No. 7 is Lebanon’s best kept secret

Gary Sosniecki

Gary Sosniecki


While planning a recent trip, I discovered the helpful “things to do” lists compiled by the travel website TripAdvisor. The lists rank the popularity of a community’s tourist attractions “based on the quality, recency and quantity of reviews that a business receives from travelers.”

For fun, I searched for things to do in Lebanon, Missouri. I found the results for the top 10 remarkably similar to what I would recommend to a visitor.

Except for No. 7. That was an attraction I didn’t know existed. It turned out to be a delightful surprise. More about that later.

No. 1 on the list, of course, is Bennett Spring State Park. I’m a hiker, not a trout fisherman, and we’ve hiked all but the 7 ½-mile Natural Tunnel Trail. We also enjoy the Friday-night fried-chicken-and-catfish buffet regularly.

No. 2, also not a surprise, is the Route 66 Museum at the Lebanon-Laclede County Library. I’m proud that I had a role in getting the museum off the ground in 2002. I love checking the guest book periodically to see signatures of visitors from all over the world. 

No. 3 is Shepherd Hills Factory Outlets, which, with its many billboards, is a major draw for highway traffic. It’s a fun place to find unexpected bargains.

No. 4 is Heartland Antique Mall. It’s virtually impossible to see everything on one visit. And it’s open on Sunday afternoons, a plus.

No. 5 is Factory Stores of America, now renamed “The Mall.” I’m still upset that Lee Apparel Co. closed its plants in Lebanon and elsewhere in the Ozarks, but I’m a little less upset with every pair of $20 jeans I buy at the VF Outlet.

No. 6 is the Lebanon I-44 Speedway, Missouri’s only NASCAR-sanctioned oval, something of which to be proud.

Let’s save No. 7 for last.

No. 8 is the Kenneth E. Cowan Civic Center, where recently we saw a gospel concert one night and a car show the next morning. It’s an amazing and well-managed facility that Lebanon is lucky to have.

No. 9 is Harke Park, named after Walter and Renate Harke, retirees from Chicago who made a big difference with their many donations to Lebanon parks and the youth of Laclede County, including The Harke Family Education Scholarship.
And No. 10 is Jonesy’s Antiques and Collectibles, with spacious, neat-as-a-pin booths, including one with vintage baseball cards. I’ll be back.

Back to No. 7, which is the Ozark Hills Theater, home of the Prater Country Music Show. This one puzzled me. I’d never heard of it, never seen an ad for it, didn’t know where it was located.

With a little research, we discovered the theater on a gravel road, Perimeter Lane, a block south of Highway 32 East just outside the city limits.

For the complete column, see the Weekend print edition of The Daily Record, or view the e-Edition online.


The Lebanon Daily Record

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Lebanon, MO 65536
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