Blake Walsh

21 Best Things to Do in Bolivar, MO

  • Published 2023/04/12

Take a trip to Bolivar, recognized as one of the safest and best small towns in America, located in Polk County in Southwestern Missouri.

Bolivar became a city in 1835.

At the same time, it was declared the seat of Polk County.

The city gets its name from Bolivar, Tennessee, at the suggestion of the Campbells, who lived there before settling in Missouri.

Notably, the name Bolivar comes from ‘El Liberator’ Simon Bolivar, also called ‘The George Washington of South America.’

Award-winning schools, reasonably priced homes, secure neighborhoods, and a thriving economy make Bolivar a terrific area to live and work.

Bolivar is about a 30-minute drive from Springfield and close to Kansas and St. Louis.

Likewise, it has easy access to a large city’s attractions, festivities, and conveniences.

Here are the best things to do in Bolivar, MO.

Visit the Polk County Museum & Historical Society

The Polk County Museum & Historical Society is a learning community that keeps and preserves the history of Polk County.

Explore, learn something new, or look back on the past as you navigate the museum floors.

The museum has a vast collection of artifacts and research, providing a unique perspective on life in Polk County in the past.

Those interested in the county’s history are welcome to join the Historical Society, which comes with free museum entry and access to their newsletter.

The museum is housed in a 1903 building initially constructed as a school.

In 2011, the National Register of Historic Places added it to the record.

The museum is open from May through September.

Snap a Photo of the Statue of Simon Bolivar

See a part of Bolivar’s history by visiting the statue of Simon Bolivar at Neuhart Park.

The citizens of Bolivar received this bronze statue of South American liberator General Simon Bolivar as a gift from Venezuela.

In 1948, the city unveiled the statue in a ceremony.

The statue shows Bolivar standing, wearing an ornate military uniform and a cape draped across his left arm, with a sword in his right hand and a scroll in his left hand.

The ten-foot statue rests on a 14-foot marble pedestal, surrounded by a tall picket fence alongside flags of Venezuela and the United States.

Snap a photo of the monument and take a pleasant stroll around the park after.

Catch a Glimpse of the Polk County Courthouse

Exterior of Polk County Courthouse

en:User:Wroller; retouched by Kbh3rd, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Polk County Courthouse is the centerpiece of Bolivar.

Swing by East Broadway Street and catch a glimpse of the stunning structure of the courthouse.

Polk County first attempted to build a courthouse in 1903 but failed to do so.

Two years later, the court chose Architect Robert G. Kirsch’s plan for the courthouse, the same design Kirsch used in three other counties in Missouri.

Built from 1906 to 1907, Polk County Courthouse continues to serve the community as a place for business and a famous landmark.

With its beautiful Romanesque design, it’s hard not to marvel at the beautiful architecture of the building.

See Art at the Dunnegan Gallery of Art

The Dunnegan Gallery of Art is a non-profit that showcases permanent works of art from well-known international artists and special events year-round.

The gallery, also known as the Ella Carothers Dunnegan Gallery of Art, opened in 1983.

It got its name from the mother of founders John Dunnegan and Thomas Hart Benton Dunnegan.

See more than 1,000 paintings, sculptures, and woodcrafts in this 26,000-square-foot gallery.

The Dunnegan Gallery of Art has unique and eclectic pieces on display, including paintings and wood carvings of people, animals, and scenery of the Ozarks.

These pieces attract many visitors from outside of town.

The Dunnegan family established a trust fund for the gallery, making it free to the public.

Relax in Nature at Dunnegan Memorial Park

If you have an afternoon to spare, visit Dunnegan Memorial Park, one of Bolivar’s important parks.

Bolivar has more than five parks, each offering a variety of activities for locals and visitors alike.

This 44-acre park has several playgrounds, including one designed specifically for kids with special needs, a 1.1-mile walking trail, restrooms, a few shelters, picnic tables, benches, barbecue grills, a creek, and a lake.

Ducks, geese, and peacocks populate the lake, and you’ll see them anywhere across the park.

Dunnegan Memorial Park makes a great place for a picnic or for relaxing in nature.

Stay Active at the Bolivar Recreation and Aquatic Center

Bolivar’s Parks and Recreation Department hopes to improve the lives of its residents by offering amenities accessible within the city.

In addition to the city parks, the Bolivar Recreation and Aquatic Center (previously the YMCA) encourages a healthy lifestyle for all ages.

The Bolivar Recreation and Aquatic Center is a family-friendly facility that offers sports and fitness, aquatics, and space rentals for special events.

The Aqua Zone features a zero-depth entry recreational pool, a six-lane, 25-yard competitive lap pool, an internal and external slide, a lazy river vortex, a diving board, and more.

