Aug 5, 2011

Field Trip Ideas for Southern and Central Missouri

My homeschool group was discussing field trip ideas for the upcoming year.  If you live in the area here's a few ideas for Southern and Central Missouri.  I am recommending these from my own experiences.  I have personally visited all of these places either during a public school field trip or homeschooling field trip. 

Creation Museum of the Ozarks - Strafford, Missouri - Free
Read my earlier post on this free and fun field trip.

Runge Nature Center - Jefferson City, MO - Free
Visit the nature center and  learn about fish, forest, and wildlife resources through many hands-on exhibits.  While there we did a fun scavenger hunt of the center.  We also used binoculars to view birds and other wildlife in the observation center.  Luke's favorite part was checking out a backpack from the front desk and hiking.  The backpack contained binoculars, a map, and many different wildlife guides.  Hours are different depending on the day, so check out the website before planning a trip.

Springfield Conservation Nature Center - Springfield, MO - Free
Hike one of the six trails, visit the nature center, or attend a program here.  In the nature center you'll find a replica of a cave and pond, many hands-on exhibits, and a puppet area for children.   Hours are different depending on the season, so check out the website before planning a trip.  If you really enjoy fish and wildlife consider also visiting Bass Pro Shop while in the area.  Children can see many fish and even watch the divers feed the fish. 

HaHa Tonka State Park - Camdenton, MO - Free
Visit the ruins of a castle while enjoying the breathtaking views of the Lake of the Ozarks.  It will take you days to explore all of the trails and sites in this park.  On your visit enjoy seeing sinkholes, natural bridges, caves, and explore the island. You can even visit by boat!   Hours are different depending on the season, so check out the website before planning a trip.

Truman Dam and Visitor's Center - Warsaw, MO - Free
Watch the eagles sore over the water at this visitor's center or wander around and learn about the history of the Osage River Valley.  My favorite part of our field trip was the part outside of the visitor's center.  We visited an old schoolhouse, White Oak Cabin, the Hooper house and Farm Complex.  I have heard that the October Heritage Days are the best days to visit to get the most out of your experience.

Missouri Institute of Natural Science - Springfield, MO - Free
We were not sure what to expect when arriving at this small museum in southern Springfield, but we were pleasantly surprised by what we found inside.  Since we were the only visitors at the time, we were given a personal tour of the artifacts and history of the the museum.  Then we enjoyed a movie in the adjoining room.  We visited on a snowy day, but were told that next time we could fossil hunt outdoors for a fee of $4 per person.  Luke can't wait to go back!  To schedule a field trip call 417-883-0594

Bennett Springs State Park - Lebanon, MO - Cost depends on activities
Do you enjoy camping, fishing, hiking, or canoe?  If so, Bennett Springs is the place for you.  This is one of America's premier trout destinations.  While there consider planning a field trip to learn more about the fish hatchery and nature center.  Hours are different depending on the season, so check out the website before planning a trip.

Ozark Caverns - Lake of the Ozarks, MO
While touring this cave you get the opportunity to carry your own lantern into the unlit cave.  You will take a guided tour and see the beautiful Angel’s Shower, which is a continuous flow of water from a “showerhead” of stalactites.  The cave also has a great nature center with programs. 

Rutledge-Wilson Farm - Springfield, MO - Farm is free - Some events and activities do have fees
We used to live within walking distance of this park.  If your kids don't know what farm life is like, visit this 207-acre farm for a small taste of farm life.  Children can visit the barn to see sheep, pigs, and cows.  We even milked a fake cow while there!  You enjoy the farm themed playground, walk the trail, or fish in the pond while there.  I suggest visiting in October during their fall events.  What their website, as they have events all year. 

Christmas on the Farm

Jordan Valley Park - Springfield, MO - Free - It may cost if you park in the parking garage
Do your kids enjoy jumping in fountains or walking through miniature waterfalls.  Visit Jordan Valley Park for tons of water fun!  The fountains operate in 30-minute shows at the top of every hour from 10:00 AM - 9:30 PM.  The fountains are continuous from 11:30 AM - 1:30 PM.  Bring sunscreen and an extra change of clothes!

Jordan Valley Park

Wilson Creek National Battlefield - Springfield, MO - $5 per adult or $10 per vehicle
Step back in time and experience the first major Civil War battle west of the Mississippi River here.  You can drive, walk, bike, or even ride a horse as you take a tour of this battlefield.  Not only will you and your children learn about history, but you can enjoy the beautiful scenery.  Visit the museum to learn more and see amazing artifacts from the Civil War.  Hours are different depending on the season, so check out the website before planning a trip. 

Wilson's Creek National Battlefield

Elephant Rocks - Belleview, MO - Free
Would your kids enjoy climbing on rocks as big as elephants?  You can enjoy hiking, camping, and climbing while visiting this park.  Park hours change with the season.  While here, consider visiting Fort Davidson Historical Site in nearby Pilot Knob.  You can tour the visitor's center for information, artifacts, and a movie or walk through the fields and read about the Civil War battle that took place here. 

Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Home and Museum - Mansfield, MO - Children 6-17 - $4, Adults - $8, Seniors - $6
Have you read the Little House books?  What better way to learn about the author than to visit her home and museum.  I visited the Wilder home as a girl, and now it is on our list of places to go as a family.  You can also visit the Kid's Page for coloring pages, word searches, and quizzes. 

George Washington Carver National Monument - Diamond, MO - Free
Come learn about this famous scientists.  Students can enjoy the nature walk, museum, hands-on exhibits, and classroom.  The park is open 9:00 AM - 5:00 AM.  Guided tours are available 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM.  Click here to learn more about planning a field trip.

Orion Science Center - Camdenton, MO - $6 per person
Luke loves this place so much, we had to buy a season pass.  The Orion Science Center is Christian owned and operated.  Our favorite part is the outdoor activites.  You can make and launch your own paper rocket, launch water balloons, launch tennis balls, zip line, take a nature walk, or play in Noah's ark.  Check the website for hours, as they change with the seasons. 

Air and Military Museum of the Ozarks - Springfield, MO
Are your kids interested in the military?  This museum showcases over 5,000 pieces of military history.  They preserve and display pieces of military history for educational purposes.  I visited with a group of middle schoolers years ago, and we had a blast.  We were given a guided tour and were allowed to sit in an old helicoptor.

Do you have any field trip ideas to share from your area? 

This post is linked Chestnut Grove Academy's Field Trip Friday Blog Hop.


  1. Thanks for linking up! What a great list of ideas! :D I'm sure any Missouri readers we have will greatly appreciate it!

  2. Thanks for sharing these :) We've only lived in this area for 8 yrs, and yet hadnt heard or been to many of these! We're looking forward to checking these places out.

  3. I must tell all of you that I fell in love with Missouri. Britain offers a variety of Family Visas recognizing the importance of a family life. I like the people, I like the countryside, I like the weather, I like the fact that I live in a county that lets you alone and I can do almost anything I want on my land.