HOLIDAY SUBSCRIPTION SALE! 1 YEAR FOR $12 🎅

Life

Plan a Staycation and Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown

10 ways to be a tourist in Springfield, Branson or Joplin, Missouri. We've found the best places to stay, the best restaurants to try and plenty of things to do to keep you and your family or friends busy and having fun.

By Lillian Stone

Mar 2020

Couple lounging in bed at Hotel Vandivort in Springfield, MO
Photo by Brandon AlmsBe a tourist right here at home in Springfield, Missouri with a night at Hotel Vandivort Purchase Photo


There’s something about the idea of wading through legions of spring breakers that sends a shiver down the spine. The price tag for a weeklong beach vacation is equally chilling—which is why we’re skipping the crowded beaches and overpriced daiquiris. This is the year of the staycation, which means acknowledging something we’ve known all along: southwest Missouri is a great vacation spot. We’ve rounded up our favorite things to do and places to stay in Springfield, like outdoorsy adventures and luxe hotel rooms, to help you feel like a tourist in your own town.

Free brewery tours at Mothers Brewing Company in Springfield MO
Photo by Anne MauldinGet a behind-the-scenes look at how Mother's Brewery makes their beer. Free tours are offered every Saturday afternoon on a first come, first serve basis with sampling at the end for individuals age 21 and older.

DOWNTOWN SPRINGFIELD

Spend a long weekend getting a whole new perspective on downtown Springfield, Missouri and all that it has to offer.

Stay at Hotel Vandivort

If you’ve never snapped a #HotelVandivortBathroomSelfie, now is the time. Hotel Vandivort is known for upscale accommodations and gorgeous views at Vantage, the hotel’s adjacent rooftop bar. End the night at The Order with dinner and drinks.

Watch a Movie at Historic Fox Theatre or Moxie Cinema

Film fanatics, don’t miss the Rated SGF Film Festival that takes place every March at the Historic Fox Theatre. You'll be treated to films hand-picked to challenge assumptions and spark conversations. Hop over to Springfield's independent theater, The Moxie, any time of year for a curated selection of independent and critically-acclaimed films that might not otherwise be shown locally.

Take a Self-Guided Brewery Tour

What better way to enjoy an afternoon than with a self-guided Tour de Brewskis? Luckily, downtown has a handful of breweries you can venture all in an afternoon. Start on foot at Mother’s Brewing Co. and Lost Signal Brewing Co., then stroll to Springfield Brewing Co. and Hold Fast Brewing. 

Stroll Through Springfield Art Museum

The Springfield Art Museum is less than 2 miles south of downtown and hosts a permanent collection with more than 10,000 works of art. The museum also debuts two seasonal exhibitions this month: the annual All School Exhibition, which celebrates K-12 student artists in the community, and “Framed,” an exhibition showcasing the surprising impact of picture frames dating back as far as the first century B.C.

Eat at Flame Steakhouse

Indulge in the finer things at Flame Steakhouse, where you can sample scrumptious small plates—the lobster macaroni and cheese is a must—alongside a dry-aged steak. Don’t forget to peruse the carefully curated wine list.

Horseback riding at Dogwood Canyon in Branson MO
Photo courtesy Dogwood CanyonDiscover your adventurous side when you go horseback riding through Dogwood Canyon.

OUTDOOR ADVENTURE

Get out of town—but just far enough to experience some of the Ozarks’ most spectacular outdoor attractions.

Stay at Big Cedar Lodge

At Big Cedar Lodge, guests have immediate access to breathtaking outdoor attractions including scenic trails and full-service marinas. Big Cedar offers a variety of accommodations, but we recommend booking a stay in a luxurious log cabin for the total experience.

Have an Adventure at Dogwood Canyon

Once you’re settled in at Big Cedar, head to nearby Dogwood Canyon Nature Park to explore more than 10,000 acres of dazzling Ozark Mountain views. Take a hike, hop on a bike or reserve a guided horseback tour of the complex, which is punctuated by sparkling waterfalls and ancient burial caves.

