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21 Best Things to Do with Kids in Springfield – Top Family Activities 

 May 25, 2021

By  417 Local Editorial Team

Do you want to find the best family activities in Springfield MO?

There are so many things that kids of all ages will enjoy. From parks and museums to events in Springfield, there’s something for everyone! Here’s a list of great ideas!

In this article:

  • Free things to do with kids
  • Cheap things to do
  • Springfield’s “Premium” activities for families

Let’s dive in.

Note:

If you’re prepping activities for summer, you may want to also check out the abundance of summer camp options in Springfield here.

Free things to do with kids

Jordan Valley Park

Free fountains to play in, rock climbing walls, concerts, and more can be experienced at the Jordan Valley Park in the middle of Springfield.kids playing at the fountains at jordan valley park

I have no idea how many hours of play we participated in when our kids were younger at Jordan Valley. From the stream rolling down the hill to the fountain party and shallow swimming opportunities provided at the bottom, it was (and still is!) one of our favorite parks in Springfield.

There is also a fun birds eye view into the trucks and metal scrap yard activities going on at CMC Recycling Center located across the railroad tracks that run behind this park.

Even though we visited this park often, I wish we had gone more. It goes by fast!

Grab some snacks and get your fam to the Jordan Valley Park at 635 E Trafficway, now!

Note:

Free parking is almost always available in the parking garage directly across the street from this unique park in the middle of Springfield.

Bass Pro

Have kids that love guns, or animals? Want something fun to do inside?

From the Gun Museum, Archery Hall of Fame, underwater fish feeding shows, and more, Bass Pro’s not only one of the top things to do in Springfield–it’s an epic place to explore for kids!

Additionally, some of the best kids sunglasses and other sporting and outdoor gear is found here so you can knock out some of your “to do” list in an atmosphere where you won’t get embarrassed by your kids being kids.

Throughout the year there are festivals inside as well like the Bass Pro Winter Wonderland that occurs every holiday season.

Inspire your kids to participate in nature, take care of wildlife, and live a healthy active life every time you visit Bass Pro.

Busiek

three kids exploring the trails at Busiek

Want to turn a chaotic day into fun, relaxation, inspiration, and potentially fitness for free?

The 2,500 acres at Busiek State Forest and Wildlife Area are waiting!

From camping, streams, trails, and more, you can hop in the car right now and in 20ish minutes enter a world of rejuvenation.

Note:

You may want to wear shoes/sandals that can get wet and be comfortable for a walk. Depending on the amount of rain recently, sometimes you can not avoid crossing a stream to continue on the trail.

Additionally, you could just grab a couple of lawn chairs and park by one of the many “swimming holes” where the kids can play for hours while you chillax!

It doesn’t really matter how you choose to experience Busiek,  (there is no wrong way!) just go hold hands with your partner or kids in nature and take plenty of pictures to remember the moment!

Disc Golf

Disk golf is a mix between golf and frisbee. It involves going through a course, throwing discs (a harder smaller version of a frisbee), and trying to get them into metal baskets in the fewest possible attempts.

Games, as in golf, will take you through a 9 or 18 basket course, each with its own par. At the end of the course, the player with the lowest cumulative score is the ‘winner.’

In a word, it’s awesome.

kids disc golfing in springfield

The frisbee discs used for disc golf are specially designed to be thrown hard and travel long distances, so you won’t necessarily want to use just ‘any old frisbee.’

You can pick up an affordable set of these discs at most outdoor sports stores, and that’s all you need to experience one of the top outdoor activities in SGF and start having a ton of fun. Plus—it’s free!

You can find the free disc golf courses in/around Springfield here.

Missouri Institute of Natural Science

Want to excavate a fossil for free?

In addition to a museum with hundreds of mineral, plant, and animal fossils the Missouri Institute of Natural Science encourages your kids to excavate for fossils on their property and even take home fossils you find!

