Lying northeast of Liberty, MO, Excelsior Springs is a small town with a grand history. During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the town attracted visitors from all over the country because of its mineral springs.
Excelsior Springs isn’t hard to find, but my buddy and I drove right past it on our way there. We were on 69 Highway and needed to veer right on Highway 10, which leads into town. When we realized the town wasn’t appearing in the appropriate number of miles, my friend saw a ReMax office and decided we should stop and ask for a map. Great idea! The super-friendly Realtor at the front desk not only gave us a map on which she marked the shortest route back to town, but also she gave us a brochure about Excelsior Springs, recommended places for lunch, and then, after we left the building, she came out and told us to follow her. She led us all the way to a parking place beside the trail we intended to walk.
I said, “Thank you for going out of your way to help us.”
She said, “That’s what we do.”
I don’t know if she meant ReMax agents or Excelsior Springs citizens by “we,” but either way her gesture made our day. As a matter of fact, everyone in town turned out to be friendly and help make our day as we explored the town’s special places.
We walked the East Valley Park Trail and the Isley Park Trail below Siloam Mountain. Mountain? That’s what they call the hill formed by the Fork Fishing River bluffs which has been turned into a lovely park with a well-maintained trail, part of which has been made more accessible with a boardwalk. The trail is easy and interesting. It makes a loop through town close to the Elms Hotel where we detoured long enough to see that famous landmark.
The Elms, originally built to house the crowds who came to town to be invigorated by its healing mineral waters, fell victim to fires, bankruptcy, condo-izing, and neglect over the years, but its present incarnation is spectacular.
We hiked the trail loop twice and then looked for a luncheon spot on Broadway, the one-street downtown. On the way, we couldn’t resist stopping in at a popcorn shop called BobKorn. There are ten or more kettle corn flavors featured on their shelves daily and several flavors of Italian ices. We vowed to have NO treats before lunch—but we did each buy a bag of corn to take home after we merely tasted (tasting doesn’t count as eating, right?) a sample of almost every flavor. Yummy.
The Willow Spring Mercantile was one of the lunch spots recommended by our real estate agent friend, and we came to it next. The street level part of the store specializes in regional wines and beers as well as other goodies. The proprietor can tell you all about the different Missouri grapes and the wines made from them. The store has about fifty different beers from nine or ten Missouri breweries. We ate our fresh lunches in the quaint downstairs restaurant where wine pairings are listed on the menu. Would have loved to indulge, but I had to drive home. Besides the yearly wine festival in town, The Mercantile sponsors a Missouri wine tour for two days in early November including a train trip to the region, two nights at a B&B, and all meals. It sounds like fun. And no driving required.