Enjoy the View at Top of the Rock

Experience Table Rock Lake’s gorgeous topography in style with a spin through Top of the Rock Lost Canyon and Nature Trail. Start at the Top of the Rock welcome center, snag an electric cart (no reservations required), and savor the view as you cruise to other Top of the Rock attractions.

Learn Local History at Top of the Rock’s Ancient Ozarks Natural History Museum

Transport yourself to a bygone era at Top of the Rock’s Ancient Ozarks Natural History Museum. There, you’ll find prehistoric wildlife and Native American artifacts.

Eat at Osage Restaurant

Round out your Top of the Rock excursion with dinner at Osage Restaurant, an upscale but rustic restaurant furnished with Native American artifacts. There, you’ll enjoy regional cuisine and a killer Ozark Mountain view.


Pedalers Bicycle Museum on historic Commercial Street in Springfield MO

Pedalers Bicycle Museum

Pedalers Bicycle Museum on historic Commercial Street in Springfield MO

Pedalers Bicycle Museum

Photos courtesy Collette Studios Learn something new at one of the funky museums on C-street, like the Pedalers Bicycle Museum and the History of Hearing Museum.

HISTORIC COMMERCIAL STREET

Captivating confections and international intrigue pepper Springfield’s historic Commercial Street.

Stay at Culture Boutique Hotel

At Culture Boutique Hotel, you’ll find six countries in one ZIP code. The tiny hotel’s six rooms are all inspired by Eurasian cities including Jaipur, Casablanca and Istanbul, and each room has an exotic, airy vibe. Downstairs, you can linger over a latte and a lemon poppyseed muffin at Eurasia Coffee & Tea.

Catch Live Music at Lindberg's Tavern

Get into the groove at Lindberg’s, Springfield’s oldest tavern. Lindberg’s has high-end bar food—the house smash burgers are outrageous—and live music every Wednesday through Saturday.

Nibble Sweet Treats at Askinosie Chocolate and Cafe Dhibs

Take a free tour of Askinosie Chocolate, Springfield’s bean-to-bar chocolate maker with 100 percent of cocoa beans sourced directly from farmers around the globe. Snag a chocolate bar, then head to Cafe Dhibs, a micro-cafe owned by Date Lady. There, you can savor gluten-free baked goods and carefully crafted espresso drinks.

Shop Small at Sangha Studio and Springfield Mercantile

Two of Springfield’s most unique shopping destinations call C-Street home: Sangha Studio, a yoga studio and gift shop offering candles, prints, cozy socks and other gifts, and Springfield Mercantile, with a curated selection of sustainable home goods.

Eat at Cafe Cusco

Get a taste of Peru at C-Street’s Cafe Cusco, serving up a plethora of flavors, many of which are vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free like ceviche tacos or Puca Picante—inspired by an ancient Incan recipe.

Young family eating breakfast at Gailey's in downtown Springfield MO
Photo by Brandon Alms

Bring along the whole fam to enjoy Gaileys vintage charm and yummy breakfast classics.

Purchase Photo
Young boy at Wonders of Wildlife in Springfield MO
Photo courtesy Springfield-Greene County CVB

Walk with the fishes another other wildlife at Wonders of Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium.

KID-FRIENDLY SPRINGFIELD

Southwest Missouri has everything you need to give your kiddos an unforgettable weekend or spring break.

Stay at Oasis Hotel & Convention Center

Tucked away on Springfield’s north side, Oasis Hotel & Convention Center is home to several two-story Paradise Suites guaranteed to make your kids’ jaws drop. Each suite is equipped with a fireplace, a smart TV and a two-person chromotherapy soaking tub in case you want to send the kids down to your “pool” for a spell.

Take a Trip to Dickerson Park Zoo

The Dickerson Park Zoo has discounts for kids, including free entry for little ones 2 years old and younger and $10 entry for kids ages 3 to 12. Don’t forget to visit the newest members of the zoo family, including a baby giraffe and a black and white Colobus Monkey, both of which were born summer 2019. Get ready for cuteness!

