Nestled in the Ozark hills, Springfield, Missouri is commonly known as the pulse of the Ozarks. The city features a perfect blend of big-city amenities and small-town hospitality. Near the popular entertainment city of Branson, Springfield is nicknamed the “Birthplace of Route 66.”
If you plan to take a trip to the southwest part of Missouri, don’t forget to enjoy Springfield’s top attractions. The city has a lot to offer, and thanks to its classic American heritage, you are sure to feel at home. Families come from across the country to enjoy both the excitement and relaxation that Springfield has to offer.
Ready to head to Springfield? Here are 17 things to do in Springfield MO that we know you’re going to love.
MIZUMOTO JAPANESE STROLL GARDEN
The Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden is among the oldest attractions in Springfield Botanical Gardens. Built in 1985 in partnership with the Springfield Sister City, Japan, Gunma Prefecture, and Jsesaki, Mizumoto features a large koi lake, tea house, meditation garden, and moon bridge with Japanese garden landscaping.
You will find that the garden is unlike any other, with something fun and attractive in every corner, making it a good place to unwind and get some fresh air. Once you visit it, you’ll have a great time exploring the beautiful trees and flowers, ponds, streams, and gazebos.
Make sure to plan your trip in advance, since the garden is only open seasonally, which is between the months of April and October.
JOHNNY MORRIS’ WONDERS OF WILDLIFE NATIONAL MUSEUM AND AQUARIUM
The Johnny Morris’ Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium is a 350,000 square foot facility that houses thousands of fish in 1.5 million gallons of water. The museum offers a massive oceanic environment to enjoy, underwater tunnels to see marine life, and historic boating vessels.
In addition, the museum and aquarium display an extensive wildlife gallery, and have an entire collection of 4D wildlife dioramas.
If you ever happen to find yourself in Springfield, make sure to visit this breathtaking attraction full of local marine life.
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to explore a cave? Well, you can stop wondering and visit America’s only ride-through cavern, Fantastic Caverns. You’ll sit down in a tram and enjoy the amazing views inside the caves as a jeep pulls you along.
An interesting aspect about these caves is that many years ago, a river carved the path that spectators now take. The caves were also used as a venue for musical events in the 1950s. Prepare to explore the spectacular insides of caves and expect a temperature around 60 degrees all year round inside.
Hammons Field is located in downtown Springfield, and is home to the Springfield Cardinals baseball team, the double-A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals. The unique stadium features two outbuildings that are baseball-specific. The stadium can easily accommodate around 8,000 visitors, so if you like to watch live baseball games, a trip to Hammons Field should be on your list.
Not to forget, the facility also features 28 box suites and lounges for VIPs. Hammons Field also has a balcony area and bars, while the larger outbuilding serves as an indoor baseball practice facility with Astroturf grass, batting cages, and diamonds for drills.
The Hammons Field stadium has one of the largest electronic scoreboards in the U.S. that is used to show replays and highlights from MLB games taking place at the same time. It’s a great stadium, and well worth a visit.
SPRINGFIELD CONSERVATION NATURE CENTER
This 79-acre natural landscape featuring glades, forests, prairies, woodlands, Lake Springfield, and the local wildlife is located in southeast Springfield, Missouri. Springfield Conservation Nature Center is a great place to spend a sunny weekend, especially for nature lovers.
Not only can you enjoy the natural landscape, but the place also offers many outdoor and recreational activities to participate in. For instance, you can check out the wildlife, enjoy a hike, or swim in the lake. There are also exhibits and self-guided displays all over the nature center to learn more about the wildlife. If you’d like a guided tour, you can reserve one in advance for free.
The Springfield Conservation Nature Center hosts special events throughout the year. These include Eagle Days in the winter, Insect-O-Rama in August, Native Plant Sales and Seminars during springtime, as well as a Halloween-themed festival in the month of October.
