Though the landlocked state of Missouri has no natural lakes with the exception of several oxbow lake formations, summer visitors can still enjoy a plethora of opportunities for waterfront activities at the state's numerous manmade lakes and reservoirs, many of which were created in the mid-20th century as the result of flood control or hydroelectric dam construction.

Public swimming beaches and fishing areas are offered at many of the state's public parks, including gorgeous Creve Coeur Lake, the site of many international rowing and sailing events, or top Branson-area attraction Table Rock Lake.

Unique natural swimming holes are found at sites such as Stegall Natural Mountain Area, home to the spectacular 40-foot Rocky Falls, or the ruins of the former Welch Spring Hospital Ruins, visible from the Current River.

Several parks also offer opportunities for fishing, swimming, and boating along the majestic Mississippi River, including Trail of Tears State Park.

1. Creve Coeur Lake Memorial Park

Creve Coeur Lake Memorial Park
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Creve Coeur Lake Memorial Park, also known as Creve Couer County Park, is a spacious St. Louis County park spanning more than 2,000 acres near the city of Maryland Heights, the largest park of its kind within the county parks system.

The park, which was originally developed as a private resort, was dedicated as a public county park in 1945 and offers a wide variety of public recreation facilities, including tennis courts, an archery course, and day-use picnic sites.

The 320-acre Creve Couer Lake, one of Missouri's largest natural lakes, is a top spot for summer water sports, known for hosting top rowing and sailing events such as the rowing competition for the 1904 Summer Olympic Games.

Visitors can also enjoy water activities on the smaller 66-acre manmade Mallard Lake, which was constructed as part of the development of the Creve Coeur Lake Memorial Park Bridge in 2003. 18 holes of championship golf are offered at the Crystal Springs Quarry Golf Course, opened to the public in 2001.

13725 Marine Ave, St. Louis, MO 63146, Phone: 314-615-4386

2. Missouri Beaches: Echo Bluff State Park

Missouri Beaches: Echo Bluff State Park
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Echo Bluff State Park is a 476-acre public recreational area in Newtown Township, Missouri, located on the site of the former 1929 Camp Zoe children's summer camp.

The park is one of Missouri's newest public parks, opened to the public in July of 2016, named in honor of a large cliff overlooking its Sinking Creek body of water.

During the summer months, park visitors can wade and play in Sinking Creek and the Current River, with kayak and canoe rentals available for water exploration.

A children's nature playground is also offered, along with an historic riding stable facility, a 50-seat amphitheater, and several mountain biking trails.

Overnight accommodations include tent and RV sites at the Timbuktu Campground, fully-furnished cabin rentals, and 20 guest rooms and suites at the full-service Betty Tea Lodge.

Casual American fare is served up at breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the park's Creekside Grill. Missouri State Parks

34489 Echo Bluff Drive, Eminence, MO 65466, Phone: 844-322-3246

3. Finger Lakes

Finger Lakes
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Finger Lakes is a 1,128-acre public recreation area in Boone County, Missouri, located near the town of Columbia. The state park is located on land formerly operated as Peabody Coal's Mark Twain Mine, which was donated to the state of Missouri in 1974 for the purposes of reclamation as a park facility.

Today, it is known as one of the state's best sites for all-terrain vehicle and off-road motorcycle driving, with more than 70 miles of driving trails traversing its rolling hill terrain.

Over a dozen small lakes throughout the property give the park its name, many of which have been combined into a 4.5-mile water trail that attracts canoers and kayakers.

Day-use picnic sites and campground areas populate the park's wooded areas, with modern showers and restrooms available for visitor use.

1505 Peabody Rd, Columbia, MO 65202, Phone: 573-443-5315

4. Missouri Beaches: Long Branch State Park

Missouri Beaches: Long Branch State Park
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Long Branch State Park is one of Missouri's best sites for boating, offering three boat ramps along the gorgeous Long Branch Reservoir. The park, which spans more than 1,800 acres throughout Macon County near the city of Macon, preserves some of the last remaining prairie and savannah habitats within the Chariton River Hills area, offering hiking trails and bird watching opportunities throughout the Chariton River Hills Natural Area. Visitors can swim, water ski, fish, and sail at the reservoir, which was created in 1980 with the implementation of nearby Long Branch Dam and offers more than 24 miles of spacious shoreline. A family-friendly swimming beach is maintained during the summer months, and a marina and marina store provide assistance for boaters. Overnight camping is permitted at a modern campground, and exhibits on the dam are offered at a public visitor center on the park's southern end.

