10 Things to do in Joplin

1. Sample the cuisine

That’s right, the cuisine. Joplin is proving itself as a foodie mecca, with culinary artists like hometown-bred, New York-trained chef Jason Miller leading the way at his two restaurants, Eagle Drive-In and Instant Karma Hot Dogs.

At Instant Karma, Miller takes an American favorite and transforms it into a gustatory delight. Take the Okonomiyaki Dog, a Black Angus frank topped with Japanese slaw, pickled ginger, and scallions. Miller’s inventiveness has earned him the esteemed title of Chef of the Year in Feast Magazine’s 2016 Feast 50 Awards: Mid-Missouri and Southern Illinois.

With over 200 dining choices in Joplin, you’ll find familiar favorites here, too, like Olive Garden, Ruby Tuesday, and Chili’s. Most of these national chain restaurants are located in the heart of the commercial district on Range Line Road.

Visit the Eat page on VisitJoplinMO.com for a full listing of restaurants.

2. Get active outdoors

Take a leisurely stroll at one of the seven Joplin city parks that have trails, hike from the banks of sparkling Shoal Creek up to the limestone bluffs at Wildcat Glades Conservation and Audubon Center, or ride your bike on the smooth, shaded Frisco Trail, a former rail line that was converted into a multi-use path to promote a healthier community.

Our area also hosts running events (from 5k up to marathon distances), cycling along historic Route 66, and the largest open-water triathlon between Kansas City and Dallas.

Visit LocalRaces.com for information on upcoming events.

3. See Grand Falls at daybreak

Or visit any time of the day, as the view you see here changes as often as the water flows - which is all the time. A favorite spot for locals and a must-see for visitors, Grand Falls is Missouri’s highest continuously flowing waterfall, and is located just south of Joplin on Shoal Creek.

The section of the falls consists of a 12-foot-high, 163-foot-wide ledge of solid chert rock. Below this, there is a platform of chert where you’ll find people dipping their feet in the shallow pools of water that form here after a heavy rain, or posing for photos with the natural beauty of the falls in the background.

To map directions to Grand Falls, use the following address: 5400 South Riverside Drive, Joplin.

4. Expose yourself to art

Whether it’s admiring the work of national, regional, and local artists at the George A. Spiva Center for the Arts, shopping the modern artisan booths at the Hip Handmade Market, or taking a class at one of the many learning studios to create your own art, Joplin has a variety of resources to satisfy your imaginative soul. There’s even a sip-and-paint studio where you and your friends can enjoy some wine while you compose your masterpieces.

And with over a dozen public murals on display throughout downtown telling the story of our history and community, Joplin’s art scene is accessible at any time.

For more information on the arts in Joplin, see the Arts & Culture tab on the Things to Do page on VisitJoplinMo.com.

5. Experience bustling downtown Joplin

Over a century ago, Joplin was the epicenter of the thriving Tri-State Mining District, serving as a place of commerce and recreation for area miners and their families. Today, our downtown is still a regional hub, attracting both locals and people living in neighboring states who are seeking unique shopping, dining, and entertainment options.

Joplin is the heart of the modern Four-State area, and we proudly celebrate the success of our businesses and people at our monthly downtown festivals. The First Thursday Art Walk and Third Thursday events offer art, entertainment, food, and fun for people of all ages.

6. Browse and buy

Looking for something unique? Check out downtown Joplin’s local boutiques: Sophie, the shoe-addict’s version of heaven; Blue Moon, a modern boutique with a vintage soul; and That One Place, a home decor mart for the Pinterest-lover in all of us.

National department stores Macy’s, JCPenney, and Sears anchor Joplin’s Northpark Mall, which houses over 60 stores and vendors. Northpark Mall and other major stand-alone stores, like SuperTarget and Kohl’s, are located on the east side of Joplin on Range Line Road.

Joplin’s two Walmart Supercenters offer one-stop shopping for clothing, home necessities, electronics, and grocery shopping. If you’re looking for a smaller market for groceries, visit a Walmart Neighborhood Market, Price Cutter, or Food 4 Less. Check out the Marketplace, Fox Farm Whole Food, and Suzanne’s Whole Food for organic food options.

Or, go right to the source at the Webb City Farmers Market, located just north of Joplin. This booming market will be recognized in the October 2016 issue of Southern Living magazine as one of the top 20 Farmers Markets in the south.

7. Learn about our history and culture

Visit the Joplin History and Mineral Museum to see a variety of geological specimens (including glowing rocks), many of which were mined in the region from the late 1800s through the 1940s. This museum also houses exhibits detailing Joplin’s cultural history (including artifacts from Bonnie and Clyde’s Joplin hideout), its local sports history, and the National Cookie Cutter Museum.

Additional museums in the region showcase our area’s Native American culture, Civil War experience, and mining history - all of which helped shape who we are today.

8. Cruise the Mother Road

Get your kicks on Joplin’s Main Street, from 1st to 7th Streets, which is part of the original Route 66 that connected Chicago to Santa Monica beginning in 1926. This iconic highway meandered through the heart of the country’s small towns, offering travelers a glimpse of Americana.

By 1985, modern interstate highways replaced Route 66, yet sojourners continue to trace the original Route so that they can experience what life was like in the Mother Road’s heyday. In fact, over 10,000 international guests visit the road each year, many of them passing through Joplin and posing for photos in downtown’s Route 66 Mural Park, located at the corner of Main and 7th Streets.

9. Tour a national monument

Located southeast of Joplin, in the town of Diamond, is the first national monument dedicated to an African American, and the first to dedicated to a person other than a president of the United States. This is the George Washington Carver National Monument, a park which honors the figure who is commonly referred to as the “Peanut Man.” In addition to Carver’s many inventions using peanuts and other agricultural crops, he is also remembered for being a great educator and humanitarian.

The visitor center at Carver National Monument houses biographical information about Carver, a hands-on discovery center for children, and a lab where visitors can participate in experiments. Outside, paved trails wind past the remnants of the 12-foot-by-12-foot cabin where Carver was born, through the thick forest, then across the open prairie, dotted with colorful wildflowers and butterflies.

10. Cheer for your favorite team

Or join one yourself. Sports activity abounds in Joplin, with enthusiastic fans supporting teams at the high school, college, and professional levels. Watch the Joplin Eagles play Friday night football at the historic Junge Stadium, catch one of the Missouri Southern State University's sporting events on its north Joplin campus, or bring the family to Joe Becker Stadium to experience an American pastime watching the Blasters, Joplin’s professional baseball team.

If you want to join in the action yourself, check out the Joplin Athletic Complex, which offers a baseball field, soccer fields, and a tennis complex. The complex also houses the Will Norton Miracle Field, home of Miracle League baseball, where more than 4,000 athletes with disabilities.