You can buy membership packets at the center.

Bike the Frisco Highline Trail

The Frisco Highline Trail is the best and most scenic rail trail in the Ozarks region of southwest Missouri.

The trail traverses about 35 miles through woodlands and fields, passing 16 bridges across Greene County and Polk County.

The trail is partially paved with asphalt and gravel, linking Bolivar and Springfield.

Coming from Bolivar to Springfield, the road has about a 3% inclination which might challenge you.

However, if you’d climb down instead, take the route reverse from Springfield to Bolivar.

The National Park Service and American Trails recognized the Frisco Highline Trail as a National Recreation Trail in 2004.

Stop by the Polk County Library

Exterior of Polk County Library

Kaethesson, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Polk County Library is your local community resource.

The library also has multiple locations throughout the county, including Fair Play, Humansville, and Morrisville.

The Polk County Library offers many services, resources, and activities, including books, magazines, audiobooks, movies, puzzles, board games, and wifi hotspots.

Visit the library to use their computers, laptops, free WiFi, and study areas.

Likewise, make use of their copying, faxing, printing, and scanning services at a convenient cost.

Their conference rooms are also available at a reasonable price if ever you need one for a meeting or presentation.

If you’re in the city and need a good book or some information for research, stop by and take advantage of all the things Polk County Library offers.

Find Your Roots at the Polk County Genealogical Society

If you want in-depth research specifically about genealogy, go to Bolivar, MO.

The city hosts the headquarters of Polk County Genealogical Society (PCGS).

Polk County Genealogical Society is a non-profit that supports genealogical research.

They research the genealogy of the members and people who currently reside in or have previously lived in Polk County, Missouri.

Additionally, the society gathers, preserves, and publishes historical and genealogical documents and provides community programs in related areas.

Founded in 1994, the Polk County Genealogical Society started its work, but it wasn’t accessible to the public.

In 2001, the Society bought the Carnegie library building on Bolivar’s town square.

A year later, the Society became publicly accessible.

It was Polk County’s first building recognized as an official historic site, registered in 2003 on the National Register of Historic Places.

Get a Golf Membership at the Silo Ridge Golf & Country Club

Are you extending your stay at Bolivar?

Get a golf membership at the Silo Ridge Country Club, a private golf course on an old dairy farm among Bolivar’s rolling hills.

This 18-hole 72-par 6,900-yard championship course started more than 20 years ago and has become one of the top golf attractions in Southwest Missouri.

More than 300 golfers call Silo Ridge home, and the area frequently hosts state championship events.

You can select from various golf and social memberships categorized based on age, address, and several players.

In addition to golf, other amenities include merchandise and fittings at the golf shop, golf lessons and tournaments, a restaurant, and a private pool for members and their guests.

Dine at Smith’s Restaurant

Smith’s Restaurant consistently ranks online as one of the top restaurants in the Bolivar area.

Smith’s Restaurant is an American diner that serves home-cooked food in a casual family setting, famous for its giant pork tenderloin.

They pride themselves in homestyle cooking, smoked BBQ, cobbler, pies, frozen custard, and more.

With private party spaces available, Smith’s Restaurant can accommodate up to 350 guests.

It’s afamily restaurant off the highway, and a lovely hidden gem worth a try.

Support Local Farms at the Greater Polk County Farmers Market

Support local farmers by purchasing products at the Greater Polk County Farmers Market.

The Greater Polk County Farmers Market is a “Growers Only Market” that hosts local growers and producers and serves the surrounding communities of Polk County.

Everything is local and fresh, sold by regular vendors in the market.

Among the many vendors is the Gardener’s Orchard and Bakery, a farm growing berries, peaches, and apples.

You can also buy stuff from the Botanica Basics Handmade Soap, selling handcrafted soaps, bath, and body care products.

The Berry Patch sells jams, jellies, salsa, pickles, and baked goods.

Meanwhile, the family-owned Parker Farms sells fruits, vegetables, plants, and flowers.

Weather permitting, the Greater Polk County Farmers Market is open on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

Celebrate the Missouri Beef Days

Did you know that Bolivar is located right in the center of the beef business in Southwestern Missouri?

Also, Polk County consistently ranks top three in Missouri in cow and calf production.

It’s also one of the top 20 beef-producing counties in the country.

Today, Bolivar and Polk County are recognized as the home of the Missouri Beef Days, an all-week event featuring all things beef.

Inaugural festivities emphasizing the sector’s value to the county, state, and country began in May 2022.

The Missouri Beef Days highlight the economic contribution of agriculture and beef to the local economy through an industry expo, concerts, a rodeo, a parade, special speakers, and more.

