If you wonder what to do for fun as you travel through the southwest part of Missouri, you can find a variety of things to do in Springfield.
Nestled in the Ozark hills, close to Missouri’s popular entertainment city of Branson, Springfield offers many things to see, do and buy that reflect the Ozark area’s penchant for outdoor sports and backwoods entertainment.
This includes the wildly popular Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World retail complex.
The city’s beer brewery, comfort foods, bluegrass music, and handcrafted works of art help to complete the experience.
Various annual festivals are held at Commercial and Walnut streets and in downtown Springfield throughout the year.
So, if you are looking for things to do in downtown Springfield, keep an eye out for festivals.
In 1865, wild West folk hero “Wild Bill” Hickok won a duel with fellow gambler Davis Tutt on the city’s town square.
The dual was thought to have occurred over a pocket watch that Tutt had in his possession that Hickok lost to him in a gamble and wanted back.
The square is now modernized, but you can visit the site of the dual and look around the shops while you are there.
Springfield, Missouri contains at least nine colleges and it has many cultural things to do.
A variety of college and minor league sports games are played locally.
Colleges, universities and various downtown locations host concerts, formal art exhibits, and theatrical performances.
There are places to go to enjoy fine dining, and a comedy club provides some of the city’s night time entertainment.
Springfield has a cross-section of residents, temporary residents, and transients to cater to who are comprised of statistically significant numbers of both the young and the old, the rich and the poor, and the educated and the uneducated.
Springfield sufficiently pleases just about everybody with an impressively wide variety of fun things to do.
Attractions are numerous, but here are 20 of the best things to do in Springfield for fun and entertainment.
Things To Do In Springfield
1. Route 66 Springfield Visitor Center
A great first stop for visitors of Springfield is the Route 66 Springfield Visitor Center, where you can obtain guides, maps, driving directions and anything else you will need to plan the time you have in the Springfield.
You can read about the many attractions in Springfield and in the surrounding areas.
You can also learn what the current, fun-filled events and activities are, which you won’t want to miss.
The center’s staff members are experts who will be happy to answer all of your questions.
Address: 815 E St Louis St, Springfield, MO 65806, USA
2. Fantastic Caverns
Near Springfield, Missouri is the infamous Fantastic Caverns, a natural rock formation and tourist attraction that sits near Springfield.
Seat yourself in a tram and watch a Jeep pull you up, around, and all the way through these spectacular caves.
If you wonder how cold it is in the caves, you can rest assured that they remain at around 60 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the year.
Just like some of the other sites around Springfield, this site has an interesting back story.
Fantastic Caverns housed a hidden speakeasy during the days of prohibition.
In the 1950s, it hosted music events.
Address: 4872 N Farm Rd 125, Springfield, MO 65803, USA
3. Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium
Also called Wonders of Wildlife, this Springfield, Missouri non-profit educational facility opened its doors in 2017.
With 350,000 square feet of space, Wonders of Wildlife is the largest wildlife and fish attraction in the world.
Exhibits in the wildlife part of the building feature taxidermized animals positioned in spaces that represent their natural habitats.
Artwork, films, historic artifacts, and some occasional special exhibits can also be found in the wildlife part of the building.
On the aquarium side is a 1.5-million-gallon aquarium where 35,000 fish, amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and birds live.
Themes such as the Amazon rain forest, a Louisiana swamp, an Ozark forest, and an ocean shipwreck showcase the marine animals.
Address: 500 W Sunshine St, Springfield, MO 65807, USA
4. Hammons Field
Located in downtown Springfield, Missouri is Hammons Field, which is home to the Springfield Cardinals baseball team.
The facility seats 8,000 visitors and features 28 box suites plus lounges for VIPs.
It also has bar and balcony areas.
Its two baseball-specific outbuildings make this stadium unique.
The larger of the two outbuildings is an indoor baseball practice facility that has astroturf grass and contains batting cages and a small diamond for drills.
This stadium has one of the largest JumboTrons and electronic scoreboards in the country.
Hammons Field is regarded as one of the most striking looking stadiums that was ever built for a minor league team.
Perhaps that is due to its owner/operator and fellow Missouri team, the St. Louis Cardinals.
The Springfield Cardinals is the Double-A Texas League affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals, which is an 11-time World Champion team.
The St. Louis Cardinals team also owns and operates seven other Texas League teams.
Address: 955 E Trafficway St, Springfield, MO 65802, USA
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5. Dickerson Park Zoo
Always a hit with children and a nice thing to do on a weekend, zoos are one of the best ways for families to get some fun, cheap entertainment.
Dickerson Park Zoo is a well-maintained facility that cares for over 500 animals and 160 different species.
