All Aboard Ice Cream

There are restaurants you stop at to fill your belly, and then there are restaurants you visit to fill the pages in your family’s book of memories.


All Aboard Ice Cream is one of those memory-making restaurant destinations.



All Aboard Ice Cream is located on Highway 86, just south of Joplin. It’s right across the street from Shoal Creek and some of Wildcat Glades Conservation and Audubon Center‘s scenic hiking trails. Take advantage of this great location by enjoying a nature walk before or after your visit to All Aboard.



The Appeal

The Kansas City Southern postal car that sits in the front of the property attracts curious visitors to All Aboard, but the old-fashioned ice cream and hamburgers are the gustatory draws (more about those later).


all aboard rr car


When my daughter and I visited All Aboard, the first thing she did was run to the rail car to begin exploring.


This was once a postal car, and I found it interesting looking at the names of the towns listed on the mail slots in the center of the car.


all aboard mail


Back in the day, it might take days or weeks for messages to be delivered. Explaining this process to email-savvy young ones makes for a unique history lesson.


all aboard car interior


You can also eat inside the air-conditioned rail car at one of the dining booths.


By the way, All Aboard offers birthday party packages in the rail car. Talk about a one-of-a-kind location!



After exploring the rail car, we headed over to the train depot to order our food.



all aboard depot


The counter is divided between All Aboard’s dessert orders on the left and Whisler’s Old-Fashioned Hamburgers on the right.


Burgers? Wasn’t this supposed to be about ice cream?


I promise I’ll get to the ice cream, but first let me tell you about Whisler’s.


Lunch before dessert, you know.


People who grew up in southwest Missouri have heard of the original Whisler’s in Carthage that has been perfecting its hamburgers since the 1950s.


all aboard grill


Well, I didn’t grow up around here so I’d never heard about Whisler’s until it opened at the All Aboard location.


Whisler’s is the type of all-American restaurant that you envision when you think of the wholesome 1950s, when burgers and ice cream were regarded with much more reverence than those served in today’s fast-food chain restaurants.


That’s because everything was made from scratch back then – and with quality ingredients.


Whisler’s old-time burgers are made to order on a busy, sizzling grill in the open kitchen. If you come at peak lunch time, be patient. There’s only so much room on the grill, so strike up a conversation with your neighbor in line while you wait for your juicy beauties to be ready.


all aboard burger


I ordered a single cheeseburger, which is slightly larger than a slider. Made with fresh, local beef, this burger was dressed with mustard, onions, pickles, and cheese, and topped off with a fluffy bun.


If you’re craving more meat, you can order double and triple burgers, or you can choose burgers topped with other types of meat, such as the “Pig and Bull” (with ham), “Sow and Cow” (with bacon), and the “Farm” (with ham and bacon).


My daughter doesn’t like burgers (what?!), so she ordered a hot dog.


all aboard picnic 2


She was obviously happy with her choice.



Finally, the Ice Cream!

A good old-fashioned slider meal begs to be topped off with a rich, creamy treat. All Aboard makes it easy to satisfy that craving by presenting a variety of ice cream flavors at the counter adjacent to Whisler’s.


all-aboard-ice-cream small


I confess that I’ve eaten All Aboard Ice Cream countless times in the past — but it was known as Anderson’s Ice Cream back then.


Let me explain.


Anderson’s Ice Cream satisfied the collective sweet tooth of the Joplin community for many years. Carl and Freda Anderson founded the original ice cream company in 1936 in downtown Joplin, and it was operated by family members until 1999.


In 2012, Billy Garrigan answered the prayers of many Joplinites and opened up Anderson’s Ice Cream inside the Candy House Gourmet Chocolates building.


Treating my kids to Anderson’s Ice Cream to kick off the first day of summer vacation became our family tradition.


When Garrigan moved his business in 2015, he also changed its name to All Aboard because a company in the Northeast had trademarked the name Anderson’s. While it would’ve been nice to carry on the Anderson’s name, I think All Aboard suits this train-themed business perfectly.


