As you make your way into downtown Joplin, Missouri, along the famous Route 66, you’ll see the city’s history and charm depicted in beautiful murals along and off Main Street.
Discover Joplin’s diversity in the up-and-coming art scene and local businesses that make these century-old downtown buildings their homes. Not far from the city center, you can immerse yourself in the beautiful landscapes of the Ozark Mountains of southwest Missouri.
Downtown Joplin: The Sunshine Lamp District
Downtown’s Sunshine Lamp District features charming historic buildings and vintage street lamps. Along this stretch, you can shop, dine, and enjoy nightlife and events. With the street lamps illuminated, I found myself at bar and music venue JB’s Piano Bar. Shortly after arriving, the lively bartender poured me a craft beer and directed me toward the stage where a local band, The Too’s, were getting ready to perform. As the bustling crowd gathered, the bright lights and the sound of their tuned guitars indicated that it was time to start the show. If you’re looking for a fun night at a local Joplin hangout, this is the place to be.
Joplin Museum Complex: Joplin’s History and Growth
At the Joplin Museum Complex, you can learn how Joplin became Missouri’s fourth-largest metropolitan area. Much of Joplin’s growth came from mining (zinc and lead, mostly), and at the Everett J. Ritchie Tri-State Mineral Museum located inside the complex, you’ll get a sense of how mining is intrinsically tied to the city. You’ll also find an unparalleled mineral collection of lead and zinc guarded by Percy Katz, Roxie and Crystal – the resident cats of the complex. Outside the building, take a photo with the old tools used by early miners.
The Everett J. Ritchie Tri-State Mineral Museum at the Joplin Museum Complex
Candy House Chocolate Factory: Gourmet Treats for the Family
With its loyal customers and excellent reviews, the award-winning Candy House Chocolate Factory really speaks for itself! If you’re not familiar with its delicious English toffees or sea-salt caramels, then it’s time to become acquainted. As I toured the factory, each room provided me with a new mouth-watering smell: from the smooth aroma of peanut brittle cooling, to the sweet scent of strawberry-filled truffles. If you miss the free tour, you can always watch the process from the showroom’s massive windows.
The Candy House Chocolate Factory in Joplin, Missouri
Wildcat Glades Conservation and Audubon Center: Nature of the Ozarks
Don’t be fooled by the abundant plant-life surrounding Wildcat Glades Conservation and Audubon Center; Missouri’s first Audubon Nature Center incorporates innovative “green” building technologies into its structure. When you walk inside, the first thing you’ll see is a 4,921-liter aquarium with turtles and fish, including smallmouth and largemouth bass and goggle-eyes.
After visiting the center, I explored the beautiful trails on the grounds where visitors can hike, bicycle and picnic. Along the Rotary Centennial Trail, I watched from the overlook as a heron flew over Silver Creek Pond. From this vantage point, I observed Southwest Missouri’s unique chert glades. There are only 24.3 hectares of this habitat left in the world, and 11 hectares are located within the Wildcat Park.
During my time in Joplin, I enjoyed art and culture, local history and truly unique nature. Nevertheless, I only experienced a fraction of the town’s many attractions. If you’re driving along Missouri’s Route 66 and are searching for a crossroads of culture, look no farther than Joplin.
Grand Falls in the Wildcat Glades Conservation and Audubon Center in Joplin, Missouri