Joplin, Mo.

Contrary to popular belief, Joplin wasn’t named after ragtime composer Scott Joplin, but arts are at its heart today. The Spiva Center for the Arts is located in the center of downtown Joplin and is the place to go to see works from local, regional and national artists. The museum is famous for its annual PhotoSpiva contest, which receives submissions from all over the country.

Become one with nature at the Wildcat Glades Conservation & Audubon Center. The center is home to an outdoor classroom, a 1,300-gallon aquarium showcasing aquatic species found in Ozark waters and a chert glade terraria complex that features lizards, tarantulas, snakes and other creatures. The Audobon Center, which provides fantastic views and the chance to see native species in their habitats, is also there.

The George Washington Carver National Monument marks the place where the famous American inventor and scientist stoked a passion for nature and agriculture. Enjoy a walk along the Carver Trail, then walk through the museum and Discovery Area that offers interactive exhibits for both children and adults to learn about Carver’s life and education.

Joplin lies in the midst of the lush Ozarks, and Grand Falls shows off the beauty of the area. The largest continuously flowing natural waterfall in the state, the water spills over a 25-foot ledge, creating breathtaking falls in a peaceful setting.

Take in some of Joplin’s grandest homes in the Historic Murphysburg District. The homes – most built in Victorian and post-Victorian style – can be toured at various times of the year, but the drive is worthwhile year round.