3326, 28615 Visitor Center Rd, Macon, MO 63552, Phone: 660-773-5229

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5. MO Beaches: Mark Twain State Park

MO Beaches: Mark Twain State Park
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Mark Twain State Park is a lovely public recreation area spanning nearly 3,000 acres throughout Monroe County, located adjacent to the Mark Twain Birthplace State Historic Site in Florida.

The state park, which is tucked within north-central Missouri's Salt River Hills region, provides access to the beautiful and sprawling Mark Twain Lake, which is home to several boat ramp access points and a public swimming beach at its northern end.

Visitors should note that fishing is prohibited at the lake and that no lifeguards are staffed on duty at the swimming beach throughout the summer.

More than six miles of hiking trails provide access to historic sites such as the Mark Twain State Park Picnic Shelter at Buzzard's Roost, a Civilian Conservation Corps-constructed shelter that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

37352 Shrine Rd, Florida, MO 65283, Phone: 573-565-3440

6. Missouri Beaches: St. Joe State Park

Missouri Beaches: St. Joe State Park
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St. Joe State Park is one of two popular off-road vehicle parks within the Missouri state parks system, along with Boone County's Finger Lakes.

The park, which is located within the state's Lead Belt mining region, was operated as grounds for the St. Joe Minerals Corporation until 1972 and still preserves several structures related to the company, which are operated as mining and geology museums today.

A 2,000-acre off-road vehicle riding area offers trails on the former mine's tailing dumps, with areas available for snowmobiling during the winter months. Four lakes offer two swimming beaches and provide excellent chances for anglers to catch catfish, crappie, and bass.

Hiking and bicycling trails are also available throughout the park's wooded portions, with electric and basic campground sites offered for overnight stay. More day trips in Missouri

2800 Pimville Rd, Park Hills, MO 63601, Phone: 573-431-1069

More ideas: Best Lakes in Missouri

7. Stegall Mountain Natural Area

Stegall Mountain Natural Area
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Stegall Mountain Natural Area is a delightful National Parks Service-operated facility located near the city of Eminence, home to one of Missouri's best summer swimming holes.

The natural area is anchored around the Ozarks' Stegall Mountain and the Current River Hills region, which is home to the impressive 40-foot cascading Rocky Falls, located along Rocky Creek.

Summer explorers can beat the heat in the waterfall's natural swimming hole and, in some water conditions, use the falls' bottom section as a natural waterslide.

Expansive views are offered atop Stegall Mountain, which is also home to Rogers Creek, a popular fishing spot for more than 25 species of native fish.

Pike Township, MO 63941

8. Beach Near Me: Stockton State Park

Beach Near Me: Stockton State Park
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Stockton State Park is a 2,176-acre public recreation area located along the banks of beautiful Stockton Lake, created in 1969 by damming of the Sac River by the United States Army Corps of Engineers.

The 24,900-acre lake is a popular seasonal spot for swimming, scuba diving, fishing, and sailing in southern Missouri throughout the summer months, with a nationally-recognized marina and other public amenities offered on the peninsula between the Big and Little Sac Rivers.

A gravel beach is located along the lake's northern shores, near day-use picnic sites and outdoor grills.

The park's marina offers boat rentals, camping supplies, and fishing tackle for anglers looking to catch catfish, bluegill, bass, walleye, and crappie. Lodging options include basic and electric campsites, camper cabins, and rental one- and two-bedroom duplexes.

19100 MO-215, Dadeville, MO 65635, Phone: 417-276-4259

9. Missouri Beaches: Table Rock Lake

Missouri Beaches: Table Rock Lake
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Table Rock Lake is one of Branson's top outdoor tourist destinations, spanning approximately 50,000 acres of surface water area and offering more than 750 miles of shoreline for visitors to explore.

The manmade reservoir, which was formed by the creation of Table Rock Dam in 1959, is one of the nation's best fishing spots, home to large populations of Kentucky spotted and white bass, crappie, catfish, and bluegill.

