The Veggie Table

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As one who lives a plant based lifestyle, I’m always on the hunt for restaurants and cafés that offer vegan options. I’m fortunate that my hometown of Joplin, Missouri has several such restaurants. I regularly patronize those.

And it’s a delight to discover a new place.

Recently, after walking on the Tanyard Creek Nature Trail in Bella Vista, Arkansas, I checked to see if any cafés nearby offered vegan meals. Happily, one popped up a short distance away. Unfortunately, the café was closed on that day. However Bella Vista isn’t far from Joplin. Greg and I made a deliberate trip back to Bella Vista, just to check out The Veggie Table. I’m so glad that we did!

The Veggie Table title meme

The Veggie Table

First of all, I love the clever name of this café. Say it out loud a couple of times…veggie table…veggie-table….vegetable. I adore cleverness!

The Veggie Table is a health focused restaurant and bar. The emphasis is on presenting a variety of dishes that are vegan, gluten free, vegetarian, sustainable and organic. Their desire is to change the world and the way people eat, one meal at a time.

Their mission so resonates with me! This is a restaurant with a higher purpose and I am excited to share about my experience there and support their intentions.

The café is attractive and casual, making it the perfect hangout spot to meet friends, enjoy a delicious meal, have a drink….or all three!

The Veggie Table interior
The Veggie Table’s cute interior. I took this photo AFTER a sizeable group of diners left the restaurant.

Meet the Owner and Chef of The Veggie Table

I enjoyed meeting the owner and chef as we finished our meal.

Abby Milam is an Arkansas girl, born and raised in Fayetteville. She left for a time, to attend culinary school in Switzerland and to travel the world. During her travels she learned about other peoples, places, cultures, and food.

The love of cooking runs in her family. She grew up observing and learning from her grandmother, dad and mom. At some point she realized that the way food is raised, grown and consumed is unhealthy. Those realizations spurred her into action. Abby’s hope and goal is to make healthy food accessible to everyone.

She is doing that, admirably. The Veggie Table planned a spring opening this year. That was postponed slightly until July, due to COVID.

The Veggie Table Ferni with chips
My travel mascot Ferni accompanied us to The Veggie Table. She’s pictured here with veggie chips.

Enjoying an Amazing Vegan and Gluten Free Meal

Greg and I studied the menu. The Veggie Table offers a variety of healthy meals such as salads, with or without protein, bowls such as salmon quinoa or mushroom, and wonderful main dishes.

One can choose from bison burgers or impossible burgers, Waldorf chicken salad on an oat waffle or a mushroom Reuben sandwich with vegan cheese. Try a veggie wrap or a gluten free pizza on a cauliflower crust.

And the sides are just as tantalizing. Add sweet baby carrots with parsley to your meal or enjoy roasted Brussel sprouts or veggie chips. See the full everyday menu HERE.

We started with a bowl of crispy veggie chips to munch on. And we probably should have chosen different meals. However, when we saw the tostados on the menu, we both knew that’s what we wanted. They are the BEST tostados I’ve ever eaten. Greg felt the same way. Baked corn tortillas come topped with lentils, quinoa, shredded cabbage, jalapeno, avocado, cilantro and salsa. Yum!

We did order different desserts. Because yes, The Veggie Table offers vegan and gluten free desserts, served in tea cups! You know I had to have one, just to see it arrive in a tea cup. Greg sampled the banana pudding while I tried the chocolate avocado mousse with berries. Such wonderful desserts in perfectly sized portions. I savored a cup of herbal tea with my treat.

The Veggie Table tostados
The BEST tostados I’ve ever had and they are vegan and gluten free and BIG on taste.
The Veggie Table dessert
Chocolate avocado mousse with berries and a cup of hot tea.

Where to Find The Veggie Table

We so enjoyed our meal. The cozy interior encouraged us to linger and take our time with our food, which is the very best way to eat.

Our attentive waiter, Norm, kept glasses of water filled and offered helpful suggestions. He also answered my questions and directed Abby to our table when she was free.

And I appreciate Abby and the vision she carries. Greg and I plan another visit very soon, to sample more of this café’s tasty meals.

