Springfield, Missouri, attracts millions of tourists annually and is the state’s third-largest city. There’s a diverse and interesting range of things to do in Springfield and more than 850 different options when it comes to dining. John Polk Campbell and his brother founded the city in 1829 when the brothers carved their initials in an ash tree, intent on returning to the spot to settle. Since then, Springfield has grown and developed into the bustling metropolitan city it is today, yet still retains its small-town charm.
Springfield is officially recognised as the birthplace of Route 66. This became America’s first fully paved highway and runs from the Great Lakes to the Pacific Coast. Those travelling on the route can find plenty of Route 66 memorabilia around the city.
One of the most unusual events in Springfield, MO, is known as the Great Cobra Scare of 1953. Cobras, which are not native to the state, were found roaming freely across the city. This caused panic across the city and remained a mystery for over 35 years. The scare was so famous and drew so much attention that the cobra made it onto the city’s seal.
History doesn’t stop at snakes, however. In 1865, the first Wild West shootout happened in a square in the city. The surviving man, Wild Bill, became one of the most infamous names in America’s wild west history. If you are planning on calling into Springfield, MO, for a city break or as part of a longer stateside vacation, here are some things to do in Springfield.
20 Things To Do In Springfield
Looking for things to do in Springfield, MO? Here are 20 to keep you busy.
1- Play Retro Arcade Games At 1984 Arcade
For only $10, visitors to 1984 Arcade are taken back in time, and the admission fee includes all video gameplay.
You just push the blue button to access free-play to activate many vintage games, and the only pay-for game is Pinball which takes quarters only.
1984 Arcade is also a preservation museum and a retro 80s-styled hangout, which is the perfect location for family fun, date nights, or meeting new people in the city.
There are between 70 and 80 video games and 18 pinball machines.
Games such as Space Invaders and Asteroids are available.
1984 Arcade is at 400 S Jefferson Avenue, Springfield, MO 65806.
2- Go On A Night Ghost Tour of Pythian Castle
Pythian Castle is a gothic masterpiece in Springfield, MO.
This castle, whilst beautiful to explore during the day, becomes darker and more mysterious at night.
Book a Viator night ghost tour of the castle to explore its supernatural history.
Tours last 1.5 hours and take in the castle’s most haunted rooms and passageways.
The castle’s most haunted areas are the ballroom and the basement, where ghostly spirits have been regularly spotted.
During the tour, you’ll discover the castle’s history and its spirits.
Guests are encouraged to try to capture a spirit on camera.
Night Ghost Tour of Pythian Castle is at 1451 E Pythian Street, Springfield, MO 65802.
3- Step Back In History At Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield
One of Springfield’s most important historical locations is Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield.
A major battle was fought on August 10 1861, during the American Civil War.
The battle, now known as the Battle of Wilson’s Creek, was first known as the First Battle of Springfield, despite its closer location to the town of Republic.
The land the battle was fought on has been well-preserved and today serves as a park, with historical tours and eight information plaques positioned to inform visitors of its historical importance.
A museum displaying information about the Civil War was built on the battlefield grounds.
The museum features artefacts from the Battle of Wilson’s Creek and includes information on the death of Nathaniel Lyon, the first Union general killed during the Civil War.
A trip to Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield is worth the short drive.
Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield is at 6424 W Farm Road 182, Republic, MO 65738.
4- Wander Around Nathanael Green/Close Memorial Park
Nathanael Green/Close Memorial Park is home to the Springfield-Greene County Botanical Centre.
The park covers 113 acres (46 ha) of well-maintained gardens cared for by a dedicated team of volunteers.
The gardens are a venue for talks and demonstrations to encourage visitors to learn more about plants and gardening.
You can also download a guided cellphone tour of the gardens.
Nathanael Green/Close Memorial Park includes the Dr Bill Roston Butterfly House and the Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden.
To the south of the park is Lake Drummond, which is well worth a visit.
Nathanael Green/Close Memorial Park is at 2400 S Scenic, Springfield, MO 65807.
5- Explore Springfield Conservation Nature Centre
Seeing eagles is another of the things to do in Springfield for wildlife lovers.
To get back into nature during your visit to Springfield, head to Springfield Conservation Nature Centre in the southeast of Springfield.
It preserves 79 acres (32 ha) of prairies, meadows, woodlands and forests.
The animals within its boundaries are also protected.
Lake Springfield is also in the boundary of Springfield Conservation Nature Centre.
The centre is open to the public for walks and opportunities to swim or hire boats to paddle on the lake.
There are more than 3 miles (14.83 km) of hiking trails, with information boards about flora and fauna.
Guided tours and information days are available throughout the year.