Swimming, sunbathing, and diving are offered at Moonshine Beach, while water sport equipment is available for rental at the park's Indian Point Marina.

Tent and RV hookups are offered at the Table Rock Lake Campground, while luxury accommodations are available at the Chateau on the Lake Resort, which is home to a spa, convention center, and a myriad of upscale and casual dining options.

Visitors to the lake can also tour the nearby Talking Rocks Cavern or hitch a ride aboard the Spirit of America touring boat or one of the city's duck boat excursions.

More ideas: Family-Friendly Things to Do in Missouri

10. Beaches Near Me: Trail of Tears State Park, Missouri

Beaches Near Me: Trail of Tears State Park, Missouri
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Trail of Tears State Park is a 3,415-acre public recreation area in Cape Girardeau County, located along the banks of the Mississippi River.

The park is intended to serve as a memorial for the more than 16,000 Cherokee indigenous people who were forcibly removed from their homes along the Cherokee Trail of Tears during the winter of 1839-1839, with a focus on the more than 4,000 Cherokee who lost their lives during the removal process.

A public interpretive center details the history of the Trail of Tears through a variety of interactive exhibits, while an archaeological site related to the Cherokee is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Park visitors can fish at the 20-acre Lake Boutin, swim or canoe along the Mississippi River waterfront, or explore the park's four visitor trails, which wind through the Indian Creek and Vancil Hollow Natural Areas.

Basic and electric hookup campsites are offered at the park, along with amenities such as restrooms, showers, and a dumping station.

429 Moccasin Springs Rd, Jackson, MO 63755, Phone: 573-290-5268

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11. Missouri Beaches: Wakonda State Park

Missouri Beaches: Wakonda State Park
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Wakonda State Park is a lovely public recreation area that spans more than 1,000 acres in Lewis County near the town of La Grange, preserving one of the Mississippi River region's few remaining sand prairie habitats. The park, which was established in 1960, is named after an Osage indigenous word meaning "spiritual or consecrated ground," home to six beautiful quarry lakes that are open to the public for swimming, boating, and fishing experiences throughout the warmer months. Thousands of migratory birds traverse the region throughout the year, making the park a prime spot for birdwatching. A 20,000-square-foot swimming beach is maintained throughout the summer months, serving as the Missouri state park system's largest natural sand beach. Two campgrounds throughout the park offer over 100 campsites, with trails available for hikers and bikers to explore the beautiful natural terrain.

32836 State Park Road, La Grange, MO 63448, Phone: 573-655-2280

More ideas: Hotels & Resorts in Missouri

12. Missouri Beaches Near Me: Washington State Park

Missouri Beaches Near Me: Washington State Park
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Washington State Park is known for its incredible collection of indigenous American petroglyphs and rock carvings, which were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1970.

The 2,147-acre park, which was built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps, protects unique carvings that date back as far as 1600 C.E., giving significant archaeological clues to the culture and practices of indigenous tribes in the Missouri region.

Archaeologists also believe that the park's site once served as a significant ceremonial grounds for the Middle Mississippi people.

Swimming and fishing opportunities are offered along the banks of the Big River, with spectacular opportunities for hiking throughout the Ozarks offered along three hiking trails. Many of the park's historic New Deal-era structures still stand today, including the stones of the 1,000 Steps Trail.

13041 Missouri 104, De Soto, MO 63020, Phone: 636-586-5768

13. Closest beach to me: Watkins Woolen Mill State Historic Site

Closest beach to me: Watkins Woolen Mill State Historic Site
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Watkins Woolen Mill State Historic Site preserves a mid-19th century-era woolen mill in Lawson, which was listed on the National Register of HIstoric Places and was designated as a National Historic Landmark in the 1960s.

The site, which is overseen by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, is the centerpiece of Watkins Mill State Park, showcasing a variety of historic buildings related to the 1839 Bethany Plantation, founded by Waltus L. Watkins.

Park visitors can enjoy fishing and swimming at the park's 100-acre lake and swimming beach or traverse its 3.8-mile hiking trail, which follows the lake's circular shoreline.

