Springfield, population 150,000, is the third-largest city in Missouri. It is the sports, culture and shopping center for the western Ozarks region of the state. Missouri State University and several other universities and colleges make this city an educational center. Springfield's location along Interstate 44 makes it a popular stopping point for travelers entering and leaving Missouri.
It's a serious sports town with college teams and professional golf, tennis and baseball events. Springfield hosts the Ozarks Open, a PGA Tour-sponsored golf tournament, each August. The Springfield Cardinals, a Class Double-AA baseball team play at Hammonds Field April through August.
Springfield also offers a variety of performance arts including opera and symphony. The Juanita K. Hammons Hall for the Performing Arts on the Missouri State University campus features Broadway shows, concerts, and dance and theater productions throughout the year.
Civil War buffs visit Wilson's Creek National Battlefield. This 1,750-acre battlefield is the site of the first major Civil War battle to be fought west of the Mississippi. General Sweeny's Museum offers a collection of Civil War artifacts.
The Ozarks provide plenty of outdoor activities including golf, fishing and boating. Four sizable lakes, Pomme De Terre, Taneycomo, Stockton and Table Rock, are within a 45-minute drive. At Fantastic Caverns, visitors ride under stalactites and stalagmites on a 50-minute cave journey. Shoppers interested in the outdoors come to Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World.
Springfield is an animal lover's paradise. The Wonders of Wildlife, National Fish and Wildlife Museum and Zooquarium, next door to Bass Pro Shops, houses more than 225 animals including sharks. The Exotic Animal Paradise a drive-through menagerie features giraffes, buffalo, ostriches and many other animals.
Springfield is located 78 miles east of Joplin, 219 miles southwest of St. Louis and 45 miles north of Branson. It is accessible via Interstate Highway 44, U.S. Highways 60, 65, 160. There are many lodging options.