Springfield, the third-largest city in Missouri and the Queen City of the Ozarks is a hive of natural wonders, historical monuments, artistic venues, and retail locales. Springfield is also known as the Birthplace of Route 66. Best things to do in Springfield Mo? Continue reading.
Imagine a bustling metropolis with museums and century-old structures from hidden societies surrounded by gardens, caverns, and wildlife. Springfield has something for everyone, whether you’re a parent looking for zoos, parks, and family-friendly activities, a nature lover craving the vast outdoors, a curious aesthete who never gets tired of art regardless of era or culture, or a history buff with an interest in the esoteric.
Wild West legend “Wild Bill” Hickok defeated fellow gambler Davis Tutt in a duel on the town square of the city in 1865. The argument is believed to have been over a pocket watch that Tutt was holding, and that Hickok had lost to him in a bet and now wanted back. Although the square has been updated, you may still visit the site of the original duel and browse the shops while you’re there.
Local history goes beyond just roads and battles and includes hotels, a zoo, and indeed a fortified structure that were all built in the early 20th century. Springfield is a great vacation spot for families with children because it has several interactive museums, aquariums, and animals. A baseball game at Hammons Field or the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame are also options for sports enthusiasts.
1. Fun Things to Do in Springfield Mo
You’ll be happy to know that Springfield in Missouri has a lot of intriguing places to see if you’re thinking about taking a trip there.
Exploring floral gardens, touring farms, and sipping locally-made beverages at breweries and wineries are all enjoyable things to do in Springfield Mo. There are also museums, historic sites, parks, and well-known landmarks to visit. Whatever your interests are, you’ll want to experience these 27 Springfield activities.
1.1. Springfield Art Museum
The Springfield Art Museum was established by a small group of women in 1926, and it is currently one of the top things to do in Springfield, Missouri.
Moreover, the Springfield Art Museum was founded to encourage and instruct the public on the preservation and appreciation of art. Its permanent collection, which numbers over 10,000 pieces and spans many cultures and historical periods, is supplemented by rotating and traveling exhibitions.
The Art of the Midwest, American water media, the art of printing, as well as European pottery and ceramics, are among the special collections. However, the grounds feature several large-scale sculptures, including Sun Target II by John Henry, a well-known icon in Springfield.
1.2. Discovery Center of Springfield
The hands-on, hip, enjoyable, and interactive Discovery Center of Springfield is a museum that encourages learning via exploration and discovery.
Moreover, the Discovery Center offers a wide range of intriguing exhibits, seminars, and displays that serve as an entertaining and motivating educational resource and help visitors of all ages enhance their critical thinking abilities.
Visitors can explore the inside of an eyeball, look for dinosaur bones, discover various cultures, ride a HighWire bike, and take an example of their own DNA home from the DCS. Topics covered by the DCS range from science and technology to art, history, and culture.
Along with hosting occasions like Earth Day, Pi Day, Nano Day, and scout evenings, DCS also provides a variety of educational outreach initiatives. One of the best family attractions in Springfield is the Discovery Center.
1.3. Fantastic Caverns
Fantastic Caverns is a massive underground cave located northwest of Springfield that has been chiseled out by an old river. Explore its breathtaking splendor. After being found by John Knox and his hunting dog in 1862, the cavern quickly gained popularity as a place to explore. Today, tourists can take a 55-minute guided tour inside the cavern in a Jeep-drawn tram.
The temperature in the cave is usually around 60 degrees, so take a leisurely, controlled drive through it to fully appreciate its grandeur and solitude. This is a terrific spot to go if you’re wondering what to do in Springfield, Missouri with kids. Every day, save Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day, trolley-led excursions are offered.
1.4. Hammons Field, Springfield, Missouri
The St. Louis Cardinals, 11-time World Champions, and The Springfield Cardinals, a Texas League team, compete at Hammons Field in the city’s core.
The St. Louis Cardinals own and manage one of the eight teams in the Texas League. What distinguishes the stadium is the larger of the two baseball-specific sheds, which serve as an indoor practice facility with an astroturf, swinging cages, and a small diamond for drills, beyond the right-field walls.