A 3.5-mile equestrian trail is also offered, along with opportunities for overnight camping at 96 electric hookup campsites. More Missouri Weekend Getaways

26600 Park Road North, Lawson, MO 64062, Phone: 816-580-3387

14. MO Beaches: Welch Spring Hospital Ruins

MO Beaches: Welch Spring Hospital Ruins
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Welch Spring Hospital Ruins are one of Missouri's most unique tourist attractions, preserving the abandoned facilities of the Welch Spring Hospital, originally purchased and founded in 1913 by Illinois doctor C.H. Diehl. The health spa site was touted throughout the early 20th century for the supposed healing properties of its natural waters, marketed as a cure for conditions such as tuberculosis, emphysema, and asthma. Due to poor access conditions in the region, the site never took off as a healing tourist attraction, and following the doctor's death in 1940, the site was abandoned to nature. Today, visitors to the Current River region can swim and canoe in the waters surrounding the former spa and view the hospital's gorgeous ruins, which make for stunning photo opportunities.

Jadwin, Missouri, 65501

15. The Fugitive Beach, Missouri

The Fugitive Beach, Missouri
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Fugitive Beach is the ideal place to head to on a hot Missouri day. You will find the beach along Highway 72, about 8 miles south of Rolla. Great for a family day out, the beach offers more than an acre of water, a soft sandy beach where you can relax and lots of fun for children of all ages. There is a shallow 4-foot swimming area close to the beach and further out the water becomes deeper and access is only allowed with a life-jacket. There are life-guards on duty, a fun water slide, a cliff-jumping platform and a bar and grill. There are several shaded cabanas which can be booked in advance.

16875 County Rd 5285, Hwy 72, Rolla, MO 65401, 573 465 4754

More ideas: Best Missouri State Parks

16. Shady Beach Campground, Missouri

Shady Beach Campground, Missouri
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Located along the banks of the Elk River, just north of Noel, the Shady Beach Campground boasts a quarter mile of sandy beach for summer fun. You can visit the beach to enjoy swimming and paddling on the river on a day-visit basis or move into the campground or one of the chalets for a longer visit. The campground can accommodate both tents and RV’s, including 23 sites with water and electric hook-up. If camping is not for you, there are a variety of rentals available including rustic camping cabins or comfortable deluxe cabins. You can book an up-river float tour and spend the entire day drifting down the Elk River to Shady Beach.

Shady Beach Campground, 14332 State Highway 59, Noel, MO 64854, 800 745 6481

17. Beaches Near Me: Lake of the Ozarks State Park

Beaches Near Me: Lake of the Ozarks State Park
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The Lake of the Ozarks State Park is home to 2 beautiful beaches along the shoreline of the water corridor which dissects the park, providing 85 miles of shoreline to explore. You can spend a wonderful day on either of the 2 public beaches which are open to the public at no cost. You are welcome to launch your boat (small fee applies) or rent a boat on site. Besides swimming and paddling off the beach, you can enjoy excellent walking and hiking trails in the park and perhaps visit the famous Ozark Caverns which offer a wonderful cool respite on a hot day.

Lake of the Ozarks State Park, 403 Missouri 134, Kaiser, Mo 65047, 573 348 2694

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Attraction Spotlight in Missouri: Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum

Located in Hannibal, Missouri, the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum preserves nine historic buildings connected to noted American author Samuel Langhorne Clemens, best known by his pseudonym Mark Twain. Born on November 20, 1835, Samuel Langhorne Clemens grew up in Hannibal, Missouri along the west bank of the Mississippi River. As a young man, Clemens held apprenticeships with printers and typesetters and contributed articles to his brother’s newspaper before embarking on careers in mining and riverboat piloting.


While working as a journalist for the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise in 1865, he published a short story titled “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County,” which received international translation and widespread acclaim for its unique humorous style. Writing under the pen name of Mark Twain, Clemens published a number of noted novels and short stories throughout his career, including the 1876 The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and its 1885 sequel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, inspired by his young life in Missouri. Today, Huckleberry Finn is widely considered to be the “Great American Novel,” and Twain is renowned as one of the greatest humorist writers of the 19th century. Since 1912, Twain’s childhood home in Hannibal has been operated as a living history museum, along with a number of other museum and historic buildings preserved as part of the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum complex. In 1962, the Mark Twain Boyhood Home site was designated as a National Historic Landmark.

Permanent Exhibits and Attractions

Today, the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum is operated year-round as a living history museum complex, owned by the Mark Twain Home Foundation, which seeks to promote appreciation and understanding of Twain’s literary works and ideas. As one of nine properties within the complex, the Mark Twain Boyhood Home is located at 206 Hill Street in Hannibal, bordered the original whitewashed fence that served as inspiration for Tom Sawyer’s fence. The two-story home was the residence of the Clemens family from 1839 through 1853, and is credited as inspiration for the locations within Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. Visitors may explore the home’s fully-restored rooms behind protective plexiglass walls, with all rooms furnished with period-appropriate decor and accessories. White statues of Twain are showcased inside every room, along with quotes related to topics of boyhood and coming of age. A garden on the property, surrounded by a stone wall, is also maintained by the museum.

In addition to the Boyhood Home, eight other properties comprise the museum complex, including a Museum Interpretive Center that serves as an orientation point for visitors. Opened in 1983, the Interpretive Center contains exhibits chronicling Twain’s life and career, including a Victorian-era printing press and recreated writing study area. A timeline mural chronicles the history of the Clemens family, along with important social and cultural facts about the Hannibal area.

Visitors may also explore the nearby Huck Finn House and Becky Thatcher House, where Twain’s childhood friends Thomas Blankenship and Laura Hawkins, the inspirations for the novel’s Huckleberry Finn and Becky Thatcher characters, resided with their families. Though the original Huck Finn House was demolished in 1911, it was recreated by the museum using vintage photographs using wood and materials salvaged from other nearby homes. A recreated period-appropriate backyard garden is highlighted, along with plaques explaining the home’s history and significance in Twain’s novels. The fully restored Becky Thatcher House contains a small gift shop, interactive exhibits, and Children’s Play Discovery Area allowing young visitors to dress up in period-appropriate clothing.

The Hannibal Justice of the Peace Building is also located within the museum complex, showcasing the former offices of Twain’s father, John Clemens, who served as the city’s Justice of the Peace from 1844 until his death in 1847. Original case records of cases Clemens presided over are on display in the building, which served as the inspiration for scenes in both Tom Sawyer and The Innocents Abroad. A two-story Museum Gallery building is also featured, containing collections of Twain and Clemens family artifacts, along with original Norman Rockwell paintings and original illustrations by A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court artist Dan Beard. Exhibits chronicle Twain’s career as a riverboat pilot and the world of his Tom Sawyer novels, and listening stations allow visitors to listen to audio recordings of Twain’s writings. A Tom and Huck Statue is also displayed at the foot of the neighborhood’s Cardiff Hill, and a Boyhood Home Gift Shop offers souvenirs related to Twain’s works.

Ongoing Programs and Education

Held since 1956, the museum’s annual Tom and Becky Program is held in conjunction with the city of Hannibal, crowning two local 7th graders each year’s “Tom and Becky” after a pageant selection process. The yearly winners are available for public appearances and performances at local events throughout their reign. An Inspiration of Tom Sawyer program features appearances by Mark Twain impersonator Jim Waddell, who appears at the museum complex Thursday through Sunday afternoons during the summer months. A Music Under the Stars concert series is hosted from June through August, featuring performances by local rock, country, and blues artists. The museum also holds scholarly conferences and young author workshops throughout the year and participates in Hannibal’s annual National Tom Sawyer Days festival, held over the Fourth of July holiday.

120 N Main St, Hannibal, MO 63401, Phone: 573-221-9010

Attraction Spotlight in Missouri: The Butterfly Palace and Rainforest Adventure

Situated high on a hill in Branson, Missouri is The Butterfly Palace and Rainforest Adventure. The unique attraction offers guests with a unique opportunity to walk among thousands of tropical butterflies from exotic rainforest throughout the world. The site's three-day wristband allows visitors to discover all The Butterfly Palace has to offer, such as the Living Rainforest Science Center, Great Banyan Tree Adventure, Exotic Butterfly Aviary, and the Emerald Forest Mirror Maze.

