Springfield, Missouri is one of those places that is easy to overlook until you actually visit – and then you realize how much there is to do in the city! It might be a small city, but Springfield, MO puts a heavy focus on Science, Nature, and History. This is great news for prospective visitors!
Springfield is located in Southwestern Missouri between St. Louis, Missouri, and Tulsa, Oklahoma. In fact, if you take highway 44 you can reach either of these cities in roughly 3 hours.
One of the major reasons for visiting or living in Springfield, which 170,000 people call home, is its natural beauty. The city sits in the middle of the Ozark mountain range which is one of the most stunning places to hike in the USA. There is no shortage of hiking opportunities, some of which will be covered below, so remember to pack some sturdy shoes and a camera when visiting Springfield Missouri!
Visiting Springfield, Mo doesn’t have to break the back. In fact, it can be quite affordable!
Check out our Cheapest Places to Visit in 2020 if you want more inspiration.
1 – Wonders of Life National Museum and Aquarium
This massive aquarium and conservation center is the highlight of Springfield, MO. It sits in a massive 350,000-square-foot building and contains a mile of footpaths and walkways. With 1.5 million gallons of aquarium space, this will be great for any lover of fish and sea life. While the aquarium is probably the largest attraction, the museum part of Wonders of Life should not be underestimated. They have assembled a gargantuan collection of wild animals that is one of the largest in the world. Check out everything from snakes and birds to African big game animals.
The admission to Wonders of Life can be a bit pricey but does offer a lot to visitors of Springfield. However, there is more if you are ready to drop some serious cash on an unforgettable experience. For $120 you will get the chance to dive with sharks during their feeding time. It’s not for people who are easily frightened, but it is certainly an unforgettable experience!
Hours: 10am – 7pm
Price: Adults $46 / Children $18 / Pricing schedule varies per day
2 – Nathanael Greene / Close Memorial Park
This beautifully landscaped park covers a sizeable spot in Southwestern Springfield. It is complete with Gardens, Hiking Trails, and a lake. Take a walk or bike ride here and take in the landscaped beauty. The flower gardens change in look and color throughout the year as the various flowers bloom in a cycle. This map offers a great look at the types of flowers you can expect to see each month.
Every visitor to Nathanael Greene Park should know about one of the more unique things about this attraction. Local artists will hide painted rocks around the park for others to find. If you look closely you might be lucky enough to find one. This would make an awesome souvenir from Springfield, MO. Or, better yet, you can choose to hide the rock in a new spot for the next person to find!
Hours: 6:15am – 9pm
3 – Fantastic Caverns
These caverns were discovered by a local dog way back in the 1860s. That’s right, a local dog discovered this ancient cave system. The cave system wasn’t explored initially due to fear of the Civil War soldiers using it to their advantage. Visitors are lucky to have the chance to see the fully explored cave system in modern convenience.
Tours are actually led via a tram system which takes you on a 55-minute tour of fantastic caverns. The tram tour means family members of any age will be able to join! One last selling point is that Fantastic Caverns stays a steady 60° year-round. It’s a great way to cool off in the summer.
Hours: 8am – Dusk
Price: Adult $26 / Children $17 / Under 5-years-old = Free
4 – Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield
This location, which was where the battle for Wilson’s Creek was fought, is an important part of Missouri and Civil War history. The struggle between Union soldiers and the Missouri militia occurred on August 10th, 1861. The 1,700-acre park, located just Southwest of Springfield, is dedicated to the 2,500 soldiers who died during the battle.
The Wilson’s Creek Civil War Museum which is located on-site contains many relics and stories that curious history lovers will appreciate. Best of all this museum is included with your standard park admission. There is no need to buy a separate ticket!
Hours: 8am – 5pm
Cost: $10 Single Admission / $20 Car (includes admission for all passengers)
5 – Ozark Park Trail
Ozark park is located in Ozark City and near Freemont Hills, a popular suburb in Springfield. The trail covers 2.2 miles and gives the feeling of being in nature – even though the city is just minutes away.
This trail is well-paved and at a fairly level grade. As such it is more of an easy hike and is suitable for any fitness level. It’s perfect for a quick stop in the morning or afternoon when you need to get some exercise in! There are harder and more challenging trails around Springfield, MO but this one works best for visitors on a tight schedule.
6 – Pythian Castle
Pythian Castle is one of the top sights in Springfield Missouri and has a unique history. It was first constructed in 1913 by the Knights of Pythias, a secret fraternal organization founded during the civil war. Members of the Knights of Pythias have included Presidents of the United States and members of the Rockafeller family.
Today, the castle is privately owned and offers a range of tours. Visitors can choose from options including history tours, mystery tours, and even ghost tours. Naturally, the ghost tours occur in the middle of the night – so don’t plan on taking young children!
Hours: Check for info
Cost: History tours start at $9 / Other tours come with a higher cost.