The Veggie Table is located at 1733 Forest Hills Blvd in Bella Vista, Arkansas, just south of the Missouri border. The café is open Wednesday through Saturday, 11:00 am to 9:00 pm. And Sunday they offer brunch from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm. I understand that the brunch is incredibly good. I can’t wait to try it.

Currently, masks are required when entering the restaurant and if you leave the table to go to the restroom, in accordance with their state’s regulations. Tables are spaced to maintain social distancing and the whole restaurant is meticulously clean.

If you live in the four state area, or happen to be passing through, treat yourself to the hearty and nourishing meals at The Veggie Table. You won’t regret it. And tell Abby I sent you!

The Veggie Table Ferni
Such cute decor.




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The Momentary

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This month’s Friday road trip took Greg, Ferni and me to NW Arkansas. An advantage to living in Joplin, Missouri is that Oklahoma and Kansas are literally minutes away and Arkansas lies 30 minutes to the south.

Thus far, my road trips include jaunts into Oklahoma and Arkansas plus a road trip in Missouri and a weekend getaway in Joplin. I’m looking at you now, Kansas! Next road trip I’ll find something to explore there.

Bentonville, Arkansas offers many fun attractions.  A new contemporary art museum/gathering place, The Momentary, drew our interest and curiosity this trip.

Come explore The Momentary with me and tour the fascinating Nick Cave exhibit, Until.

The Momentary title meme

The Momentary Museum

A former cheese factory, The Momentary repurposed the existing 63,000 square foot space to create a contemporary museum and social gathering place. The multidisciplinary building houses space for visual and performing arts, culinary experiences, festivals, artists in residence and more.

Architects left most of the building intact, minimizing the carbon footprint and the use of new materials while preserving a piece of Bentonville history.

Founded by the Walton Family, The Momentary’s mission is to champion contemporary art’s role in everyday life.

Admission is free. The Momentary is open Tuesday – Sunday, 10:00 – 7:00, closed Monday. During this time, masks that cover the nose and mouth are required at all times, while inside the building and on the grounds. Social distancing and the limitation of guests is in effect as well.

The Momentary boiler room
Original boiler room, inside The Momentary.

The building offers distinctive spaces.


The large, open galleries and attached smaller rooms feature art and exhibits that change throughout the year. The current exhibit, Nick Cave’s Until, remains at The Momentary through January 3, 2021.

The Tower

The 70 foot tall Tower contains multiple mezzanines for visual arts, performances and social events. It’s capped by Tower Bar, a social space offering drinks, bar-type food and spectacular views.

Seating is currently limited to 40 guests and parties limited to 10 people.

Tower Bar hours are Tuesday – Thursday, 5:00 – 10:00, Friday – Saturday 5:00 – midnight, closed Sunday – Monday.

The Momentary tower
The Tower

Rode House

In Rode House enjoy films, performances and gatherings in a customizable space with an adjustable floor system. The Rode Bar, located off of Rode House, offers patio seating for drinks and snacks.

Rode House hours, Wednesday – Thursday 5:00 – 9:00, Friday 4:00 – 11:00, Saturday 11:00 – 11:00, closed Sunday – Tuesday.

The Momentary courtyard
The Rode Bar with outdoor seating.

The Breakroom

Located in the original breakroom of the cheese factory, The Breakroom offers lunch and dinner in a space overlooking the galleries. Due to following COVID guidelines, The Breakroom is temporarily closed.

Onyx Coffee Lab

Located to the right of the main entrance, on the lower level, Onyx Coffee Lab provides a fun place to rest and grab a coffee and a snack. Sit inside or on the outdoor patio.

Hours, Tuesday – Sunday 10:00 – 7:00. Closed Monday.

Momentary Shop

The Momentary Shop offers prints and books by featured artists and wonderfully unique gifts.

Momentary Green

Outdoors Momentary Green provides room for activities, picnics, gatherings, music, art exhibits and special events.

The Momentary tent and sculptures
Momentary Green


Artist Nick Cave: Until

For Nick Cave, a dancer, fabric sculptor and performance artist based out of Chicago, Until is his largest, most ambitious project yet. The exhibit occupies 24,000 square feet of gallery space at The Momentary.