During winter, look for the talks on eagles during the themed Eagle Days, while spring brings plant sales of native plants and seminars on the plant’s history and uses.
Springfield Conservation Nature Centre is at 4601 S Nature Centre Way, Springfield, MO 65804.
6- Discover The Wonders of Wildlife
Wonders of Wildlife is Springfield’s national museum and aquarium, which opened in 2017 and is a non-profit educational facility.
The museum and aquarium is one of the largest in the world.
The museum features a range of taxidermy animals positioned in replications of their natural habitats, historical artefacts, films and special exhibitions.
In its aquarium, 35,000 fish, reptiles, mammals, birds and more live in its many tanks.
Wonders of Wildlife is a fun attraction for a family day out or simply for those who love wildlife.
Wonders of Wildlife is at 500 W Sunshine Street, Springfield, MO 65807.
7- Explore Fantastic Caverns
A short drive from the city centre is Fantastic Caverns, where you can experience a unique tour as you are pulled through the caverns on a tram pulled by a Jeep.
An Ozark farmer’s dog discovered the caverns in 1862.
The first full exploration of this underground phenomenon occurred five years later when a team of 12 women entered the caverns following a newspaper ad seeking adventurers.
Their names are displayed inside.
The caverns are a natural rock formation, so touring in the tram ensures that the caverns remain undamaged for future generations to come and enjoy.
While inside the caverns, expect 15˚C (60˚F) temperatures.
Fantastic Caverns is at 4872 North Farm Road 125, Springfield, MO.
8- Visit The Route 66 Car Museum
Every visit to Springfield, MO, should include something Route 66-themed, and you need look no further than the Route 66 Car Museum.
The museum preserves and showcases some of America’s greatest cars.
The museum is divided into sections, including the Brass Era, featuring cars from the 1890s to 1915, and celebrity cars featured on popular TV shows and movies.
There are over 70 cars in the museum’s collection, including a 1991 Ghostbusters Ectomobile and the 1979 Gotham Cruiser.
Route 66 Car Museum is at 1634 W College Street, Springfield, MO 65806.
9- See The Animals At Dickerson Park Zoo
Going to the zoo is one of the fun things to do in Springfield for families.
Another great, animal-themed family day out in Springfield is Dickerson Park Zoo.
The zoo is very well-maintained and is home to more than 500 well cared for animals covering 160 different species.
The zoo was designed to educate the public about wildlife, conservation, and ecological issues facing our world.
Dickerson Park Zoo has an in-house conservation project known as the Species Survival Plan, which houses maned wolves, Asian elephants and cheetahs.
Dickerson Park Zoo is at 1401 W Norton Road, Springfield, MO 65803.
10- Watch A Game At Hammons Field
Hammons Field is the home ground for the Springfield Cardinals Baseball Team, one of the most striking stadiums in the minor leagues.
The stadium is in downtown Springfield and can seat 8000 spectators.
The stadium has two baseball-specific areas: the stadium and a large indoor baseball practice facility.
The Springfield Cardinals are owned and operated by the MLB Baseball team, the St. Louis Cardinals, also based in Missouri.
If you visit Springfield on a game day, buy a ticket and get swept up by the sporting pride of the city.
Hammons Field is at 955 E Trafficway Street, Springfield, MO 65802.
11- Relax In Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden
Located inside the Nathanael Green/Close Memorial Park is the Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden.
The garden is the oldest garden attraction at Springfield Botanical Gardens and was created in 1985.
The stroll garden includes a large koi lake filled with colourful koi carp, a moon bridge, a meditation garden and a traditional Japanese tea house.
The gardens have a small admission fee, but upon visiting, this fee is well worth it as they are beautiful and offer a very relaxing environment to explore.
The garden is open seasonally from April to October, and it is only open from Wednesday to Sunday.
Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden is at 2400 S Scenic Avenue, Springfield, MO 65807.
12- Admire Art At Springfield Art Museum
A visit to Springfield Art Museum is one of the most popular things to do in Springfield.
Deborah D. Weisel’s group of women began an art study club in 1926 and incorporated it in 1928 as the Springfield Art Museum.
The women took their exhibits to the new museum location and toured the country with their artworks.
The museum focuses its art on the cultural heritage of Springfield and Southwest Missouri.
It aims to preserve its history and encourage and educate visitors about art and its importance.
The museum has a small ticket fee and often runs family-friendly art classes and workshops.
Springfield Art Museum is at 1111 E Brookside Drive, Springfield, MO 65807.
13- Watch A Movie At Alamo Drafthouse Cinema
Alamo Drafthouse Cinema began in 1997 and is all about good food, beer, and films.
