Being the county seat of Clark County, Springfield is a shoo-in destination for folks eying the best things to do in southwestern Ohio.
This city was founded in 1801, encompassing a territory of about 70 square miles.
With over 200 years of history, Springfield has therefore already ingrained itself in Ohio’s cultural and economic development.
Historical vignettes show Springfield figuring in some game-changers that helped shape the US as a world economic power.
The Bushnell Building in Springfield, for instance, was where the attorney of the Wright Brothers wrote the patent for their invention of the airplane.
On a similar note, the Kelly Springfield Tire Company was established in 1894 in the city.
This pioneering tire producer consequently emerged as the top producer of farm tires globally and a US leader in custom brand tires.
But despite its strong affinity with industrialization, Springfield has retained much of its natural wonders.
City visitors today can find much to enjoy in outdoor leisure activities in the Mad River, Buck Creek, and Beaver Creek, all traversing through Springfield.
For more specifics on the delights of visiting this city, here are the top 15 things to do in Springfield:
Explore Buck Creek State Park
A wide array of outdoor recreational activities awaits you at this park located on the northeastern periphery of Springfield.
Buck Creek State Park covers an area of 4,016 acres, with a 2,120-acre lake as its centerpiece.
The water-based pleasure in this park gravitates on its 2,400-foot sandy beach, where you can go swimming or fishing.
The park also provides a marina to enable boating and water skiing on the serene lake.
Additionally, Bull Creek State Park offers more than 7.5 miles of scenic trails for hikers and nature lovers, as well snowmobile riders during winter.
The park is open to extended stays, with the campsites, cottages, and picnic spots likewise among its offerings.
Visit the Heritage Center of Clark County
Prepare to be impressed in a visit to this Heritage Center, which also houses the Clark County Historical Society and Museum.
The Heritage Center of Clark County is a landmark on South Fountain Avenue, with its stone-and-brick building in the Richardsonian Romanesque architecture.
Built in 1890, this building was the previous City Hall and Marketplace of Springfield and comes with a floor area of 56,000 square feet.
The permanent exhibits of the Heritage Center include artifacts on Ohio’s early settlement and a National Road Gallery recounting the development of the first “interstate highway” in America.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Sites, the center’s building is also home to the Springfield Arts Council, Un Mundo Café, and a museum store.
Go Rock-Climbing at Mad River Gorge and Nature Preserve
This preserve is on Dayton-Springfield Road and encompasses 91 acres of natural splendor.
Rock-climbing on routes rising as high as 50 feet is one of the main attractions in the Mad River Gorge and Nature Preserve.
It is now regarded as the largest rock-climbing destination in Ohio, and visiting climbers can easily prepare for an ascent here via The Mad River Gorge Climbing Guidebook.
Significantly, the Ohio Climbers Coalition is one of the prime movers behind the development of the preserve as a rock-climbers haven.
In a partnership with the Clark County Park District and the Access Fund, the Coalition also helped develop the nature hiking trails that visitors of the Preserve can also enjoy.
The Mad River Gorge and Nature Preserve is also ideal for birdwatchers because it is host to a wide variety of bird species.
Paddle in the Mad River Adventures
Rent a canoe or a kayak at the facility of Mad River Adventures on Old Lower Valley Pike Road.
The river offers two rapids—The Rock Garden and The Washboard Rapids—for those who want to put their paddling skills to a rigorous test.
However, you can also enjoy less intense paddling by sticking to the shallower and calmer areas of the Mad River.
The waters in these stretches are clear enough to see the river’s bottom, and you may even find spots for trout fishing.
The lower and upper stretches of the Mad River are also excellent for nature and wildlife observation, opening opportunities like sights of nesting bald eagles.
Bring the Family to Snyder Park
This park along Springfield’s Snyder Park Road sprawls over 226 acres and is considered one of the largest in all of Clark County.
Snyder Park combines recreational facilities with the city’s natural surroundings to provide enjoyment for the entire family.
It offers the Speedway Children’s Park, an ADA-compliant playground, and a water playground called Betchie’s Sprayground.
Also, there are six tennis courts in Snyder Park’s Dredge Tennis Complex, with five of them also designed to accommodate pickleball matches.
Snyder Park, in addition, provides an 18-hole disc golf course posing the challenge of the park’s beautiful natural terrain and location next to Buck Creek.
The other recreational activities that this park offers include hiking, boating, fishing, and sightseeing at its gardens and arboretum.
Visit the Pennsylvania House Museum
Take a glimpse of the historical days when Springfield distinguished itself as the final stop of the Historic National Road.
You can gain this appreciation with a visit to the circa 1839 Pennsylvania House on West Main Street.
Converted into a museum, this building was formerly an inn and tavern popular as a stopover of pioneers and livestock drovers in the US westward expansion during the 19th century.
The beautifully renovated Pennsylvania House Museum features 24 rooms with an extensive display of antiques.
Besides vintage home furnishings, this museum's exhibits include antique dolls and buttons.
Marvel at the Art Pieces of the Hartman Rock Garden
A self-taught local artist, Ben Hartman developed this garden on Russell Avenue as his artistic diversion amid the 1930s Great Depression.
The unique Hartman Rock Garden simply began from the construction of a cement fishing pond.
Exhibiting an artist’s passion, a variety of figures and structures followed on themes like region, history, and patriotism.