With nature trails, unique events, field trips, and space for birthday parties the Missouri Institute of Natural Science is a free and fun way to learn and experience the past.

You can learn more on their website here.

The Moxie

The Moxie is a non-profit movie theater at 305 S Campbell downtown that exists to enrich the Springfield community through film’s power to engage, educate, and inspire.

The afternoon and evening shows are not typically “for kids” but it’s a whole different story with their free Moxie Mornings.

A Moxie Morning is a themed experience where kids and adults get inspired to create.

For younger viewers (ages 2-6,) the Moxie presents diverse short films that surround a theme for the day. At each of these events your child gets to solidify this entertaining learning experience by creating a hands-on art activity.

And at the seven and older Movie Flix events they show “classic films” which gives kids “the chance to experience different genres, styles and themes.” The goal of these free monthly movie events is to introduce the films that are essential for kids to see before the age of 13.

For the upcoming always free Moxie Mornings events you can check out their calendar here.

Rutledge-Wilson Farm

Part farm, part park, part nature center–the Rutledge-Wilson Farm is a free experience in Springfield kids and adults will love.

Get to know the roots of agriculture with your kids at Rutledge-Wilson Farm Park. The park’s 207 acres provide a place where you can reconnect with nature, play in a farm themed playground, and stroll across a one-mile paved trail along Wilson’s Creek Greenway.

This top park in Springfield is the perfect home to a big, bright future for little ones. Your kids will develop early learning skills and explore nature all at one fun-filled destination!

There’s even a Farm Park Scavenger Hunt you can download for free here. It’s all free and fun at 3825 W Farm Rd 146 in Springfield, just off of W. Bypass North of Sunshine.

Springfield Botanical Gardens

Springfield Botanical Gardens

The Springfield Botanical Gardens, located at Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park, offers a sprawling 113-acre nature center. There are several dozen gardens, boasting a range of native and exotic plants.

Daylilies, hosta, Asiatic lilies, roses, peonies, iris, dwarf conifers, and ornamental grasses are just a few of the types of plants you can find and enjoy here.

If you have some plant-lovers in the family, this is the activity for you.

The park also offers:

  • Several paved walking trails.
  • Drummond Lake, which is rich with wildlife of many varieties, including geese, turtles, fish, and more.
  • A Butterfly House that’s open from April to October.
  • The Gray-Campbell Farmstead (which is the oldest surviving cabin in Springfield)
  • The Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden

There are also various playgrounds, picnic tables, wide open spaces, a gift shop, and access to the South Creek Greenway.

kids on catepillar at springfield botanical gardens

Wherever you’re looking for a fun or peaceful place, the Springfield Botanical Gardens is definitely worth checking out.

They’re located at 2400 S. Scenic Ave. Springfield, MO 65807.

Springfield Conservation Nature Center

The Springfield Conservation Nature Center is an 80 acre swath of nature carved out within the city limits of Springfield Mo.

It features 3 miles of walking trails, occasional educational and informative programs and events, nature and conservation exhibits, a visitor center with an information desk, a gift shop, an auditorium, classrooms, and restrooms.

If you’ve got some nature lovers in the family who enjoy getting out into the woods, this is the perfect family activity for you.

You’ll also find a covered picnic area, as well as pull-through bus and RV parking.

Hunting and fishing are not allowed on the ground themselves. But if you’re wanting to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city to just walk the elegant, natural Ozark trails, this is the place.

It’s truly one of the most accessible places within Springfield to get a real taste of the outdoors, without even needing to leave the city limits.

The Springfield Conservation Nature Center is located at 4601 S Nature Center Way, Springfield, MO 65804.

The World’s Largest Fork

This massive fork in Springfield weighs 11 tons and is over 35 feet tall and is a sight that will make your kids say wow.

While not an activity that can fill up hours on its own, since it’s located in Chesterfield Village in SW Springfield there are plenty of other things to do that are close.

