9 Top-Rated Attractions & Things to Do in Springfield, MO

Home to Missouri State University, Springfield can be found an hour north of Branson in the southern part of the state. With significant social landmarks and an abundance of outdoor opportunities, Springfield provides a stunning natural landscape punctuated with plenty of cultural outlets to dive into. If you are looking for a fantastic voyage underground or a glimpse at Civil War history, you'll find it in Springfield, alongside a national aquarium, sprawling botanical centers, and one of the best car collections in the entire state of Missouri. Whether it's the resident students, community members, or wildlife from the Dickerson Park Zoo, everyone you encounter in Springfield seems to be happy to meet you, making for not only a fun visit, but one that will make you want to come back for more.

1 Wilson's Creek National Battlefield

Wilson's Creek National Battlefield
Wilson's Creek National Battlefield | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Operated and administered by the National Park Service (NPS), Wilson's Creek National Battlefield allows tours of the site of one of the first major battles of the Civil War. Back in 1861, the seemingly silent landscape surrounding Wilson's Creek 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 can 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, including a stop at the Ray House, which stands as the only remaining domicile after the battle.

Address: 6424 W Farm Rd 182, Republic, Missouri

2 Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park

Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park
Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Serving as a popular spot for natural attractions and things to do outdoors, Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park 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 on-site Springfield Botanical Gardens, which features 21 different garden beds, hundreds of varieties of flowers, and the Dr. Bill Roston Native Butterfly House. Also found within Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park, Lake Drummond provides a great backdrop throughout the seasons, and the Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden can lend some tranquility to any day.

Address: 2400 S Scenic Ave, Springfield, Missouri

3 Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium

Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium
Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Adjacent to the original Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World, 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 Aquarium Adventure at the museum includes massive ocean environments, historic boating vessels, and underwater tunnels to admire some river monsters. Alongside the endless aquariums at the Wonders of Wildlife Museum, an extensive collection of 4-D wildlife dioramas, ranging from the African savanna to the Arctic tundra, features an incredible attention to detail and added effects to immerse visitors into the experience.

The connected location of the museum to the Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World is no coincidence, and with a passion for conservation, founder and owner of Bass Pro Shops and Springfield native, Johnny Morris, has worked hard to give the Wonders of Wildlife a home.

Address: 500 W Sunshine Street, Springfield, Missouri

4 Fantastic Caverns

Fantastic Caverns
Fantastic Caverns Christian Scheidegger / photo modified

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 is a great way for anyone to enjoy the caves, and the well-informed tour guides who lead the expeditions help shed some light on the underground features. Besides being America's only ride-through cave system, Fantastic Caverns truly lives up to its name, exposing a wild and otherworldly environment below the ground.

Address: 872 N Farm Road 125, Springfield, Missouri

5 Route 66 Car Museum

Route 66 Car Museum
Route 66 Car Museum | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Located directly west of the downtown district, the Route 66 Car Museum is a privately-owned collection of cars that can't be missed. 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. Featuring more than 70 cars, trucks, and Batmobiles on display, the Route 66 Car Museum includes 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 sight to see, and among all the exhibits, there is guaranteed to be something that catches everyone's eye.

Address: 1634 W College Street, Springfield, Missouri

6 Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden

Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden
Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Connected to Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park, on the southwest side of the city, the Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden provides an extra tranquil setting that lends to a certain peace of mind. It features traditional Japanese garden landscaping spread over seven acres, and some of the most popular features include a meditation garden, moon bridge, and a large koi lake complete with stepping stones. 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 your surroundings. Admission to the Mizumoto Japanese Garden is three dollars for adults, which helps maintain this most relaxing attraction.

Address: 2400 S Scenic Ave, Springfield, Missouri

7 Springfield Art Museum

Springfield Art Museum
Springfield Art Museum | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Dedicated to documenting and displaying significant cultural works from southwest Missouri and abroad, the Springfield Art Museum is the city's oldest cultural institution, and still today encourages visitors to enrich their perspectives. Featuring permanent and rotating collections, the primary focus of the Springfield Art Museum is American art, covering everything from watercolors to printmaking. As a bonus to any visit, the outdoor Sculpture Garden at the Springfield Art Museum encourages exploration of the grounds. Bringing the community closer together, the Springfield Art Museum also offers plenty of art classes for teens, an adult-learning series, and docent-led tours of the galleries.

Address: 1111 E Brookside Drive, Springfield, Missouri

Official site: http://www.sgfmuseum.org/

8 Dickerson Park Zoo

Black swans
Black swans Christian Scheidegger / photo modified

With a focus on conservation and community engagement, the Dickerson Park Zoo provides much more than just viewing opportunities of their resident animals. Accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the zoo plays active roles in various conservation programs across the world and provides 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. Also featuring different zoo events and summer camps, as well as hands-on animal experiences, the Dickerson Park Zoo is a great family destination to spend the day.

Address: 1401 W Norton Road, Springfield, Missouri

9 Hammons Field

Nothing quite defines the summer season in Springfield like attending a Springfield Cardinals baseball game at Hammons Field. Located in close proximity to the downtown district and the Missouri State University campus, Hammons Field hosts the minor-league Springfield Cardinals throughout the spring and summer and provides 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, thanks to the extra-large scoreboard and modern facilities. With special events throughout the season and for each individual game, fielding a foul ball isn't the only fun you can catch with the Springfield Cardinals at Hammons Field.

Address: 955 E Trafficway Street, Springfield, Missouri

More Destinations to Check Out in Missouri

Just south of Springfield, Branson has plenty of tourist attractions, and near the central part of the state, discover Things to Do in Columbia. For a healthy dose of Missouri's wild side, see our article on the Top Attractions & Things to Do at the Lake of the Ozarks, and read about the area's best campgrounds and top-rated resorts.

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