Visitors can take a peaceful walk down the Exotic Butterfly Aviary's winding paths to view the many beautiful tropical butterflies, or gear up with binoculars and a magnifying glass. The butterflies are imported and are only found in a few collections in the world. Guests exploring the tropical aviary will discover a unique collection of birds and botanical specimens in addition to the butterflies. Visitors will want to remember to bring their camera, as the aviary is a photographer's dream.

The Living Rainforest Science Center is a popular attraction among guests of The Butterfly Palace and Rainforest Adventure. Doing something is always more fun than just looking at something. The center houses several different inhabitants of rainforests. Visitors have the chance to get up close to geckos, salamanders, and brightly colored poison dart frogs. The interactive environment brings out the child in every guest as they learn more about the animal of the rainforest in an entertaining way, such as looking at a microscope display, taking a peek inside a frog at the virtual dissection kiosk, and much more.

The Emerald Forest Mirror Maze provides visitors with a chance to feel what it would be like explore the rainforest underneath its green, thick canopy. Guests will soon realize that not everything is exactly what it looks like as they step into the maze. As visitors make their way through twists and turns, their navigational skills will definitely be put to the test. Just when guests think they have the maze figured out, they're find themselves lost again among the rainforest's twists and turns and will be forced to correct their course. With only small patches of light in the Emerald Forest, it's recommended that adults accompany younger explorers.

The Banyan Tree Bungee Adventure can be found on The Butterfly Palace's second floor, and is a favorite attraction of both young and old alike. This maze is inspired by the Banyan Tree that grows in rainforests. The tangled web of "vines" hanging from the ceiling down to the floor gives the impressions of the Banyan Tree's roots. As visitors weave their way through the maze they'll run into several obstacles. They'll have to navigate their way around fallen pillars, rocks, and hundreds of vines at various angles stretching from the floor to the ceiling. Guests visiting The Butterfly Palace and Rainforest Adventure should make sure not to miss this unique rainforest experience, a fun and thrilling adventure that allows visitors to spend as much time as they want in the tangled vines of the rainforest.

4106 West Highway 76, Branson, Missouri, Phone: 417-332-2231

Attraction Spotlight in Missouri: Discovery Center of Springfield

The Discovery Center of Springfield is a non-profit science center located in Springfield. Its mission is to inspire life-long learning and help people develop a greater appreciation for our world and our place in it. The museum is an interactive museum furnished with hundreds of hands-on exhibits to encourage visitors to explore and learn through play. As such, it is one of the most kid-friendly museums in the state.

In 1991, a group of community volunteers conceived the idea of establishing a center of learning to engage and raise awareness on various educational topics among the public. But it was only a year later that they managed to purchase three museum buildings in downtown Springfield. Over the years, the museum gradually expanded its operations, and today, it boasts 50,000 square feet of interactive exhibit space. In 2006, its latest extension received a LEED-gold certification, making it one of the greenest buildings in the state.

Since its inception, the Discovery Center of Springfield continues to be the only science center serving southwest Missouri, and it is also the only youth activity center in the region. As such, the center provides a wide range of specially designed educational programs and enrichment opportunities for adults and kids of all ages. From early childhood science exploratory workshops to field trips, the programs emphasize inquiry-based learning experiences to promote deductive-reasoning and critical-thinking skills. One of its annual program highlights is its eight-week summer camp where kids can learn about a variety of science-related subjects, including astrology, zoology and chemistry.

The High Wire Bicycle exhibits are housed in two different buildings across four floors. Most of them are concentrated on the third floor, including the HighWire Bicycle, which is one of the most dramatic displays in the museum. Imagine a bicycle on a thin wire suspended in open air 20-feet from the ground. After strapping themselves securely to the bike, visitors will need to pedal precariously forward and backwards across the wire. The aim of this experiment is to illustrate the center of gravity concept in a fun and participatory manner.

Riders will soon realize that any force that causes the bike to tip sideways will be countered by the force of gravity that acts on the counterweight attached to the bike to bring the system back to a stable position. To ensure visitor’s peace of mind, the display has been equipped with numerous safety features, including a seat harness and safety net display.