Event locations are scattered throughout Bolivar during the week-long celebration, so check out the schedule of events.

Satisfy Your Sweet Cravings at Creator Delights

Since 2015, Creator Delights has provided citizens and visitors of Bolivar with delectable treats.

The store opened in 1991 as a screen-printing business named Creator Designs.

However, the store’s owners felt it was time to offer something new.

Thus, Creator Delights was born!

Creator Delights inspires cheerful hearts and faces through its new offerings.

Their products include a wide assortment of sodas, candies, coffee, tea, and freshly-baked treats, in addition to Creator Designs’ local and holiday tees.

See a Show at the Walnut Street Theatre

Support the local community by watching a show at the Walnut Street Theatre, the only theater in Bolivar.

Located on West Walnut Street, the theater welcomes locals to participate in the production.

Established in 2000, the Walnut Street Theatre features arts and entertainment programs, concerts and live stages, film showing activities, and television and video production programs.

The theater has well-arranged seating, good audio and lighting systems, air conditioning, restrooms, and a cafeteria, to provide visitors with a great overall experience.

It’s a great place to spend a couple of hours with friends if you enjoy seeing live performances.

Play Ball at Fullerton Ball Fields

Gather your team or friends and play a friendly game at the Fullerton Ball Fields.

This complex, located on East Aldrich Road, has nine ball fields.

Three among them have lighting for night games.

A broad pathway leads past the restrooms, the safe storm room, and the three-lit fields as it heads towards the vast, well-lit parking area.

The pathway rests at a walking trail with the complex.

Go Sky Diving with Flight Providers

An extreme way to appreciate and experience the farmlands of Missouri is through skydiving, and Flight Providers is a company that’ll deliver the best experience for you.

Offering skydiving training and tandem skydiving experience, this is a great new experience if you haven’t tried it yet, especially with your special someone or best friend.

Flight Providers is a seasoned expert in this extreme activity, so you can count on them for safety and a professional service.

If you do decide to go skydiving, seeing Bolivar’s agricultural lands from above will be forever engraved in your memory for its beauty.

Flight Providers can be found along Airport Road, but you can contact them via website beforehand.

Experience the Pomme de Terre River at Sunset Park

Sunset Park is a great stopover during your visit if you want to experience a scenic trek along the Pomme de Terre River.

It’s a quaint spot that has a lot of nature to it, making it a great place to do some photography as well.

Fishing is also a common activity here as there’s a lot to catch at the Pomme de Terre River.

If you have a boat with you, you can also launch it here in Sunset Park.

Whether you want something more adventurous or you’re just looking for a place to relax during sunset, this is a great place to visit along 480th Road.

Watch a Race at Bolivar Speedway

Bolivar Speedway is a fun destination if you and other friends or family members have an affinity for car racing.

With a nice race track, you can spot a lot of local cars here that give exhilarating shows.

The place is family-oriented, so you can definitely bring young children with you at Bolvar Speedway to immerse them in the sport.

The seating and concessions here are good, and the events are well-organized as well.

Bolivar Speedway can be found along 133rd Road, conveniently near the freeway in Bolivar.

Explore La Petite Gemme Prairie

One of the most underrated spots in Bolivar is the La Petite Gemme Prairie, famous for being an untouched natural attraction.

Brimming with lush greenery and flowers, La Petite Gemme Prairie is a scenic spot where you can do some photography, whether nature or an Instagram-worthy post.

Located along the Frisco Highline Trail, the best way to access La Petite Gemme Prairie is via bike, but you can also trek it from 473rd Road.

One of the best times to visit this beautiful nature spot is during sunset, when the redness of the skies blend perfectly with its bright green fields.

If you’re an avid nature lover, this prairie is a can’t-miss in Bolivar.

Have a Picnic at John Playter Memorial Park

John Playter Memorial Park is one of the best city parks in Bolivar where you can spend a quiet morning with your family.

It’s a famous picnic spot because of its tranquility, and there’s plenty of shade and picnic amenities to use here as well.

Lots of trails are found here, and it’s particularly even prettier during the fall when there’s a lot of foliage.

There’s also a bit of history here, so go explore John Playter Memorial Park on top of having a picnic.

Close to a neighborhood, you can find John Playter Memorial Park conveniently along South Meadow Lane as well.

Final Thoughts

Bolivar is a place with people who have deep roots, a rich heritage, and an open heart for growth and development.

Located at the heart of Southwest Missouri, Bolivar makes an inviting place for your next trip!

Bolivar offers you the advantage of a thriving city and peace you can only experience in a country setting.

Book your trip today!

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