Summer Fun in Springfield

Thanks to a three-day Civil War battle reenactment, Springfield Cardinals AA baseball, the Show-Me Music Festival and other events and activities, summer in Springfield promises to be loads of fun.

A sure sign of summer is enjoying a Springfield Cardinals baseball game at Hammons Field. Special promotions with lots of giveaways, fireworks displays and, of course, great baseball are planned throughout the season, which runs through September. A new event, Fireworks at the Field, will occur on July 4 celebrating Independence Day at the ballpark with lots of food, music and of course, fireworks!

Cardinal games are a sure fire way to entertain the entire family. Ticket prices for the Cardinals start at $5.50 so it’s also an inexpensive way to entertain the family, especially if you attend a game on a special promotional night. This year, 10 games will feature fireworks, and giveaways throughout the season include Bobbleheads, “Sluggies” (blanket with sleeves), caps, T-shirts and many others. Learn more at www.SpringfieldCardinals.com.

For history buffs, the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Wilson’s Creek on Aug. 12-14 will include a full-scale, three-day Civil War battle reenactment, period civilian activities, crafts, demonstrations, educational activities, historical information booths, family camping areas, music and much more. About 3,000 reenactors are expected. The events will transport you to the past and you will leave with a keen understand of the reality of how people lived in the 1800s and what battle was like during the Civil War. For those who want the whole experience, an authentically equipped family camp will be available.

The reenactment will take place just south of Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield where visitors can further understand the war and its impact through educational exhibits, a 27-minute film and the Hulston Civil War Library available free in the Visitors Center. The Civil War Museum featuring thousands of artifacts, including a rare Cherokee Brave flag that was carried on the battlefield by Native Americans, also is on site and the battlefield includes a 5-mile tour road with multiple interpretive stops along the way and walking trails that lead to various sites within the battlefield.  Learn more at www.WilsonsCreek150.com.

Civil War buffs should add the 2011 Missouri Literary Festival to their itineraries. The festival set for Sept. 23-25 will offer learning opportunities with authors, poets, filmmakers and reenactors in downtown Springfield.

For the science-minded, The Discovery Center of Springfield is the place to explore. This is the Year of Health at Discovery Center with several programs and special exhibits planned. Check out Every Body Eats, an exhibit exploring the world of nutrition and teaching lessons about the science of healthy food choices. Discovery Center also has several permanent exhibits and activities that entertain as they educate. Learn about gravity on the High Wire Bike, electricity in Energy Exchange and much more.  Find out more online at www.DiscoveryCenter.org.

A trip to Springfield isn’t complete without a shopping excursion at Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World. Restock your fishing and hunting gear, replace that old tent and sleeping bag and enjoy the huge aquariums, indoor waterfall and other displays that make the store the incredible attraction it is. Undergoing a massive renovation, the store’s decor has evolved and improved with nearly every inch of the building – from the ceiling to the floor tiles – showcasing unique, outdoor imagery, taxidermy and displays.

At more than 300,000 square feet, the store in Springfield is the largest in the Bass Pro family. It’s also the first in the world and the most popular destination for visitors in Missouri.  Inside you will find a firing range, an art gallery, a restaurant, the Fine Gun Room, clothing, shoes, and so much more. You can spend an entire day in the store and still need to come back the next day to see more.  Visit them online at www.BassPro.com.

Another Springfield must-see is Fantastic Caverns, where a Jeep-drawn tram lets you explore underground wonders and learn about how cave formations develop. One of only a few caves in the world large enough to ride through, Fantastic Caverns allows those with limited mobility, families with small children and even your dog explore the cave from the comfortable vantage point of the tram while a guide gives you all the details and answers your questions during the tour.

The tram stops at multiple points throughout the 55-minute tour and the guide will give demonstrations, explain how formations developed and let you look way down into the sinkholes.  At the midpoint of the tour, the tram will stop and a film showcasing the history of the cave or the role caves play in the natural environment is shown.  Before and after your cave tour, explore the gift shop and enjoy the beauty of the Ozarks forest with a nature walk on a trail that leads to the Little Sac River. It’s not unusual to spot wild flowers and wildlife during your walk.  Explore www.FantasticCaverns.com.

Flora and fauna lovers should check out the free Butterfly House and more than 20 gardens at Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park, home of the new Springfield-Greene County Botanical Center. The Butterfly House offers up-close views of chrysalises, caterpillars and butterflies that are native to the region, the gardens let you take a leisurely walk and learn the names and types of flowers and the botanical center offers a variety of educational programs.

Dickerson Park Zoo also offers a way to see hundreds of animals from around the world as well as beautiful landscaping throughout the grounds. Elephants, tigers, gibbons, wolves, mountain lions, river otters and more await. Be sure to get eye-to-eye with giraffes at the popular feeding deck where the majestic animals step right up and stick out their lo-o-ng tongues for the tasty wafers you offer.  www.DickersonParkZoo.org

This is just a small sample of fun activities in Springfield. The city also has day spas and shopping, historical sites and tours, galleries and art displays, nightlife and dining, hiking trails and an ice park, wineries and a nature center, gardens and golf courses … the list goes on!

Learn more at www.VacationSpringfield.com or call the Convention & Visitors Bureau at 800-678-8767 to request a free Vacation Planning Kit. Also, be sure to download the free Springfield app for mobile devices available at www.VisitSpringfield.mobi or in your phone’s applications store.  The application features business listings, photos, navigation to sites around town, coupons and more.

We look forward to welcoming you to Springfield.

Written by Laura Whisler, marketing director for the Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau.