Downtown Springfield Hotel near Route 66 and Missouri State University
Nat King Cole, Chuck Berry, and the Rolling Stones all sang about “getting your kicks on Route 66.” The United States’ first transcontinental paved highway, Route 66 stretches from the Great Lakes to the Pacific coast and runs right through Springfield, Missouri, where the route was officially born in 1926. You can get a sense of the highway’s glory days at the mom-and-pop diners near the upscale University Plaza Hotel, a TripAdvisor 2014 Certificate of Excellence winner. The hotel is centrally located in the Jordan Valley Park neighborhood just across from the Missouri State University campus and Springfield Expo Center.
Executive Chef John Luchtel helms the hotel’s Terrace Grill, crafting simple dishes with local and seasonal ingredients. In the morning, take advantage of a complimentary breakfast buffet. For dinner, you can order from an à la carte menu with dishes such as Angus beef sliders topped with poblano sauce and desserts such as chocolate crème brûlée. Select options include a $20 dining credit and two welcome drinks.
Springfield, Missouri: Small City with Resurgent Downtown
Though it’s Missouri’s third-largest city, Springfield still brims with small-town charm. In recent years, the downtown area has seen a resurgence of restaurants, bars, and nightlife. For an introduction to the area, find the Jefferson Avenue Footbridge, the world’s longest pedestrian footbridge still in use.
For a day trip that includes a show or two, take the roughly one-hour drive south to Branson—a miniature, more-family-friendly version of Las Vegas. Dozens of stages and music halls line Branson’s main strip, some of which are owned by stars such as Dolly Parton. On any given night, you can watch anything from country-music performances to circus acrobatics to magic shows.