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25+ Fun Free Things To Do In Springfield, MO: A Guide To Visiting On A Budget!

Known to locals as being the origin of Route 66, Springfield, MO, is a city with many attractions. Missouri in general is known for having many beautiful caves, and one of the most popular is the Fantastic Caverns located right here in Springfield!

There are a lot of things to do for tourists in this city, but if you’re traveling on a budget, you might find many of them too pricey. But luckily there’s also many free things to do in Springfield, MO. You just need to know where to look.

That’s why we’ve decided to help out and make this list of free things to do in Springfield, MO. So read on to find out what fan activities you should do next time you visit!

fountain and office buildings on the Springfield Missouri square

25 Free Things To Do In Springfield, MO: Fun Without Breaking The Bank

1. Watch The Sunset Reflect Off A Clear Lake

While Springfield is far from the coast, nor is it hilly, that doesn’t mean you can’t get a scenic sunset view here.

There are many beautiful lakes in Springfield, and these lakes all reflect the hues of the sunset in the most beautiful way.

For sunset watching, we recommend you go to Fellows Lake, an 860-acre lake that serves as the source of water for the city.

Another lake you can go to chase the sunset is Lake Springfield, which is an artificial cooling lake. Both these lakes have beautiful views with trees lining the edges.

2. See Fossils Of Dinosaurs And Others

When it comes to museums, not many are more interesting than dinosaur museums. Fortunately, The Missouri Institute of Natural Science Museum is open for visitors free of charge and there are plenty of primordial collections there.

The most popular exhibit in the museum is Henry, which is the largest triceratops fossil in the US! Aside from that, visitors can see collections of gorgeous minerals, rocks, bones, and other fossils.

3. Take A Walk Through Sequiota Park

Sequiota Park is a recreational park with a walking trail, playground, and even a small waterfall. The park is known for being spacious and picturesque throughout.

One of the many main attractions in the park is the caves, but they’ve been closed to preserve the endangered grey bats that live inside. Despite this, we still think going to the park is one hundred percent worth it for a simple afternoon stroll. 

Feet sneakers walking on fall leaves Outdoor Autumn season

4. Walk The African American Heritage Trail

The conversation about racial discrimination is – thankfully – increasingly growing. To join in this conversation, it’s absolutely important that you have the right information and point of view.

At the African-American Heritage Trail, you can learn a little more about some of the things African Americans went through, and you can do it while taking a leisurely walk.

The trail runs near 20 sites that are significant to African American history. Some of them are the former Lincoln School (now known as Ozark Technical Community College), Sherman Avenue Corridor, and Park Central Square.

At each site, there’s a plaque explaining the history of the place in relation to African American heritage. This is definitely one of the most worthwhile free things to do in Springfield, MO.

5. Have A Picnic At A Scenic Park

Pack up some sandwiches and juice, it’s time to have a picnic!

There are many many parks in Springfield where you can lay out a mat and sit and bask in the sunlight. The aforementioned Sequiota Park is one of the best hotspots for picnics. Other choices are Phelps Grove Park and Springfield Botanical Garden.

Wooden table on a background of green trees.

6. Play With Farm Animals

If other activities on this list feel bland, here’s a new one for you: there’s a barn in Springfield that’s open to tourists for free! It’s called Rutledge-Wilson Farm Community Park, and they have horses, chickens, goats, sheep, donkeys, and more.

The place is perfect for kids, and even has a kids’ playground! Visitors are allowed to feed the animals, but you have to pay for the animal food. This is easily one of best free things to do in Springfield, MO for kids.

7. Freshen Your Eyes With Colorful Flowers & Butterflies

From blue, orange, and pink, to yellow, your eyes will be met with all types of colorful flowers at Springfield Botanical Gardens. It’s located at Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park on Scenic Avenue.

