This post was sponsored by Springfield, Missouri Convention & Visitors Bureau. All opinions expressed here are my own.
Well, it’s my last of three posts from my fabulous visit to Springfield, MO. I had so many wonderful experiences and artful adventures in Springfield, I think about them daily.
Imagine going to a brand new place, with brand new people, doing brand new things for an entire weekend. I realized that I actually crossed a lot of things off my bucket list on this trip. For reals! OK, I didn’t know they were even on my bucket list, but now that I did the things below, I’m writing them down and crossing them off…
My first time eating sushi!
The real stuff, not just California rolls! I never thought I’d be one to taste, much less, order sushi. But the universe had a different plan for me. Our group dined at Kai After Dark on the second evening of our Springfield, MO visit. I politely ordered something safe – grilled salmon. But that isn’t what arrived. I wasn’t paying attention and accidentally ordered a raw sushi plate. When it arrived, it looked sooo pretty and proud, it practically winked at me. I didn’t have the heart to send it back. Arghhh – I’m bummed I didn’t get a photo, I think I was in the middle of a silent anxiety attack over whether or not to eat it or starve for the night, and my camera skills failed me.
I took a deep breath and…TRIED IT! #LifeChanger I LOVED it! I can’t believe I’d missed out on the glory that is sushi all the years of my life. I’ve had it three times since I’ve been home from the trip. Yes, me and spicy tuna rolls are besties now.
This photo above is from the Kai After Dark web site, this is one of their most popular rolls, the ‘Oh My God’ Roll! It comes with shrimp tempura, & crab, topped with shrimp, avocado, sriracha, mayo, eel sauce. And yes, I tried that too. Eel sauce! For reals! Kai After Dark is known for serving all kinds of creative dishes, I noticed the locals each had their favorite.
Now for the rest of my life, whenever I eat sushi, I’ll think of Kai After Dark!
I rode The Trolley Bike!
I’ve always seen these and thought, “No way will my bootie fit on that little seat.” Well, you know what? After the sushi revelation, I decided to try The Trolley Bike too! We each climbed up on a seat, placed our purses and bags on the inside shelves, sipped on beverages and pedaled our way up, down and around downtown Springfield, MO. To rent The Trolley Bike, you have to call ahead and reserve your group or spot. It’s not like a cable car where you can just jump on at random. We all chuckled when people made the attempt. We sipped our frosty drinks, raised a brow at each other as if to say “Ha! They tried it!” This was OUR night with the trolley bike, lol! We weren’t about to share.
Sightseeing, refreshments, exercise, great company = best night ever!
Every so often we stopped to get off and walk around the First Fridays Art Walk that was going on. We shopped for crafts from local artists, listened to bands, and took gobs of pictures for our Instagram. I loved hearing the story of the owners of The Trolley Bike, Brian and Cortney. They both have day jobs, but once the sun sets, they create a magical moonlight adventure for their guests. The couple tell jokes, share stories, crank up the tunes, serve your favorite drink and will even take over the power steering in case you are too tired to pedal.
Springfield, MO is home to America’s only cavern ride, Fantastic Caverns. We climbed into an extended jeep and were led inside the dark, mysterious caves of the Ozarks. But it wasn’t just about driving through and marveling at the minerals. Our bubbly guide shared stories from decades past about the very spots we passed through. Speakeasies, concerts, secret meetings and more.
The stories started in 1862 when an Ozark farmer and his dog came across the cavern accidentally. Five years later, twelve brave ladies answered a newspaper ad asking for volunteers to be the inaugural explorers of the cave. You bet they put their names on the wall! Wouldn’t you? Talk about girl power!
I’m not gonna lie, these caverns have witnessed many events from past eras. For us, passing through, you could feel the energy all the way through to your bones. The cold crisp air begged to share all it had witnessed. At one point I asked if the caverns were haunted and the guide said, “Absolutely not!” Call me overly sensitive, but I could feel some very strong vibes. It made the experience all the morning exciting!
Here’s a picture of our group!
I visited a chocolate factory!
There are few things in life that I will wear a hairnet for: Glitter. The life of my children. And chocolate. Who knew the latter would come into play on this trip?
This follicle sacrifice came by way of Askinosie Chocolate. I don’t even know where to begin with this story. The owner/founder is Shawn Askinosie, a former criminal defense lawyer who wanted to balance the moral scales, so to say, of his past.
In 2005, he decided he wanted to become a force of good for his global, national and local community. And he loved chocolate. But here is where his story veers from most others. He didn’t only want to sell and serve chocolate, he aimed to process it direct from the bean. Something only a few people did in entire country. He researched, sourced and imported the beans from all over the world. By that, I mean his passport pages are literally filled with customs stamps. He then bought a tabletop grinder and went to work on his secret recipes.
Fast forward to present day and he now owns two buildings where he produces, sells and distributes his signature blends of chocolate.
One of the things I really respect is that he strives to go beyond making monetary profits. He runs a program for youth-at-risk kids that teaches them the art of business and entrepreneurship. He also has a line of chocolate bars inspired by other Springfield companies. On a global level, he sells packages of hot cocoa tablets that fund meals for kids in underdeveloped countries. $10 pays for 150 meals! What a wonderful, inspiring way to do business!
NOTE: Leave a comment on this post telling me your favorite place from Springfield that I visited and I’ll randomly choose one person to receive a package of the Tableya! I bought several and would love to gift one to one of YOU for reading my posts about Springfield!
Shawn was kind enough to walk us through the entire process. Even the top secret Willy Wonka areas where no cameras were allowed!
Visiting Askinosie definitely served as a game changer for me with Crafty Chica. I came home and immediately began to think of ways that I would make every part of my business a win-win for all involved!
On to the next adventure…
I had a foot treatment in communal setting…
This was a funny memory because our foot treatment was our first event of the entire trip and all of us bloggers sat in a big room, in a circle – and bared our toes. It was like, “Oh, hello, here are my feet!” It was a great icebreaker for our group to laugh and get to know each other. After that, we all bonded because we’d seen each other with a our feet in a big bowl of green water! This was at Zen3 Spa and Bodyworks. Each of us had our own private foot expert to prep and relax us for the days ahead.
Oh my gosh, there are so many more things we did that I didn’t even cover, but here is a list of them!
Druff’s – Artisan grilled cheese sandwiches.
Leong’s Asian Diner – Home of the signature Springfield-style cashew chicken.
Gailey’s Breakfast Cafe – THE go-to place for breakfast when you are in springfield, MO.
Mother’s Brewery – A main staple of the city, and rightly so.
Wonders of Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium – One of the largest, most immersive conservation attractions in the world.
Thank you for reading through my Springfield posts (Crafty Finds and 5 Must-Do Things). And thank you to the Springfield, Missouri Convention & Visitors Bureau for inviting me on this exciting trip. I loved every moment and hope to return to this charming city with my family in tow!
To learn more about Springfield, make sure to follow #LoveSpringfield and visit http://lovespringfield.co/