EXCELSIOR SPRINGS, Mo. -- For our Zip Trip to Excelsior Springs, Missouri, we are highlighting four things you must do when you visit.
Stop 1: The Elms
First of all, you must stay more than one day as the highlight of the town is The Elms. This beautiful hotel and spa was originally built back in the 1888.
“People were drawn here for the healing waters,” said Kara Harrington, the Director of Sales for the Elms Hotel and Spa. “They thought the waters would heal so that’s why The Elms was created to begin with. They built it to house these people who traveled here to take part in these healing waters.”
Two fires, though, caused its destruction but investors decided to rebuild, and the structure standing today was built in 1912. It has one of the largest spas in the country with a Grotto, a Quiet Room, and a European lap pool – the only one of its kind in the United States.
“The property itself is unique, you can’t find a property like this for many, many miles where you can come, you can spend the night, you can get a massage, you can get outside to the pool,” Harrington said. “There’s about sixty acres of land they can explore and walk around.”
They also host around seventy weddings a year and have a highly rated restaurant and café on the grounds. But the reason many people visit is for the history.
“Truman coming here the night he was elected,” Harrington said. “He came in with six Secret Service men. He had some buttermilk, had a bath, went to sleep and woke up to be President. Al Capone has stayed here.”
They also come hoping to see ghosts. Over the years, workers have reported seeing around a dozen different types of spirits all over the grounds.
“We have different occurrences in different rooms, different parts of the hotel, different spots of the ballroom or outside in that space,” Harrington said. “We have certain areas of the hotel where we have continual presence that people talk about.”
Stop 2: Excelsior Springs Golf Club
Another place to visit is the Excelsior Springs Golf Club. It opened in 1915 and is one of the oldest golf courses in the state of Missouri. One attraction on site is a nearly 200-year-old log cabin, which sits inside the newly built clubhouse. Built back in 1825 by the O’Dell family, they raised eleven kids in it. It stayed in place even after the family sold the land to a developer to make it into a golf course, and people can see it today.
“It’s a great attraction for us,” said Dean Berry, the Excelsior Springs Golf Course Manager. “It’s a novelty. It’s not something you see at other golf courses. And also, it’s functional. If you come in here to eat lunch or dinner or golf, you can settle up your bets and have a beer in here. It’s really cool.”
They let anyone under the age of 16 play for free anytime during the week and after one o’clock on weekends.
Stop 3: Willow Springs Mercantile
Another place to visit: Willow Springs Mercantile. Named after a nearby spring, the owners originally opened it up as an antique store in 2005. When they realized antiques didn’t sell, they decided to turn it into a novelty store and restaurant. They only sell Missouri-made products and have the largest selection of Missouri wines with more than 300 different types. You can also get Missouri coffee, Missouri chocolate, Missouri bourbon, Missouri shirts - anything Missouri. They helped start a revival of the downtown area, attracting other businesses to invest in downtown Excelsior Springs.
Stop 4: Hall of Waters
And your final must-see in Excelsior Springs is the Hall of Waters. Built back in 1937, they used to bottle the mineral waters there. They have the world’s largest water bar. People used to go there to buy water for two to five cents a glass, hoping the healing properties might would heal all their ailments.
“When this building was built, they piped in ten waters to this building,” said Betty Bissell with the Hall of Water’s Visitor Center. “Over a period of time, the pipes that brought the water into the building, the pipes deteriorated, so there was no longer access to the building.”
They also used to have a spa in the building where people would come to soak in the healing waters. Another draw is the architecture, which is inspired by the Mayans who worshiped water. You can go inside for free and learn more about the history of the town.