The southwest Missouri region is full of unique attractions that draw tourists and locals alike. Whether you want to stay in town or take a short drive in any direction, there’s a fun activity for every interest year-round. Check out the highlights below or visit The Springfield Missouri Convention and Visitors Bureau at springfieldmo.org.
In the heart of Springfield, Bass Pro Shops, the self-proclaimed “granddaddy of outdoor stores,” is a shopping and entertainment paradise for outdoor lovers with in-store fish tanks, a dive show, wildlife taxidermy, waterfalls, and two museums. Across town, the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame houses more than 4,000 pieces of sports memorabilia from Missouri players in nearly every facet of the sporting world. For history buffs, Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield provides an illuminating look at the first major Civil War battle fought west of the Mississippi River. And near the northern edge of our city limit, Fantastic Caverns, the only drive-through cave in North America, provides an up-close glimpse into the earth’s history with its unique limestone formations. If you’re looking for a good place to take the kiddos, our Dickerson Park Zoo and hands-on science center, the Discovery Center of Springfield, offer more great ways to spend the day.
Often called the Live Music Capital of the World, Branson attracts more than eight million visitors a year to its myriad of shows ranging from country and gospel music to magic acts and acrobats. While you’re there, don’t miss Silver Dollar City. Recently voted one of the world’s Top 10 Amusement Parks, it’s a must-do family adventure with dozens of rides, including the new Outlaw Run roller coaster, which received the award for Best New Ride of 2013.
Also in Branson are several great museums. The Titanic museum displays more than 400 personal and private artifacts that survived the sinking of the luxury liner. Many of them are on display for the first time in the world, and the total collection is valued at more than $4.5 million. The Veterans Memorial Museum features the world’s largest war memorial bronze sculpture. More than 70 feet long and weighing 15 tons, it is the hallmark of the museum and features 50 life-size statues storming a beach. The figures were modeled after a combat soldier from each of the 50 states.
At the end of your busy Branson day, consider a relaxing stay at America’s Premier Wilderness Resort, Big Cedar Lodge. Just ten miles south of Branson, guests are treated to scenic vistas, refreshing mountain air, and true Ozark hospitality. The resort also owns the award-winning Murder Rock Golf Club and the Branson Creek Golf Course, the number-one public golf course in Missouri as ranked by Golf magazine.
For more Branson activities and lodging information, visit explorebranson.com.
Silver Dollar City Theme Park
As one of the top-rated theme parks in America, Silver Dollar City is guaranteed to delight kids and kids at heart. Nestled in the lush wilderness and rolling hills just west of Branson, this family-friendly, 1880s-themed amusement park brings Ozarks heritage to life while fulfilling a thrill-seeker’s need for speed.
With more than 30 exciting signature rides, there’s never a dull moment. Try the daring, new Time Traveler, the world’s tallest, steepest, and fastest spinning roller coaster. Also, check out Outlaw Run® wooden coaster – rated number seven on the list of the World’s Top Wooden Roller Coasters and named Best New Ride of 2013 worldwide by Amusement Today. This builds on top of the rush from Wildfire®, the coaster that travels at speeds up to 66 miles per hour down a vertical drop of 15 stories and through five inversions, as well as the heart-racing blast from Powder Keg®, which launches from 0 to 53 mph in just 2.8 seconds, followed by a 110-foot drop!
Water lovers (or at least those who don’t mind getting a little. . .oh, heck, A LOT wet) can enjoy a refreshing thrill ride on the whitewater rapids of the Lost River or the deceptively gentle American Plunge float trip with a 5-story splash down.
When you’re ready to relax a minute or simply dry off, head for the cool comfort of one of the park’s many craft shops. Watch in fascination as more than 100 artisan glassblowers, blacksmiths, candy makers, and wood carvers ply their trades while producing an amazing array of merchandise.
No trip to Silver Dollar City is complete, however, without a pilgrimage to the park’s historic Marvel Cave. This natural wonder nearly 500 feet below the surface is the reason the park exists today. As one of the Ozarks’ oldest tourist attractions and the site of a former bat guano mine, early entrepreneurs literally began building a theme park around the entrance to the cave.
The options for fun go on and on. From April to December, there’s no shortage of reasons to return. Enjoy the cultural performances of World Fest or the crafts of the National Harvest & Cowboy Festival. And at Christmas time, DO NOT MISS the winter wonderland of the Old Time Christmas Festival featuring a spectacular 5-story tree and more than 5 million lights!
Around the Ozarks
A brief day trip or even an hour’s drive will pay off with a variety of interesting attractions when you live in Springfield. Take a tour at one of our many southwest Missouri wineries. Sample the goods at the first legal moonshine distillery since Prohibition. Tour a Civil War battlefield. Check out nearby casinos in Oklahoma. Or shop and dine in quaint Victorian Eureka Springs just a couple of hours away in northern Arkansas.