Paddleboarding adventure on Lake Springfield
Enjoying milkshakes at a landmark Route 66 diner
The historic Heers building and the History Museum on the Square in Park Central Square
The 1926 Gillioz Theater, one of the top downtown entertainment venues
Family fun at the Fantastic Caverns underground cave tour
Watching an otter swim at Dickerson Park Zoo
Canoeing at sunset on Lake Springfield
Hunting for the top experiences in a friendly city
Shop, Stroll, Eat and Be Amazed
The flagship Bass Pro Shops store is in Springfield. The company’s first and largest store is filled with large aquariums stocked with native fish, waterfalls, taxidermy displays and a huge selection of hunting, fishing and outdoor gear in nearly 47,000 square meters. Watch divers feed fish and talk about them in Uncle Buck’s Auditorium, visit the two museums dedicated to sporting arms and archery, grab a meal at the popular restaurant or sweet treat in the fudge shop. People visit to witness its sheer size, art displays, special events such as the Outdoor Fitness Festival and, of course, nostalgia. It’s a far cry from when a young fisherman, Johnny Morris, started his operation in 1972 in a .75-square-meter room in the back of his father’s liquor store.
Famous Highway and Historic Sites
Springfield is recognized as the Official Birthplace of Route 66. The historic “Mother Road” that linked Chicago and Los Angeles got its name during a meeting of highway officials there in 1926. History buffs will want to cruise along local portions of the famous highway and make stops at the History Museum on the Square, the Park Central Square site of the quick-draw shootout between Wild Bill Hickock and Davis Tutt in 1865, and Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield, where the second major battle of the Civil War took place in 1861. The battlefield features Civil War exhibits, and visitors can walk, bike or drive through the site on a self-guided trail tour. In the city’s history museum, see exhibits about local Ozarks history from prehistoric times through the 1900s. History lovers also will want to visit the Walnut Street National Historic Register District with more than 150 historic homes and unique shopping and dining experiences.
There are many reasons to extend a stay in Springfield. Among them is Fantastic Caverns, the only cave in North America large enough to ride through on a 50-minute tour of an underground riverbed on Jeep-drawn trams. The Smallin Civil War Cave also has the largest cave opening in Missouri. Stroll through 80 acres of native forests and fields at the Springfield Conservation Nature Center, then go to Dickerson Park Zoo to see more than 340 animals representing 120 species, including elephants, cheetahs and wolves. Children will adore the Discovery Center, an interactive, hands-on educational experience where they learn while they play with everything from a giant eyeball to building blocks.
For sports fans, the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame has 2,000 square meters of sports memorabilia and displays. Visit Hammons Field baseball stadium where the Springfield Cardinals, a Double-A franchise of the St. Louis Cardinals, play. After all of that activity, take time to relax in downtown Springfield, which is filled with a variety of chef-owned restaurants, boutiques and night clubs.
American folk hero "Wild" Bill Hickok was involved in the first recorded quick-draw shootout of the Wild West era, which occurred on Park Central Square in 1865.
In 1953, about 10 hooded cobras escaped from a local pet shop. While the cobras caused fear throughout the city, some businesses offered cobra haircuts, cocktails and other cobra-themed items. The incident was covered by national media.
Springfield’s signature dish is Springfield-Style Cashew Chicken. Created by David Leong in 1963, Springfield-Style Cashew Chicken can be found on menus around the world. The Leong family still has a restaurant in Springfield – Leong’s Asian Diner.