7 – Dickerson Park Zoo
The Dickerson Park Zoo is conveniently located next to the Ozark County Fairgrounds. You’ve probably visited many zoos in the past and might even think this is just another zoo. However, there are a number of reasons why Dickerson Park Zoo is a bit different from other zoo experiences. Visitors can see 160 different species of animals and learn about each animal as well. Many of the animals can be experienced up close and personal. Take the flock of resident peacocks for example. They roam freely around the zoo as if they own it all!
Another cool feature is the giraffe enclosure. There are a number of giraffes housed here and guests have the ability to watch them run and play. If you come during feeding time you will be able to watch them eat and even feed them if you wish! Bags of giraffe food cost $4 and helps support the zoo.
The Dickerson Zoo also supports numerous conservation efforts around the world including helping elephants in Sri Lanka, Flamingos in Chile, and Rhinos in Kenya. Not all zoos are the same so this is great to see!
Hours: 9am – 5pm (shorter hours in the winter)
Cost: Adults $15 / Children $10
8 – Springfield Conservation Nature Center
This is the place to go if you’re looking for hiking trails around Springfield MO. Take a walk on routes that range from 20-minutes to a couple of hours. There is a range of wildlife that can be seen here such as deer, birds, and squirrels as well. Some of the trails can be more difficult due to the incline/decline of the trail. Take this into account if you have trouble with physical exertion. Experience the natural beauty of Missouri in this oasis in the city.
Hours: 8am – 5pm
9 – Discovery Center of Springfield
The Discovery Center of Springfield offers a hands-on museum experience in the heart of Springfield. It’s a fun place to visit for kids and families and can easily take up a free day or afternoon. Children will have lots of fun playing with the range of mechanical contraptions and science experiments at the Discovery Center.
They offer a number of events like Night at the Museum which is a unique experience for younger visitors. Check here for the full event schedule.
One thing to note, your admission is valid for the entire day. This means that you will be able to leave for lunch and come back in the afternoon. This might not sound like much but it is super useful if you need to exit the building for any reason!
Hours: 9am – 5pm
Price: $12 Adults / $8 Children
10 – Missouri Institute of Natural Science
This is one of the best free things to do in Springfield! The Missouri Institute of Natural Science includes a museum with numerous plants and animal exhibits, outdoor hiking, and fossil hunting. Speaking of fossils, the largest known triceratops is on display at the museum. Its head has yet to be found, but based on the skeleton it is around 30% larger than other specimens known. If you’re looking for something free to do in Springfield this is hard to beat!
The Missouri Institute of Natural Science is also home to the oldest cave in North America. Unfortunately, it is currently closed to visitors. We can only wait and hope that it reopens in the near future.
Something that you might find interesting is the events held at the Institute of Natural Science. Visitors can book a birthday party, yoga session, or another special event here. Birthday parties include a guided fossil hunt and dinosaur-themed cake.
Hours: 9am – 4:30pm
Cost: Free (donations welcomed)
11 – Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden
The Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden covers 7 acres of the Springfield Botanical Garden. It is the result of a partnership with their sister city Isesaki, Japan. Take a walk around the paths which lead through Zen Gardens, Cherry Trees, and Koi Pond in true Japanese style. Bags of Koi food are available at the front desk for $1 if you want to give the koi a treat.
The gardens are expertly manicured to the point of perfection and the dedication to detail truly shows. It is only open seasonally between April – October, so check the dates of your travel before planning a visit.
Events at the garden include an annual Japanese-themed Fall Festival. Be sure to check this out if you visit Springfield in the Fall!
Hours: 10am – 7pm
Cost: Adults $4 / Children Free
12 – Rutledge-Wilson Farm Community Park
This 200-acre park located in western Springfield is a great example of how green spaces like this can bring the community together.
At the farm, visitors can experience and learn about some of the important aspects of farm life. These include cow milking, crop exhibitions, and getting an up-close look at the barn animals. There is a range of animals to see in the barn such as cows, pigs, and horses. One nice touch is the classroom setup that teachers are able to use when conducting field trips to the farm.
From March to October, the farm is open to prospective anglers who are welcome to fish in the large, well-stocked lake. This is great for both children who are just starting out, and adults who don’t want to leave the city to catch some nice fish. Pole rentals cost $5 and if you bring your own pole the cost drops to $1.5. Note that this is catch-and-release fishing so you won’t need a fishing license. This is a good chance to hook some largemouth bass!
Hours: 9am – 5pm
Cost: Free (some special events require a fee)
13 – Sequiota Park
Sequiota Park is another great place to go if you’re looking to see some of Missouri’s natural beauty. Sequiota sits along Galloway Creek and is a good spot for hikers. Hiking here is a serene experience, even if the trails are relatively short. The way the park is situated gives the feeling of being surrounded by nature. So much so that you will forget that you’re still in the middle of Springfield MO!
There are some caves located here that add to the Ozark feel. It should be noted that the caves are closed to visitors in an effort to protect the endangered bats that live in these caves. If you visit the park you will surely see the caves, but remember to do any looking from the outside.
The main feature of Sequiota Park is the large lake that covers a good section of the park grounds. This lake has been a state fish hatchery for the past 100 years and has been a popular weekend destination for Springfield residents for even longer!