The title Until comes from the phrase, “innocent until proven guilty”. For some in the US, black men in particular, Nick explains that the words “guilty until proven innocent” ring more true. Until is the word that changes everything, the hinge into the unknown.

Nick’s new exhibit is, partly, a response to the killing of black men across the US.

He hopes that the immersive nature of his art invites the viewer to “step in”. Because once you step in, you are no longer an outside observer, you are implicated, involved.

Step into the different elements of the exhibit with me.

The Momentary wall art
The Momentary – art projected upon the walls and floor

Wind Ornament Forest

Walking into the Until Exhibit, the first large room features thousands of colorful spinners and pinwheels. Strung from ceiling to floor, the initial effect is dizzying, joyful and playful. A path winds through the forest of spinners that do indeed rotate, reflecting flashes light.

On closer inspection, I realize many of the spinners contain silhouettes of guns, bullets and targets. Those silhouettes powerfully change the whole feel of the room. The images within the twirling spinners brought to mind the words “moving targets”. It unsettled me and made me reflective, which is Nick’s intention I believe.

The Momentary pinwheels
The Momentary – the first room in the Until Exhibit, spinners and pinwheels
The Momentary Nick Cave Until
The Momentary – thousands of spinners fill the room. This is a small segment.

Crystal Cloud

Leaving the spinners, we enter a room divided into distinct areas.

I veer to the right, my attention captivated by the sparkling crystal cloud suspended above me. Thousands of crystals dangle from wires and chandeliers mounted on a cloud shaped structure.

As Nick worked on the spinners project, a question arose.

“Is there racism in heaven?”

The question birthed the crystal cloud. Beneath it, the chandeliers dazzle. Looking up through a large chandelier, I glimpsed a floor above, covered with found objects. Peering up reminds me of the song, “Holes in the Floor of Heaven”. The lyrics tell us that loved ones who pass on watch us and watch over us, through the holes in the floor of heaven.

Four yellow ladders give access to small platforms, which in turn offer views of heaven above the cloud. Nick collects found objects and heaven contains a wild assortment of ceramic birds and animals, gold statues, flowers, fruit, an old phonograph and, disturbing to me initially, those small lawn jockeys that used to be popular years ago. I never liked those statues.

They depict seated black boys holding out a lantern, a fishing pole or a ring through which horse reins could be tied. Nick rescues these statues, from flea markets and yard sales, and places dream catchers in their hands, symbolizing a new life where anything is possible.

We climb stairs to the mezzanine, to view the top of the cloud and other massive works of art better seen from above.

The Momentary crystal heaven
The Momentary – Crystal Cloud below
The Momentary - heaven
The Momentary – heaven above – Nick Cave Exhibit

Beaded Wall Art

After studying the top of the cloud, and allowing feelings to surface, I turn to examine the magnificent beaded wall art. Millions of glass and plastic beads, strung on netting, create waterfalls of color. These massive works of art boggle the mind, hanging in a three story space.

How long did it take to create these?

The security guard below told us to look for the hidden messages. They aren’t hard to find. On one wall hanging a peace sign and a happy face peer at us. On the other, the word POWER stands out.

Nick drew inspiration from graffiti marred cliffs he saw, as he traveled on the train from Penn Station in New York City. In that graffiti, words of hate caught his attention. Nick re-framed his experience, creating instead colorful art that offers hope and optimism.

The Momentary - hanging installation
The Momentary – beaded wall art
The Momentary inside hanging installation
Standing inside one of the wall hangings, looking up.

The Flow

The last room we visit contains a moving, visual work of art titled Flow Blow.

Fans on scaffolding continually blow shiny blue and silver mylar strands into the room, creating a soothing waterfall effect. The hum of the fans and the mesmerizing movement of the mylar strands work their magic.

Nick intends for this room to provide a peaceful environment to process thoughts and emotions. He hopes people walk away, back through the exhibit, changed by their experience.

The Momentary flow
The Momentary – Flow Blow

My Thoughts About Until

This is a unique and moving exhibit, by a talented artist.