Even though it’s huge it’s kind of hard to find. The official address of the fork is 2215 W Chesterfield and you learn more about this Springfield attraction and how to find the largest fork in the world, here.

Cheap things to do

Air and Military Museum of the Ozarks

The Air and Military Museum of the Ozarks started in 1989. Back then, they had a single showcase. Today, the museum boasts over 5,000 pieces of military history. As a 501 (C-3) Not-For-Profit organization, this ever-expanding museum makes hands-on, historical military equipment accessible to the public.

Tickets are $5 for adults, and $3 for children ages 6 to 11. Children 5 and under are admitted for free.

Take a simulated flight on a real Cobra AH-1S Army helicopter. Take part in a walkthrough of the museum where you’ll get to see, enjoy, and even interact with real pieces of military history.

For the family with one or more military history buffs, AMMO offers the perfect option for a day spent learning about military history and technology.

The Air and Military Museum of the Ozarks is located at 2305 East Kearney, Springfield Mo. 65803.

Fun Acre

kids and parents putt putting at fun acre in springfield

Do you wish you didn’t have to pay double digits for putt putting? Fun Acre feels the same way which is why they are almost always packed!

The obstacles haven’t changed too much since it began in probably the 70’s but for 18-holes of putt putting at $3.00 for an adult ticket, $1.75 for children ages 5-11, and kids four and under being free with an adult purchase—the price is more than right.

It’s a cash only location so grab $20 from an ATM on the way to 214 W Glenwood in Springfield, just north of Sunset off of Campbell and get some serious fun for your buck at Fun Acre.

Jordan Valley Ice Park

ice skating at jordan valley

Jordan Valley Ice Park is an ice skating rink where families are getting some exercise and enjoying each other almost every day.

I say almost energy day because there are a handful of days each year where public skating is not an option. You can check the open skate times on the Springfield Park Board’s website here.

In addition to open skate activities there are also figure skating and hockey classes and lessons your child can participate in. And if you want to inspire your child to pursue either of these sports since the Jordan Valley Ice Park is home to the MSU Ice Bears, the Jordan Valley Figure Skating club, and more there are many events and games to catch throughout the year.

Whether you want to skate around and enjoy the moment, or get hooked on figure skating or hockey, the Jordan Valley Ice Park is an affordable and fun activity for kids and families.

Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden

Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden provides the perfect way to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. Even walking up to the entrance of this beautiful garden causes pause and forces being in the present as opposed to anywhere else.

As you stroll through this 7.5 acre garden there are many sights to see including a moon bridge, beautiful koi fish in their little pond, a tea house, meditation garden and more. It’s a sure-fire way to forget your worries!

Childrens admission fees (ages 3-12 yrs) are $2 and adults are $4 to get into this haven at 2400 S Scenic Rd in Springfield MO.

Springfield’s “Premium” activities for families

1984

Do kids these days even know what an arcade is?

1984 is a unique unlimited play arcade experience that gives you and your opportunity to battle (and encourage) each other while having a good time, for hours.

As the name suggests the video games and pinball machines are all from circa 1984. 1984’s hope is to share the joy of these pieces from their collective youth by bringing them back into the light.

For $10 bucks you can play all day and take your kids down memory lane learning about the good ole days of the arcade, sharing memories, and creating new ones!

Dickerson Park Zoo

The Dickerson Park Zoo is Springfield’s very own, full-fledged, full-featured zoo.

Many different species of animals make their home at Dickerson—giving you the opportunity to see and enjoy them every time you visit.

From lions, to bears, to monkeys, to reptiles and amphibians, to giraffes, to hippos…there are so many incredible animals to meet and learn about.

If you have any animal lovers in the family (and what family doesn’t?) then Dickerson Park Zoo may give you the perfect excuse to take off for the day and enjoy the exotic, fun-filled experience of meeting and admiring the incredible creatures who live there.

