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Although not born and raised in Joplin, Missouri I have lived in this community longer than I’ve lived anywhere else. I grew up in the large city of Tulsa, Oklahoma. At age 12 I moved to the tiny town of Noel, Missouri near the Arkansas border. And in 1980, as a young wife and mother, I moved with my growing family to Joplin, a mid-sized city in the heart of the four states area.
For 40 years I’ve called Joplin home. It’s grown tremendously in those four decades, lost 30% of its homes and businesses during the May 2011 EF5 tornado and recovered with strength, hard work and determination afterward.
Located on historic Route 66, many people travel through Joplin on their way to somewhere else. The next time you find yourself rolling down the highway on a road trip, consider a stay in Joplin, the little city that could. While here, check out these fun places to visit in Joplin MO.
This museum is appropriately housed in a 1909 building that originally served as the concession stand at Joplin’s Electric Park (now called Schifferdecker Park.) The museum complex contains historical wings that showcase Joplin’s colorful history and the Tri State Mineral Museum that pays tribute to the mining industry in Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri.
Location: 504 S Schifferdecker Ave, Joplin, MO
Hours: Tuesday – Saturday 10:00 am – 5:00 pm, closed Sunday and Monday
Adjacent to Schifferdecker Park is Joplin Little Theatre. Established in 1939, by a group of local thespians, the group performed in a couple of different places before renovating a building that became their permanent location. Originally called Park Playhouse, the theatre opened in 1948 with a performance of “The Skin of our Teeth” by Thornton Wilder.
Today this little theatre is the oldest continuously running community theatre west of the Mississippi. Joplin Little Theatre’s season runs from September through the end of May the following year. Check out their website for the 2021 – 2022 season. Tickets for performances are available for purchase there.
Location: 3009 W. First Street, Joplin, MO
Hours: Vary with shows and performances
This coffee shop that opened in town last year has a fun twist! Customers can enjoy locally roasted coffee, tea or smoothies in the company of cats…or humans. Yummy treats are offered for sale as well.
Nine Lives Cat Lounge offers coffees and teas, espresso drinks, sugar free smoothies and pastries, cookies and baked goods from local bakeries. Two steps down from the main level is a cozy seating area. A large glass window allows a peek into the cat lounge, which must be kept separate from the dining area.
There is a $5.00 fee for 30 minutes in the room. The fees help the cats live their best lives, while waiting for their forever homes. Lounge fees go toward vet care, food, kitty litter, cat toys and disinfectant for cleaning.
Up to 16 people may enter the living room style area at one time. Visitors receive a timer and when their 30 minutes are up, they leave so others can come into the room. The goal is adoption and to date, Nine Lives has very successfully found homes for their temporary residents. Check out my post HERE about my visit to Nine Lives.
Location: 2201 E. 7th Street, Joplin, MO
Hours: Monday – Thursday 9:30am – 6:30 pm, Friday – Saturday 9:00 am – 7:00 pm, Sunday 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
George A. Spiva, businessman, philanthropist, and lover of the arts, helped establish Joplin’s first art center in 1958. He believed that all people deserved art opportunities.
The mission of Spiva Center for the Arts is to celebrate the creative experience. The Center hosts exhibits, offers classes, programs and events and contains a gift shop filled with unique art.
Location: Currently at 222 W 3rd Street, Joplin, MO (Opening soon at the new Cornell Complex on 7th Street.)
Hours: Tuesday – Saturday 10:00 am – 5:00 pm Closed Sunday – Monday
Do you love gourmet chocolates? Then you MUST stop by Candy House Gourmet.
Established in 1970, this long time Joplin favorite is famous for their hand dipped chocolates. Other treats for sale include toffee, caramel pecan turtles, brittle, fudge, pecan logs and salted caramels. Chocolate dipped strawberries are available in the spring and caramel apples in the fall.
Enjoy samples of candy, watch through showroom windows while candy makers work or take a more in depth tour of the candy making process.
Location: 510 S Kentucky Avenue, Joplin, MO
Hours: Monday – Saturday 9:30 am – 5:30 pm Closed Sunday
Newly opened this year, Journey Through Slime is a sensory focused studio offering make your own slime, slime parties, educational toys and products and yummy desserts including hand dipped ice cream.
The company also sells slime making kits, for at home fun.
Location: 2310 S Main Street, Joplin, MO
Hours: Wednesday – Thursday 11:00 am – 8:00 pm, Friday 11:00 am – 9:00 pm, Saturday 10:00 am – 9:00 pm, Sunday 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm, Closed Monday and Tuesday
For the nature lover, explore this gorgeous area south of Joplin. The glades feature a 3.4 mile walk near the river, through wooded areas and along a bluff above the water. The area is home to wildlife, native plants and flowers and the largest chert glades in the world.
Chert is a hard rock formation, exposed to the surface after the soil erodes. It hosts a unique desert like environment characteristic of arid regions. Only 60 acres of chert remains in the world, of which 27 are in Wildcat Glades Conservation Center.
Also visit the Shoal Creek Conservation Education Center onsite. Inside you can learn about the ecosystem of the area and the wildlife.
