Blake Walsh

15 Free Things to Do in Springfield, MO

  • Published 2022/11/14

Nestled on the Springfield Plateau of the Ozark Mountains and located in Greene County, Missouri, Springfield shows you the beauty of the mountains while giving you the comforts you need for a pleasant stay.

It’s the third-largest city in Missouri, so you’ll undoubtedly find many things to do.

Moreover, you won’t need to spend a dime to have a good time here.

Explore the lush forests and wonderous caves for your outdoor adventure.

There are many expansive parks all around, so you’ll have no difficulty looking for one.

There’s a butterfly house where you can check out native species and a nature center.

Immerse yourself in the culture and arts by visiting the museums and galleries.

If you want a memorable experience without burning a hole in your wallet, check out the free things to do in Springfield, Missouri.

Marvel at the Abou Ben Adhem Shrine Mosque

Exterior of the Abou Ben Adhem Shrine Mosque

AbeEzekowitz, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Right in the city’s heart, Abou Ben Adhem Shrine Mosque has stood tall since 1923, serving the residents of Springfield as a place where the community can come and gather.

It has hosted many events throughout the years.

Celebrities, even presidents, have walked in its halls.

“Abou Ben Adhem” translates to “May His Tribe Increase,” perfect for its stature as a community event venue.

Statue in front of the Abou Ben Adhem Shrine Mosque

CJ Hanevy /

Check out its museum, where you can observe 40 exhibits.

Various rooms are available for events here, including a theater, banquet room, and classroom.

The Outdoorsman Expo and the ABA Open Fishing Circuit are significant community events held at the Abou Ben Adhem Shrine Mosque.

Close view of the Abou Ben Adhem Shrine Mosque

CJ Hanevy /

Take in the Natural Scenery at the Ozark Greenways Trail

The Ozark Greenways Trail is more than 110 miles that connect different communities around the Ozark Mountains.

You can access it from the different trails in Springfield, such as the African-American Heritage Trail, which aims to further research the contributions of people of color.

The trail connects to the Jordan Creek Greenway trail and the city center.

Check out the numerous attractions along the Ozark Greenways Trail, like the sculpture walk or the native wildflower area.

You can bring your bike to the trails for a scenic ride, which is a great way to get around Springfield.

Bike around the City on the Link

Traversing the center of Springfield, the Link provides eight miles of bicycle and pedestrian routes, which is perfect if you want to explore and get good exercise.

While following the route, you’ll find plenty of points of interest, such as greenway trails, shops, neighborhoods, and more.

There are more than enough bicycle aid stations spread across the trail, so you will always be safe.

Moreover, you can also access the Link through these stations.

Pay attention to the signs along the route to ensure you have a hassle-free time.

Immerse Yourself in the Arts at the Creamery Arts Center

Connect with your inner artist at the Creamery Arts Center in Jordan Valley Park.

It is a 35,000-square-foot structure that opened in 2002, catering to more than 30 organizations that use the building for various purposes.

If you are a lover of performing arts, check out the Springfield Ballet, the Ozarks Lyric Opera Theatre, the Springfield Symphony Orchestra, or the Men’s Chorus of the Ozarks.

The Springfield Regional Arts Council members and the Film and Media Association of Springfield gather here too.

The center is part of the Sculpture Walk of Springfield and the First Friday Art Walk.

You can catch all sorts of events at the Creamery Arts Center, a market where you can buy fantastic gift items, award shows, and auctions.

Relive the Battle of Springfield at the Springfield National Cemetery

Headstones at Springfield National Cemetery


Two locations became the site of the Battle of Springfield: Fort Number 1 and the Springfield National Cemetery.

Fort Number 1 was erected in August 1862, built through the combined effort of soldiers and Confederate prisoners, civilian men, and slaves.

The structure resembled a five-pointed star, and its walls housed civilians during the Battle of Springfield.

Entrance gate of Springfield National Cemetery

PerryElkins, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Springfield National Cemetery, which sits in the city’s center, is close to the fort’s location.

Likewise, the bodies of Confederates were re-interred at this cemetery some years after the war.

Wonder at the Historical Collection of the Archery Hall of Fame and Museum

Founded in 1971, the Archery Hall of Fame and Museum is a homage to some of the most influential people and artifacts in archery.

In 2012, the museum was moved to a permanent location, a 3,500-square-foot facility in the Bass Pro Shops National Headquarters.

Look at the original prototype of the first compound bow, made by Holles Wilbur Allen, and a bow created by the Apache War Chief Geronimo.

If you’re a fan of the famous Fred Bear, the Father of Bowhunting, you’re in for a treat at the Archery Hall of Fame and Museum.

You can see a collection of his items here, including an archery toolbox, workshop equipment, and memorabilia.

You’ll even see the massive record-holding Alaskan Brown Bear that he bagged using a single arrow.

In addition, you’ll find an extensive broadhead collection and a Black Widow Bow Display made up of high-quality bows by the Wilson Boys.

See the Racing Artifacts at the Bass Pro Shops Motorsports Museum

If you love seeing cars burning rubber at the racetrack, you’ll probably have a blast at the Bass Pro Shops Motorsports Museum.

It is inside the Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World, the very first Bass Pro Shops location, as well as the largest.

Spend the day looking at the Bass Pro Shops Motorsports Museum racing memorabilia.

These items include fire suits, helmets, and racing collectibles.

You’ll also see actual race cars here, one of which is the Dale Earnhardt racecar he drove when he won the Daytona 500 in 1998.

Admire the Buildings along the Historic C-Street District

The Historic C-Street District is the first historic district in Springfield, and you’ll appreciate its vintage feel when you visit.