The stadium, which has a capacity of close to 8,000, also has one of the biggest electronic scoreboards and Jumbotrons in the nation, as well as 28 opulent box suites, VIP lounges, bar spaces, and a balcony area.
The Springfield Cardinals’ home field has been dubbed one of the nation’s most visually striking minor league stadiums, drawing large audiences to each game.
1.5. Botanical Center at Nathanael Greene
A stunning 114-acre park called Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park and Arboretum can be found directly across from Horton Smith Golf Course. The park also includes the 12,700-square-foot Botanical Center. The University of Missouri students and local gardeners can use the gardens and arboretum as a learning tool, an outdoor classroom, and a plant laboratory.
They were also built for people who adore nature in general, with large expanses of greenery, luxuriant trees, and plants. For running enthusiasts, walkers, and bikers, there are 2.8 miles of pathways that circle the banks of Lake Drummond. Children and students are delighted by the vibrant insects at the Dr. Bill Roston Butterfly House, where they may observe the various stages, these creatures go through.
The Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden’s ageless beauty is indescribable. This lovely outdoor area in Springfield, Missouri, is a terrific place to start if you’re unsure of what to visit there. There is a lot to see here that displays and captures the natural beauty of the Ozarks.
1.6. Dickerson Park Zoo
Dickerson Park Zoo was founded with the objectives of educating the public and inspiring them to take an interest in wildlife and nature and conservation.
Currently, it has a total of over 500 animals that represent 160 different species. It works with other conservation projects such as the Species Survival Plan involving elephants, maned wolves, and cheetahs. The zoo also offers community outreach and internal conservation-focused activities.
1.7. Springfield Conservation Nature Center
The Springfield Conservation Nature Center, a 79-acre natural area with forest areas, forests, glades, prairies, and Lake Springfield, is situated in southeast Springfield. It provides visitors with a variety of recreation and nature-related activities to enjoy.
Over three miles of varied-length hiking trails can be found at the Nature Center, where they may be used for both trekking and wildlife viewing. For educational and referencing reasons, the park offers numerous self-guided displays and exhibitions, and guided tours are complimentary for parties with reservations.
Eagle Days in the winter, Native Plant Sales and Seminars in the spring, Insect-O-Rama in the summertime, and a Halloween-themed event in the fall are just a few of the seasonal special events that the park conducts.
1.8. The Air and Military Museum of the Ozarks
The Air and Military Museum of the Ozarks was founded in 1989 to conserve showcasing for the general public the military history and artifacts of the Ozarks.
The museum is home to a collection of more than 5,000 items of military history, including historic military apparatus such as a Cobra helicopter, a T-33 jet aircraft, and Army Jeeps and trucks. The museum is dedicated to the men and women who fought and died in the Armed Forces to protect America’s freedom.
At the museum, visitors can engage in hands-on activities like simulating a flight in a Cobra helicopter, typing on a vintage Teletype, or having a custom dog tag made. The museum also organizes some unique initiatives, school excursions, and birthday celebrations.
1.9. Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World
The first and biggest Bass Pro Shop in the nation is Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World. With locations all around the United States and Canada, Bass Pro Shops is a renowned outdoor retailer. The business specializes in fishing and boating hardware as well as gear for other outdoor pursuits like camping and hunting.
Pro Shops Bass With more than 500,000 square feet of area devoted to the outdoors, Outdoor World is the retail paradise for outdoor sportsmen. The NRA Museum, the Archery Hall of Fame, a firing range, aquariums, waterfalls, and a TRACKER boat shop are also located there.
1.10. Mother’s Brewing Company
Craft beer is produced and sold by the locally-owned Mother’s Brewing Company. Mother’s Brewing Company, which is based on South Grant in Downtown Springfield, manufactures a variety of specialty beers, including year-rounders like Towhead and Three Blind Mice as well as seasonal brews like “Oktoberfest,” “Winter Grind,” and “Spring Batch,” among other well-known brands.