Other than flowers, the park also contains other botanical plants. There’s even a butterfly house where the staff will give information and help visitors catch the butterflies correctly. All in all, it’s a beautiful, well-maintained memorial park and we totally recommend you visit.

All of the parks are free except for the Mizumoto Japanese Garden where visitors have to pay a $4 entrance fee.

Photo via Unsplash+

8. Enjoy Artwork From All Around The World

While you’re in Springfield, visit the city’s oldest cultural institution!

Springfield Art Museum holds a collection of various artworks from different places and eras. All the artworks are accompanied by descriptions so it’s easy to understand what the artists want to convey.

Other than the permanent collection, Springfield Art Museum also often holds various exhibitions, workshops, and events. Check out the museum’s current and upcoming events on their official website and social media.

9. See A Collection Of Firearms

If an art museum is too basic for you, there’s another free museum in Springfield that boasts a very unique collection.

Born as a collaboration between National Rifle Association and Bass Pro Shops, NRA National Sporting Arms Museum is a museum that showcases a large variety of firearms.

Not simply a collection, The NRA National Sporting Arms Museum was built to celebrate the history of hunting, conservation, and freedom. Other than historic hunting arms, the museum also exhibits firearms used in movies such as guns used by the likes of Tom Selleck and Charlton Heston.

The museum is located in Bass Pro Shops on S Campbell Ave 65807.

10. Learn About Pro Archers

Staying in Bass Pro Shops, there’s another museum you should check out while in the area.

The Archery Hall of Fame & Museum honors outstanding archers and their efforts to preserve the tradition of archery and bowhunting. Some celebrated archers include Saxton Pope & Arthur Young, Fred Bear, and Earl Hoyt Jr.

11. Meet Wildlife At A Nature Conservation Center

It’s always nice meeting animals that are not confined in cages, and it’s even better when they’re free to see! At Springfield Conservation Nature Center, visitors can see many kinds of animals, from deer to woodpeckers to bald eagles, and many more.

The conservation center is surrounded by green trees and has a hiking trail, therefore it’s good for a morning or afternoon hike with your loved ones. There are also small exhibitions with some information about the wildlife.

12. Take A Picture In Front of The World’s (2nd) Largest Fork

Wedged in the ground amongst trees and buildings is a 35 ft fork!

It used to be the world’s largest fork, but it has since been dethroned by the fork monument in Fairview Food Plaza.

Despite being tall, the monument can be hard to find because of the buildings surrounding it. To find the fork, make your way to Food Channel’s property at 2215 W. Chesterfield St, Springfield. It’s definitely one of the most unique free things to do in Springfield, MO.

13. Go Fishing

Got your rod and reel with you? If so, you can go fishing in some of the lakes in Springfield, with or without boats.

The two places where people usually go fishing without instructors are Lake Springfield, Fellows Lake, and James River Waterway.

Fisherman angling on the river, close up photo. Sport and recreation concept

14. Explore A Cave

Missouri is known for having beautiful, intricate big caves, so it feels weird not putting caves on this list.

The most popular one in Springfield is the Fantastic Caverns (which is so fantastically big that tours of the cave are done in cars!) and Crystal Cave. Unfortunately, tours of most caves are pretty expensive.

While we can’t recommend a free cave attraction in Springfield, you can tour Giboney Cave in Doling Park for only $5 per person or $16 for a family of 4. The cave is often called the Doling Park Cave and is beautifully surrounded by trees. It’s located at 301 E Talmage St 65803.

15. Embrace Your Inner Boy Scout At The Ozarks Scouting Museum

Dr. Michael J. Clarke History Museum of Ozarks Scouting is a small scouts museum located in the Clarence and Edna Wheeler Scout Service Center. You can visit and view their changing exhibits and walking trail.

The exact address is 1616 S. Eastgate Ave, Springfield, MO 65809. Entry is free and the museum is open during business hours of the Scout Center (Monday-Friday 8:30 am – 5:00 pm).

