Springfield MO Family Attractions
Whether you live here, you’re here for a long weekend, or you’re visiting for the day, these 6 places are must-stops in Springfield, Missouri, for anyone with kiddos! Living near Springfield my entire life and having 3 children (ages 8, 6 and 4) I know these places well. Our 6 featured locations will be huge hits with your kids…and the adults will love them all too!
Wonders Of Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium
500 W Sunshine St, Springfield, MO 65807
When I tell people how amazing Wonders of Wildlife is, I just can’t seem to do it justice. We are Conservation Champion Members and can get two others in with our family each time we visit – we love bringing friends and family! Our guests always assumes it’s going to be great but are blown away after experiencing its 350,000 square feet and 1.5 miles of trails. With over 800 species of live fish, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and birds in the aquarium, and the beautifully painted natural habitats in the museum (including a live penguin habitat – they’re so stinking cute), everyone is sure to love it! The level of detail used on every exhibit, wall, ceiling and structure is beyond impressive. After visiting, you’ll understand why it was voted 2018’s America’s Best Aquarium and Best New Attraction.
To fully experience both the aquarium and the museum, you’ll want to devote 4+ hours. It’s a lot of walking, stopping, reading and just experiencing. Strollers are easily maneuverable (if you go on the weekend, it might be a little crowded for a big stroller, but you’ll make it!). If you’re pressed for time (or you have smaller children that just can’t hang for that long), pick the aquarium over the museum. The aquarium has far more movement and interaction to keep those smaller kiddos entertained.
Our kiddos love the penguins in the museum and the sting rays in the aquarium. You can feed and pet the sting rays and this is always a highlight for everyone! One of the favorites for all children is the interactive screen at the very end of the aquarium (is it just my kids or is it always the random little things that they love and remember the most?). Each child can color a fish and then that colored fish will appear on a giant wall where they can take their picture with it, poke at it, make it move, and follow it all over the wall (for what feels like HOURS).
Admission is pretty high, but it’s definitely worth it! For both the museum and aquarium, admission for kids 4-11 is $24 and anyone 12+ is $40.
To avoid the crowds, go during the week or in the evenings on the weekend!
Itty Bitty City
3640 S Campbell Ave, Springfield, MO 65807
Ever wish your kids would play for hours and it not result in you cleaning up 97 messes over the next 3 days? Do your kids constantly ask you to paint, but you just can’t possibly clean up another paint spill on the floor? Or do your kids play in the sink for 2 minutes and end up flooding your bathroom EVERY SINGLE TIME? Itty Bitty City is your answer! This child wonderland will provide for hours of interactive play for your kids. The name says it all…it’s basically an itty bitty city, complete with a market, restaurant, fire house, police station, filling station, post office, animal hospital and school house. These little “stores” are fully stocked with everything your child could possibly want to pretend with – from sushi to hand cuffs, and stethoscopes to pork chops – this place has thought of it all.
In addition to the city stores, they also have a huge area to build with giant blocks, an art room with feature projects and a large wall to paint, the longest train set I’ve ever seen, a giant stage with loads of dress up costumes for those tiny performers, and a huge water feature table (don’t worry, they have smocks and a hand dryer nearby – but bringing an extra shirt is always a good idea if you’re not heading straight home afterward). If you have kiddos under 2, they have a special spot just for them to play, complete with a cute little ball pit! My 8 year old still loves this place, but I’m guessing kids over 10 might get a little bored after awhile.
Admission covers the entire day, so go in the morning for a couple of hours, head to lunch (maybe even a nap…fingers crossed) and head back in the late afternoon to wear the kiddos out just a little bit more! Admission for children 1-12 is $11, infants and anyone over 12 are $4.
To avoid the crowds, go during the week, or in the evenings on the weekend.
If you’re looking for a great gift, the folks at Itty Bitty City designed the cutest magnetic block sets – I think I’ve already purchased 4!
Rutledge-Wilson Farm Park
3825 W Farm Rd 146, Springfield, MO 65807
This FREE farm park is such an amazing resource for Springfield. At 207 acres, this farm is an educational and recreational spot for the whole family! The big, adorable, walk-thru, red barn houses farm animals like miniature horses, pigs, goats, and rabbits. The park provides plenty of educational stops and hands-on activities, like fishing in the stocked pond. If you’re here during the fall, check out the Harvest Fest, which will put a smile (and a painting) on your kids face.