The production, bottling, and distribution of beer may all be learned about during a tour at Mother’s Brewery. Afterward, visitors can partake in sampling in the sampling Room.
1.11. Missouri Sports Hall of Fame
The Missouri Sports Hall of Fame is committed to honoring the remarkable accomplishments of Missouri athletes and to inspiring and motivating upcoming athletes.
More than 4,000 pieces of sports history are on display on two floors of the Sports Hall of Fame, which is situated on East Stan Musial Drive. Many interactive exhibitions let visitors engage in practical activities including throwing football passes, competing against Major League Baseball pitchers, and racing in a NASCAR simulator.
The Legends Walk of Fame, which is located next to the Hall of Fame, honors the athletes whose likenesses were used to create busts and sculptures of great sports stars. Famous members of the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame include quarterback Len Dawson of the Kansas City Chiefs and baseball player Stan Musial of the St. Louis Cardinals.
1.12. Hotel Vandivort, Springfield, Missouri
Dine at The Order restaurant or spend the night in one of the chic suites when you visit the recently restored Hotel Vandivort. A contemporary, elegant boutique hotel, Hotel Vandivort is situated in Downtown Springfield’s historic district and is surrounded by a variety of attractions and entertainment.
The hotel, which was first constructed in 1906 as a Masonic Temple, has been lovingly renovated to establish a chic base in the center of downtown for both pleasure and business travelers.
A mini-bar, fridge, coffeemaker, snack basket, HD televisions, and climate control are just a few of the contemporary facilities available in the hotel’s opulent rooms, which vary from Master.
1.13. Route 66 Springfield Visitor Center
The Route 66 Springfield Visitor Center is the ideal location to begin your Route 66 journey and to learn all there is to know about Springfield, its landmarks, and its environs.
In addition to providing maps, brochures, driving directions, and a plethora of information on what to see and do in the Springfield area, the contemporary visitors center has knowledgeable staff on hand to answer any inquiries and provide information. Find out from the staff what activities are scheduled while you are in town, then go out and have a good time with the locals.
1.14. Rutledge-Wilson Farm Community Park
A 207-acre farm park, the Rutledge-Wilson Farm Community Park honors the region’s rich agricultural legacy. The park, which was created to offer the neighborhood educational and recreational services, has a variety of demonstration gardens and crops, a barn for animals and milking, 20 acres of native prairie, and grazing land.
Moreover, a playground for kids with a farm theme, and scenic Wilson’s Creek. This is a nice park to check out if you’re seeking what to do in Springfield with kids on a sunny day. Meet-and-greets with farm animals, fishing in the farm pond, walking and running along the paved mile-long farm trail, and gift shopping are just a few of the activities.
1.15. Relics Antique Mall
The largest antique mall in Missouri is Relics Antique Mall, which has 90,000 square feet of antiques and vintage treasures.
The mall offers antique enthusiasts and collectors the chance to find everything they may want here, including furniture, home décor, arts and crafts, apparel, jewelry, trinkets, and other vintage treasures. It is situated at 2015 W. Battlefield in Springfield.
The mall regularly holds antique-related events and an old-world tearoom offers delectable, freshly prepared food, tea, and coffee.
1.16. Lake Springfield Park, Boathouse, and Marina
There are many recreational and outdoor activities available in Lake Springfield Park, a stunning natural setting near Lake Springfield.
The Greater Ozark Audubon Trail and the Greenways Trail are two of the park’s nature paths, and both are great places to spot wildlife and birds.
In addition to renting kayaks and canoes to explore the lake’s margins and the James River Linear Park Water Trail, which extends from Galloway Creek to Creighton Beach, visitors can enjoy fishing from the shoreline while visiting the park. The Hilltop Pavilion and the Northwoods Pavilion are two stunning pavilions that make for excellent spots to picnic and take in the scenery.
1.17. Wonders of Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium
The largest fish and animal attraction in the world is the Johnny Morris’ Wonders of Animal National Museum and Aquarium, popularly known as Wonders of Wildlife.