Drew Evans is the owner of All Aboard now, making premium ice cream in the Anderson’s tradition (its richness comes from 14% butterfat). I tried a scoop of caramelly Creme Brûlée (which is hard to see in the photo because it was such an incredibly bright day), and it was creamy perfection.


all aboard dessert


Family Friendly

When Garrigan opened All Aboard, his goal was to make the business and location as family friendly as possible. He scored well with the high-quality (yet affordable) burgers and ice cream.


The train theme puts him over the top.


In addition to the rail car, there’s other railroad memorabilia to discover. My daughter had fun standing by the crossing sign (which looks like she’s standing just a few feet from an active track)…


all aboard rr crossing


…and ringing the bell in front of the train depot.


all aboard bell


Older kids can play in the picnic area out front, and young children can toddle around safely in the enclosed patio area where their parents can sit down and eat in peace. There’s also a sandbox and a mini train; tickets can be purchased for a ride around the picnic area.


all aboard mini train


All Aboard has gone to great lengths to create a destination where families can enjoy wholesome food and family fun.


And where lasting memories are made.



All Aboard is located at 102 Castle Drive. Visit its Facebook page here.


To read more about my adventures in the area, visit


Wildcat Glades Conservation and Audubon Center

Wildcat Glades Conservation and Audubon Center is one of my favorite places in Joplin. It’s a place where you can both learn about and experience the unique beauty of a chert glade in southwest Missouri.


The first stop on a trip to Wildcat Glades is the visitor’s center; a unique building that reflects its desert surroundings (yes, desert, but more on that later).


christmas bird count center facade

The center houses a hands-on learning area, classrooms and a gift shop that sells educational items and earth-friendly items like these earrings made from recycled cereal boxes.


wildcat butterfly earrings

The Missouri Department of Conservation has an office adjacent to the center, and it’s a good place to pick up information about other Missouri parks.


In the middle of the center, visitors can view wildlife native to the area. There’s a 1,300-gallon fish tank and Ozark stream, plus a chert glade terrarium complex that houses snakes and a tarantula.


wildcat turtle tank

A bobcat and a coyote can be found lurking nearby (both are stuffed, thankfully).


wildcat center cat

Stop and say hello to Willow, the female American kestrel (a type of small falcon). Adopted by the center in 2015, Willow is unable to fly, so she now lives safely indoors here at the center.


Isn’t she pretty?


wildcat kestrel

There’s a discovery area where you can listen to different wildlife sounds (such as bird calls), as well as feel the textures of various animal pelts.


wildcat center pelts


There are several classrooms in the building, and the center offers frequent programming for both children and adults, like “Nature Photography” and “Bird Banding” (for adults), and “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and “Talkin’ Turkey” (for children).


Several large events are held at Wildcat Glades throughout the year, like the Shoal Creek Water Festival in summer, and the Christmas Bird Count in December.


Armed with knowledge of the area and its wildlife, you’ll be ready to hit the trails and start exploring. Exit through the rear of the visitor center, and you’ll find the hiking trail that begins on the chert glade. 


wildcat romping on chert

In Missouri the term “glade” is used to describe a place where underlying rock cuts through thin soil to develop its own unique ecosystem. At Wildcat Glades, the rock that cuts through the soil is chert, which is extremely rare and extremely hard, and it breaks sharply. Like flint, chert was used to make spears and arrows, and archaeologists have found many near Wildcat Park (there are some on display in the center).