Enjoy Wonders of Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium

Take advantage of the local discount at Wonders of Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium. Residents of Springfield and the neighboring counties can score single-day adult admission for $25 on weekdays and $27.95 on weekends, and kids’ tickets are always $19.95.

Walk Through Gardens at the Springfield Botanical Gardens

Get some fresh air at the Springfield Botanical Gardens at Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park. You can wander through the themed gardens for hours; then, walk the playground-peppered trail around the lake before you make your way to Nathanael Greene’s other attractions including the historic Gray-Campbell Farmstead.

Eat at Gailey's Breakfast Cafe

Stop by Gailey’s Breakfast Cafe to start your day with food from a Springfield classic. Don’t forget to order a side of sweet browns instead of hash browns—they are amazing, and kids with a sweet tooth are sure to love them.

Group playing card games at Downstream Casino in Oklahoma
Photo courtesy Downstream Casino ResortPress your luck and live your best life at Downstream Casino.

DOWNSTREAM CASINO RESORT

Hit a hot streak at Downstream Casino Resort just outside of Joplin, Missouri.

Stay and Play at Downstream Casino Resort

Operated by the Quapaw Nation of Oklahoma, Downstream Casino Resort is located just over an hour west of Springfield. This state-of-the-art casino offers an array of classic table games and slots alongside regular live music and several in-house dining facilities.

Play Golf at Downstream's Eagle Creek Golf Club

Need a break from the craps table? No problem! You can head outside and win big on the golf course at Downstream’s Eagle Creek Golf Club. Guests can tee up at the 18-hole championship course, known for its manicured Bermuda fairways and peaceful greens. 

Play Outside at Grand Falls

Give your bank account a break from the casino and head to Grand Falls, Missouri’s largest continuously flowing natural waterfall. The falls are just a few minutes downstream from Wildcat Park, where you can see chert beds 6+ feet thick.

Eat at Wilder's Steakhouse

Founded in the 1920s, Wilder’s Steakhouse is Joplin’s oldest, and arguably best known, restaurant. Order a perfectly executed steak and a grilled Caesar salad, then sit back and take in the eatery’s storied history and sophisticated Art Deco atmosphere.

Chateau on the Lake in Branson MO
Photo courtesy Branson CVBExperience a little bit of lake luxury at Chateau on the Lake in Branson, Missouri.

TABLE ROCK LAKE

Whether it's prime lake season or not, you can enjoy all of the spoils Table Rock Lake has to offer when you stay at Chateau on the Lake.

Stay at Chateau on the Lake

Book a luxury suite at Chateau on the Lake, Branson’s iconic lakeside resort with a full-service marina, luxury spa and award-winning restaurant. Plus, the property is pet-friendly, meaning furry family members can enjoy a vacation, too.

Get Out on the Water at the Chateau on the Lake Marina

The Chateau on the Lake Marina has boat rentals and professional fishing guides year-round. You can even take lakeside scuba lessons with the experts from DiVentures and discover a new world below.

Book at Spa Appointment at Spa Chateau

Book a treatment at the Chateau’s luxe spa, with a waterfall-accented outdoor Roman bath, eucalyptus steam room, sauna and full list of spa services including massages and facials.

Dinner and a Show on the Showboat Branson Belle

Spend two hours on a leisurely lake cruise via the Showboat Branson Belle, Table Rock Lake’s dinner cruise destination. The Belle was designed to evoke the spirit of the majestic showboats of the 1800s, which means it offers you and your special someone a glamorous night out unlike any other.

Eat at Chateau Grille

You don’t have to go far for five-star dining. At the Chateau Grille, you’ll take in sweeping lake views, award-winning cuisine, an extensive wine list and a can’t-miss champagne brunch on Sundays.

Family fishing on the White River at Gaston's White River Resort
Photo courtesy Gaston's White River ResortReel in a big one while fishin’ with the fam on the White River at Gaston’s.

FISHING AT GASTON'S WHITE RIVER RESORT

Start a new family tradition: a scrapbook-worthy, uniquely Ozarkian fishing trip.

