Spring officially begins today (March 20), and that means we can finally put behind one of the coldest and snowiest winters we've had. There may be a few chances at snow coming up, since winter was long, but I want to concentrate on what's coming up: lots of sunshine and travel.

I have had several conversations with friends about some of my favorite spots in Missouri to take a quick getaway and enjoy the weather outside of Pettis County. One of the great assets of living in the middle of Missouri is the chance to get away on a whim. You can be in Kansas City or Columbia within an hour or so, Springfield within two hours and St. Louis within three hours.

This year I want to take my family to see the Steamboat Arabia in Kansas City and enjoy the great foods from the City Market area. I have never been to either and I think it's time to do that. I also want to take the time and see the World War I Museum inside the Liberty Memorial. I have great respect for our military and the hardships of fighting in trenches and facing mustard gas is something I can't even really imagine and would like to learn more about "the War to End All Wars." Of course I want to take in some of the sports action, whether it be Kansas City Royals, Kansas City T-Bones or Sporting KC.

I got a taste of Springfield recently when my cousin's basketbal team, Wayne State, played in the NCAA Division 2Tournament at Drury, but I haven't focused a lot of time in Springfield, even though I've lived here since 1985. One of these days I do plan to eat at Lambert's and take in a game of the Springfield Cardinals at Hammon's Field. I think part of my reason I don't venture down there much is I get hooked on the Lake of the Ozarks area along the way. I do plan to camp out at the Niangua River Oasis this year, but may have to watch how much I canoe with my recent shoulder surgery.

Columbia has been the place I frequent lately. Whether it be enjoying Mizzou sports, shopping or food places like Flat Branch Pub & Brewing. I always wish there would be a professional sport in Columbia, but Mizzou has plenty of activities to do.

St. Louis is a place I have been wanting to go to more often. My wife and I fell in love with it when ate at The Hill District and want to take the kids to the St. Louis Zoo, which is free admission. I have been to many St. Louis Cardinals games and I do want to return to Union Station, the Arch and can't wait to see the new bridge.

Of course, I have promised I'd take my kids fishing, and I do need to test out the shoulder for golf season, so there are lots of places to enjoy for that.

Do you have a favorite place to travel to for springtime in Missouri. Let us know in the comments.