One of my top priorities as a Springfield mom is making memories with my three kids. Some of the greatest memories my husband and I have made since welcoming our first-born seven years ago have cost little to no money at all. To help out my fellow parents, I put together a list of places sure to get those little faces grinning. Here are some Springfield businesses that are kid approved and mother reviewed!

The Rutledge-Wilson Farm Community Park is one of the most unique parks in Springfield and a wonder to kids who can explore a real-life working farm. The 207-acre park includes an animal barn, visitor's center, milking barn and even a farm-themed playground. What’s really special about this park are the events that take place throughout the year that provide free or inexpensive ways to enjoy time outside with my family of five. We love to spend several weekends in the fall at Harvest Fest and we always take advantage of Kids Fishing Fun Day in the spring. Seeing three generations (my kids, husband and father-in-law) enjoy moments together on Kids Fishing Fun Day is something I’ll always remember. This year, our 3-year-old twins even got in on the action and each caught their first fish!

 

Three generations of the Whisler family catching fish at Rutledge-Wilson Farm Park in Springfield, Missouri.

Speaking of fish — Springfield is home to the largest Bass Pro Shops® in the world — a great place to take the entire family. We've been shopping at Bass Pro Shops® Outdoor World® long before my kids arrived. The wide aisles are perfect for strollers (remember, mine’s a double!) to give those mommy muscles a rest and even better for shopping. Most importantly, with the aquariums, fish feedings, museums and more, my kids take home more than just a new fishing pole! There’s even a coffee shop, snack shop and a nice restaurant called Hemingway’s Bluewater Cafe in case we lose track of time and need to refuel before continuing our shopping spree.

While Bass Pro Shops provides for up-close animal encounters, there’s also Springfield’s Dickerson Park Zoo! What kid doesn't love the zoo? I really enjoy taking my kids to Dickerson Park Zoo because I know that they will see wildlife and learn at the same time. It’s an intimate zoo filled with up-close animal encounters. Our two personal favorites are the otters and giraffes. The otters are so cute and playful and the kids love interacting with them from the large viewing windows above and below their habitat. The giraffes provide for a really unique experience because you can see them at eye-level and even feed them! The zoo also has a nice cafe with a fairly expansive lunch menu and lots of snack and drink options for hungry kiddos.

 

The otters at Dickerson Park Zoo in Springfield, Missouri are always entertaining.

Feeding the kids and keeping them entertained for hours is incredibly easy thanks to America’s Incredible Pizza Company. This great place for kids — and grown ups who are kids at heart — includes an all-you-can-eat buffet featuring pizza, tacos, pasta, salad, dessert and soft drinks. Themed dining rooms let you choose the one that’s right for your family: a movie theatre where classics are shown, a school lunchroom, a 1950s diner and a traditional diner.

Another favorite spot where all the kids have a blast is at the Discovery Center of Springfield. My kids are like sponges, so I want to make sure that they soak up the good stuff. The Discovery Center is absolutely wonderful because my kids learn the entire time, but it's disguised as just fun. Some of our favorites are laying on the new Bed of Nails, the Van de Graff Generator — a giant electric ball that makes your hair stand on end and Discovery Town, which is designed to look like a city street and includes a mini market and mock TV studio. My girls could play “grocery store” in the market for hours! When the kids get a little taller, I know they’ll love riding the High Wire Bike. It’s a kinetic bike that is suspended 20 feet above the air. Although my kids can’t do it quite yet, mom and dad sure enjoy it! The Discovery Center is in downtown Springfield so we like to finish a morning there by walking east on St. Louis Street and ending up at one of the restaurants on or near Park Central Square.

 

Learning about electricity is one of many activities at the Discovery Center in Springfield, Missouri.

On the south part of town is another fantastic indoor entertainment venue that my family could spend hours upon hours at — Andy B’s Family Entertainment Center! They have 21 lanes of traditional bowling, 10 VIB (Very Important Bowler) bowling lanes, an underground laser tag arena designed to look, feel and sound like an abandoned mine and a large arcade game room with every game your kids could want. On top of that, they feature a full service restaurant! My kids love the pizza and playing Skee-ball — one of my favorites as a child. When we play that, my competitive streak may come out just a little.

 

The Whislers enjoy a game of bowling at Andy B's Family Entertainment Center.

Andy B’s and the Discovery Center are both great places to go on a cold or rainy day, but when the weather is nice, we’re always heading outdoors and one of our favorite things to do as a family is enjoy Springfield’s impressive parks and gardens. One of our favorites is Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park. Within this 100+ acre park on the west side of town, you can see award-winning hosta gardens, a Japanese stroll garden, a botanical center, several playgrounds and picnic areas, a butterfly house, an 1860s farmstead and much more.

Whether it's an adventure in one of the city's many parks, or an afternoon at a kid-friendly attraction, Springfield proves to be a great place to be a kid!