Exceed Your Expectations in Excelsior Springs

April 04, 2019

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Discover the beauty and charm of Excelsior Springs, a city located just 30 miles northeast of Kansas City. The town has a truly remarkable story, some would even say miraculous, of how it came to be known as “America’s Haven of Health.”
Excelsior Springs started like many towns in America – as farmland. A wheat field covered what is now the downtown area. The landscape began to change with the discovery of the city’s first mineral spring in the late 1800s.
As the story goes, a local farmer’s daughter suffered from a form of Tuberculosis, a diagnosis that came with a guaranteed death sentence. The man’s desperate search for a cure led him to a campground in town. A man at the site suggested he give the girl some of the red spring water that flowed from Fishing River. The farmer’s daughter drank and bathed in the water and within weeks she was cured of the disease. Other reports of miracles followed. Word spread and thousands traveled to the town, hoping to find a cure for their ailments. Eventually 40 separate mineral springs with four distinct varieties of water were discovered in the area. In fact, the community has the world’s greatest collection of mineral waters. 
Today, Excelsior Springs still attracts visitors but they’re more likely to pursue other activities in the quaint city. If you’re planning to visit the area, these are some of the items you should include on your to-do list.

Start your adventures by exploring Missouri wine country, but leave the driving to someone else. Hop on board the Chamber Trolley and sip delicious Missouri wines along the way at Fence Stile Vineyards and Winery, Four Horses & a Dog Winery and Van Till Family Farm Winery. Two different wine tours are available on the trolley, including one that features a gourmet brunch paired with Missouri wines at Willow Spring Mercantile, a boutique retailer that houses the largest selection of Missouri wine in the world. Make sure you book your reservations ahead of time. Tickets sell out quickly.

Take a step back into the pages of history and tour the Hall of Waters. This art deco masterpiece sits on top of where the town’s first spring was discovered in 1880. The building is the most ambitious project to have been undertaken by the Federal Public Works Administration in Missouri. The former health resort features a two-story solarium and the world’s longest water bar where visitors sampled water from ten of the town’s natural springs. Patrons could also immerse themselves in the building’s swimming pool which contained 100,000 gallons of mineral water. Although the bar and pool are no longer functional, a new museum inside the Hall of Waters provides an in-depth look at the city’s mineral water history.

During your stay in Excelsior Springs, explore the town's other historic attractions, including the Excelsior Springs Museum and the Superior Well and Pagoda, the only remaining original mineral water well pavilion in town. The museum is located in a former bank and includes artifacts from the town’s history as well as photos, art and newspaper clippings.

Continue your journey through time by touring the Watkins Woolen Mill State Historic Site, the only 19th century textile mill in the United States that still features original machinery. The site includes a three-story woolen mill and an elegant home, both preserved to reflect the 1870s time period. Time your visit to coincide with the living history programs that are offered throughout the year including cider pressing, gardening, rag rug weaving and wood stove cooking. Other presentations include a one-room schoolhouse program that features a short lesson in 19th century school subjects and an industrial revolution outreach program where participants can get hands-on milling experience.

If you’re up for a round of golf, grab your clubs and head to the Excelsior Springs Golf Course. Designed by a renowned golf course architect in 1915, the public course is one of the best in the Kansas City metro and features 18 holes, a brand new club house and restaurant, Golf Hill Grille. If golf is not your game, explore more than 90 acres of parkland, featuring 17 parks and three walking trails. Anglers can try their luck at several fresh water areas in town.

Excelsior Springs is home to many great dining options that might pique your interest and delight your palate, including Ventana Gourmet Grill , an upscale casual dining experience in the downtown area, and Elements Destination Restaurant, an upscale restaurant located in the country.

After a fun day spent exploring the area, relax, renew and rejuvenate during an overnight stay at one of the beautiful bed-and-breakfasts in town, including the Inn on Crescent LakePayne Jailhouse, Sunny Side Cottage, just to name a few.

Or, check into The Elms, a luxurious hotel featuring the region’s premier spa resort. Enjoy a variety of amenities including a steam room, sauna, grotto and tranquil massages at the spa or in your room. This century-old building has a legendary past. The current building is the third structure built on-site after the first two Elms hotels were destroyed in fires. The Elms gained fame as a national health resort in the late 1800s. The hotel has had a list of notable occupants, including legendary gangsters, Al Capone, “Pretty Boy” Floyd and Bugs Moran in the 1930s. President Harry S. Truman also stayed at the hotel on the eve of the 1948 presidential election. Originally built for the great influx of people who came to town searching for a cure, the Elms became the final resting place for a few who never checked out. Strange occurrences include the ghost who leaves wet footprints near the lap pool. A jiggle on the door knob may not mean housekeeping has arrived to clean your room. If you’re feeling brave, sign up for the evening ghost tour and learn about the spirits that still call the hotel home.


During your next road trip or weekend getaway, exceed your expectations in Excelsior Springs, a town that offers more than a little something for everyone.

For your convenience, download this trip itinerary.

*All photos featured in this blog were taken by Kevin Morgan.