DICKERSON PARK ZOO
The Dickerson Park Zoo is a local zoo facility in Springfield, founded with the objective of raising awareness regarding wildlife and nature conservation. It houses more than 500 animals that all come from 160 different species. The well-maintained facility is among the top attractions in Springfield because it’s fun and inexpensive to enjoy.
Dickerson Park Zoo is part of various conservation projects such as the Species Survival Plan that benefits maned wolves, cheetahs, and Asian elephants.
THE WORLD’S LARGEST FORK
One of the most popular attractions in the city of Springfield, the world’s largest fork, is a favorite for many. The giant fork is among the most visited areas and is a fascinating sight for people from all across the world.
The fork is a stainless steel sculpture that is 35-feet tall, standing in Chesterfield Village of Southeast Springfield. It is run by an ad agency, and while it may not be your typical favorite artwork, it definitely is a fun sculpture to stand next to.
People love taking pictures next to the fork, so if you want some insta-worthy pictures from your trip to Springfield, this is the place.
BASS PRO SHOPS OUTDOOR WORLD
Another popular Springfield attraction, the Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World, is a 500,000 square-foot complex that also happens to be the first Bass Pro Shop in the U.S.! The outdoor sportsman’s retail mecca is an experience you will find nowhere else. Why? Well, it has enormous fireplaces, statues, aquariums, boats, and taxidermied animals located throughout the shopping complex.
Here, you will find the best equipment for fishing, boating, hunting, camping, or cooking. But you’ll also find a great range of hunting gear, unique jewelry, golf clubs, and other sports items on display. Bass Pro is the best place to shop for quality clothes, shoes, and nature-themed gifts if you want to take home a bit of Springfield for your loved ones.
Want to know one of the coolest parts of Bass Pro in Springfield? They have their own hotel here! Angler’s Lodge Springfield is here, and is just steps away from Johnny Morris’ Wonders of Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium. Add a stay here, and enjoy a free breakfast, indoor grotto pool and hot tub, and fitness center.
ROUTE 66 CAR MUSEUM
Guy Mace started the Route 66 Car Museum in 1990 when he bought his first luxury car, a Jaguar. Now, he displays around 75 cars in this museum along Route 66. The museum features automobiles from the brass car era, as well as cars featured in movies, such as Batmobiles. Each car here has its own little interesting history, so it’s a great place for car enthusiasts to visit.
The Route 66 Car Museum covers an area of 20,000 square feet and houses a unique collection of 75 automobiles from the early 1900s, 1920s, and 1930s. The exhibit also includes 25 sports cars that you may have seen in movies or have been driven around by celebrities.
You will also notice vehicles from before the contemporary period. This gives you a chance to look at how aesthetics changed with the passage of time. What’s more? You will also find plenty of automobile memorabilia, some of which are also available to purchase.
ROUTE 66 SPRINGFIELD VISITOR CENTER
The Route 66 Springfield Visitor Center is the ultimate first stop for visitors from any part of the world. Make sure you stop by at this center before you begin your journey of exploring Springfield, Missouri. Here, you can find maps, guides, driving directions, and just about anything else you could need to explore the city for the first time.
This should be your first stop on your trip to Springfield. It’s a great resource for information about Springfield, its attractions, and where tourists can check out other amenities.
Route 66 Springfield Visitor Center has friendly and experienced staff who can help you find just about anything that you’re looking for. You can also check in with them to obtain information on events that are currently occurring and how you can attend.
The Knights of Pythias built the Pythian Castle in Springfield, Missouri, in the year 1913. Originally, it served the purpose of an orphanage and retirement home. Later, it became a military prison in 1942 as World War II was going on. The castle-turned-prison held German and Italian prisoners of war in Springfield.
With its interesting history and beautiful gothic sights, Pythian Castle is also one of the top attractions of the city. It features fairytale events, murder mystery dinners, escape rooms, and more, making it a favorite among tourists and locals alike.
The castle holds many holiday events, making it a great place to stop by during your winter holiday. It is also open to cultural events.
Make sure you visit the Pythian Castle during your visit to Springfield if you are interested in learning the history of the building and the myths about the people who used to live in it.
