15 Best Things To Do In Springfield (MO)

Written by Jan Meeuwesen
Updated on
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Springfield, Missouri is known as the pulse of the Ozarks and it is a city that mixes small town hospitality with big city amenities. Springfield is a city that has not forgotten its classic American Heritage which makes it easy to feel immediately at home when you come to the city for a visit.  Springfield is often nicknamed the “Birthplace of Route 66” and is home to several high performing universities.

Since its incorporation in 1838 the city has continued to look forward and is a fantastic place for the whole family to visit. Let’s take a look at the best things to do in Springfield.

1. Take A Tram Ride Through The Fantastic Caverns

Fantastic CavernsSource: CJ Hanevy / shutterstock
Fantastic Caverns

Fantastic Caverns are the only caves in North America that give visitors a tour that is completely ride through. The trams that you sit in are pulled along by a Jeep and give spectators an amazing and interesting tour of the caves.

The path that you travel down was carved by an ancient river many years ago. The caves have had several uses throughout the years including a speakeasy during the prohibition and also as a venue for music events in the 1950s. Visitors to the caves can expect a constant 60 degrees throughout the year due to its location.

2. Meet The Animals At Dickerson Park Zoo

Dickerson Park ZooSource: Kimberly's Impressions / shutterstock
Dickerson Park Zoo

There are more than 500 different animals at this zoo and they represent approximately 160 different species.

During its early years the zoo struggled as it received no funding or support and by 1975 the zoo was in a state of disrepair and looking like it would shut completely. A support group was formed and the zoo was saved through the use of memberships and many donations.

Today the zoo is in good condition and is a real highlight of this city.

3. Visit The Home Of Missouri

Pythian CastleSource: Lauren Porter / shutterstock
Pythian Castle

Pythian Castle is a property that was built on Missouri in 1913. It was built by the Knights of Pythias and then the property was later transferred to the U.S. Military.

The building was built so that members of the Pythias fraternity could use the building as an orphanage or retirement home for its member’s families. The building is a beautiful place to visit and it is listed on the U.S National Register of Historic Places.

The building is said to be haunted and tours of the castle are offered year round.

4. Watch A Show At Gillioz Theatre

Gillioz TheatreSource: Logan Bush / shutterstock
Gillioz Theatre

In 1926 the Gillioz Theatre was built by M. E. Gillioz, his usual line of work was building bridges so the theatre was built mainly from steel and concrete.

The only wood that was used is in the handrails, doors and door frames. When the theatre was first built it would show many silent movies and it also had a stage that would host live shows.

Today the venue is predominantly used for music events and can fit approximately 1300 people in at a time. Elvis Presley is one of the theatres famous visitors, he spent an afternoon watching a movie before performing a show in the city.

5. Get Hands-On At The Discovery Center Of Springfield

Discovery Center Of SpringfieldSource: Walter L White / shutterstock
Discovery Center Of Springfield

The Discovery Center of Springfield is a museum that is all about getting the visitor involved. The museum was designed to have interactive exhibits that would inspire people of all ages to take part. The museum opened in 1988 but works were going on for many years prior to that to make sure that the museum was as perfect as it could be.

When you get to the museum you will spend many hours playing with the various exhibits as you learn how they work. You will while away the hours here without even realising that you are learning. A highly recommended fun day out for all.

6. Enjoy A Stage Show At Landers Theatre

Landers TheatreSource: Rachael Martin / shutterstock
Landers Theatre

Landers Theatre is a beautiful place to watch a show in Springfield and is registered on the U.S National Register of Historic Places. The theatre opened in 1909 and has been continuously open since this date. Throughout the years it has been used as both a legitimate theatre and a movie theatre.

The building stands out for its wooden construction which was unusual at the time it was built as many of the buildings were constructed with a steel frame. Little Theatre is a Springfield based theatre company that call Landers Theatre their home.

7. Remember The War Veterans at Springfield National Cemetery

Springfield National CemeterySource: Ted PAGEL / shutterstock
Springfield National Cemetery

In 1867 the Springfield National Cemetery was created as a final resting place for Civil War Confederate Soldiers. Initially a lot of the soldiers that were buried in the cemetery were victims of the Battle of Wilson’s Creek.

As the years have progressed the cemetery has been opened up for all veterans. The cemetery is a naturally peaceful place and an excellent place to visit for anyone looking to spend a few quiet hours remembering the great men and women that died protecting their country.

The cemetery is home to several Medal of Honor recipients as well.