Admission for adults and teens is $15. Children ages 3 to 12 can get in for $10, seniors can buy admission for $12, and children 2 and younger are admitted for free.

There are also group discounts if you want to buy admission for a larger group of Zoo-goers.

The Dickerson Park Zoo is located at 3043 North Fort Springfield, MO 65803.

Discovery Center of Springfield

The Discovery Center of Springfield Missouri is our local, non-profit science center, and offers a range of memorable experiences for parents and children alike.

Do you have some science enthusiasts in your family?

If so, the Discovery Center of Springfield offers attractions that’ll keep your kids thrilled for the afternoon, while forming memories that’ll last a lifetime.

  • Walk through a display that shows the inner workings of a giant eyeball
  • Dig for dinosaur bones
  • Take home a sample of your own DNA
  • Ride the HighWire bike
  • And much, much more

kids making things at discovery center in springfield

With 50,000 square feet of exhibit space spread out over 7 floors, you’ll find all kinds of hands-on activities related to STEM technologies (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics).

Ticket prices are also reasonable and affordable, even for a big family.

  • $8 for children ages 3 to 15
  • $12 for adults ages 16 to 59
  • $10 for seniors ages 60+
  • $7 for Military Personnel with a Military ID

The Discovery Center of Springfield is located at 438 E St. Louis St. Springfield, MO 65806.

Fantastic Caverns

Do you have any cave-lovers or adventure seekers in your family?

If so, then you really can’t beat a trip to American’s Ride-Through Cave, Fantastic Caverns.

Fantastic Caverns is literally so big that it’s toured on Jeep-drawn trams. This is done not only to give visitors a complete look at the magnitude and beauty of the natural structure, but also to preserve it’s vulnerable natural features.

Tickets are priced as follows:

  • $28 for adult general admission
  • $17 for children’s general admission (ages 6 to 12)
  • Children 5 and under can tour for free with a parent
  • Group adult rates: $18.50
  • Group child rates (12 and under): $7
  • $33 for adult season passes
  • $22 for children’s season passes

Fantastic Caverns is located at 4872 N Farm Rd 125. Springfield, MO 65803.

Itty Bitty City

Itty Bitty City was created to encourage children to explore and use their imaginations through a variety of creative play. They offer an inviting environment where they can freely engage in staged adventures, interactive story-telling through role playing games, pretend world building with blocks or dress up.

And there is always a staff member on hand with an arsenal of best practices for enriching children’s imagination.

Admission into this unique education and playground experience is $11 per child and $4 per adult for an all day pass. No reservations are needed and you can learn more here at IttyBitty.City.

Laura Ingalls Wilder Home & Museum

Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books are loved around the world. Explore life on a pioneer farm, and tour this historical landmark to see the fabled “little house” that inspired her beloved Little House on the Prairie series. This home still features items from their personal furnishings and daily life, much as it did when they lived there.

In addition to the home, at the Laura Ingalls Wilder museum you can see Pa’s fiddle, tools Mannie worked with, as well as quilts and other family belongings.

Tickets cost $15 for adults, $7 for kids aged 6 to 17, and free for children under age five. You can check availability and learn more here on lauraingallswilderhome.com.

Milsap’s Farm Pizza Night

family eating pizza at millsaps farm

Milsap’s farm pizza nights are more than just woodfired and baked to perfection – they’re pizzas made with fresh organically grown produce from Milsap’s farm, as well as entirely local cheese, meat, and sauces.

But the pizza is only half of the experience!

There’s campfires, picnic tables, and plenty of enchanted forest space under twinkling string lights to roll out a picnic blanket and relax while you and your kids get mesmerized by the local musicians that perform at each Millsap Farm pizza night.

Delicious homemade pizza in a one-of-a-kind setting goes on weekly for most of the year and they fill up fast! You can check out the upcoming availability for pizza night here.

