What to Do in Joplin After 5 p.m.

Did you know that the population of Joplin swells to 250,000 during the day? Our city streets hum with cars carrying people from all over the region to their jobs, to our restaurants, and to our stores. Joplin is the hub of the Four States during the day, but what happens after 5 p.m.?

 

A lot.

 

There are happy hours, live music, comedy, open mics, karaoke, painting, and even a hookah lounge to tempt residents, visitors, and commuters to linger in Joplin long after the sun goes down.

 

Get Happy

 
Known for its happy hour and casual fine dining, Club 609 is the place where professionals flock to after work. A staple in downtown since 1990, Club 609 has established itself as an urban gathering place. Unwind with a Key Lime Martini (or two – during happy hour) and try the flavorful Chicken Bijan for dinner. 609 S. Main Street

 

609-martini

Key Lime Martinis at Club 609

 
Appreciate the art of the cocktail at Infuxn Vodka Bar. New concoctions are featured each week at this upscale lounge. With its ultra-cool, Vegas-like vibe, you’ll want to stay past happy hour, so order a few items from the small plates menu and you’ve got yourself dinner (dessert, too, if you’d like). My favorites here include the Last Summer cocktail and the Crab Stuffed Mushrooms. 530 S. Main Street

 

infuxn-lounge

Hear it Live

 

Sure, you can hear music anytime you want thanks to the magic of cell phones, but there’s something special about listening to it live. Here are some places in Joplin where you can do just that, plus venues where you can sing your own songs along with a karaoke machine.

 

Open Thursday through Saturday nights, JB’s Downtown offers live music every weekend. Check the calendar for karaoke and improv nights, too. Order the Chicken Bacon Ranch pizza to share with friends. 112 S. Main Street

 

siblings-ladies

Siblings Improv performs at JB’s Downtown

 

More live music can be heard downtown at Blackthorn Pizza & Pub. In addition to live music performances, there are comedy and trivia nights at this Irish pub. Grab a beer on tap, sit back, and be entertained. 510 S. Joplin Avenue

 

Me-Like-Bees-full-band-

Me Like Bees performs at Blackthorn

 

There’s nothing like listening to music while sitting outside on a patio on a warm summer night. Add some juicy burgers and beer on tap, and you’ve got the ultimate setup at Tropicana Bar & Grill. Try the Buddha Gouda burger here: it’s life-changing. 2402 S. Main Street

 

tropicana-day

Two stories of outdoor dining await you at Tropicana

 
tropicana-buddha

The Buddha Gouda at Tropicana

 
Where do you go when the live music has ended but you still want to have fun? Whiskey Dick’s, of course. The friendly, relaxed atmosphere here welcomes a mix of age groups, with everyone being united by one thing: karaoke. Whether you’re belting out your favorite songs next to your buddies on stage, or sitting in the audience and watching others channel their inner Beyonce or Jay Z, you’re bound to have a good time at this easygoing bar. 516 S. Joplin Avenue

 

Get Creative

 
Maybe you’ve had your share of live music and bars and are seeking a recreational outlet where you can express your creativity. Well, Joplin’s got something for you, too.

 

Gather a group of friends, or just your special someone, and go paint. You can even sip your favorite adult beverage while you color your canvas at RSVPaint. Bring your own refreshments or purchase some at the studio’s bar. Loosen up and let RSVPaint’s teachers guide you through the process. You’ll leave feeling relaxed and proud of your new artwork. Click here for RSVPaint’s schedule. 223 Third Street

 

rsvpaint-date-couple

 

Ladies, do you want a night out with your friends? Firehouse Pottery welcomes you every Tuesday night for Ladies’ Night. Here, you can choose a piece of pottery to decorate – a mug, plate, figurine – and add your own flair to it. You don’t have to be crafty to make something artistic here; the staff at Firehouse will demonstrate different painting techniques for you. 112 S. Main Street, Suite A

 

ladies-night-firehouse-amazement

 

Do Something Different

 
How about spending the evening at a hipster hangout? The back room at Joplin Avenue Coffee Company is a dedicated gathering place for open mic nights, poetry readings, and live music performances. Click here to see JACC’s upcoming schedule. 506 S. Joplin Avenue

 

coffee-bar

Bites & Pipes, Joplin’s only hookah lounge, offers a bit of everything: tasty American and Middle Eastern food (fried mac and cheese, falafel, kofta), alcoholic beverages, board games, a pool table, and hookahs. A hookah is a small water pipe used to smoke flavored tobacco. Bites & Pipes’ air filtration system is top notch, so even if you’re not a hookah smoker, you can still have fun hanging out with your friends – and making new ones – at this unique recreational spot. 110 N. Range Line Road

 

Now that you know what happens in Joplin after the sun goes down, stick around and be a part of it.