Location: 201 Riviera Drive, Joplin, MO
Hours: Glades open daily
Shoal Creek Conservation Education Center: Tuesday – Friday 9:00 am – 5:00 pm, Saturday 10:00 am – 3:00 pm, Closed Sunday and Monday
BONUS: Grand Falls
Continue east on Riverside Drive to visit Missouri’s largest, continuously flowing waterfall. The chert glades continue into this beautiful nature area as well.
Did you grow up watching movies at a drive in? Or perhaps you’ve never been to one. If visiting Joplin during the months of April through October, enjoy this now rare experience!
Route 66 Drive-In is a historic outdoor theater that first opened in September 1949. It is located between Joplin and Carthage, MO. There are 300 drive-in theaters left in the US, nine of those in Missouri.
Route 66 Drive-In features two back to back feature length films every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, during open season. They offer concessions and a playground in front of the huge screen, for children to play on while waiting for the first movie to start.
Location: 17231 Old 66 Blvd, Carthage, MO
Hours: During the open season, the first film begins after sunset.
When the tornado struck Joplin in 2011, one of the city’s two hospitals lay in the storm’s path. St John’s Hospital took a direct…and devastating…hit. The hospital rebuilt as Mercy Hospital in a new location. On the old site now exists Mercy Park, a 16 acre green space featuring a large pond with fountains, walking paths, pavilions and a unique sculpture garden.
Currently 15 bronze sculptures enhance the natural beauty of the park. A variety of artists contributed these amazing works of art that depict animals, children at play and a serene Native American woman.
Location: 3002 St John’s Blvd, Joplin, MO
Hours: Open daily until 11:00 pm
BONUS: Cunningham Park
Across the street from Mercy Park lies Cunningham Park, established as Joplin’s first municipal park in 1898. Also destroyed in the 2011 tornado, Cunningham rebuilt the playgrounds and pavilions and also created interactive memorial gardens that pay tribute to those lost in the storm, to the houses destroyed and to the many, many volunteers who journeyed to Joplin to help with clean up.
Location: 26th Street & Maiden Lane, Joplin, MO
Hours: Open daily until 11:00 pm
For Active Children of All Ages
Visit this trio of fun places, to allow kids to burn up some energy!
This fun indoor park just north of Joplin features dodgeball, a Ninja obstacle course, lots of trampolines, basketball, party rooms and foam pits.
Read my review HERE.
Location: 1502 S Madison, Webb City, MO
Hours: Wednesday – Friday 3:00 pm – 8:00 pm, Saturday 9:00 am – 9:00 pm, Sunday 11:00 am – 6:00 pm, Closed Monday and Tuesday
Have fun bouncing and climbing at this large indoor playground featuring bouncers, slides and obstacle courses.
Location: 3684 N Main, Joplin, MO
Hours: Check their Facebook page for open bounce times.
This ocean themed indoor playground features three levels of play including slides, a huge ball pit, mazes, tunnels, obstacle course and many other immersive play stations. They also have a separate play area designated for toddlers.
Location: 2630 S Duquesne Road, Joplin, MO
Hours: Play times are in two hour sessions. Check website for details.
Joplin happily welcomed its first indie movie theater in 2018. Bookhouse Cinema shows indie films, documentaries, classics, non mainstream movies and occasionally mainstream films.
Adjoining the theater is a charming pub where appetizers, meals, drinks and snacks are available for purchase. The pub also hosts events such as game nights and comedy shows AND they offer delicious vegan meal options.
Location: 715 E Broadway, Joplin, MO
Hours: See website for showtimes and movie selections
Escape Joplin offers immersive escape room adventures. Their themed escape rooms are designed to allow teams to enjoy 60 minute adventures that engage the senses, challenge the mind and unlock imagination.
Each room contains a different set of challenges and objectives to solve, to escape. Teams work together to find clues and hints that solve puzzles to unlock new items. Find the medallion, the hidden treasure or the secret code to win the game.
Location: 2640 E 32nd Street, Joplin, MO
Hours: Sunday – Thursday 1:00 pm – 9:00 pm, Friday 1:30 pm – 10:00 pm, Saturday noon – 10:00 pm
Joplin’s historic downtown area contains unique shops, restaurants, art galleries and entertainment venues. It also hosts cultural community events such as the monthly Third Thursday (April – October) and the yearly Wizard’s Run, a Harry Potter themed event. Main Street closes for these special events, from 7th Street to A Street, so that visitors may freely wander, visiting shops and booths, without interference from traffic.
A few blocks east of Main Street, at 931 E 4th Street, is Joplin Empire Market. This large indoor market features produce, foods, plants and artisan made crafts and products.
Visit Joplin MO
I hope you see that there are many fun places to visit in Joplin MO. Besides these local spots Joplin also offers a large variety of shops, hotels and accommodations, restaurants, historical sites, green spaces, parks and walking trails and standard favorites such as a multi-screen movie theater, a mall, waterpark, state of the art library, golf courses and many other places to explore and play.
Have you visited my hometown of Joplin? The next time you are in the area, let’s meet up for a coffee or hot tea!
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