The Harvest Fest is a huge event and includes pumpkin patch, corn maze, haunted trail (skip that for the little ones), bounce houses, pony rides…so many great things (some events require a fee). During the holidays, the farm is turned into ” Candy Cane Lane” for an adorable lights display. Be sure to check their website for special events! But if you’re here in an off season, the park is still a great stop for a picnic! The play area has an adorable two-story barn and silo play structure.
3833 E State Hwy D, Springfield, MO 65809
What family doesn’t love a round of miniature golf? I’ve putted my heart out at this adorable, educational mini golf course more times than I can count. As a family that LOVES travel, Getaway Golf is the perfect spot to spend a couple of hours of family time. With two separate 18-hole courses (the United States and International) you’ll find each hole is themed. The United States course has well-known landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge, the Gateway Arch, Glacier National Park, Statue of Liberty, Hollywood sign, Grand Canyon, Mount Rushmore, Old Faithful; and each one has a plaque with education facts about that location.
The International course is my personal favorite with themes surrounding the Colosseum Eiffel Tower, Taj Mahal, Christ the Redeemer, Stonehenge, Machu Picchu, Leaning Tower of Pisa and Great Barrier Reef (spoiler alert, sending your ball into the river and through the shark’s mouth will get you much closer to the hole)!
Admission for one course is $10.50 for anyone over 12 and $8.50 for anyone 12 and under. If you’ve got lots of time and want to putt your way through both courses it will cost $18.50 for anyone over 12 and $14.50 for anyone 12 and under.
To avoid the crowds, go on Wednesday evenings because kids’ prices are 50% off! The weekends are going to be busier, but with two courses, they move pretty quickly.
The Discovery Center
438 E St Louis St, Springfield, MO 65806
The Discovery Center is a 4-story science center with tons of hands-on, interactive experiences. With 10 major exhibits, there is definitely something that interests your kids. The 1st floor includes a dinosaur dig site, a separate area for kids under 5 to explore, and an “energy exchange” gallery where your kids can build a canal in a giant water table, run like a hamster in a wheel to create energy or learn how pulleys help with weight. The 2nd floor hosts the “phenomena” exhibit…the biggest hit on this floor is the Van De Graaff generator. My
kids (okay me too) love to make our hair stand straight up and take silly pictures. The 3rd floor is probably my kids’ favorite, and it’s the floor we spend hours on! This floor has lots of exhibits relating to the body, like an interactive eyeball and a giant mouth. The “discovery town” exhibit includes an operating room, a grocery store, a house, a bee hive, a newsroom anchor desk and all kinds of fun interactive spots for the kids to pretend for hours! The 4th floor is all about the earth and space…oh and a little high-wire bike. My kids haven’t built up quite enough courage to be strapped into a harness and ride a bike on a wire 20 feet in the air, but it definitely looks thrilling (there’s a net if they fall)!
Admission for kids 3-15 is $8, adults is $12, seniors is $10 and anyone 2 and under is free!
To avoid the crowds, go on the weekdays or early in the day on the weekends. The center gets pretty busy on weekend afternoons, but if this is the only time you can go, I recommend going backwards and starting at the top floor and working your way down.
If you’re local and a member of the Springfield-Greene County Library, you can check your local branch for a free admission to “check out” for 5 days. This great resource will grant you, another adult and 3 kids free admission into the center as often as you’d like for 5 days. I recommend calling ahead to your local branch because each branch only has a few admissions to check out at a time, and they’re a hot commodity!
Rivercut Golf Course
I know what you’re thinking, two golf courses…come on!?!? While the first one is mini golf, this is an actual golf course. Our kids are still too young to (happily) endure a full 18 holes, but Rivercut has a FREE 4-hole, par 3 course off to the east of the clubhouse. This course is perfect for kids to learn how to golf (and great for adults wanting to perfect those short hits). Just to the left of the first tee the kids will quickly find the playground structure – a golf bag with a slide.
Be sure to head inside the “golf bag” if you’re needing kid clubs – they have a variety of clubs along the walls for use on the course. I’ve never seen golf balls in there before, so unless you’re wanting to spend some time trying to find previously lost and forgotten balls on the course, bring a few balls with you!
Out of all the many times we’ve spent hours on this 4-hole course, we’ve had the course all to ourselves the vast majority of the time and we’ve never had to wait to play a hole. The gorgeous river right before getting to the course is a great spot to snap some family pictures too!