 

To read more about my adventures in the area, visit JoplinMOLife.com.

Couple’s Weekend in Joplin

My husband Travis’ birthday is in January. This year, it fell on a Thursday, a day when our schedule forced us to divide and conquer, driving one child to dance class and picking up another from basketball practice.

 

Not the most fun way to spend a birthday, but Travis didn’t complain. He’s such a trooper.

 

Did I mention that I’m his number one fan?

 

couple's fun

 

Miraculously, the weekend following his birthday we had no obligations with the kids. I don’t know how this happened, but from the moment I realized it, the wheels in my head started to spin. We had an entire weekend of free time, and I wanted to plan special activities that I thought Travis would like, things that he normally doesn’t get to do in a household of all females.

 

You know, guy things.

 

I came up with a jam-packed itinerary, and thanks to offers from the grandparents to watch the kids for us, we were ready to kick off Travis’ Epic Birthday Weekend.

 

 

Friday

Sunshine and unseasonably warm temperatures greeted us on this January morning. “Nice day,” Travis commented, looking longingly out the window of our home office.

 

I grabbed his shoes and placed them at his feet. “Put these on. We’ve got a tee-off time in 20 minutes,” I said.

 

He raised his eyebrows. “Really?” He looked at his computer screen, then out the window. Then he clicked the keyboard feverishly as he typed a message to his business partner, reached for his shoes and said, “Let’s go!”

 

All epic birthday weekends start off with playing hooky from work on Friday, right?

 

This one started off at Schifferdecker Golf Course. “It feels great to be outside,” said Travis, placing this ball on his tee. “Golfing was a great idea.”

 

“Aw, thanks,” I said. Then he swung his driver, whacking the ball and sending it straight down the fairway.

 

“Your turn,” he said, gesturing for me to tee off. I lined up my driver, took a deep breath, then swung. But the only thing that went flying through the air was a piece of turf. “I guess I’m a bit rusty,” I said tamping down the grass to fix the divot that I’d made in the ground.

 

Schiff-golf-map

Over the next couple of hours, my game didn’t improve, and on the eighth hole, Travis said, “Why don’t we stop after the next hole? I’m not feeling up to doing all 18 today.” 

 

I sighed in relief, grateful to him for granting me mercy.

 

We packed up our clubs and headed downtown for lunch at Instant Karma. Known for its gourmet hot dogs, inventive burgers, and wide selection of local and craft beers, this eclectic restaurant is a favorite lunch spot of ours. I ordered the vegetarian Bio Diesel, a meatless hot dog covered in homemade blue cheese slaw and Sriracha sauce.

 

instant karma bio

Travis polished off his Heavenly Donut, a juicy burger served with a glazed donut as a bun. “I’m ready for my nap now,” he said.

 

instant karma donut burger

 

“Let’s go home and rest up,” I told him. “You’ll need your ninja reflexes for laser tag this afternoon.”

 

A few hours later, we were refreshed and ready to do battle at Lazer Force. Placed on opposing teams, we mentally prepared for our game of indoor hide and seek with laser guns.

 

 

Lazer-labyrinth

The last time we’d played here, I scored over a hundred points more than Travis. Today, he beat me by 300 points. But that’s okay because he’s the birthday boy.

 

We emerged from the laser tag darkness and into the still-mild winter afternoon. “Let’s not let this gorgeous afternoon go to waste,” I said. “Let’s go to Tropicana.”

 

 

tropicana-day

Tropicana is a two-story bar and grill with outdoor seating and over 20 beers on tap. We sat on the patio and drank our beer until the sun disappeared behind the horizon and the air grew chilly.

 

We found a table inside near the warm fire and placed our dinner order: Fish tacos for Travis and the Buddha Gouda Burger (with Tropicana’s signature sauce) for me.

 

tropicana-buddha

 

While we waited for our food to arrive, we watched as a local band warmed up for a show. Tropicana often has live music on the weekends, and tonight happened to be one of those times.

 

It was great timing for us: dinner and entertainment. Today’s schedule had worked out well.

 

When the server brought us fresh drinks, I raised my glass. “Happy birthday, Travis.”

 

 

Saturday

With nowhere to be Saturday morning, we slept in. When we finally got up and dressed for the day, I told Travis that I needed to go to the mall to return a shirt.

 

Travis groaned. “I thought this was supposed to be a fun weekend.”

 

“It will be. I promise.”

 

I knew we’d be eating out the rest of the day so I got two breakfast bars out of the pantry for us to snack on during our drive to Northpark Mall. After we got out of the car at the mall, Travis looked at my empty hands and asked, “Where’s the shirt you need to return?”