These works later moved on to visionary art expressions about the environment, focusing on numerous plant varieties.
Stones by the hundreds of thousands were used in the Hartman Rock Garden for its more than 50 structures that also include many astonishing figurines.
Have a Beer at Mother Stewart's Brewing
Located in downtown Springfield, this is a family-owned production brewery with a spacious taproom on West Columbia Street.
Mother Stewart's Brewing also features an inviting outdoor beer garden, where samplings to order include Porter, with strong notes of roasted barley and chocolate.
Also worth a try is the brewery’s Disco Dancer Ipa, which resonates with its fruit flavors and aromas.
With such drinks tempting merriment, Mother Stewart’s Brewing has become a magnet for summer and fall community events with food trucks and live outdoor entertainment.
In the winter, it hosts various indoor activities like a farmers’ market and film screenings.
Celebrate Creativity at the Springfield Museum of Art
This art museum near the downtown of Springfield features a permanent collection and changing thematic exhibits of American art.
The Springfield Museum of Art, located on Cliff Park Road, takes pride as the only Ohio art museum affiliated with the national Smithsonian Institution.
Underscoring this relationship, the museum worked with the Smithsonian and NASA for an exhibit called the Exploration of Art and Space: Enter the Cosmos.
The museum’s collection has also focused on the use of discarded objects as materials for artworks.
Over half of this museum’s space is dedicated to periodically changing exhibits, so you’d likely appreciate something new with each visit here.
Shop at the Heart of Ohio Antique Center
Be forewarned: You’re likely to succumb to impulse buying in shopping at the Heart of Ohio Antique Center with its wide variety of wares.
This antique sellers’ hub boasts more than 700 dealers within its 122,000 square feet of space.
In addition, this antique shoppers’ haven has 30,000-square-foot Outdoor Commons where there are picks on statuary, patio furniture, and architectural items.
All told, the Heart of Ohio Antique Center invites you to comb through its 1,425 booths and showcases brimming with room-ready antiques.
Shop here and see first-hand why Martha Stewart Living Magazine named it as "one of the best resources for antiques."
Escape to the Ice at the NTPRD Chiller
The National Trail Parks and Recreation District (NTPRD) owns this indoor skating rink, with Chiller LLC as its manager.
NTPRD Chiller boasts a regulation ice surface open not only to public skating but also to classes on hockey and skating.
Its hockey offerings are open to adults, including women and kids from age 5 to 18.
This facility also hosts special events, such as college and youth hockey tournaments.
NTPRD Chiller, located on West Main Street, is Springfield’s first indoor ice skating arena.
Join the Fun at the Splash Zone Waterpark
This Springfield facility on Eagle City Road takes pride in being the premier aquatics center in the city.
The features of Splash Zone draw the attention of even the city’s collegiate swimming champions.
The thrills that you can enjoy in this waterpark include darting and slipping along water slides that extend up to 400 feet.
Splash Zone also dares you to spin around its water vortex, the first bowl slide in Ohio.
An ADA-accessible facility, this waterpark likewise offers a 280-foot lazy river, a zero-depth pool entry, two 1-meter diving boards, and a 25-yard pool for competitions.
See What’s Up at the Clark County Fairgrounds
A visit to Springfield won’t be complete without checking what’s on schedule at the Clark County Fairgrounds on South Charleston Pike.
This event venue boasts more than 300 events a year, including the Springfield Swap Meet & Auto Show, the Springfield Antique Extravaganza, as well as plants and craft shows.
The venue, moreover, is home to the Champions Center that holds not only regional and national equine events but also specialty breed dog shows and even corporate trade shows.
Of course, the fairgrounds’ premier event is the annual Clark County Fair, traditionally held in July.
The events typically lined up in this fair include a mini circus, live music entertainment, and animal shows.
Play Golf at the Springfield Country Club
The 18-hole championship golf course of the Springfield Country Club on Signal Hill Road offers a choice of competitive or leisurely play.
Most visiting golfers would opt for the latter, as they can fully enjoy the wonderful setting of this course carved on the rolling hills of the Miami Valley.
The Springfield Country Club was established in 1898, and the classic layout of its 6,684-yard golf course runs shorter and thus friendly to novice players.
Golfers regularly playing on this course are impressed by its superbly maintained greens and fairways, reinforcing the reputation of Springfield Country Club as one of the best in the region.
This country club has also emerged as an area favorite for tennis players eager to try one of its six tennis courts.
Savor Mexican Cuisine at Las Mariachis
This Mexican restaurant opened in Springfield in 1999, and with its local success, it subsequently opened other Ohio outlets in Xenia and London.
From its original site in Springfield, La Mariachis has also moved to a larger location on the city’s East Main Street.
The Quesadilla Texana is one of Las Mariachis’ house specialties that bring in plenty of repeat customers.
This tempting Mexican dish is an expertly grilled flour tortilla stuffed with chicken, shrimp, steak, cheese, beans, bell peppers, onions, and tomatoes.
Rice, sour cream, lettuce, and pico de gallo are served with each Quesadilla Texana order for a truly wonderful meal experience.
Springfield comes out as an easy choice for folks laying out a travel itinerary for a visit to southwestern Ohio.
This city exudes much charm from its historic role not only in the development and growth of Ohio but also in the entire nation.
Local natural wonders, moreover, marvelously blend in with Springfield’s social and cultural achievements to create an amazing list of the things to do in this city.