Springfield Warrior Sports

Warrior sports is a gym, an epic kids “playground,” a competition, coaching, training and more. The Springfield Warrior Sports is a credentialed “ninja gym” that is connected to the Ninja Warrior Show (CDHG division,) plpr division, and other national networks of ninja warriors.

What Springfield Warrior Sports does is empower kids (and adults too) to get better at conquering obstacles one week at a time. “Ninja” fundamentally means patient person.

You can just drop in anytime and your kids can “play” all day for $15 ($10 bucks for your first time.)

Springfield Warrior Sports also has classes, and a team your kids can join which competes in ninja competitions during ninja season. Yes, it’s an “official” sport thing.

You can try any ninja class for your first time for $5. (this is the best and cheapest way to be “introduced” to the ninja world.)

girl climbing at springfield warrior sports

Empower your kids to be more active, challenge their current weeks ability against last weeks, to grow in patience, persistence, and more key character traits at the Springfield Warrior Sports off S. Campbell in Springfield.

Note:

There’s another rocking ninja gym in Republic which may be closer if you’re out west of SGF, Republic Warrior Sports.

Urban Air Trampoline and Adventure Park

The Urban Air Trampoline and Adventure Park offers a ton of fun things to do. First off, it’s a trampoline park—which means that there are A LOT of trampolines to jump on.

But they also offer a Warrior Obstacle Course, a cafe where you can order pizza, soda, pretzels, and more… a Sky Rider (strap in and zigzag overhead above the other attractions), a Virtual Reality gaming arcade, and an Adventure Hub (which includes a rope course and an indoor tube playground).

There’s actually so much to do at Urban Air Trampoline and Adventure Park that you may not be able to fit it all in with just one visit.

That just adds to the ‘awesome’ factor.

If you have some action junkies in the family who love jumping around, flying around, playing virtual reality, and dominating obstacle courses, then this is the number-one spot for you.

There are a range of ticket options available. Get 2 hour access to Basic attractions for $12.99 per person, 2 hour access to all Deluxe attractions for $19.99 per person, or 2 hour access to all Ultimate attractions for $26.99 per person.

There are also cheaper tickets for kids 5 and under and for parents who plan to bring their kids. You can also get spectator tickets for free!

Urban Air Trampoline and Adventure Park is located at 2825 S Glenstone Ave. Springfield, Mo. 65804.

Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium

The Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium, which sits right next to Bass Pro in Springfield Missouri, is said to be the largest immersive wildlife attraction in the world.

kids inside aquarium at wonders of wildlife

Spanning 350,000 square feet, and featuring over 1.5 miles of indoor trails, Wonders of Wildlife is most definitely a premier destination in Springfield.

To put it simply, it’s a massive aquarium.

It contains immersive habitats, designed to show off the many, many incredible marine species of animals housed there, delighting and thrilling guests who come to visit from all over the country. But it’s also designed to help educate visitors on conservation efforts throughout history.

Does your family contain any animal, ocean, or marine sea life lovers?

If so, then seeing and experiencing the aquarium’s 800+ species will be an adventure that’s sure to create a memorable experience that’ll last a lifetime.

Experience animals from all over the world in a state-of-the-art aquarium that’s truly a one-of-a-kind marvel.

Ticket prices vary by day and age. But in terms of averages, adult general admission tends to cost about $40.

There are also plenty of group and family deals designed to make the trip more affordable if you want to bring friends along.

Is the price worth it?

1000% yes!

The Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium is located at 500 W Sunshine Street, Springfield, Mo, 65807.

Have Fun Exploring

Springfield has a lot to offer families, but it can also feel intimidating when you don’t know where to start. One thing that stands out is how many free or inexpensive things there are for kids in this city! You won’t find these everywhere so check them out ASAP if your budget is tight.

If you’re looking for more information on things to do with kids, just let us know and we’ll be happy to provide some insights into what might work well for both parents and children alike.

We hope you have as much fun doing these activities with the kiddos as we did while brainstorming them!

 

417 Local Editorial Team


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