8. Watch Basketball At JQH Arena

BasketballSource: Brocreative / shutterstock

Missouri State Bears (men’s and women’s) basketball teams play their home games at the JQH Arena. The arena was opened in 2008 and it sits on the campus of the Missouri State University.

With a capacity of 11,000 the arena often gets filled to the brim with passionate fans screaming on their local men and women. The arena was opened with a concert by the Eagles in front if a sell-out crowd, many famous bands have also played too excited audiences throughout the years.

9. Enjoy Some Baseball At Hammons Field

Hammons FieldSource: Ted PAGEL / shutterstock
Hammons Field

If you like watching live baseball then a trip to Hammons Field is going to leave you feeling satisfied on a sunny day. The facility was paid for by John Q Hammons, the same person who is named on the JQH Arena.

The Springfield Cardinals play their home games at the park and they are the Double-A Texas League affiliate to the St. Louis Cardinals. Hammons Field has one of the largest electronic scoreboards in the country which is used to show replays between innings as well as play highlights from MLB games that are happening at the same time.

10. The Wonders Of Wildlife Museum And Aquarium

Wonders Of Wildlife Museum And AquariumSource: CJ Hanevy / shutterstock
Wonders Of Wildlife Museum And Aquarium

The Wonders of Wildlife Museum and Aquarium is home to more than 225 species of animals as well as saltwater and freshwater marine life. The museum and aquarium spent many years going through extensive renovations that increased the size of the center by more than 50%.

One of the main attractions is the Out to Sea Gallery that features a six meter deep aquarium that holds nearly a quarter of a million gallons of water. In the tank you can see sharks, ray and various other tropical fish.

11. Hit The Ice At Jordan Valley Ice Park

Ice SkatingSource: Daniel Chetroni / shutterstock
Ice Skating

If you need to learn how to skate or you can already skate but want to improve then you should take a trip to Jordan Valley Ice Park.

There are two large rinks at the park and a range of activities to get involved in. You can open skate, figure skate or join a game of ice hockey.

If you are not the kind of person that likes to get out on the ice you can turn up on match days and cheer on the MSU Hockey Bears as they try and climb their way up the league.

12. Get Involved In National Pizza Day

PizzaSource: Andrey Armyagov / shutterstock

Springfield is starting to get a bit of a reputation as a place to go if you want some great pizza. There are several spots in the city that serve up some delicious pizza and the whole city comes out to enjoy this great dish on National Pizza Day.

Arris’ Pizza is known in the city for the Greek pizzas that they dish up to their many fans. If you are looking for a traditional Italian pizza then a trip to Bruno’s Italian Ristorante will see you leave feeling satisfied. The pizzas are cooked in a traditional brick style oven to ensure perfection.

13. Spend The Day Following A Trail

Frisco Highline TrailSource: Walter L White / shutterstock
Frisco Highline Trail

Springfield is home to many great trails and perhaps one of the most favored is the Frisco Highline Trail. The trail stretches out over 35 miles and connect Springfield with Bolivar.

The trail is a mixture of paved and gravel tracks and is a designated National Recreation Trail. As you cycle your way along the beautiful paths you will notice that you cross many bridges, there are sixteen bridges in total. The paths lead you through wood and pastures, ensuring that you are connected with nature.

14. Learn About The Battle Of Springfield

Battle Of Springfield MarkerSource: Jo Naylor / Flickr | CC BY
Battle Of Springfield Marker

In 1863 during January Springfield was involved in a battle of its own. The Union Forces were able to defend the Springfield territory from the Confederate army who were attempting to access supplies and take advantage of the high ground that Springfield Offers.

There are twelve markers placed around the battleground that show where the defenses were stationed. They also show where the troops gathered their supplies as well as the places that used to be houses before the Confederates burned them down.

15 Best Things To Do In Springfield (MO):

  • Take A Tram Ride Through The Fantastic Caverns
  • Meet The Animals At Dickerson Park Zoo
  • Visit The Home Of Missouri
  • Watch A Show At Gillioz Theatre
  • Get Hands-On At The Discovery Center Of Springfield
  • Enjoy A Stage Show At Landers Theatre
  • Remember The War Veterans at Springfield National Cemetery
  • Watch Basketball At JQH Arena
  • Enjoy Some Baseball At Hammons Field
  • The Wonders Of Wildlife Museum And Aquarium
  • Hit The Ice At Jordan Valley Ice Park
  • Get Involved In National Pizza Day
  • Spend The Day Following A Trail
  • Learn About The Battle Of Springfield