Bodyworks and Chromo Zone Lab

Another display found on this floor is Bodyworks, which explores the human body and health and wellness issues. Larger-than-life displays of different anatomical models are found in Sense-sational Hall, which investigates our body organs and the five senses. Visitors will get to sniff different scents, take a look into the inner workings of a giant eyeball, and floss giant molar tooth models. Also located in this section is the Body Works Theatre, which not only showcases videos about our body system but also serves as the location of daily live interactive shows. During the show, members of staff demonstrate science concepts while engaging audiences in question and answer sessions.

Dig deeper into the wondrous marvels of the human body at the Chromo Zone Lab, which focuses on the basic building blocks of life. The gallery exposes visitors to principles of genetics and DNA, which are becoming more important as we move into the new age of genes. There are also opportunities to conduct hands-on experiments at the onsite lab, including close-up views of the human cell using a microscope.

Discovery Town

Kids will enjoy role-playing in Discovery Town, which features a mini supermarket and bank among other town features. In the TV studio, children can pretend to operate cameras or be a newscaster for the day as they see themselves on the monitor screen. Alternatively, they can snap pictures of themselves at the newsroom and even print out their images on the front-page news cover. Immersing children in such real-world activities helps them make sense of their surroundings and empower them to become active participants of their own learning.

Phenomena Gallery

The Phenomena Gallery houses some of the most popular displays in the museum. At the top of the not-to-be-missed list would be the Van de Graaff generator, which promises a hair-raising experience. Watch out for the surprised look on unsuspecting visitors as they put their hands on the machine. Parents can also get their cameras ready to snap wacky photos of their kids as static electricity makes their hair go crazy.

Have fun with a group of friends in front of the anti-gravity mirror, which demonstrates symmetry in mirror reflections. Visitors will be able to impress observers with their ability to float without any visible means of support. This is because the human body is roughly symmetrical, and by standing at the edge of the mirror, it appears that the half reflected in the mirror is the side that is not seen on the mirror. Have a blast standing in front of the air cannon. When a friend hits the rubber end of the pipe, it compresses the air inside the cannon and forces a puff of air to shoot out from the other end.

The Energy Exchange exhibit explores the basic laws of physics as well as different forms of energy, including kinetic, potential, and electromagnetic. Kids can run wild inside a human-sized hamster wheel to learn about the conversion of energy from one state to another. Simple machines are also available for users to try, including pulleys, gears, and lifts. They aim to demonstrate how these contraptions help change the direction or magnitude of the force to make moving things much easier.

Kids will also love splashing around at the water table located in this section as they learn more about water’s power and properties. Among them is the Archimedes screw where users have to turn a hand crank so that the water and balls will be able to move along a watercourse down into another water table. They can later turn another large crank to trigger a series of movement where buckets will start scooping out water and balls as they move along a vertical water bucket conveyor belt.


As a family friendly destination, Wonderland is the museum’s dedicated discovery area for preschoolers. Conveniently located on the first floor, it is designed to introduce those age five and under to basic science processes and concepts while having fun at the same time. Some of the activities include building with giant blocks, playing dressing up in builders’ clothing and maneuvering a mini backhoe and crane.

Every fall, the museum sets aside a Science Sprout Day for young learners to discover the wonders of science. Each month, a different topic is being explored so that learning will not be static. Kids will get to attend science demonstrations, story-telling sessions and a variety of interactive exercises that are sure to delight them.

The Discovery Center of Springfield hosts a variety of educational program at its center as well as beyond the museum walls. Since 2002, it has organized outreach programs to bring its interactive science programs to students in southwest Missouri. It offers a one-hour, one-off session that caters to learners from kindergarten to eighth grade. The programs are age-specific and cover a wide range of themes, including hard sciences, geology, and meteorology.

Alternatively, it also offers an eight-week program in which staff from the museum will head to the classrooms to teach once a week. The program is designed to complement existing teaching resources with the inclusion of interactive elements that would enliven and enrich students’ learning experiences. As such, topics covered during the program are closely related to the Missouri Grade Level Expectations in Science. Additionally, it is also an excellent opportunity for teachers to receive on-site professional development. At the end of the eight weeks, students will be brought to the museum for a field trip so that they will be able to apply their classroom knowledge to everyday life through the interactive exhibits.

438 E St. Louis St., Springfield, MO 65806, Phone: 417-862-9910