I read that in 1992, Nick sat in a Chicago park, stunned by the news of the beating of Rodney King and the LA riots. Feeling vulnerable, as an African American man, and targeted, he gathered sticks off of the ground.

In his studio, he turned the sticks into his first soundsuit, a wearable sculpture with a defensive shell. Nick’s soundsuits effectively mask the entire body, erasing identity. This man’s art continues to provide a platform for civil discourse, debate, change and ultimately, hope.

I felt the contrast between the bright, colorful works of art and the deeper, sometimes darker messages they contain. I love that the exhibit is so large. It allows time to process images and feel the emotions as I slowly wander.

The mental image of Nick sitting on a park bench, wondering what might happen next, troubled me. I’ve never had a gun pointed at me. I’ve never been afraid that I am a target. The closest I can come to knowing that level of vulnerability and fear was when the EF5 tornado ripped through my Joplin neighborhood in 2011. Crouching in a closet, hearing the sounds of destruction around me, I didn’t know what was going to happen next. I didn’t know if I would survive.

That is a tiny fraction of what others feel, especially in the black community. And that hurts my heart.


I deeply appreciate the art of Nick Cave. My heart stirred, I feel inspired to create change. I want to listen and learn and discover how I can be that change.

Momentary is defined as “lasting for a short time”. It’s the perfect name for a place that frequently changes what they offer. My time at The Momentary was brief however the impact is lasting. I look forward to more experiences there. And I look forward to seeing what continues to unfold in my life as a result of my visit.

The Momentary Ferni
Ferni’s photo, at The Momentary.

Learn more about Nick Cave HERE.




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Titanic Museum Branson Missouri

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

Road Trip Friday is back, with a fun jaunt south to beautiful Branson, Missouri for a first experience. Greg accompanied me and of course my little travel mascot, Ferni the VW van, rode along too.

It’s been six years since I last visited Branson, home to a huge variety of attractions from music shows to the Silver Dollar City amusement park to outlet malls to interesting museums. My destination for this road trip was a museum I’ve wanted to visit for years and had yet to explore.

The Titanic Museum Branson Missouri is located at 3235 W 76 Country Blvd. There is a sister museum in Pigeon Ford, Tennessee as well.

We enjoyed lunch at a near by restaurant, explored the area for a bit and then arrived at the Titanic Museum ready to board the ship!

Titanic Museum Branson Missouri title meme

Why I Chose This Museum

I first became captivated by Titanic as a child. The story both fascinated me and horrified me. I didn’t realize then that my empathic abilities caused emotional overwhelm when encountering such catastrophic events. Even though I wanted to learn more, my little heart hurt and my intense sense of justice fired up over this tragedy. How could an unsinkable ship, sink? How could there not be enough lifeboats?

Fast forward to 1997 and the blockbuster film “Titanic“. I did not want to see the movie for fear I couldn’t handle it, emotionally. Apparently I was meant to view it though. After being tricked into seeing it at the theater, I did indeed find the movie difficult to watch. I thought my heart would explode.

However, after making it through that first viewing, I watched Titanic many more times. It’s one of my favorite films. And my love affair with the story grew. I discovered beauty in the lives of those who sailed on Titanic’s maiden voyage.

The Titanic Museum Branson Missouri opened on April 10, 2006. I finally stepped onboard on July 17, 2020.


Titanic Museum Branson Museum Ferni
Ferni’s photo at the Titanic Museum Branson Missouri

Titanic Museum Branson Missouri

Due to COVID19, safety protocol that follows CDC guidelines is currently in place for this museum. Tickets must be purchased online HERE so that staff can limit the number of visitors per time slot.

Face masks that cover the mouth and nose are required at all times while in the museum. Staff wear them too. And social distancing is encouraged as well.

When we arrived I took a few photos outside. Photography is not allowed inside, and understandably so. The museum is full of artifacts and photos from the ship.

I received a text message about thirty minutes before our boarding time, asking us to remain in the car until time to board. A second text arrived a short time later, welcoming us onboard. It was time to go!

Every guest is handed a boarding pass. On the back of it is a name of one of Titanic’s passengers along with details about their life on the ship. Keep that boarding pass. You might discover more info about your person during the tour. And toward the end of the visit, you find out whether your person survived or not.

