12 Top-Rated Attractions & Things to Do in Springfield, MO
Author Brad Lane visited Springfield as part of an extensive trip through Missouri for PlanetWare.
Springfield is an hour north of Branson in southwest Missouri. It's home to Missouri State University and notable tourist attractions. It also has an adventurous nature thanks to nearby Ozark landscapes. And as the Birthplace of Route 66, Springfield also makes for a great road trip destination.
A fantastic underground voyage or a glimpse at Civil War history are just a few favorite things to do in Springfield. You will also find a national aquarium, sprawling botanical centers, and one of the best car collections in the entire state of Missouri. And these family-fun activities are only a sample of the sightseeing opportunities throughout town.
Whether it's the resident students, community members, or wildlife from the Dickerson Park Zoo, everyone in Springfield seems to be happy to meet you. The city has a Midwest charm represented by these smiling faces and a visitor appeal that feels like traveling home.
For ideas on the best places to visit, see our list of the top attractions and things to do in Springfield, Missouri.
1. Fantastic Caverns
Located less than 10 miles north of downtown, Fantastic Caverns exemplifies the karst landscape that defines much of the Missouri underground. The caverns have a fragile backdrop of ancient features, and the only way to tour the fascinating underground landscape is on a 55-minute jeep-drawn tram ride.
This engaging jeep-drawn tram ride makes Fantastic Caverns America's only ride-through cave system. It also provides a great way for anyone to enjoy the caves. The well-informed guides leading the expeditions help shed some light on the underground features.
Fantastic Caverns truly lives up to its name. Some of the cave features on a tour include columns, soda straws, and cave bacon. Because of its underground nature, Fantastic Caverns remains at a comfortable 60 degrees Fahrenheit all year long.
Address: 872 N Farm Road 125, Springfield, Missouri
2. Springfield Botanical Gardens at Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park
Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park is a popular spot for natural attractions and things to do outdoors. It provides more than 100 acres of manicured space to play, picnic, and partake in some botanical beauty.
One of the biggest draws to Nathanael Greene is the Springfield Botanical Gardens. This natural space features 21 different garden beds, hundreds of varieties of flowers, and the Dr. Bill Roston Native Butterfly House.
Lake Drummond is also within Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park and provides a great backdrop for a picnic or open space activities. The on-site Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden is also a great place to visit to add some tranquility to the day.
Address: 2400 S Scenic Avenue, Springfield, Missouri
3. Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium
The Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium features more than one-and-a-half million gallons of water, hosting thousands of live fish. The museum also features massive ocean environments, historic boating vessels, and underwater tunnels to admire some river monsters. The massive facility is next to the almost equally massive original Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World.
Alongside the endless aquariums, the Wonders of Wildlife National Museum also displays an extensive collection of 4-D wildlife dioramas. These intricate displays range from the African savanna to the Arctic tundra. Each diorama features incredible attention to detail and added effects, like noise and lighting, to immerse visitors in the experience.
The location of the museum, connected to the Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World, is no coincidence. With a passion for conservation, the founder and owner of Bass Pro Shops, Johnny Morris, is a Springfield native who strived to bring Wonders of Wildlife to his home community. Most families make a day trip out of visiting the neighboring facilities.
Address: 500 W Sunshine Street, Springfield, Missouri
4. Wilson's Creek National Battlefield
Wilson's Creek National Battlefield is the site of the second major battle of the Civil War. Back in 1861, the seemingly silent landscape surrounding this National Battlefield, now operated by the National Park Service, was violently disturbed as Union and Confederate soldiers clashed to gain control of the state.
In current times, visitors to this preserved natural and historic space tour the different significant landmarks and follow the story of the battle as it took place. Along the 4.9-mile paved tour road that circles the area, eight interpretive sites provide parking spots and hiking trails to follow. The auto tour includes a stop at the Ray House, which stands as the only remaining domicile after the battle.
Even more information about the bloody battle is found within the on-site Visitor Center. It's open seven days a week and features detailed exhibits, a Civil War research library, and a 30-minute film. The National Battlefield is closed during major holidays.
Address: 6424 W Farm Road 182, Republic, Missouri
5. Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden
The Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden provides an extra tranquil setting that lends to a certain peace of mind. This serene place to visit is connected to Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park on the southwest side of the city.
Mizumoto features traditional Japanese garden landscaping spread over seven acres. Some of the most popular features include a meditation garden, moon bridge, and a large koi lake complete with stepping stones. Other features of the garden include a traditional teahouse and an aesthetic Zig-Zag Bridge.
Easy on the eyes and good for the spirit, the Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden is the perfect place to bring a book, bring a date, or simply take a moment from the day to be mindful of one's surroundings. Admission to the Mizumoto Japanese Garden is four dollars for adults, which helps maintain this most relaxing tourist attraction.
Address: 2400 S Scenic Ave, Springfield, Missouri
6. Springfield Art Museum
The Springfield Art Museum is the city's oldest cultural institution. It's dedicated to documenting and displaying significant cultural works from southwest Missouri and abroad and encourages visitors to enrich their cultural perspectives.