Springfield’s Dickerson Park Zoo was created to educate the public and to encourage people to conserve wildlife and nature.
The zoo had a rough beginning and nearly closed its doors in 1975.
Sufficient funds came in, though, and residents responded to the zoo’s outreach community conservation programs.
Today, Springfield, Missouri has a zoo that it is proud of.
One of the zoo’s current in-house conservation projects is the Species Survival Plan, which benefits cheetahs, maned wolves, and Asian elephants.
Come support the local zoo.
Address: 1401 W Norton Rd, Springfield, MO 65803, USA
6. Pythian CastleThe Pythias fraternity, Knights of Pythias, built Pythian Castle in Springfield, Missouri in 1913 to be used as an orphanage or as a retirement home for family members of fraternity members.
This Gothic masterpiece was transferred to the military at a later date.
Still a beautiful building and one of the city’s much-loved tourist attractions, Pythian Castle is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places and is open to the public.
Cuddle up with your near and dear at this one, because rumor has it that the castle’s former residents haunt the building.
Take the 1.5-hour Night Ghost Tour of Pythian Castle and see who you meet.
“Ghost tools” are available to rent.
The tour guide divulges the details of the castle’s dark history, tells ghost stories, and warns guests where the spirits are usually sighted, such as in the ballroom.
Whether or not you see any ghosts, people who have taken the ghost tour report that the tour is entertaining.
Tours are limited to 15 people.
Address: 1451 E Pythian St, Springfield, MO 65802, USA
7. Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield
During the Civil War, the first major battle that was fought west of the Mississippi River was fought on August 10, 1861 at the Battle of Wilson’s Creek.
This battle is also referred to as the First Battle of Springfield, even though the battlefield is closer to Republic, Missouri than to Springfield.
This battlefield has been well-preserved since that bloody day.
Today it is a “park” and a quick and easy weekday and weekend tourist attraction that sees more than 200,000 visitors every year.
A 4.9-mile paved road runs through the battlefield, which enables tourists to take a self-paced auto tour.
There are eight points of interest along the road where significant things happened during the battle.
Signs in those eight places explain what took place there.
Visitors can opt to get out of their vehicles and walk the trails through the battlefield or ride through the area on horseback.
A Civil War Museum was also built in the park.
This museum displays artifacts from the bloody Battle of Wilson’s Creek and educates the public about the events that took place during the Battle of Wilson’s Creek.
This includes the death of Nathaniel Lyon, who was the first Union general killed in the Civil War.
Address: 6424 W Farm Rd 182, Republic, MO 65738, USA
8. Springfield Conservation Nature Center
The Springfield Conservation Nature Center is located in the southeast part of Springfield and provides great weekend fun for nature lovers.
The center preserves and protects 79 acres of prairies, glades, forests, woodlands, the animals that live there, and Lake Springfield.
Visiting this area is a great way to see Missouri in its natural state.
This area is open to the public for recreational use.
People boat and swim at the lake and hike the area’s three-plus miles of hiking trails.
The displays and exhibits located on the trails educate hikers and provide reference information.
Tour groups enjoy free guided tours if they are booked in advance.
In the winter, the center holds Eagle Days.
In the spring, they hold Native Plant Sales and Seminars.
Insect-O-Rama is held every August, and a Halloween event is held every October.
Address: 4601 S Nature Center Way, Springfield, MO 65804, USA
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9. Missouri Sports Hall of Fame
The Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in Springfield celebrates the achievements of former Missouri athletes.
Visitors can view the more than 4,000 memorabilia items that are displayed on the building’s two floors.
There is a Hall of Fame and a Legends Walk of Fame.
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Len Dawson and St. Louis Cardinals baseball player Stan Musial are inductees to the Hall of Fame.
The Legends Walk of Fame contains busts and statues of famous athletes.
Sports fans will have the best time participating in the interactive exhibits, which allow participants to throw football passes, bat against a Major League Baseball pitcher, race in a NASCAR simulator, and to do other such activities.
Address: 3861 E Stan Musial Dr, Springfield, MO 65809, USA
10. Discovery Center of Springfield
The Discovery Center of Springfield has been one of the most popular indoor attractions for visitors of Springfield, Missouri since it was built in 1988.
Kids learn best when they are involved in fun activities, so educational exhibits here were designed with human interaction features.
Kid-friendly attractions like this one in Springfield will have your kids saying Springfield, Missouri is one of their favorite places to visit.
Indoor activities here keep visitors of all ages entertained for hours on rainy days.
Address: 438 E St Louis St, Springfield, MO 65806, USA
11. The Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World
The Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World is among the most popular of the Springfield attractions.
