15 Best Things to Do in Springfield, MO

Springfield, MO
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Springfield is a busy, often crowded area—with a total population of 441 483 in 2021—which may not be ideal for those who prefer an idyllic lifestyle.

But love them or hate them, cities attract people who can establish businesses and tourist attractions around the area.

The city of Springfield is no different.

Incorporated in 1838, Springfield is home to many interesting tourist spots and destinations.

From calming parks and distinctive museums to haunted castles, zoos, and exciting caverns, there’s a reason why Springfield is called the Queen City of the Ozarks.

Check out the 15 best things to do in Springfield, MO.

Explore the Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium

Exterior and night lights of Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium
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Opened in 2017, this popular museum grants you access to a plethora of vivid, real-like statues and models of countless animals in the wild—from North Pole’s penguins and polar bears to Africa’s elephants and giraffes.

There are realistic exhibits of safari campsites where you can peek at life in the outdoors.

Enrich your experience with educational narration from their tour guides.

Interior of Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium
Keith8404, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

But if you want some thrill, they also have terrifying ventures in store, like feeding their sharks or standing face to face with them while inside an underwater cage.

Think you can handle it?

Shark tank of Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium
Robert Lawton, CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

Skate in the Jordan Valley Ice Park

Situated along the downtown part of Springfield, the Jordan Valley Ice Park is the perfect place to beat the heat in the summers.

First opened in 2001, the ice park continues to operate and provide visitors of Springfield a chance to play and have fun on the ice.

The ice park contains two indoor ice rinks where guests can skate or play hockey.

You can also watch recreational ice sports in action because the venue hosts tournament matches for hockey teams and figure skaters.

Get yourself a refreshing experience in the Jordan Valley Ice Park!

Wander the Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden

Scenic view of the quiet Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden
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Walking into this garden makes you feel like you’re stepping onto another country.

With its focus on traditional Japanese design and culture, the Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden sets itself apart from other counterparts with a distinct feel of Japanese landscaping.

A small waterfall at Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden
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The components represent Japan in its proper form: a large koi lake, a famous symbol in Japanese culture; a moon bridge; and finally, a tea house, an ode to one of Japan’s oldest traditions, the Japanese tea ceremony.

If you’re looking for a chance to experience another culture, the Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden presents an overview of their customs.

Located along S Scenic Avenue, check out this unique garden!

Landscape of Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden
Lindsey Blachford / Shutterstock.com

Admire the Artworks in Springfield Art Museum

Along E Brookside Drive, you’ll see the Springfield Art Museum, one of the city’s oldest cultural institutions that preserve artworks and share awareness of its artistic legacy.

The museum contains several exhibits with diverse themes such as healing, America-centric works, and installation art with a tilted view of the skies.

Depending on the seasons, the exhibits may be subject to change, so guests can expect something new to see and explore every time.

You also don’t have to limit yourself to gazing at and admiring their collection of artworks.

Springfield Art Museum, founded in 1928, holds art events where you can create an artistic masterpiece on your own, depending on their current theme.

Meet the Animals at the Dickerson Park Zoo

Entrance of Dickerson Park Zoo
Craig Talbert, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

In 1923, Jerome Dickerson Sr. started a zoo because he wanted to create a safe place for endangered animals and prevent any further extinction of rare creatures.

True to its initial goal, the zoo has established conservation programs for endangered animals, guided by scientific research and partnerships with other organizations.

A spoon-billed stork in Dickerson Park Zoo
Kimberly's Impressions / Shutterstock.com

Now, the Dickerson Park Zoo is home to more than 450 animals from all over the world.

There are also interactive ventures available featuring plenty of their animals—i.e., otters, deer, zebras, giraffes, reptiles, and tigers—whom you’re allowed to meet, feed, or even play with, depending on the animal.

Try playing with one of their cute animals and cross it off your bucket list at the Dickerson Park Zoo, near W Norton Road.

A tortoise in Dickerson Park Zoo
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Jump around at the Urban Air and Trampoline Adventure Park

This park on E Woodland Avenue promises a day of fun and adventure with its range of exciting activities.

From basic trampolines, climbing walls, and a rope course, the gimmicks in Urban Air and Trampoline Adventure Park will make you use up all your stamina in a fun and innovative workout.

They also have warrior courses and obstacles inspired by the TV variety show Wipeout, where you can test your hidden skills in parkour and dodging.

For a new and modern experience, the facility also offers a virtual reality course where you can shoot imaginary laser beams at your enemies!

You also don’t have to worry about getting thirsty or hungry after hours of playing because they have an Urban Air Cafe on the premises.

Bring back the inner child within you and have a fun, tiring day at this adventure park.

Face Your Fears in the Pythian Castle

Exterior of Pythian Castle
JERRYE & ROY KLOTZ MD, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

There are three things to expect in Pythian Castle: history, horror, and mystery.

It’s a bold and innovative idea to use a 19th-century castle with a chilling history of holding injured and labor-duty prisoners during World War 2.

A hall in Pythian Castle
Robin Samarripas / Shutterstock.com

The Pythian Castle embraces its dark charm, offering ghost tours, investigations, escape rooms, and murder mysteries to visitors brave enough to take on the challenge.

For those who are faint of heart, the castle also provides simple historical tours around the castle, with staff guiding guests around while narrating the history of Pythian Castle.

Half of Pythian Castle's exterior
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Have Fun at Getaway Golf

Getaway Golf offers an exciting game of golf with modern equipment and decorations inspired by travel themes.