Stay in a Cozy Cabin at Gaston's White River Resort

Gaston’s White River Resort has tons of options for large families or groups, with more than 70 cottages offering as many as 10 private bedrooms. The 400-acre resort is located in Lakeview, Arkansas, a little more than two hours south of Springfield.

Fish for Trout

March weather can be finicky, but the White River’s temperature is steady year-round—which means the trout are always active. Those new to fly fishing can attend fly fishing school at Gaston’s; otherwise, you can rent any fishing equipment you might need from the resort.

Get Outside and Explore

If fishing isn’t your bag, don’t sweat it. Gaston’s also features a private club, gift shop, tennis court, playground, game room, duck pond and swimming pool, as well as three scenic nature trails perfect for hiking.

Sample the Catch of the Day at Gaston's

Dine at the restaurant at Gaston’s, where you can savor American classics like prime rib alongside fresh-caught fish and other seafood.

Wave Swinger ride at Silver Dollar City in Branson MO
Photo courtesy Silver Dollar CityStep right up to the Grand Exposition area with kid-friendly rides such as the Wave Swinger.

KID-FRIENDLY BRANSON

Entertain the entire family with crowd-pleasing, kid-friendly fun in Branson, Missouri.

Stay and Eat at The Keeter Center

Staffed by College of the Ozarks students, The Keeter Center has fantastic amenities—from a nightly turndown service with homemade cookies, fresh-ground coffee and Pacific Sea bath salts, to unlimited complimentary ice cream for kids 11 and under from Nettie Marie’s Homemade Ice Cream Shop in the lobby. Be sure to get dinner while here. The homemade apple butter is spot on.

See Big Cats at National Tiger Sanctuary

Visit the National Tiger Sanctuary in nearby Saddlebrooke, a nonprofit rescue organization that provides a safe home for exotic animals. Go behind the scenes with a walking or riding tour, or help feed the animals on a splurge-worthy You Feed tour.

Make Memories at Silver Dollar City

Take the family to Silver Dollar City. Admission is free for kids younger than 4, and kids ages 4 to 11 get a discount at $62 per ticket. If you have little ones in tow, make sure to stop by the Grand Exposition area with kid-friendly rides.

Ride Go-Karts at The Track

If your kids still have the wiggles after a trip to SDC, take them to The Track Family Fun Parks. There, they can choose from go-karts, blaster boats, mini golf, thrill rides and arcade games at Fat Daddy’s Arcade.

Eat at Billy Bob's Dairyland

Treat the family to some rib-sticking diner cuisine at Billy Bob’s Dairyland (417-337-9291), a 1950s-inspired diner with milkshakes that’ll have you casually looking up Branson real estate for next summer.

Popcycle at Dreamsicle's in Branson MO
Photo courtesy Dreamsicle'sFeel like a kid with a Dreamsicle's ice pop in hand.

ADULT-FRIENDLY BRANSON

Leave the kids at home to experience Branson, Missouri like you’ve never seen it before.

Stay at the Hilton Promenade at Branson Landing

Stay smack dab in the middle of the action at the Hilton Promenade at Branson Landing. This sleek hotel is located immediately next to the Branson Landing with more than 60 stores so you can shop, dine and explore till you drop.

Catch a Branson Show

If you visit Branson and don’t see a live show, did you really visit Branson? Long-running shows like the Amazing Acrobats of Shanghai and Legends in Concert are always a safe bet, but you can visit explorebranson.com/shows to peruse all of the options.

Eat at Level 2 Steakhouse

Located inside the Hilton Branson Convention Center, Level 2 Steakhouse offers upscale cuisine showcasing 28 day–aged Midwest beef, Heritage Missouri pork, locally grown produce and more. Don’t skip dessert—Level 2’s Missouri butter cake is out of this world.

Explore Old-School Branson

A few steps away from the Landing, you’ll find relics from Branson’s storied Ozark Mountain past. Browse trinkets at Dick’s 5 and 10, then head over to Dreamsicle’s to grab a signature ice pop.