This non-profit educational attraction with a conservation emphasis opened in Springfield, Missouri, in 2017. The museum and aquarium are two separate components of the 350,000-square-foot area. There are numerous wildlife galleries with taxidermized creatures from all around the world at the Wildlife Museum. They are shown in incredibly realistic dioramas that depict different natural settings.
The gallery also features historical relics, movies, works of art, and occasionally special exhibits in addition to animals. There are 35,000 fish, reptiles, amphibians, birds, and mammals living in the 1.5-million-gallon aquarium.
These are displayed in various themes, such as a shipwreck in the ocean, an Ozark woodland, a swamp in Louisiana, and many more.
1.18. Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield
The Wilson’s Creek Battle took place at Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield, which is close to Republic, Missouri. The conflict, which took place on August 10, 1861, was the American Civil War’s first significant engagement west of the Mississippi River.
Nathaniel Lyon, the first Union commander to be slain in battle, was also killed at Wilson Creek. The battlefield is in excellent condition and receives more than 200,000 tourists annually.
Visitors to the park can take a self-guided driving tour of the battlefield at their own pace on the 4.9-mile-long paved tour road. There are eight sites along the route that mark key moments in the conflict and have interpretive signage as well as equestrian riding, walking, and hiking trails.
The Civil War Museum, which is an integral component of Battlefield Park, includes a sizable collection of items that aid in understanding both the people and the bloody events that occurred west of the Mississippi.
1.19. Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden
The Springfield Botanical Gardens’ oldest attraction is the Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden, which is situated there. This stunning park is around 7.5 acres in size and includes a tea house, meditation garden, moon bridge, huge lake with koi, and traditional Japanese garden landscaping.
The Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden was built in the 1980s in collaboration with the Japanese city of Isesaki, which is Springfield, Missouri’s sister city. The garden, which is open seasonally from April to October, is frequently listed as one of the best things to do in the city.
1.20. Pythian Castle
The Knights of Pythias built Springfield, Missouri’s Pythian Castle in 1913 with the initial intention of using it as an orphanage. Later, the American military occupied the structure for more than fifty years. The “certified haunted castle” is currently regarded as one of the must-see sights in the neighborhood.
Join one of the several history tours at Pythian Castle to learn more about the building. The Pythian Castle also hosts interactive murder mystery dinners, ghost tours, holiday activities, and historical excursions, making for a more intriguing and distinctive experience.
1.21. Juanita K. Hammons Hall for the Performing Arts
On the Missouri State University campus in Springfield, Juanita K. Hammons Hall for the Performing Arts draws visitors from all over the neighborhood.
The theater has 2,264 seats and includes an orchestra pit and multi-level boxes. It also has a computerized on-site box office, private and public reception areas, a roomy multi-level lobby designed like a foyer, break areas, a loading dock, a green room, a cast lounge, dressing rooms, and backstage facilities.
Hammons Hall has a full season of performances that include touring broadway musicals, kid-friendly performances, and a wide range of entertainment, from theatre to dance to classical music.
1.22. Route 66 Car Museum
A collection of more than sixty vehicles, including movie cars, vintage automobiles from 1907 to 1980, and sports cars, may be found at the Route 66 Car Museum, which is privately owned. It occupies a space of approximately 20,000 square feet.
The privately owned Route 66 Car Museum is situated along the illustrious and historic Route 66. When Guy Mace acquired his first Jaguar in 1990, he began to collect. Since then, the collection has expanded to 75 vehicles that “strike a fancy.” With automobiles from the early brass era to those utilized in movies, such as the Gotham Roadster, this group of vehicles is sure to have something for every museum visitor’s preference.
1.23. History Museum on the Square
The History Museum on the Square in Springfield, which is located right on iconic Route 66, is made up of six distinct permanent galleries that aid in telling tales of key events that happened in the city and its surroundings.
The museum also aspires for the galleries to develop deliberate and distinctive conversations about history, people, and things that look at the distinctive features of the area and its people.