Each of us also received a device that plays informative messages about particular displays and objects in the museum. The tours are self guided and may be taken at your own pace.

Titanic Museum Branson Missouri boarding pass
Boarding passes from Titanic Museum Branson Missouri

Touring the Museum

Since I can’t post any photos from inside the museum, I’ll use my words to share highlights of this fascinating experience.

The museum asks the question:

“How do you pay respect to the 2,208 passengers and crew aboard RMS Titanic?

Their answer? You tell their stories, everyday.

Titanic Stats

Titanic’s keel was laid down in Belfast, Ireland on March 31, 1909. She launched May 31, 1911 and set sail on her maiden voyage April 10, 1912.

The ship measured 882 feet in length and 92 feet in width. From her hull to the top of her stacks she stood 175 feet tall, making her the height of a 17 story building. Her service speed was 21 knots.

Titanic contained over 3 million rivets and carried 5,892 tons of coal to fuel her furnaces.

There are photographs, drawings, models and videos in the first few sections of the museum that capture Titanic coming together. She truly was an amazing ship, the queen of the White Star Line, offering the best in accommodations for her passengers.

Because Titanic was considered unsinkable, only 20 lifeboats were added, rather than the 64 the plans called for.

The Maiden Voyage

The RMS Titanic set sail carrying 2208 passengers and crew. For her first voyage she sailed with 54% of her capacity. Onboard were 324 first class passengers, 276 second class passengers, 709 third class passengers and 899 crew members. Surprisingly, 12 dogs traveled on Titanic, housed in the kennels on F deck. Only three survived, tiny dogs carried onto lifeboats by their owners.

The RMS stands for Royal Mail Streamer. Titanic carried mail, under contract with the British Royal Mail, 3,243 sacks containing 2000 plus pieces of mail each.

Titanic carried some of the wealthiest people in the world at that time, along with hundreds of immigrants from England, Ireland and Scandinavia seeking a fresh start in America. Prominent guests included American millionaire John Jacob Astor IV and his wife, Macy’s owner Isidor Straus and his wife and Denver millionairess Molly Brown.

The ship’s designer, Thomas Andrew, traveled to observe any problems and assess the performance of the ship. He went down with Titanic.

Titanic’s captain, Edward Smith, carried the rank of commodore. He intended to retire after the ship’s first voyage. He remained on Titanic as she sank.

Titanic Museum Branson Missouri entrance
Museum entrance

Father Browne’s Photo Collection

The museum is pleased to offer this incredible collection of photos from Father Francis Browne. This Jesuit priest with keen photography skills traveled on Titanic as she gathered passengers from Southampton, England, Cherbourg, France and Queenstown, Ireland.

Father Browne boarded in Southamptom and disembarked in Queenstown. He took many photographs of the ship and her passengers, including the last ever known photo of Titanic as she departed. Thanks to him we have a glimpse into Titanic’s world.

In this section of the museum, replicas of a third class room and hallway show the traveling conditions. Although they appear small and plain, they were considered extraordinary in Titanic’s day.

The Grand Staircase and First Class Suite

One of the most amazing sights in the museum is the replica of Titanic’s Grand Staircase. It is actual size and made from oak. At the top of those iconic stairs is the clock featured in the Titanic film, surrounded by two figures representing Honour and Glory crowning Time. This grand staircase, with its gold decor, glass chandeliers and stunning dome ceiling, marked the entrance to the first class section.

Additionally the staircase, which is 16 feet wide, extended 60 feet below on the ship, serving seven decks.

I loved pausing here for a moment, to take in this beautiful sight. I thought of Rose and Jack from the movie, meeting on this staircase.

Walking up the staircase, we viewed a replica of a first class suite, the one used by the Astors. Although not huge, it was much larger than the third class accommodations and nicely decorated.

Titanic Artifacts

Throughout the museum glass cases hold artifacts from the ship. These are not replicas. The items are from Titanic, obtained from families, private collections and pieces acquired by the museum. Every year they change artifacts at both museums to keep exhibits fresh.