Hours: 5am – 11pm
14 – Birthplace of Route 66
If you’re a history nerd you will love visiting this small park and historical site in Springfield. The “Main Street of America” was officially created when highway officials met here in Springfield, MO to officially christen the monumental stretch of highway known now as Route 66.
There is a great deal of pride in the city’s history and they hold an annual festival which is aptly called “The Birthplace of Route 66 Festival”. You are in for a real treat if you happen to visit during the festival. Springfield puts on a major show complete with a parade, live music throughout the weekend, and races. And, of course, it wouldn’t be complete without a classic car show! Check out the event schedule for a full look at the annual festivities.
15 – Springfield Art Museum
This is the oldest public museum in the city and it offers free admission to the public! What’s not to love about that?
For a venue offering free entry, the Springfield Art Museum has a lot to offer. Their collections include over 10,000 pieces of art that have been acquired by the museum since opening in 1928. Originally the museum focused on contemporary American art. But as the collection grew it began to expand into foreign art of various ages and styles.
In addition to the permanent displays, there are numerous special exhibits each year which you can check out here.
The museum also hosts events in Springfield periodically so it’s good to keep an eye out when you’re in town.
Hours: 10am – 6pm (closed on Mondays)
16 – Springfield-Greene County Botanical Center
The Springfield Botanical Gardens is located next to the Japanese Zen Garden so they both can easily be visited on the same afternoon. This is easily one of the best parks in Springfield! There certainly is a lot to do here. Spend time walking around the footpaths, checking out the various themed gardens, and relaxing in the shade while you take in the surrounding beauty.
Did you know: The Springfield Botanical Center is home to Missouri’s only butterfly house? The Dr. Bill Roston Native Butterfly House is the place to go if you want to see native butterflies and moths in their various stages of the life cycle. The only downside is that the Butterfly House is only open from May to September each year.
Hours: 8am – 5pm
17 – SkyZone Trampoline Park
This is a great way to spend the day for visitors with children. They can spend a few hours jumping around on the trampolines. It can be a great exercise for kids while parents can relax in the air-conditioned building during the hot Springfield summer. Of course, if you’re a fun-loving adult you are welcome to put your socks on and have some fun as well!
In addition to trampolines, there are also foam ball pits, dodgeball games, and regular fitness classes. There are frequent activities that can be found online like glow-in-the-dark events after dark. Socks for Skyzone cost $3 and can be purchased at the ticket counter.
Hours: 12pm – 7pm
Cost: 60 minutes $14 / 90 minutes $17 / 120 minutes $22
18 – Getaway Golf
Getaway Golf is another fun outing that works for both kids and adults. Springfield has you covered if you’re looking to get a mini-golf session in!
For $10.50 you will be able to play through your choice of two 18-hole courses. Some of the highlights include a recreation of the Golden Gate Bridge and St. Louis Arch. Once you’re done, head to the Dairy Queen next door and grab some ice cream.
Price: Adults $10.50 / Children $8.50
19 – Route 66 Car Museum
Located not far from the Birthplace of Route 66 is this stunning car museum. The location is quite fitting as the collection is comprised of roughly 80 classic and antique cars. This is the best collection of cars you will find in Springfield MO!
The Route 66 Car Museum has fully restored classics dating back to the 1800s, as well as numerous drool-inducing sports cars. Of course, no car collection would be complete without an outrageous batmobile to steal the show! This is the best way for any car enthusiast to spend their day.
Check the official website for a $5-off coupon.
Hours: 9am – 5pm
Cost: $15 Adult / $5 Children
20 – Relics Antique Mall
Did you know that the largest antique mall in Missouri is located in Springfield? It’s a perfect stop for anyone interested in doing some bargain hunting while in town. Springfield has a long history dating back to the city’s founding in 1829. So you can imagine the types of things that end up for sale here!
Once you’re tired out from shopping take a seat at the cafe and have a delicious cup of tea or coffee. The Relics Tea Room offers drinks for those looking to relax for a bit.
If you’re looking for events in Springfield you might want to check out the Relics Event Schedule. They host a lot of happenings in the area. What treasures are you taking home from this Springfield Missouri antique mall?
Hours: 10am – 6pm
Bonus – World’s Largest Fork
No road trip is complete without weird roadside attractions to lure in travelers for a quick stop. Springfield, MO is home to its own roadside attraction – The World’s Largest Fork. At 35-feet tall I don’t think anyone else will be challenging this claim either. It is located in front of the headquarters of the Food Network, a perfectly suitable location. If you’re passing by it makes for a good photo opportunity but don’t expect much to do around the fork. There are a few restaurants in the area but not much in the way of attractions.
What are your favorite things to do in Springfield MO?
What do you think of these things to do in Springfield, MO? Are there any that you are excited to see? I think the highlight of Springfield is the Wonders of Life Aquarium and the Nathanael Green Park. These are great places to visit for people of all ages and make great stops for couples or families with children. They can easily take an entire day of sightseeing and are two must-do activities in Springfield Missouri.
Let us know in the comments what you’ve seen already!