The Civil War in Springfield, Will Hickok and the American West, Pioneers and Founders at the Crossroads, Trains, Trolleys, and Transportation, and Native Crossroads at the Spring is among the six galleries in this exhibit.
1.24. Bass Pro Archery Hall of Fame
The Bass Pro Archery Hall of Fame was founded in 1971, and in 2012, it moved into its first permanent location. This 3,500-square-foot space is part of the Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World in Springfield and houses one of the most unusual collections of archery-related artifacts in existence.
An actual bow produced by the Apache War Chief Geronimo around the year 1900 is housed in the collection at the Archery Hall of Fame, as is the first compound bow prototype created by 2020 inductee and former Billings, Missouri resident Holles Wilbur Allen.
1.25. Smallin Civil War Cave
With more than 6,400 caves to its name, Missouri is referred to as the Cave State. The cave has been recognized as a Historic District, and its history dates back to times before the American Civil War.
One of Missouri’s more wheelchair-accessible caves, the basic tour is just a half-mile long, has no stairs, and is wheelchair-accessible. For families, these one-hour guided trips are ideal.
A two-hour trip wading through water illuminated only by headlamps can be reserved by more daring groups where everyone is 12 years of age or older. Civil War lantern tours, which take place in the fall and feature a Southern supper, a trek around the cave by lantern light, and storytelling, are conducted around a campfire.
1.26. Springfield National Cemetery
Republic, Missouri served as the final resting place for the troops who perished at the Battle of Wilson’s Creek in 1861. Although many of them had lived in Springfield, Civil War troops were interred wherever they died. The Republic, Missouri cemetery urgently needed to remove the many Civil War soldiers’ remains by the year 1876.
Additionally, rooms had to be made available in the cemeteries in Pea Ridge, Carthage, Newtonia, Forsyth, and Springfield. These cemeteries desired to reunite the Civil War graves they had previously reinterred in a sizable Civil War cemetery in Springfield.
The Springfield National Cemetery was created in Springfield, Missouri as a result, combining and enlarging the city’s distinct Union and Confederate cemeteries. The majority of the 566 Confederate soldiers are unidentified, as are 719 of the 1,514 Union soldiers that are currently interred there.
The original monuments and memorial stones are still there in each of the two portions. Because many Springfielders participated in the Battle of Wilson’s Creek, which took place close to Republic, Missouri, it is sometimes called the First Battle of Springfield. Two years later, the Confederate army sought to seize the supplies that were kept at Springfield for the Union army, leading to the Second Battle of Springfield.
Additionally, Confederates desired to gain access to Springfield’s strategic high ground. Because Confederate soldiers attacked southern Springfield homes house-by-house and set them on fire, this second combat was more brutal than other battles. The second fight, however, was won by the Union troops.
1.27. Witness to the World’s Largest Fork: Springfield Mo
The most massive fork in the world is undoubtedly one of Springfield’s most well-liked attractions. The sight of a 35-foot-tall fork from a distance is quite striking, despite what it may seem like.
This unusual attraction is concealed behind a marketing firm. Despite not being your usual piece of art, the 11-ton sculpture is a lot of fun to visit. One of the best artsy things to do in Springfield is unquestionably see the enormous fork.
2. Wrapping Up
Southwest Missouri’s Springfield is located one hour north of Branson. Along with noteworthy tourist sites, it is the location of Missouri State University. Due to the adjacent Ozark scenery, it also has an adventurous nature. Also, Springfield, the birthplace of Route 66, is a fantastic site to stop on a road trip.
Some of the most popular activities in Springfield include an amazing underground adventure or a look at Civil War history. Also, you may find one of Missouri’s top automotive collections, expansive botanical gardens, and a national aquarium. These enjoyable family activities are but a sample of the many sights to explore in the city.
Everyone in Springfield looks pleased to greet you, whether they are locals, students, or animals at the Dickerson Park Zoo. These happy faces are a testament to the city’s Midwest charm and its ability to make visitors feel at home. See our list of the top landmarks and things to do in Springfield, Missouri, for suggestions on where to go.
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