We saw deck chairs, a life jacket, keys, a purse, silverware and silver serving pieces, baby shoes, dinner plates and serving dishes among other things. It’s amazing that these pieces remained intact. They provide a hint of the elegance of Titanic and give a peek into the personal lives of the passengers. I found the artifacts to be beautiful, in a haunting sort of way.

The Music Room

As we approached this room I heard a piano playing the theme song from the film Titanic. Sadness swept over me. Inside the room, a staff member, dressed appropriately in ship uniform, sat at the baby grand piano.

The room features large photographs of the eight musicians onboard Titanic. These men, members of a three piece ensemble and a five piece one, are well known for playing as the ship sank. The man finished playing the piano and then shared with us about each of these remarkable musicians.

Considered heroes, all eight men perished with the ship, playing music to keep the passengers calm. One second class passenger said:

“Many brave things were done that night, but none were more brave than those done by men playing minute after minute as the ship settled quietly lower and lower in the sea. The music they played served alike as their own immortal requiem and their right to be recalled on the scrolls of undying fame.”

Titanic Museum is the only place in the world that honors the eight musicians who sacrificed their lives that night.

Titanic Museum Branson Missouri ship
Impressive replica of the ship at the Titanic Museum Branson Missouri

Captain’s Bridge

As we neared the end of our tour, we explored the Captain’s Bridge with its brass instruments and large steering wheel. I noted that the wheel came from Edinburgh! Captain Smith, the officers and the quartermasters occupied the bridge. Each day the bridge crew was divided into six watches of five hours each.

Beyond the bridge we learned of that fateful night, April 14, 1912.

Four days into her maiden voyage, Titanic struck an iceberg at 11:40 pm. The ship steered south of the known ice field, however the crew received six warnings of sea ice in the area. Two lookouts in the crow’s nest spotted an iceberg straight ahead. With her speed at 22 knots, the ship could not turn quickly enough to avoid a glancing blow to her starboard side. Six of her sixteen compartments opened to the sea. Titanic’s “unsinkable” design could stay afloat with four compartments taking on water, but not six.

The shortage of lifeboats prompted crew to attempt boarding women and children first but in the chaos that protocol wasn’t strictly followed.  And poor evacuation management meant that many boats launched before they were completely full.

Titanic sank in 2 hours and 40 minutes, in the early hours of April 15, with more than fifteen hundred passengers and crew still onboard. Many died on the ship. Others jumped or fell into the sea, however the water temperature that night was 28 degrees. Those exposed in the water died in minutes from the cold. The survivors numbered 705.

Hands On Room and Memorial Room

Designed with the youngest visitors in mind, the hands on room offers experiences such as stories from a staff member, activity books, the sloping decks of Titanic to climb on and a container of cold water. The water is the same temperature as the sea the night Titanic sank. Putting my fingers into the water was a shock. It hurt my heart to think of people…men, women and children…struggling in that icy water.

Entering the Memorial Room is a somber experience. On one wall is a list of all of the passengers and crew. Underlined names indicate survivors. Names in italics show those people perished.

It was time to see if the people on our boarding passes survived or died.

My lady, Emma Bliss, was 45 years old. One of 23 female stewardess on Titanic, her duties included taking care of the women in first class. As Titanic foundered, an older man offered Emma a seat on one of the last lifeboats leaving the ship. He said he had lived his life, but hers was still ahead of her. That man sacrificed his life for hers. Emma survived the sinking of the Titanic and lived to the age of 93. Greg’s person, a crewman who jumped into the water and swam to a lifeboat, survived as well.

It was touching, watching museum guests look for their “people”, hoping that they survived. My eyes filled with tears as I heard one teenage boy looking frantically not for his person, but for the man’s children. “I have to find my children” he kept saying. I don’t know if he found them as survivors or not but what a poignant moment that sadly echoed a long ago reality.

Titanic Museum Branson Missouri pass 2
Greg’s boarding pass form Titanic Museum Branson Missouri

Final Thoughts

I so enjoyed experiencing the Titanic Museum Branson Missouri. There is more to explore, learn and appreciate within the museum than what I shared. I’ve been reading about Titanic since my childhood and watching documentaries and I still learned new things wandering through the museum.