This entertainment venue opened in 2017, designing the course to make its guests feel as if they’re playing golf in different places like the Statue of Liberty, Las Vegas casinos, and the Grand Canyon.

It’s a fun spin on miniature golf that helped it win the title of Springfield’s Best Mini Golf.

Plus, they have a stall that offers tasty and refreshing treats like snow cones and a complimentary bag of popcorn.

Ride a Jeep into the Fantastic Caverns

The view inside the Fantastic Caverns
CJ Hanevy / Shutterstock.com

Historically, John Knox and his dog found the cave in 1862, but he gave away the privilege of being the cave’s first explorer to 12 women who responded to his advertisement.

Located close to N Farm Road, Fantastic Caverns have gone beyond traditional cave adventures and added a modern twist to their explorations.

Instead of walking through the cave, you ride on one of their tour jeeps.

The rock formations in Fantastic Caverns
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Listen to your guide discuss the history of the cave and gaze at diverse rock formations, sparkling crystals, and cave pearls unveiled under clear water.

You might also see some of the unique animals residing in the cave.

For example, the Bristly Cave Crayfish are blind and colorless due to the darkness they lived in for generations.

Interior of Fantastic Caverns
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Browse the Route 66 Car Museum

Established in 2016, the Route 66 Car Museum is Springfield’s pitstop for all things related to classic cars and automobiles.

Spanning an assortment of vehicles from the 19th century, this museum now contains over 75 automobiles.

This collection also features a dash of rare, peculiar, and even award-winning finds of their decade.

This museum's exciting cars are replicas of the Batmobile and the Ghostbusters vehicle.

You can also check out their gift shop, selling car-related souvenirs such as plate numbers and model toy cars.

Learn Springfield’s History at the Trail of Tears

Sign of Trail of Tears
Adam Jones from Kelowna, BC, Canada, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Some areas in Springfield include the Trail of Tears, a National Historic Trail that presents a history that locals can never forget.

In 1838, Native Americans journeyed along the Trail of Tears in Springfield when the US government displaced them from their homes and communities.

Now, they hold events like community walks, and group bike rides with the theme of remembering.

Trees framing the Trail of Tears
Chris Light, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

They’ve also added trees, shrubs, and a mosaic to indicate the path's starting point.

Likewise, they planned to remodel the trail in 2016 to keep it as natural as it was.

Learn a little bit more about the tragic past of Springfield City.

You’ll find sections of this path near Republic Road and Golden Avenue and one near Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park.

Ride a Boat at the Lake Springfield Park and Boathouse

Springfield may be busy, but it also has places where locals and travelers can relax and unwind.

Found on Lake Springfield Park Road, this park has all the ingredients for a calm, serene break from the city.

From the natural sights of clear lakes and lush plains to the smell of fresh, clean air, the area soothes the minds of its visitors.

While observing Springfield's wildlife, you can also try some of their calming activities, such as fishing, boat rentals, and fun picnics at the hilltop pavilion.

Taking a break from city life doesn’t mean you have to leave it entirely!

Don’t forget to drop by this park and boathouse.

Roam the Nathanael Greene / Close Memorial Park

A gazebo surrounded with lush trees and flowers in Nathanael Greene / Close Memorial Park
Rachael Martin / Shutterstock.com

Established in 1975, Nathanael Greene Park was a 60-acre tract of land that the US Department of Interior and Bureau of Prisons donated to the City of Springfield.

Because of its popularity among citizens, the city often added expansions of other parks and gardens into the park.

A woman reading a book sculpture in Nathanael Greene / Close Memorial Park
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This public park reaches up to 114 acres, with over 20 distinctive gardens and attractions to explore.

It’s also become the home of Springfield’s only native butterfly house, where you can interact with butterflies in curated natural habitats.

With plenty of places to explore, you can unwind and spend hours in this massive park, located along S Scenic Avenue.

Beautiful landscape of Nathanael Greene / Close Memorial Park
Rachael Martin / Shutterstock.com

Eat and Play at Andy B’s - Springfield

Andy B’s is one of the go-to places for a lively night out, whether you’re with friends, family, or even on a date with a special someone.

It’s the ultimate venue for premium bowling with high-end equipment, comfortable seats, and responsive staff for any of your bowling needs.

If bowling’s too old-fashioned for you, try laser tag instead!

Experience top-tier lighting coupled with fog, glow effects, and exciting music for a memorable, heart-racing adventure thrill with your friends.

They also sell delicious American comfort food—such as burgers, French fries, nachos, and chicken wings—that you can munch on while taking a break.

Have a thrilling night out with friends and family at Andy B’s, located along E Battlefield Road.

Hunt for Fossils at the Missouri Institute of National Science

The Missouri Institute of National Science lets you glimpse the past in both modern and traditional ways.

First, you can visit a museum where you can explore real fossils of prehistoric creatures, including dinosaurs.

They have an ongoing collection of fossilized triceratops bones imported from Weston County, Wyoming.

This institute's innovation lies in the interactive aspect of their tour—an exciting hunt for fossils in exposed boulders within their premises.

You can enjoy these activities on your own or with the help of a guide who can tell you different stories about the artifacts and fossils in the museum.

You can find this institute on W Farm Road if you're interested, so stop by once you’re in Springfield!

Final Thoughts

Cities like Springfield are genuinely some of the best places to visit if you’re interested in diverse attractions and tourist destinations.

There are so many places to explore—each with different themes and selling points—that travelers can try something new daily.

From historical destinations, museums, and natural wonders to thrilling and exciting adventures, you'll have plenty of choices in Springfield.