The primary focus of the Springfield Art Museum is American art, with permanent and rotating collections. Exhibits and displays cover everything from watercolors to printmaking. Currently, the museum's permanent collection comprises over 10,000 works of art. Docent-led tours of the galleries are available.
As a bonus to any visit, the outdoor Sculpture Garden at the Springfield Art Museum encourages exploration of the grounds. The Springfield Art Museum also brings the community closer together with art classes for teens and adults.
Address: 1111 E. Brookside Drive, Springfield, Missouri
7. Hammons Field
Nothing quite defines the summer season in Springfield like attending a Springfield Cardinals baseball game at Hammons Field. The baseball stadium is near the downtown district and the Missouri State University campus. And it hosts the minor-league Springfield Cardinals throughout the spring and summer, providing a great cultural outlet to appreciate America's pastime.
While some seats at Hammons Field might be more expensive than others, there are no bad seats in the house. This is many thanks to the extra-large scoreboard and modern facilities of this award-winning minor league baseball stadium.
Different theme nights at the stadium include $1 hot dog nights, Freedom Week with fireworks, and collaborations with the Dickerson Park Zoo. Several exciting and family-friendly crowd events also occur between each inning. This fun lineup spans the entire season, offering great things to do at night throughout the spring and summer. Don't forget to bring your glove for the opportunity to catch a foul ball.
Address: 955 E Trafficway Street, Springfield, Missouri
8. The Discovery Center of Springfield
The Discovery Center of Springfield is a one-stop shop for hands-on educational opportunities. Kids of all ages find something fun to learn about at this family-fun facility on the east edge of downtown. But with hundreds of moving exhibits and experiential displays, adults also tend to have fun while visiting.
This signature Springfield tourist attraction is open six days a week and closed on Mondays. Plan to spend at least half the day wandering the many rooms and exhibits spread across three floors (elevators are available). The Discovery Center also puts on after-hour events and educational programming.
Address: 438 E St. Louis St., Springfield, Missouri
9. Dickerson Park Zoo
Dickerson Park Zoo provides much more than just viewing opportunities of its resident animals. With a focus on conservation and community engagement and accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the zoo plays active roles in various conservation programs around the world. Dickerson Park also provides a local animal hospital and rehabilitation services.
As part of its mission to conserve wildlife, the Dickerson Park Zoo strives to draw a connection between the community and the animals. A few of the residents at the Dickerson Park Zoo include western diamondback rattlesnakes, black swans, and a North American black bear. Other animals of interest include Asian elephants, spider monkeys, and a Malayan tiger.
The Dickerson Park Zoo also features different zoo events and summer camps throughout the year. The facility also hosts daily "Animal RendeZoos" where you can get up close and personal with a variety of animals, including elephants, tigers, or reptiles.
Address: 1401 W Norton Road, Springfield, Missouri
10. Springfield Conservation Nature Center
Southeast of the city center, the Springfield Conservation Nature Center (CNC) features over 80 acres of Ozark landscapes to explore. Alongside three miles of hiking trails, this city-owned facility also features a visitor center stacked with interpretive exhibits. The visitor center also houses a 150-seat auditorium for special programs and events.
Springfield CNC is day-use only, and the facility features ample parking for buses and RVs. Several programs take place at the nature center, including guided naturalist hikes. Running and jogging on the trails at Springfield CNC is only allowed during specific posted times of the day.
Address: 4601 S Nature Center Way, Springfield, Missouri
11. Route 66 Car Museum
The Route 66 Car Museum is a privately-owned collection of cars that can't be missed, located directly west of the downtown district. The collection ranges from the Brass Era of automobiles to classic movie and television rides. Never under one roof will you find such a wide variety of vehicles.
The Route 66 Car Museum features more than 70 cars, trucks, and Batmobiles on display. Among its varied inventory are also Jaguars, a prize-winning German Horch, and the same truck that starred in the 1940 film adaptation of The Grapes of Wrath.
Car lover or not, the Route 66 Car Museum is an impressive place to visit. There is something guaranteed to catch your eye among the exhibits. The museum is open seven days a week between 9am and 5pm, except major holidays.
Address: 1634 W College Street, Springfield, Missouri
12. Pythian Castle
This unique castle, a few blocks east of downtown, stands out thanks to its noble design. The Pythian Castle dates to the early 1900s and was constructed by the Knights of Pythian as an orphanage. The U.S. Government utilized the fortress-like building for half a century, and today, it's a top tourist attraction with several types of tours available.
Ghost tours, history tours, and Murder Mystery parties comprise the Pythian Castle event calendar. Tours occur throughout the day and into the night, as do the special events throughout the year. The only way to see the castle grounds is through a tour or scheduled visit.
Address: 1451 E Pythian Street, Springfield, Missouri
Best Time to Visit Springfield, MO - Historical Climate Averages
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