SPRINGFIELD SCULPTURE PARK
Exploring a city’s art is the best way to get to learn more about it. If you’re looking for such a place in Springfield, then the Sculpture Walk Springfield Park should be on your itinerary.
You will find multiple sculptures in unlikely places scattered throughout the city that all belong to Sculpture Walk Springfield. This rotating project is easily the largest in the Midwest due to its rapid growth and success. It began when two families belonging from Ozarks realized the importance of interactive art exhibits and their effect on the community.
The culture walk debuted in April 2016 with a total of 14 sculptures. Now, a selection committee handpicks 31 sculptures every year in February, and each collection is put in place in April and is on view until March of the next year. Springfield itself has become a museum without walls, and it’s definitely worth checking out.
DISCOVERY CENTER OF SPRINGFIELD
The Discovery Center of Springfield is a great indoor attraction perfect for both kids and adults.
The center features child-friendly and educational exhibits that make it a great tourist attraction for families. Not to mention, the fun activities keep people of all ages busy and entertained for hours. After all, the place is all about grasping visitors’ attention and getting them involved. It is the perfect blend of learning and having fun at the same time. The interactive museum promotes discovery and exploration as well as interactive education.
It covers all subjects from technology and science to art and culture. You can also explore eyeballs, dig for fossils, and learn about different forms of art and culture from around the world. The Discovery Center also holds special events such as Earth Day, Scout Nights, Nano Day, and Pi Day.
BOTANICAL CENTER AT NATHANAEL GREENE: CLOSE MEMORIAL PARK
Located across Horton Smith Golf Course, a 114-acre park called the Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park is another popular tourist attraction. The garden also features a beautiful 12,700 square-feet botanical center.
Initially, the arboretum and gardens were founded to be a learning source for students of Missouri State University and local gardeners. This was because the botanical center serves as an outdoor classroom and plant laboratory for students.
Not only this, it is a good place to visit for anyone who loves exploring the outdoors. You can visit the botanical center for an evening walk, a morning jog, or you’re an afternoon bike ride. That’s because it has 2.8 miles of trails around the banks of Drummond Lake. If you can’t decide a place to start your Springfield journey, the Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park is a good bet.
HISTORY MUSEUM ON THE SQUARE
Located right on historic Route 66 in Springfield, Missouri, the History Museum on the Square preserves much of Springfield and Greene County’s heritage. It features six permanent galleries that present the details behind many historical events. It creates unique and distinct dialogues regarding historical individuals and events. Hence, it’s a great spot for people looking to learn more about Springfield’s history.
The museum features a Trolley Time Machine that you can use to see what Springfield looked and felt like during the Civil War. Indulge in the interesting activities and find out whether you are as good as Wild Bill Hickok or travel down to the Mother Road to see how the historic Route 66 got its name.
The History Museum of the Square offers walking tours and special events throughout the year.
SPRINGFIELD ART MUSEUM
Back in 1926, a small group of women started an Art Study Club — and that small club eventually turned into the amazing Springfield Art Museum that you’ll find today. Incorporated in 1928, the museum now features over 10,000 works of art in their permanent collection.
The museum originally focused on American art, but over the years the collection has grown to include a variety of work spanning numerous time periods and cultures.
You’ll also find visiting exhibitions throughout the year, along with art classes, workshops, summer camps, and family-friendly events.
Admission to the Springfield Art Museum is free, but donations are appreciated.
MISSOURI SPORTS HALL OF FAME
The Missouri Sports Hall of Fame is the perfect place to visit for the sports fan in your group!
With over 4,000 items of sports memorabilia and exhibits, there’s plenty to see here. You’ll find interactive exhibits too. See how you stack up with your friends in a race in the NASCAR simulator, or try to get a hit against a MLB pitcher. Throw football passes, and so much more.
Some of Missouri’s finest athletes have been honored here. Make sure to visit the Legends Walk of Fame, which features busts and statues of notable Missouri sports figures.
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