This 500,000 square-foot complex was the first Bass Pro Shop in the United States.
Many Bass Pro Shops stores exist throughout the United States and Canada, but the Springfield, Missouri store remains the largest store.
The Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World is an outdoor sportsman’s retail mecca.
You can see the best fishing, boating, hunting, camping, and cooking equipment around or shop for quality outdoor/sport clothing, shoes and nature-themed gifts.
Points of interest are the TRACKER boat showroom, a firing range, waterfalls, aquariums, and the NRA National Sporting Arms Museum.
When you need to sit down and take a break, there is a place you can buy some refreshments.
If you are looking for stuff to do in Springfield on a weekend, the Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World will fill many hours.
This complex is a must-see when you visit the city.
It remains one of the most loved of the free things to do in Springfield.
Address: 1935 S Campbell Ave, Springfield, MO 65807, USA
12. The Air and Military Museum of the Ozarks
If you are interested in Ozark-area vintage military equipment and memorabilia, one of the best places to visit is the Air and Military Museum of the Ozarks.
This Springfield museum has larger items on display, such as Army trucks and jeeps, a T-33 jet aircraft, and a Cobra helicopter, in addition to the more than 5,000 smaller items.
The hands-on area of the museum allows visitors to type on an old Teletype machine.
With the help of a flight simulator, one can experience what it was like to fly a Cobra helicopter.
Young boys with fathers in the military will be proud to receive their very own personalized dog tag, like dad wears.
Address: 2305 E Kearney St, Springfield, MO 65803, USA
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13. Springfield Botanical Gardens
Across the street from the Horton Smith Golf Course in Springfield, Missouri is the Springfield Botanical Gardens.
At 114-acres, this park is quite large.
Within the park is the lovely Botanical Center, to which 12,700 square feet of space were devoted.
The park’s gardens and arboretum serve as a learning resource for the University of Missouri students, being used as a plant laboratory and outdoor classroom.
This area was also created for the enjoyment of other gardeners, nature lovers, and for people of all ages.
Children, university students, and others visit the Dr. Bill Roston Butterfly House to observe the various stages that butterflies go through during their lives.
Couples stroll through the stunningly beautiful and romantic Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden.
Around Lake Drummond are 2.8 miles of trails that are used by bikers, walkers, and joggers.
The park is truly one of the more peaceful Springfield attractions.
Address: 2400 S Scenic Ave, Springfield, MO 65807, USA
14. Mother’s Brewing Company
The identity of the mother who inspired the name of this locally-owned brewery remains a mystery, but the craft beers that are made at this Springfield, Missouri brewery are legendary.
South Grant Street in downtown Springfield is the place for beer-lovers to be on an occasional Saturday afternoon.
That is when Mother’s Brewing Company becomes one of the tourist attractions and allows the public to watch the production, bottling and distribution of their beers and to participate in a beer tasting session.
Beers made there include Towhead and Three Blind Mice, seasonal beers Spring Batch, Winter Grind, Oktoberfest, and some other popular beers.
Mind you, this is just one of many things to do downtown Springfield.
Address: 215 S Grant Ave, Springfield, MO 65806, USA
15. Springfield Art Museum
Among the best free places to visit in Springfield, Missouri is the Springfield Art Museum, where people can view various interesting exhibits.
For a small fee, whole families can take art classes and get involved in the many other indoor activities that the museum hosts.
Getting involved in the various activities is cheap, fun, and educational.
The museum had its beginnings in the private sector.
In 1926, Deborah D. Weisel and a small group of women started an Art Study Club.
The club was incorporated in 1928 as the Springfield Art Museum, after which time the women took their exhibits on the road to major cities around the country.
They deeded their museum to the city of Springfield in 1946.
Exhibits are no longer taken all over the country.
But in the spirit of the museum’s founders, the museum is dedicated to documenting the cultural heritage of southwest Missouri, preserving the area’s cultural treasures, and educating people.
On the museum’s website, the museum encourages the public to “enjoy, learn and create” at the Springfield Art Museum.
To “enjoy” their museum means to admire the exhibits.
One can now view the large number of past exhibits online as well.
The public can also take advantage of the museum’s fundraising events and rent out part of the facility.
Address: 1111 E Brookside Dr, Springfield, MO 65807, USA
16. Springfield National Cemetery
The soldiers who died in the Battle of Wilson’s Creek in 1861 were interred in Republic, Missouri.
Many of them had been Springfield residents, but Civil War soldiers were buried wherever they fell.
By 1876, the Republic, Missouri cemetery had a critical need to remove the many remains of Civil War soldiers that they had.
