s sure to be something for everyone!
1. Elephant Rocks State Park in Belleview
Elephant Rocks State Park is a natural oddity that many Missouri residents visit each year. The park has massive granite boulders that stand end to end as if they were elephants standing in a line. Elephant Rocks is a natural amusement park where both children and adults can climb over and around the boulders while also learning about the history of quarrying. The park also includes the Braille Trail, which is a paved, level path through the boulders designed to be accessible for all people.
2. Explore the Delmar Loop in St. Louis
The Delmar Loop in St. Louis has been named one of the “10 Great Streets of America” by the American Planning Association, and it is no surprise why. This area is home to over 140 restaurants and shops that are truly one-of-a-kind. Watch root beer be bottled at Fitz’s and then enjoy a meal and music at Blueberry Hill (read more about the restaurant here). Between snacking and shopping, guests can check out the St. Louis Walk of Fame stars that line Delmar street.
3. Tour the Missouri State Penitentiary in Jefferson City
A tour of the Missouri State Penitentiary is a great activity for anyone with an interest in history. During its peak, the Missouri State Penitentiary housed almost 5,000 inmates, including the eventual assassin of Martin Luther King Jr. It operated as a prison for 168 years and closed its doors in 2004. Tours of various lengths are offered, including some ghost tours that investigate paranormal happenings at the Penitentiary. Check out this Detours article for a closer look at the Penitentiary.
4. Snow Tubing at Snow Creek in Kansas City
For the adventurous, a trip to Snow Creek in Kansas City is the perfect way to get outside this spring break. Using man-made snow, Snow Creek offers a way to snowboard, ski and snow tube without having to leave Missouri. “Snow Creek is a great place for people of all ages and abilities, and I love the rush of adrenaline I get when flying down the hill on a snow tube,” said Truman State University sophomore Hailee Baer. Snow Creek’s website has a daily snow report that allows visitors to see what conditions to expect before heading out for a day of winter activities. For those craving a spring break on the slopes, this is a way to fulfill that desire.
5. Mel’s Hard Luck Diner in Branson
Musical theater lovers will enjoy eating at Mel’s Hard Luck Diner in Branson. Servers at the 1950s themed restaurant sing songs as they deliver orders. Mel’s doesn’t just hire anyone — many of their staff members are actors from Branson’s most popular shows. “When you come to visit the lineup of singers almost always is different so it’s never the same show,” said Brandon Norris, general manager of Mel’s. “We sing a variety of music so there is something everyone has heard before and will enjoy.” On the menu are burgers, sandwiches and comically large desserts that are perfect to share with a group. Mel’s Hard Luck Diner is open Wednesday through Saturday and is a fun addition to any Branson visit.
6. Tour Askinosie Chocolate Factory in Springfield
A tour of Askinosie Chocolate allows visitors to see exactly how “bean-to-bar chocolate” is made. Founder Shawn Askinosie travels all over the world to source the best possible cocoa beans, and a tour of the factory allows visitors to see the process from beginning to end. “The 45-minute experience also covers highlights of the unique Askinosie business model which balances making great tasting chocolate and doing the most good in the communities where we work…” said Chief Kinship Officer Melissa Gelner. Public tours occur every Tuesday at 3:30 and cost $5, which includes plenty of chocolate samples.
7. Take a pottery class at the Mud Room Studio in Columbia
Feeling creative? Try your hand at ceramics at the Mud Room Studio in Columbia. All class offerings are listed on their website and can be scheduled from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. If artists are more interested in painting pottery than making it, they can select one of the many available pre-made pieces and decorate it in whatever way they’d like. The experts then place the pieces in the kiln and return it to guests four to seven days later.
8. Glore Psychiatric Museum in St. Joseph
For those with an interest in the peculiar, Glore Psychiatric Museum in St. Joseph is full of oddities. The museum is located in what was once called “State Lunatic Asylum No. 2,” which was one of the major psychiatric treatment facilities in Missouri for over 100 years. It is now home to hundreds of artifacts and replicas used in the early treatment of mental illness. The museum also includes exhibits featuring letters and artwork created by residents of the institution. While some may find this museum disturbing, it provides a unique insight into the inhumane treatments patients were subjected to.
9. Golf Cart Tour at Top of the Rock in Ridgedale
Located near the Arkansas border, Top of the Rock is known for two things — their state-of-the-art golf course and the massive sinkhole that opened in 2015. A lesser known attraction that Top of the Rock provides is an innovative way to see some of the natural features of the Ozarks. Visitors can book a self-guided golf cart tour to see caves, waterfalls and views of Table Rock Lake. This tour is handicap accessible and is open year round.
10. Truman Presidential Library in Independence
As the only presidential library in Missouri, the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum has a wealth of information about Truman’s life and his presidency. It is located in Independence, just a 20-minute drive from Kansas City. The museum features a large mural by Thomas Hart Benton, a famous artist from Neosho, Missouri. This mural covers over 450 square feet and depicts the history of the city of Independence. The Harry S. Truman Library also offers “White Glove Wednesdays,” where they display rare artifacts that are not usually accessible to the public.