16. Do A Self-Guided Walking Tour Around Vintage Houses

Is it just us or is there something about vintage houses that feels romantic?

If you go down to Walnut Street, you will find beautiful 19th century style homes. These houses are thought to have a huge impact on the architecture, history, and culture of the community, so much so that the street was designated as a national historic district.

Even though it’s called a self-guided tour, there’s a detailed brochure guide of the tour that you can get from the Route 66 Visitor Center.

17. Set Out On A Sculpture Walk

Started out as a small group’s mission to create an accessible museum, now the Springfield Sculpture Walk is a collection of 13 permanent sculptures all around the city – and many more temporary exhibits.

In 2021 they had their largest collection amounting to 41 sculptures showcased at one time. These unique sculptures are changed and rotated so it’s sort of a fun little easter hunt!

Visit their official website to see their current exhibits and an interactive map of all the sculptures.

18. Visit The Site Of A Historical Civil War Battle

If you drive just a little southwest of Springfield, you’ll find yourself at Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield. It’s the preserved site of The Battle of Wilson’s Creek, which was the first major battle of the Civil War west of the Mississippi River.

At this site, you will see authentic items from the battle and information about the event. Visitors must pay a $10 entry fee but entrance is free for children under 16.

19. Swim In A Creek

Nearing the end of spring towards the start of summer, many Missourians will flock to the streams and lakes to go for a dip. In Springfield, places to go swimming for free are the James River, Lake Springfield, James River, and Galloway Creek.

Remember to be careful and don’t swim after heavy rain.

20. Visit A Haunted Castle

Pythian Castle is a historic castle built in 1913 by the Knights of Pythias. It’s said that there have been over 100 documented deaths within the castle during the time it served as an orphanage and army prison.

Unfortunately, the castle has been a tourist attraction for years therefore visitors must pay to enter the castle.

A History Tour is priced at $14 and the Ghost Tour at $18. However, if you want you can look at the majestic castle from outside without having to pay the entry fee.

21. Embark On The Battle Of Springfield Tour

For more historical sites, go on the Battle Of Springfield Tour in Downtown Springfield. It commemorates the battle on January 1863,  when the Confederate Army invaded Springfield territory.

There are 12 markers placed throughout the battleground marking the spots where defenses were organized, troops gathered supplies, injured soldiers were hospitalized, and homes were burned.

22. Visit The Last Cassette Tape Manufacturer In The Country

National Audio Company is actually a recording studio at E Water Street. But aside from that, it is also the only place in the US that still makes cassette tapes!

If you’re not going to make music, there might not be much that you can do there, but if you’re lucky (or good at talking) maybe you’ll be able to take a peek inside and see the cassette manufacturing process. 

23. Go Window Shopping At A Rare Plant Store

Just a 5-minute drive away from Missouri State University is a little plant store called The Plant Room.

This plant shop has a really cute setup with clear windows all around and white glass panes giving it a modern look. All in all, if you’re a plant mom, we suggest you stop by this cute little store regardless of whether or not you’re buying a plant.

24. Go To A Store That Sells Lost Mail

Located at Campbell Avenue, there’s a small warehouse with a unique concept. 

Bin Crazy is like a giant lost and found, but instead of taking your own stuff back home, you buy others’ lost items.

The store collects items from lost mails, overstock, and store returns. It’s kind of similar to Goodwill but they sell the most random things from electronics to furniture to toys!

With such a unique concept, a visit here was always going to make our free things to do in Springfield, MO list.

25. Visit The Shrine Mosque

Built in 1920, The Abou Ben Adhem Shrine Mosque is an Arab-style – more specifically, Saracen style – building in downtown Springfield. It’s built mainly with red brick walls, adorned with terracotta polychrome turrets and two stained glass windows depicting a camel caravan.

The Shrine Mosque is used for various events all year long. The Shrine Circus is held in this building every year and concerts are often held here too.

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