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When I was little, my family would drive all over North America for vacations. Some of my favorite memories happened a little closer to home, though. There’s nothing better than exploring the rich history that the Midwest has to offer. So when given the chance to take a press tour in Springfield, Missouri, I was thrilled!
We pulled the kids out of school for a couple of days and made our way! We left right after Kahri’s first band concert of the year and drove until about 2 or 3am before trying to stop at a parking lot to catch a few hours of sleep before hitting the road again. For some reason, my toddler decided it was a great time to be super hyper so I kept driving until about 4am and then I found a gas station that was open. We slept in the Jeep for a couple of hours before getting back on the road.
Some people find it really odd – why didn’t we just get a hotel room? For me, this is how I spent my childhood – stopping just for a couple hours for some shut-eye at a rest stop or gas station so we can get back on the road again. A little suffering for some nostalgia was worth it. We always like to get to our destination bright and early – I can always sleep when we get back home!
I was pretty tired when we arrived at Fantastic Caverns, but that quickly subsided when we saw all the fun things to do there! The kids climbed all over the little Jeep thing they had there that was decorated for Halloween.
To the left when you enter the building, there is a gift shop with a lot of really beautiful rocks and crystals. You can also buy coffee there (I so needed it!). We got our ticket at the desk, and then went down the ramp to wait. We were then told we were actually supposed to wait up top, oops!
When we handed the lady our ticket, the other gentlemen pointed to us and said that we get to ride in the Jeep. I admit, I felt a little bit like royalty. HA! Thankfully Christian, our toddler, was pretty well-behaved for the most part. The Cavern was was beyond my expectations – pretty darn incredible!! What is cool about this one is it’s a ride-thru cavern, so it’s perfect if anyone in your group has mobility issues. There are some pretty low spots in the caverns, so you’ll need to duck a couple of times. Don’t worry, there’s rarely ever any creatures in there since it’s so far underground. The only thing we saw was a spiderweb!
In the caverns, they have someone with camera equipment to take a picture of your group and by the time you get to the end, they have them all printed for you. If you choose to buy one, it’s $12. We got one, but it somehow got lost in the abyss of our Jeep during the trip. If I find it, I’ll upload it for you.
Our second stop was Discovery Center. It was situated in the downtown area in a tall building. The kids were so excited they could hardly contain themselves as we found parking right across the street. As we were making our way across, I realized that they had an enormous parking lot dedicated just to the Discovery Center we could have parked in. Oh well!
They knew who I was right at the desk, which I admit made me feel so valued and appreciated! Although there was a school there for a little bit, the place was so massive that it didn’t hardly seem busy at all! In fact, we usually were the only ones at a given station at any one time. SCORE!
One of the very first rooms you’ll see at Discovery Center is a room meant just for little kids – called Wonderland. While the older kids are allowed in there with their parents, it’s designed specifically for the littles. This was actually one of my favorite rooms – we spent most of our time in here! They had this little wind tunnel thingy where you insert these little balls in one tube, and it shoots them out at you after going through a bunch of see-through tubes. We all loved it!
My oldest daughter spent most of her time in the lab – they had stations set up all around for the kids to work on. There weren’t any workers in here, so you just help yourself. There was a station with invisible ink pens that my 8-year-old spent a lot of time writing love notes to her crush at school. Yep. You read that right. I even have a picture of the note after I decoded it using the highlighter thing, but I won’t show that because then her secret will be known to everyone!
My second favorite room was the grocery store! They had a place for them to dress up like a cashier with a working cash register. The other kids could grab a shopping basket and shop for all kinds of items. It was all organic!
There was a news station for the kids to pretend with – with working cameras and everything! Another highlight was the bed of nails that you could lay on!
We could have easily spent all day at Discovery Center, but we were all pretty tired after a few hours there! There was so much to do and see! We made our way to the hotel so the kids could go swimming.
Holiday Inn & Suites
They let us check in an hour early – I was so grateful! Kirk took the kids down to the pool while I took a quick nap to recharge. The bed was pretty comfortable, but I LOVED the pillows!
They had free wifi and a pull-out couch in our room. I didn’t realize that the couch actually pulled out until we were leaving to go back home – sorry kids!
Be sure to check out Day 2:
This post was sponsored by Springfield, MO Convention & Visitors Bureau.