Springfield, Missouri, Trip Guide | Midwest Living
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Springfield, Missouri, Trip Guide

The third-largest city in Missouri, Springfield is proud to be known as the Birthplace of Route 66. But there are plenty more things to do here, including Fantastic Caverns, Pythian Castle and Wilson's Creek National Battlefield.
Fantastic Caverns; photo courtesy of Fantastic Caverns
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Pythian Castle
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Bloody Hill at Wilson's Creek National Battlefield; NPS Photo
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Rail Haven in the good old days
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What to do

The Air and Military Museum of the Ozarks Military buffs will enjoy the 5,000-plus pieces of military history, including restored vehicles and equipment. Knowledgeable volunteers are on hand to answer questions. (417) 864-7997; ammomuseum.com

Askinosie Chocolate You can watch cocoa beans be transformed into small batches of flavorful candy bars during Tuesday tours. But no matter when you come, your taste buds are sure to be engaged; the Times of London claims this place makes some of the world’s best candy bars. (417) 862-9900; askinosie.com

Fantastic Caverns Enjoy hour-long rides on Jeep-pulled trams that pass through brightly lit caverns, past curtains of stone and near ponds inhabited by Ozarks-only creatures, like blind grotto salamanders. (417) 833-2010; fantasticcaverns.com

Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden Paths lead visitors through 7.5 acres of tranquility. Created in partnership with Springfield’s sister city Isesaki, Japan, the grounds are dotted by streams, ponds and waterfalls. (417) 864-1049; botanicalsociety.net

Springfield Art Museum Small but packed with almost 9,000 pieces of art, the museum focuses on 19th-, 20th- and 21st-century American paintings. Each summer, winners of the museum’s Watercolor USA contest are displayed. (417) 837-5700; springfieldmo.gov/art

Pythian Castle People swear they’ve seen ghosts on tours of this 1912 castle that has housed orphans, POWs and TB patients. (417) 865-1464; pythiancastle.com

Route 66 Billed as the birthplace of Route 66, Springfield has vestiges of the Mother Road in downtown along Kearney Street, Glenstone Avenue, and College and St. Louis streets. (417) 881-5300; springfieldmo.org

Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield Site of the first major Civil War battle west of the Mississippi River, the 1,750-acre battlefield remains one of the most pristine. Get an overview during a 29-minute film at the visitors center, then take a driving tour and/or walks retracing the battle. On some weekends, costumed interpreters work at Ray House, a field hospital. About 15 miles outside town. nps.gov/wicr

Where to eat

Aviary Cafe and Creperie Shabby-chic decor sets a laid-back vibe in a lobby of a 1900s hotel, where you dine on tastes of France at affordable prices. (417) 866-6378; aviarycafe.com

CreAsian This casual eatery serves savory Chinese food at reasonable prices. (417) 865-8899; gocreasian.com

Crosstown Barbecue Having churned out barbecue for four decades, it’s practically guaranteed that you’ll love whatever you order in this no-frills spot. (417) 862-4646

Gailey’s Breakfast Cafe Just like in the good ol’ days, you can still get a simple, hearty breakfast (nowadays for under $8)—even at lunch. (417) 866-5500

Springfield Brewing Co Pizzas pair perfectly with the on-tap Mueller beers made in the fermenters standing behind floor-to-ceiling windows. (417) 832-8277; springfieldbrewingco.com

Where to stay

Best Western Route 66 Rail Haven The antique cars in the parking lot reflect the time when this hotel was a favorite stop on Route 66. The simple rooms are more modern now, but still comfy. (800) 304-0021; bwrailhaven.com

Greenstay Hotel and Suites Sleep with a clear conscience knowing that this hotel works to reduce its environmental footprint at every turn. (877) 284-1251; greenstayusa.com

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