The chert glade ecosystem is very dry, and plants that are native to arid climates can grow here (yes, that means cacti in Missouri!). These plants also attract wildlife native to arid climates, such as lizards and scorpions (eek!). I’ve personally encountered snakes twice while on the trail.


wildcat girls on path

After crossing the glade, the trail enters the woods and begins following the banks of Shoal Creek. The change in scenery is dramatic: from a dry, sunny glade to a cool, shaded forest.


wildcat peaceful water

The view from the creek bank is breathtaking in places. Tall bluffs jut out from the sparkling water and demand admiration. If you are up for a challenge, there is a trail that follows the edge of the bluffs and offers a fantastic bird’s eye view of the creek; if not, you can safely view the bluff from below.


wildcat cliff reach

If you stay on the trail that leads to the Redings Mill bridge, you can peek into a cave (this is my kids’ favorite trail, for that very reason). We’ve also been fortunate to have spotted a fox along this same trail.


There’s so much to discover at the Wildcat Glades Conservation and Audubon Center; we find something new each time we go.



Wildcat Glades is located at 201 West Riviera Drive. Click here to visit its website and click here to view its Facebook page.


To read more about my adventures in the area, visit

Lazer Force

Today I was a hunter. My mission was to track down and eliminate my enemies while working my way through a labyrinth cloaked in shadows.


I did succeed in taking down my targets, and my mission would have been a complete success had it not been for my adversary Starburst – he beat me by 1100 points.


No, this wasn’t the Hunger Games (if it were, I wouldn’t be here to write about it). Today, my mission as Kit Kat was carried out during a session of laser tag in a two-story arena right here in Joplin at Lazer Force.


Lazer logo

Laser tag?


But isn’t that for kids?


Sure, laser tag is a fun activity for kids, but it’s also a blast for adults. Being able to release frustration in a safe and playful setting is a great stress reliever. When you’re in the arena, you don’t have the chance think about the worries in your everyday life because all of your attention is focused on sneaking up on your opponents while simultaneously trying to avoid becoming a target yourself.


Basically, laser tag is a glorified game of hide-and-seek.  Each player wears an electronic vest and carries a laser gun. Your mission is to shoot your enemies and avoid being shot at yourself.


Lazer vest back

To tag people, you aim at your enemies’ vests and pull the trigger of your laser gun. If the laser beam hits a vest, that person’s vest will darken for 5 seconds before reactivating. During that time, the downed person is unable to shoot at anyone else.


You accumulate points by successfully hitting your human targets, plus finding and shooting the bonus beacons that are stationed on the first floor of the arena.


Lazer hunt flash

With the black lights and pumping music, each 13-minute tag session is an adrenaline rush. And each session is unpredictable. Sometimes you will snake your way through the zig-zagging walls on your own, and sometimes you will find yourself forming alliances so that you have a better chance of taking down the biggest threat. The dynamics of the game make laser tag a great choice for developing team-building skills in the workplace.


Lazer team

In the 6,000-square-foot maze of the arena, I felt like I was in an entirely different world, assuming a completely different persona. I’d back up against a wall with my laser gun drawn, peer out to make sure everything was clear, then dart to the next wall for cover. I felt as deft and light-footed as Katniss Everdeen.


Lazer labyrinth

But my fantasy was short-lived. There were times when I’d get tagged, turn a corner, then immediately get tagged again. During those times, I started to reevaluate my survival skills in general.


My clunky shoes didn’t help me, either, because you can’t sneak up on your enemy if you sound like a herd of elephants. Be sure to wear sneakers when you go.


When the session is finished, you can instantly see your score on a monitor outside.


Lazer tv

You are identified by the name that is located on your electronic vest. I didn’t come in first during my latest round, but I did beat Mountain Dew (my husband), and that was enough of a victory for me. 


If you don’t want to leave after one round, you can purchase multiple games. You can play arcade games in between tag sessions, or reserve a party room. You can event rent the entire facility.

Lazer arcade

Lazer Force offers something fun for adults as well as kids. So, instead of meeting your friends or coworkers at a bar, meet them at the arena.


And may the odds be ever in your favor.


Lazer Force is located at 408 S. Northpark Lane. Click here to visit its website.


To read more about my adventures in the area, visit