Springfield Botanical Gardens

Driving through Springfield, Missouri? The Springfield Botanical Gardens at Nathanael Green/Close Memorial Park are free to the public, and extremely kid-friendly. Families can get a full afternoon of entertainment from this 114 acre park, or just stop in at a smaller section that appeal to them for a quicker stop. I definitely recommend picking up a lunch along Springfield’s Commercial Street (try Sister in Thyme deli) and eating it garden-side.

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The park is centered around a new and modern visitors center, but unless you need bathrooms or would like to take the free tram tour around the park, there’s no need to stop here first. In this vicinity, you’ll see the Master Gardener Demonstration Gardens and the Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden, both of which are worth a peaceful walk-through. When touring the Japanese garden, explain to kids that the zig-zag bridge and moon bridge are curved and cornered to encourage a slower pace; challenge them to step slowly across, or to sit and study the uniform pebbles in the meditation garden…they will enjoy this more than you think!

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Near the Japanese garden is the Gray-Campbell Farmstead, which shows kids a taste of pioneering history in Southern Missouri. The home was actually moved to this site from just a few miles away. Next to it is the Liberty Schoolhouse, which depicts a one-room schoolhouse.

schoolhouse

Dozens of additional specialty gardens dot the acreage, including an English garden, winter garden, and lush shade gardens. Families can certainly get exercise walking the paths, especially around the lake, and throughout the park, kids will find specialty ‘play pods’ that educate as well as entertain with climbing structures, one of the best aspect of the park for children. There’s also a main playground by the visitor center.

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Toward the center of the park, a seasonal butterfly house is enclosed in screen mesh. It is open during the natural lifecycle of native butterflies, as opposed to being a tropical butterfly house, so families can expect to see it open from mid-May through the end of summer.

Distance from the interstate:

Just minutes from I-44 and historic Route 66

Hours of operation:

Sunrise to sunset. Bathrooms and other facilities open 8 am to 5 pm in winter, 8 am to 8 pm in summer. 11 am to 5 pm or 6 pm on Sundays.

Directions:

The park and botanical gardens are located at 2400 South Scenic, Springfield, Missouri

About the author

Amy Whitley AUTHOR: Amy Whitley is the founding editor of Pit Stops for Kids and content editor of Trekaroo. She writes on staff monthly as a family travel expert at Go Green Travel Green and Practical Travel Gear, and contributes to Outdoors NW as an outdoor adventure traveler. Find Amy at Google.

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