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4 Experiences That Began in Springfield, Missouri

Updated: Apr 4, 2023

Perhaps the only reason you know anything about Springfield, Missouri, is because it's one of the many Springfields that might have been the inspiration for The Simpsons. (Is that STILL up for debate???) But believe it or not, despite being a smaller — but growing — city, it does have a few very distinct things to do that you won't be able to find anywhere else ... or at least anywhere far from Missouri.

If you live in or grew up in Springfield (like I did), then I bet you can guess most of these experiences before even reading this article. For those just visiting the city for a short time or passing through, here are four essential activities.

1. Bass Pro Shops

My dad seems to have one main travel goal: to visit every Bass Pro store. He’s made some headway in that mission over the years, but it seems every time we stop at a new one, the shop doesn’t exactly exceed his expectations. That’s when I remind him that he’s never going to travel to "the greatest" Bass Pro. Why? Because Springfield, Missouri, already holds the best … and the original.

Granted, the outdoor sporting goods company did open its giant pyramid building in Memphis in 2015, but the Springfield location still offers much more. For example, in addition to the huge size of the store itself, you can enjoy the Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium. This is definitely a must when you visit, and it's perfect for families with children. Read more about it in this blog post.

Plus, not far from Springfield are Bass Pro’s resort Big Cedar Lodge and dining entertainment options at Top of the Rock. (I can tell you that both of these experiences are pricey but impeccable — great for a couple looking to get away.)

2. Cashew Chicken

Some of you have never even heard of this before. Well, I’m here to introduce you to an American Chinese dish that originated in Springfield. And, to be honest, you can’t find it in very many other locations. (I always crave cashew chicken but would have to go to Missouri to get it.)

Cashew chicken was created by David Leong in 1963. (Go to Leong’s Asian Diner if you want the original.) Basically, it’s fried chicken covered in a brown gravy-type sauce, green onions and roasted cashews with fried rice. It’s rich, nutty and delicious, so try it when you visit! Trust me.

3. Andy’s Frozen Custard

You can find Andy’s Frozen Custard all throughout the midwest and south now, but it began in Missouri. While its first location was in Osage Beach, it moved to Springfield, which is now its headquarters and where it turned into a chain. I grew up going to Andy’s Frozen Custard with friends whenever we wanted a late-night (or really any time of day) treat. Even in college, we would meet up outside of the shop — whether it was hot or cold outside — to get some frozen custard and hang out.

You can get concretes, sundaes, splits, malts, shakes and more. Customers can choose a specific type of dessert or create their own combination and add in whatever toppings they want. The list is long. If you've never been to Andy's, get yourself some of its frozen custard when you're in Springfield, or anywhere in Missouri for that matter.

4. Route 66

We all are aware that Route 66 goes through several states, but did you know that Springfield was the birthplace of it? That’s right! The Mother Road started in Missouri, and there’s even a festival in the city every year in celebration.

So, be sure to stop by a few of the city's Route 66 attractions. Start at the visitor center where you’ll find maps and information then move on to experiences like the Route 66 Car Museum, History Museum on the Square, Route 66 Steak ‘N Shake, Red’s Giant Hamburg and more.


Did you think of other unique places/things to do in Springfield, Missouri, when reading this? If so, send me a message! I'd love to add to this post or explore more where I grew up.


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