The cinema is filled with staff who all share the same passion for film.
The cinema shows the latest blockbusters and foreign language dramas and reruns of old movies.
A unique feature is you can have meals, beers, cocktails, or simply a popcorn or soda refill brought to you at your seat.
Menus at the cinema include burgers, pizzas and salads, and menus inspired by films they are currently showing.
Recent takeovers have included an all-Pakistani menu for The Big Sick and a burger shop takeover for The Bob’s Burgers Movie.
An evening at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema is the perfect way to round off a day in Springfield.
Alamo Drafthouse Cinema is at 4005 South Avenue, Springfield, MO 65807.
14- Enjoy A Sweet Treat At Askinosie Chocolate
A must-visit for chocolate lovers in Springfield, MO, is Askinosie Chocolate, which is a small chocolate factory that is open for the public to tour.
Tours offer a behind-the-scenes look at how the brand’s small-batch, handmade chocolates are produced from bean to bar.
They include information on the entire process and how the company is supporting cocoa farmers across the world.
There are plenty of stops to sample Askinosie’s delicious range of chocolates.
Askinosie Chocolate is at 514 E Commercial Street, Springfield, MO 65803.
15- Go Shopping At Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World
Bass Pro Shops are a store specialising in outdoor sports equipment that started in Springfield.
A visit to their first store has become one of the most popular things to do in Springfield.
Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World has a range of sports equipment for fishing, boating, camping and cooking.
There are also many nature-themed gifts and outdoor clothing on sale.
While at the store, visit the TRACKER boat showroom, its waterfalls, and aquarium.
There is even a cafe to have a bite to eat in during your visit to this mammoth store.
Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World is at 1935 S Campbell Avenue, Springfield, MO 65807.
16- Have A Laugh At Blue Room Comedy Club
Look no further than Blue Room Comedy Club for an evening of laughs in Springfield’s premier stand-up comedy venue.
The club is open on Friday and Saturday nights for national touring comedians and on Thursdays for amateur nights.
To complement your entertainment, Blue Room offers a wide variety of drinks and food, from appetisers to sliders, personal pizzas and tasty desserts.
You can dine while you enjoy your favourite comedian or laugh your head off at a new one.
Blue Room Comedy Club is at 420 W College Street, Springfield, MO 65806.
17- Go Wine Tasting At Bear Creek Winery
Going wine tasting is one of the fun things to do in Springfield, MO.
A short drive from Springfield is Bear Creek Winery, where, on a guided winery tour, you’ll see the winemaking process, from vine to glass.
Along the way, sample a range of delicious wines paired with local produce. Food included in the tours includes tasty pizzas, smoked meats, cheese and chocolate.
Bear Creek Winery is surrounded by breathtaking views over the Ozarks, making it a great place to pause, relax, and enjoy good wine in good company.
Bear Creek Winery is at 1320 Keithley Road, Walnut Shade, MO 65771.
18- See A Show At Landers Theatre
Architects Carl Boller and Brother designed the neoclassical theatre in 1909.
The theatre is the second oldest and largest in Missouri and has been continuously used since it opened.
The theatre is instantly recognisable due to its rich red terracotta brick set against limestone piers from local quarries within the state.
The theatre joined the National Register of Historic Places in 1977 to preserve its unique architectural style.
Landers Theatre shows musical theatre productions, dramas and children’s programs in its intimate interior setting.
The Landers Theatre is at 311 E Walnut Street, Springfield, MO 65806.
19- Stroll the Frisco Highline Trail
The Frisco Highline Trail covers 35 miles (56.33 kilometres) of the stunning and scenic Ozarks connecting Springfield to Bolivar.
The trial is split into sections and can be completed as one long hike or several shorter ones over a few days.
The first section of the trail includes the Sculpture Cruise, a 6-mile (9.66 km) stretch of unique transportation sculptures designed by local artists to reflect the city’s Route 66 heritage.
Further along the trail are plenty of tasty stops for food and drinks, including Pizano’s Pizza at mile 6 and Chuck’s Dinesty Diner at mile 16.
Frisco Highline Trail is at Springfield, MO, 65805.
20- Unwind In Sequiota Park
Sequiota Park is the perfect spot to relax and unwind with a picnic.
The park has more to offer than simply lush green fields and cycle paths however, with caves that you can easily explore, an iconic rock wall just waiting to be climbed and many walking trails.
The park also has a lake where you can fish or hire a small row boat to relax on the waters.
The park hosts numerous events, such as music performances and family-friendly fun days, which are themed to holidays such as Halloween or Christmas.
Sequiota Park is at 3500 S Lone Pine Avenue, Springfield, MO 65804.
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