The staff is courteous and helpful, the displays respectful and educational and the overall atmosphere amazing. And there is a gift shop at the exit, full of fun items available for purchase.

I’m grateful that I finally toured this wonderful museum. Titanic continues to captivate me and now her story and those of her passengers and crew rest in my heart as well.

Long may she be remembered and those stories told. We must not forget.

Titanic Museum Branson Museum Cindy
Ferni and I at the Titanic Museum Branson Missouri

Road Trip Fridays

I’m loving these monthly road trips, to destinations within 150 miles from Joplin. Check out last month’s trip to Philbrook Museum Gardens in Tulsa, Oklahoma. And stay tuned for an exciting historical experience already scheduled for August!

Titanic Finds from Amazon:



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Philbrook Museum Gardens

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

One thing that I confirmed, while staying home more due to the pandemic, is that I REALLY want to travel. Feeling the itch to travel, during a time when travel as we know it isn’t possible, presented unique opportunities.

Since I can’t hop on a plane to somewhere, I channeled my desire to travel into other ventures.

I’m taking an online travel blogging course. And as a result, I’m writing weekly travel posts, based on past trips. Check out this example, The Tower of London Ravens. Today happened to be Take a Road Trip Day. Inspired, I set out on a road trip to Tulsa, Oklahoma and the Philbrook Museum Gardens. Childhood memories of the museum drew me back to explore the gardens, which just reopened Wednesday. The museum is not yet open again to the public.

The Philbrook Museum Gardens were everything I remembered them to be…and more.

Philbrook Museum Gardens title meme

History of the Philbrook Museum of Art

The original museum is a former 1920s Italian Renaissance villa, owned by pioneer Waite Phillips and his wife Genevieve. Kansas City architect Edward Buehler Delk designed Villa Philbrook. Construction began in 1926 and the house was completed the following year.

A stucco and ground marble exterior covers a reinforced steel and concrete framework. Kasota limestone, quarried in Minnesota, forms the corners and decorates doors and windows. At the rear of the house a spacious loggia with Corinthian columns overlooks the spectacular gardens.

The original villa featured 72 interior rooms, decorated with travertine and marble fireplaces and fountains, teak, walnut and oak floors and ornate ceilings.

In 1938 Phillips donated Villa Philbrook to the City of Tulsa, for use as a cultural and art center. Although the rooms on the main floor remain as they were, the rest of the villa received extensive remodeling for use as a public museum. In 1990 another wing expanded the museum, adding 70,000 square feet of space.

Philbrook Museum
Looking through the informal and formal gardens, to the former Villa Philbrook.
Philbrook Museum Gardens grand fountain
Philbrook Museum gardens – grand fountain and the loggia

The Philbrook Museum Gardens

Although I enjoy wandering through the former villa, imagining it as it was back when the family lived there, it is the gardens that appeal most to me.

The museum sits on 25 acres of formal and informal gardens. Originally designed by Hare & Hare, Philbrook’s gardens drew inspiration from Villa Lante, an Italian estate north of Rome.

Behind the museum, the original gardens extend through an expanse of formal gardens, pools of water and informal gardens to a classical tempietto, a stone structure similar to a large gazebo.

The gardens that extend to the summerhouse feature native Oklahoma plants and a nearby creek. This project completed in 2004.

Philbrook Museum Loggia
Looking from the loggia to the tempietto. It was the perfect spot for Ferni’s first travel photo.
Philbrook Museum Gardens tempietto
Looking across the pools to the tempietto. The far pool once served as the family swimming pool. Koi swim there now.
Philbrook Museum side garden
Another pool in the informal gardens.

Take a Tour with Me

Come with me on a photo tour of the Philbrook Museum Gardens. My desire is just to stir your curiosity. These gardens must be experienced, to fully appreciate them.

Italian style gardens
The Italian influence is seen in the main gardens.


There are 16 sculptures scattered throughout the gardens. They range from classical styles to contemporary. Here are three of them.