 

“About that…” I began. By that time, we had made it to the entrance of Tilt Studio.

 

Then it hit him.

 

“You don’t have anything to return, do you?” he asked. “You just brought me here to challenge me at air hockey, didn’t you?” he asked.

 

I grinned sheepishly. “Come on!” I said, pulling on his arm. “It’ll be fun!”

 

He rolled his eyes. “You just can’t stand the fact that I beat you last time, can you?”

 

I hated to admit it, but the man was right.

 

tilt travis air hockey

 

We played two games of air hockey, each of us winning one.

 

Then came the tiebreaker.

 

Guess what?

 

I won.

 

And everything was right in the world again.

 

To prove that there were no hard feelings, I took Travis downtown to one of his favorite restaurants: Hackett’s Hot Wings.

 

hacketts wings

 

While I don’t care for chicken wings, I do love Hackett’s homemade sauce, so I ordered a salad with sauce-covered grilled chicken breast on top. It was like eating a boneless version of Hackett’s well-known wings.

 

Afterward, we wanted to get outdoors and enjoy yet another mild January day, so we drove a few blocks to the trailhead for the Frisco Trail to take a hike.

 

“Hey, let’s see if we can find a cache on the trail,” I suggested. Sometimes Travis and I like to combine our hikes with geocaching, which is like an outdoor scavenger hunt where you use GPS coordinates to find caches. There were several located on the Frisco Trail, and we ended up finding one close to the trail head.

 

Worn out from our day of play, we went home to rest for a few hours (this involved some Netflix binge watching, of course). Then we freshened up for our night out with friends.

 

We met two couples for dinner at Blackthorn Pizza & Pub, a cozy place to chill out with friends. Blackthorn offers a variety of beer on tap, and each of us ordered something different.

 

blackthorn beer on tap

And what tastes great with beer? Pizza. We ordered The Iconica, which was topped with blackened chicken, Italian sausage, bacon, garlic, and jalapenos. It was mildly spicy and very tasty.

 

blackthorn pizza

After an hour, I said, “Let’s head over to JB’s to get some good seats for the show.” We settled our bill, then walked a couple of blocks to JB’s Downtown Joplin to watch the dueling piano show.

 

The room was already crowded with people enjoying their pre-show drinks and conversation, but we were able to claim a table off to the side, which gave us a good view of both the pianos.

 

jbs-trio

Billy Joel’s crowd-pleasing “Piano Man” kicked off the show, with people joining in the chorus.

 

It was going to be a fun night.

 

A few songs into the show, I walked up to one of the piano players and requested a song.

 

“What did you request?” asked Travis when I came back to the table.

 

“You’ll see,” I said.

 

A few minutes later, one of the piano players leaned toward his microphone and asked, “Where’s Travis Smith?”

 

“Right here,” I said, pointing to my blindsighted husband.

 

“This song’s for you, man” said the piano player.

 

The familiar melody of the song “Happy Birthday” filled the room. I sang along, loud and proud, while Travis turned red and gave me the evil eye.

 

But secretly I knew he enjoyed the attention. At least, I hoped he did.

 

 

Sunday

After the late night out with our friends, we were moving rather slowly on Sunday morning. The rhythmic pounding of the rain on the roof didn’t exactly help motivate us get up, either. But once the grumbling from our stomachs started, we were dressed and out the door within ten minutes.

 

“The last meal of your birthday weekend,” I said wistfully, as we pulled up to the tiny brick building which houses The Bruncheonette. I had to admit that this weekend’s break from cooking was just as much a gift for me as eating out at his favorite restaurants was for Travis.

 

And eating at The Bruncheonette is always a treat. Serving breakfast, brunch, and lunch items, this restaurant combines locally sourced ingredients in wildly inventive ways. Today, both Travis and I ordered different variations of Eggs Benedict. Travis had the Cuban B, with tender pulled pork, ham, and gruyere, and I ordered the Garden Benny, topped with fresh asparagus, tomatoes, avocados, local micro greens beet Hollandaise.

 

 

holiday ex brunch

As I swirled the last bite of my poached egg in the creamy sauce, I looked out the window and saw people dashing from their cars to the door of The Bruncheonette with their coats over their heads, protecting themselves from the sudden torrential downpour. “We’ll have to take a raincheck on paintball today,” I said. Playing paintball had been our last activity in our birthday weekend schedule.

 

Travis pushed away his empty plate and leaned back in his chair. “That’s no big deal. I already had a great weekend,” he said.

 

“There’s just one bad thing about it though,” he added.

 

My heart dropped. “What?”

 

“I’m going to expect this much fun every birthday from now on,” he said playfully.

 

“Done,” I promised.

 

 

To read more about my adventures in the area, visit JoplinMOLife.com.