Things to Do

Must-do Activities for Spring in the Ozarks

From bird watching to floating the Buffalo River, we've written up your spring itinerary for Springfield and southwest Missouri.

By Katie Pollock Estes, additional reporting by Jamie Thomas

Mar 2024

It’s easy today when spring is blooming in southwest Missouri. Flowers are blooming, birds are singing, allergies are raging and no one quite knows what to wear from one day to the next as temperatures can still be more than a bit unpredictable. One thing we can predict is the variety of things to do in and around Springfield in spring. As the days grow longer, you’ve got plenty of opportunities to embrace the blooming flowers and (mostly) milder temperatures by venturing outdoors for picnics in the park, leisurely strolls through botanical gardens or hikes along scenic trails. Plus there are Easter activities, festivals, parades and outdoor adventures aplenty. We’ve rounded up a few favorite spring activities around southwest Missouri below. Check out our calendar for new springtime events and to add your own, or sign up for Datebook for weekly updates.

Morel mushroom hunting in Springfield, Missouri
Photo courtesy ShutterstockSpring is the perfect time to hunt for morel mushrooms.

Hunt for Morel Mushrooms

Lovers of morel mushrooms know that those funny looking little fungi taste incredible—especially if you went to the trouble to hunt them down yourself. They tend to be a bit elusive, and their abundance depends on the weather and can change from year to year. But springtime, specifically March and April, are the prime time to give morel hunting a try. According to the Missouri Department of Conservation, morel mushrooms love the moist woods and river banks that are common in our area—and they’re extra happy growing under ash and apple trees, and dying elm trees.

For a guided experience hunting (and cooking) Morel mushrooms, make sure you book tickets for our Trail to Table: Morel Hunt & Fireside Feast.

Buffalo National River in Arkansas, Missouri
Photo by Jeff RoseSpring is the perfect time to float the Buffalo National River in Arkansas, Missouri Purchase Photo

Float the Buffalo National River

The best time of year to float the Buffalo National River is in the spring, when rainfall has been plentiful enough to keep the water at just the right level for a stellar float. We like to go in May when the weather has warmed up, but April might be even better—there are no river crowds in April, so you’ll have the place to yourself. Just make sure you go before June, when you’ll run the risk of a river that’s too dry to fully enjoy. Get your canoe at Buffalo River Outfitters and get ready to gawk at soaring bluffs and crystal clear water. If you'd rather take a dip, then take a look at our guide to swimming holes around southwest Missouri, including the Buffalo River and many others.

Welcome the Songbirds Back Home

If you let your bird feeding habits slack a bit over the winter months, then it’s time to stock up on seed, fill up those feeders, and welcome your feathered friends back from their winter migration. If you’re new to bird feeding and want to attract the little songsters to your yard, visit Wild Birds Unlimited, where feeders range from the simple to the super-fancy and feed is specially formulated to attract just the birds you want.

The frisco Highline Trail in Springfield MO
Photo Courtesy ShutterstockBiking on the Frisco is a leisure bike ride with a gorgeous view.

Ride Past Wildflowers on the Frisco

The Frisco Highline Trail is one of the most scenic spots to tackle a pretty darn easy bike ride. It has numerous trailheads so you can break up its massive 35-mile length, it’s mostly flat and it’s often shaded—surrounded by quiet trees, babbling rivers crossable by old rail bridges and an abundance of wildflowers if you visit at just the right time. On past bike rides, we’ve been enchanted by whiffs of honeysuckle, colorful black-eyed Susans, prickly thistle and even an unexpected patch of fragrant hops! You never know what flora you’ll see on the trail, so get out there and look for some springtime beauty.

If you’re feeling a bit more daring, try Two Rivers Bike Park or Dirt 66 in the Springfield area, or Howler Bike Park near Branson. All three offer excellent mountain biking trails.

Take a Hike

Speaking of trails, there are plenty of trails in Springfield and all around southwest Missouri that are ideal for hikers of all ability levels. If you're looking for an easy, local stroll, then the Ozark Greenways are the perfect choice for an easygoing, picturesque trek without venturing too far from home. For more of a challenge, you could go further afield to the Big Piney trail for some more robust nature therapy. For details, tips and how to prep for hitting the trails, check out our full guide to hiking trails in the Ozarks.

Visit a Wet-Weather Waterfall

Much like the Buffalo River, several of our local waterfalls are at their prettiest when there’s been a bit of springtime rain. In fact, some of them run completely dry during the hotter summer months. See them while you can. There are several to choose from in southwest Missouri and northwest Arkansas, but Hemmed-In Hollow is one of the most impressive. It’s more than 200 feet tall, tumbling down over a sheer rocky bluff. There are plenty of beautiful waterfalls around southwest Missouri—so many, in fact, that we wrote a whole guide to them.

Soak Up the Sun on a Local Patio

It might not be summer quite yet, but spring time is a great time to sit out on a patio with a local sip. Check out our guide to the best patios in southwest Missouri.


Wander Through the Stroll Garden

The Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden at the Springfield Botanical Gardens will open its doors for the season around April. It’s one of our favorite places to breathe in the spring air, admire all the greening plants and listen to the rippling sounds of the brooks and waterfalls.

Take a Brisk Roller Coaster Ride

Silver Dollar City (and all of Branson, really) comes back to life in the spring, so you can begin flying through the hills on roaring coasters, spinning thrill rides and a soaring barn swing. And here’s a secret: We especially love the park this time of year. There’s no blistering summer heat or packed winter crowds.

Hunt for Spring Blooms

Spring is when southwest Missouri begins to burst with bright color as flowers and trees explode with blooms. To follow the blooming action, we recommend taking regular strolls through the paths at the Springfield Botanical Gardens at Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park (2400 S. Scenic Ave., Springfield). It’s many themed gardens are maintained by volunteers who are avid gardeners, and they are great places to see a variety of spring color and then summertime blooms. The rose garden and the lily garden explode with fragrant blooms. There are also gardens for irises, peonies and more—each blooming in its own time throughout the season.

What to Plant Right Now

Speaking of plantlife, if you struggle to know what to plant and when, we've got a guide for you. Find out what to plant in the spring (and the rest of the year) now.