History, art, gardens and tigers near Springfield, MO
In Springfield, Missouri, like everywhere else, not everything is open in the city. However, outside is wide open and waiting for travelers to safely visit.
The convention and visitors bureau has offered some great adventures and things to do in Springfield’s outdoors:
• Get a little history at Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield. The battle of Wilson’s Creek was fought Aug. 10, 1861. It was the first major engagement of the Civil War west of the Mississippi River. nps.gov/wicr
• Keeping with the Civil War theme, take a guided half-mile walk into Smallin Civil War Cave, discovered in 1818. Cave visitors will walk in through the 10-story arch that leads to the cave once inhabited by Native Americans. The guided tour is accessible to wheelchairs, strollers and mobility scooters. Cavers will see rare crayfish, blind salamanders, bats, fossils and more. smallincave.com
• Visitors to Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park will find more than 20 themed gardens and the Roston Native Butterfly House. A highlight is the Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden, 7.5 acres of traditional Japanese garden that includes winding paths, a ceremonial teahouse, moon bridge and three lakes. parkboard.org/274/Springfield-Botanical-Gardens
• Enjoy Sculpture Walk Springfield, an outdoor art museum downtown. Visitors can also view more than 40 works from local artists by hunting the city’s murals. sculpturewalkspringfield.org
• In nearby Lampe, visitors will find Dogwood Canyon Nature Park, about a one-hour drive from Springfield. The park offers 10,000 acres of adventure and is operated by conservationist and Bass Pro Shops founder and CEO Johnny Morris. It is best to make reservations for adventures — including horseback riding, Segway tours, wildlife tram tours and fishing tours — as they sell out. dogwoodcanyon.org
• Lake Springfield is a 158-acre park with rolling trails, woods and bluffs for walking and hiking and more than a mile of shoreline. Canoes, kayaks and paddleboards are available to rent at the lake boathouse from April 15 to Oct. 15. Paddlers can travel along the James River Water Trail, about 4.5 miles one way. The Springfield Conservation Nature Center, Galloway Creek and Creighton Access are along the way. The lake is a great place to fish for large-mouth bass, bluegill, carp and more, The Missouri Department of Conservation also provides fishing access outside the park on the south side of Lake Springfield. There are picnic pavilions available and playgrounds in the park. Three trails are in the area including Lake Springfield Trail, a 1.4-mile wood chip path passing through the prairie and woods. A paved 1.7-mile trail, James River Greenway Trail, offers several fishing areas along the way. The Greater Ozarks Audubon Trail, a rugged wood chip loop that runs along the bluffs, overlooks Lake Springfield and offers great views from Eagle Point. parkboard.org/lakespringfield
• At the National Tiger Sanctuary, a walking tour offers a look at tigers and lions and stories about their personalities and biology. A feeding tour is offered where visitors can see leopards and mountain lions, too. Also available are a “you feed” tour, a Behind the Scenes tour and a riding tour on a tram. nationaltigersanctuary.org
For COVID-19 information, places to stay and more visit springfieldmo.org.