It is the original downtown area of North Springfield, and now, it hosts many vendors, shops, restaurants, and much more.

There’s a unique shop at every corner, selling everything from chocolates to gift items.

Immerse yourself in the arts by visiting one of the art galleries.

If you love architecture, check out the Jefferson Avenue Footbridge, built in 1902.

It is part of the National Register of Historic Places, mainly because of its one-of-a-kind structure.

If you want to do something fun, there’s a wide variety of events at the C-Street District, given its many picture-perfect event venues.

When tired of going around the area, you can grab a bite at one of the restaurants or enjoy a sip of coffee at a café.

Study Police History in the Calaboose

Exterior of The Calaboose

Gillsfan01, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Calaboose is a former jail built in 1891, the oldest building in Springfield.

It rests directly in the city’s heart and was restored using original materials and components that coincide with the Secretary of Interior’s Standards for Historic Preservation Projects.

The state of Missouri Historical Preservation Program also co-implemented the project, so you can be sure that the building is genuinely well-restored.

Observe the artifacts in the police museum found on the first floor of the building.

In addition to regular days, the Calaboose also opens during the First Friday Art Walk.

Revisit Prehistory at the Missouri Institute of Natural Science Museum

Located near the southern edge of Springfield, the Missouri Institute of Natural Science Museum allows you to get up close with dinosaur fossils.

Come and see Henry, a gigantic Triceratops specimen dug in 2013.

In addition to fossils, the library hosts many artifacts and specimens, including fossilized bacteria.

If you’re looking for outdoor fun, you can take the family up the hill nearby to go fossil hunting.

You can even take what you find and display it in your own home.

Likewise, you can take a stroll around the forest trails.

The Missouri Institute of Natural Science takes care of the Riverbluff Cave, aiming to preserve it for future generations.

Admire the Colorful Butterflies at the Roston Native Butterfly House

Have you ever wondered how butterflies look when they undergo metamorphosis?

See the process yourself at the Roston Native Butterfly House, the only native butterfly house in Missouri.

It opened in 2009 in the Springfield Botanical Gardens, which sits in the 113-acre Nathaniel Greene/Close Memorial Park.

Gaze at the beautiful flowers and plants in the gardens around the Dr. Bill Roston Native Butterfly House.

Check out the Butterfly Garden, the Native Shrub Garden, the Wildflower Garden, the Caterpillar Café, and the Windrider Topiary.

In addition, there are other great places to go around the Springfield Botanical Gardens, such as the Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden, the themed gardens and greenhouse, the Gray/Campbell Farmstead, and Lake Drummond.

Look for Art around Springfield at the Sculpture Walk Springfield

The Sculpture Walk Springfield aims to create a “museum without walls with access to all.”

The initiative started in 2016 by installing 13 unique sculptures around Downtown Springfield.

The sculptures rotate yearly, so explore every nook and cranny of the city.

Go around and take pictures with the sculptures with the whole family.

Schedule a guided tour of Sculpture Walk Springfield if you want hassle-free time.

Read Your Favorite Books at the Library Center

Exterior of The Library Center


In 1901, the plan for the Library Center, found in the southern part of Springfield, was drawn up.

In 1903, the cornerstone for its building was put up.

After two years, it opened to the public with only one staff member.

Now, it is an 82,000-square-foot site with plenty of facilities.

Sit down at a table with a book and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere or listen to a song or audiobook.

You can check out their archives and articles if local history interests you.

Take a look at their databases if there’s certain information you are looking for.

You can also take your kids with you, as there are books and programs for them.

Other services they offer include printing services, speaker bookings, meeting room bookings, and much more.

Moreover, you’ll always have access to the internet inside the Library Center.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Grab Fresh Produce at the Ozark Farmers Market

The centrally located Finley Farms hosts the Ozark Farmers Market, a large area filled with local produce, meats, crafts, and more for sale.

The market is in Ozark, Missouri, 25 minutes from Springfield.

Built in 1833, the Ozark Mill is a prominent structure on the market grounds, where you’ll also find the Mill restaurant and the Garrison speakeasy.

Get a snack and refreshments and sit by the courtyard tables.

While you eat, you can listen to live music during their Market Music event held once a week.

In addition to the Ozark Farmers Market, the Finley Farm has other facilities you can try.

Head to the Workshop and enjoy sumptuous bites or a flavorful coffee or learn a new skill during a workshop here.

Browse the crafts, tools, home goods, and more at the Gift Shop.

You can rent the beautiful, spacious event spaces if there’s a special occasion around the corner.

Broaden Your Knowledge about the Bible at the Creation Experience Museum

The Creation Experience Museum takes you on a journey throughout the Bible’s timeline, using science to explain the events that conspired.

They offer guided tours and free admission if you want a more in-depth experience.

Check out the artifacts and displays and learn at your own pace.

If you book a tour with a group of 15 or more, you can try their hands-on stations with various activities perfect for the whole family.

All of the exhibits at the Creation Experience Museum are also family-friendly.

Before you leave, check out the bookstore and gift shop for great finds.

If you want to dive deeper, you can attend their conference sessions and monthly classes or book a speaker for your event.

This museum is in Walnut Shade, Missouri, 41 minutes from Springfield.

Final Thoughts

As the third largest city in Missouri, Springfield is a place you can explore for days and days.

Immerse yourself in culture and the arts, treat your eyes to gorgeous natural sceneries or mingle with the locals while trying out the delicious fare and refreshments.

The best part is you don’t have to break the bank to have a good time here.

If you want a guide, check out this list of free things to do in Springfield, Missouri.

© All rights reserved.