Cannon blast reenactment at Wilson's Creek National Battlefield in southwest Missouri
Photo courtesy Springfield-Greene County CVBStep back in time with the cannon blast and reenactments at Wilson’s Creek.

EXPLORE OLD-SCHOOL SPRINGFIELD

Five ways to step back in time and learn about southwest Missouri history.

Stay at Rockwood Motor Court

The recently reopened Rockwood Motor Court celebrated its 90th birthday in 2019. The old-school Ozark sandstone cottages are each equipped with vintage furniture and memorabilia.

Learn Your History at the History Museum on the Square in Downtown Springfield

Historic Route 66 is alive and well at the History Museum on the Square, which was recently named the country’s Best New Attraction by USA Today. The regional history museum features six galleries showcasing Springfield history, including the Ozarks’ Native American roots, Springfield’s founding and the community’s role as the birthplace of Route 66.

Look for Historic Landmarks Downtown

Downtown Springfield is full of landmarks—you just have to know where to look. See if you can find the location of the nation’s first one-on-one quick draw duel. The duel took place on Park Central Square between two outlaws in 1865. Can’t find the marker? Experts at the history museum can show the way.

Explore Wilson's Creek National Battlefield

Head south to Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield, where hiking trails and regular re-enactments tell the story of the first major American Civil War engagement west of the Mississippi River.

Eat at Red's Giant Hamburg

Red’s Giant Hamburg was a national landmark when it opened during Route 66’s heyday. Last year, it reopened and still serves the same juicy burgers and 1950s nostalgia true locals know and love.

OUR FAVORITE SPRINGFIELD & BRANSON MO AIRBNBS

Sumptuous hotel rooms are always a treat, but if you’re really watching your wallet, Airbnb is the way to go. If you’re waffling at the idea of staying in someone’s home, trust us: Gone are the days of renting out dingy second bedrooms. As the homesharing service becomes more and more popular, locals are converting entire homes into deluxe accommodations for families of all sizes. Whether you’re staying with a family of five or looking for a couples-only retreat in the heart of the city, use these recommendations to pinpoint the best Airbnb experience for your southwest Missouri staycation.

Commercial Street Airbnb Springfield MO

HISTORIC C-STREET AIRBNB
This fully remodeled sleek loft is the epitome of urban comfort, located steps away from Commercial Street attractions like White River Brewing Co., Lindberg’s Tavern and Askinosie Chocolate. Enjoy the finer things with this Airbnb, equipped with a down comforter, fully equipped kitchen and plenty of fresh coffee from Eurasia Coffee & Tea. Keep in mind that this space isn’t built for families—sleeping accommodations are limited to a queen bed and a couch.

Urban Roots Farm Airbnb Springfield MO

URBAN ROOTS FARM AIRBNB
Head to Urban Roots Farm in downtown Springfield for an urban getaway unlike any other. This quaint, relaxed Airbnb is equipped with two bikes so you and your sweetie can explore downtown at a leisurely pace. You can also enjoy the fire pit and farmstand equipped with freshly picked produce. Want to get your hands dirty? Help out in the garden.

Galloway Airbnb Springfield MO

GALLOWAY AIRBNB
Just steps away from the Galloway Greenway trail, this cozy apartment is a breath of fresh air. Stroll to Galloway destinations like Great Escape Beerworks and The Rock Restaurant and Bar, or head down the road to Springtown Coffee or Sequiota Park.

Phelps Grove Airbnb Springfield MO

PHELPS GROVE PARK AIRBNB
Located steps away from the Springfield Art Museum, this renovated cottage boasts plenty of room for the whole family, including two living areas and a covered front porch. It’s bright, airy and artsy to help you—and your creative little ones—unwind.

Branson Missouri Airbnb

ENERGY-EFFICIENT BRANSON AIRBNB 
This brand new, energy-efficient fortress of an Airbnb sleeps 20. With eight bedrooms—each with a full bathroom—a large patio equipped with a hot tub and a full kitchen, this Branson hideaway is the perfect option for a family trip. Plus, it’s located near Branson’s popular Amish Country Store.