Philbrook Museum sculpture 2
Philbrook Museum Gardens sculptures – Nymph Holding Pluto
Philbrook Museum Gardens sculpture
Native American
Philbrook Museum Gardens woods
Tree sculptures in a wooded area. The orange leaves are made of glass.

Garden Cats and Wildlife

The garden is home to two cats, Cleome, a black and white, and Perilla, a calico. We saw Cleome, wandering about near the upper pond. She seemed intent on stalking something near the water. She reminded me of Rilynn, my garden cat!

And Greg and I spotted a variety of wildlife, including red squirrels, rabbits, a heron and several species of birds. The gardens are home to turtles, water snakes, foxes and beavers as well.

Garden cat
Cleome the Philbrook Museum Garden cat.
Wildlife at Philbrook
Heron in Crow Brook

Summerhouse Formal Garden

This area south of the museum underwent changes throughout the years. Officially completed after the family donated the property to Tulsa, this formal garden leads to a summerhouse. There are swings and benches along the pretty avenue.

Restrooms are located near the summerhouse. Greg gave the restrooms a five star rating! They are very clean. I posed on a rope swing in the little wooded area, From there steps descend to the path below.

Philbrook Museum Gardens summerhouse
Summerhouse formal gardens
Greg carrying our picnic lunch
Greg carrying our picnic lunch in my Decocrated bag.
Philbrook Museum Gardens swing
Swinging in the Philbrook Museum Gardens

Picnic in the Park

Multiple picnic areas exist in the park. Tables, benches, grottos and expanses of grass offer pretty spots to pause for lunch or a snack. We chose to stop for a picnic near the cabin next to the vegetable garden. The cabin is created from repurposed materials, including colorful t-shirts stiffened with resin for the roof.

Picnic time
Picnic time in the gardens. Bag from Decocrated spring box. Rug from Decocrated summer box. Watch for a review post of the summer box Monday.
Picnic lunch
Simple, healthy picnic lunch. Gluten free crackers, hummus, an assortment of pickles and olives, grapes, cherries and KIND nut clusters with almonds and coconut.
Philbrook Museum Gardens cabin
Cabin made from repurposed materials. Note the t-shirt roof!

Tiny Doors

As we wandered the grounds, looking for tiny doors attached to some of the trees, became a fun game. Fortunately, small green flags indicate where the doors are. Local artists created the little works of art and each door is unique.

Kids would enjoy this tiny door scavenger hunt.

In search of tiny doors
Looking for tiny doors in the Philbrook Museum Gardens.
Philbrook Museum Gardens tiny doors
One of at least a dozen tiny doors in the Philbrook Museum Gardens.

First Road Trip…But Not the Last

What a wonderful morning spent at Philbrook Museum Gardens. It’s uncertain when the main museum will open again, although special exhibits are opening July 1. However the gardens are available and well worth a visit. Purchase tickets online, selecting a date and time of entry. Masks are recommended, especially when entering the garden, talking to a staff member or encountering other visitors.

We found the park easily accommodated the number of visitors today.  People and staff were courteous and respectful of social distancing.

This was my first Road Trip Friday…but not my last. I may not be able to travel far, however, I can enjoy day road trips. My intention is one road trip, within 150 miles of Joplin, a month. My little VW Van will accompany me. Her name is Ferni, pronounced fairn-ee, from the German word fernweh, which means “longing for far off places”.

Beauty speaks to the heart and soul, I believe. And the Philbrook gardens spoke clearly today, soothing my spirit and reminding me of joys I experienced there as a child. In fact, I see Philbrook’s strong influence on my own desire to create a backyard paradise.

I even found a park bench that perfectly captures who I am now, inscribed with these words from Thomas Arthur Manhart:

“Learning something new everyday is what life is really all about.”

I left the gardens with a smile on my face and joy in my heart.

Philbrook Museum Gardens path to the museum
I can’t get enough of this view…

Visit Philbrook Museum Gardens

Philbrook Museum is located at 2727 S Rockford Road, Tulsa, Oklahoms.

Hop on their website HERE to order tickets, which are $6.00 for adults, $5.00 for seniors and free for children 17 and under.

Want your own little VW van to travel with? Get one by clicking photo below.


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