Cemeteries in Pea Ridge, Carthage, Newtonia, Forsyth, and Springfield also needed to create space.
These cemeteries wanted the Civil War bodies they had reinterred together in one large Civil War cemetery somewhere in Springfield.
In response, the city of Springfield, Missouri established The Springfield National Cemetery, expanding and uniting the city’s separate Union and Confederate cemeteries.
Of the 1,514 Union soldiers now buried there, 719 are unidentified, as are most of the 566 Confederate soldiers.
Each of the two sections still has the original monuments and memorial stones.
The Battle of Wilson’s Creek, which was fought near Republic, Missouri, is sometimes referred to as the First Battle of Springfield because many of Springfield’s residents fought in that battle.
To add insult to the injury of not being interred at home, the Confederates won this battle.
The Second Battle of Springfield was fought two years later, when Confederate troops attempted to take the Union army’s supplies that were stored inside the city of Springfield.
Confederates also wanted to take advantage of Springfield’s high ground.
This second battle was more savage than most battles because Confederate troops went house-to-house in the southern part of Springfield and burned down the homes.
But the Union army prevailed in the second battle.
Springfield acknowledges all of its heroic, fallen young men at the Springfield National Cemetery and in different sites throughout the city.
Address: 1702 E Seminole St, Springfield, MO 65804, USA
17. Gillioz Theatre
When a bridge builder built the Gillioz Theatre in Springfield, Missouri back in 1926, he built it out of, well…steel and concrete.
Wood was only used for doors, door frames, and handrails.
Having named it with Queen’s-English spelling, the theater opened its doors with a seating limit of 1300 people per show.
Many silent movies and some live shows were shown there in the early years.
Decades later, Elvis Presley watched a movie there before performing elsewhere in the city.
Today, the Gillioz Theatre mostly hosts music events, but Springfield’s oldest theater can boast that it still has the original 1926 pipe organ.
Address: 325 Park Central E, Springfield, MO 65806, USA
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18. Rutledge-Wilson Farm Community Park
In our modern age of cell phones and laptops, kids often don’t get exposure to farm life or see where our food actually comes from.
The Rutledge-Wilson Farm Community Park provides a fun way to educate kids about agriculture.
The park covers 207 acres of land.
Teaching is done through the park’s recreational resources that are in the form of demonstration gardens and crops, 20 acres of native pasturelands and prairie, a scenic creek (Wilson’s Creek), a milking and animal barn, and a farm-themed children’s playground.
If you have kids and you want to find fun things to do in Springfield on a sunny day, let them learn about agriculture the best way possible, short of having a farm.
Take them to the Rutledge-Wilson Farm Community Park.
Address: 3825 W Farm Rd 146, Springfield, MO 65807, USA
19. Relics Antique Mall
No trip to the Ozarks would be complete without visiting an antique mall.
Springfield’s Relics Antique Mall is the largest antique mall in Missouri.
You will find furniture, home décor, jewelry, clothing, arts and crafts, and other antiques and vintage collectibles within this Springfield mall’s 90,000 square feet of space and in the Mt. Vernon location.
The mall’s tea room is fashioned in old-world style.
Sip some tea or coffee and enjoy the freshly made cuisine.
Get the latest information about the mall’s antique-related events that it hosts from time to time throughout the year.
Address: 2015 Battlefield Rd, Springfield, MO 65807, USA
20. Sequiota Park
For a free place to get physically active, enjoy the outdoors, and have picnics in one of the most beautiful places in USA, you will want to visit this stunningly beautiful, picturesque wonder of nature that is located in the south part of Springfield.
The Sequiota Park has caves, a big iconic rock, a walking trail, a lake you can fish in, a picnic pavilion, and a playground for the kids.
Additionally, the park hosts various events.
Address: 3500 S Lone Pine Ave, Springfield, MO 65804, USA
Start Planning Your Trip To Springfield
Fun things to do in Springfield abound.
Whatever your age, budget or interests, you will find activities in Springfield, Missouri and the surrounding area that will educate, delight, and lift your spirits.
The Ozarks offer visitors caves, cliffs, lakes, wildlife, marine life, and other natural resources, which makes the area’s outdoor sports and nature-related attractions the go-to places for serious nature lovers.
Also prevalent is the area’s somewhat hillbilly culture, which long ago brought about delicious home-style food, bluegrass music, unique handmade back-hills musical instruments, and various other works of art.
Antique and vintage items are also abundant.
Springfield embraces this heritage and pays tribute to its fallen Civil War heroes.
But it also a progressive, forward-thinking city that contains many colleges and offers cultural forms of entertainment.