Welcome to Springfield! If you’ve been reading A Beautiful Mess for a while, you may already know that Springfield, Missouri is Elsie and Emma’s hometown. And, hey, it’s mine too!
I’m Ana, and I’m so excited to tell you a bit about some of our favorite spots to eat, shop, and play.
First up, a couple fun facts. Springfield is the hometown of Brad Pitt, Bass Pro Shops, and The Wall Street Journal recently named it the best place to work remotely in America. Pretty cool, if you ask me. Let’s jump into what I’m really excited to talk about (the food, duh).
Related: Check out our travel archives for more guides!
Restaurants & Bars
There are over 800 restaurants in Springfield (!!!); yep, not a typo. 800. Many Springfieldians love to eat local, so we have some great options to choose from. Here are some faves as well as a little lay of the land for where you can find them:
Commercial Street, aka C-Street — Commercial Street is on the north side of town— it’s the historic downtown of what was north Springfield and also home to some great restaurants.
Some local favorites are Cafe Cusco (Peruvian food), Lindberg’s (great burgers and brunch), La Habana Vieja (Cuban fare), Ms. Gilmore’s Tea Room, That Lebanese Place, and Pizza House—which is known for its thin crust and square slices.
Downtown Springfield — Springfield’s downtown is walkable and has a large concentration of both bars and restaurants. Hotel Vandivort is not only a great hotel, but it’s home to both The Order (which operates all hours from brunch to post-dinner drinks) and Vantage, a dreamy rooftop bar with small bites and yummy drinks.
Rise, Druff’s, and Gailey’s are all great brunch spots. For dinner and drinks, try Kai (sushi), Best of Luck Beer Hall, Bruno’s (Italian), Flame Steakhouse, Bosky’s Vegan Grill or Gilardi’s for high-end Italian.
And of course, can’t forget Golden Girl which is known for its well-balanced rum cocktails, fun atmosphere, and should be known for its cheesy tater tots (in my humble opinion).
Rountree — The Rountree neighborhood is just about 5 minutes south of downtown and borders Missouri State University’s campus. It’s a great lil’ neighborhood to walk and enjoy some of my personal favorite food/drink spots in town.
In Rountree, you’ll find Tea Bar and Bites, Team Taco, The Royal (live music and blow-your-mind cocktails), Skully’s (ramen + more), and if you’re there in the morning, Sleepy Opossum Cafe, which operates out of The Royal’s space for breakfast.
South Side — There are plenty of places to go outside the concentration of food and drink spots downtown. Here are some of the best on the south side of town: Haruno (sushi), Avanzare (Italian), Farmer’s Gastropub (best fish and chips outside of London!), and Cesar’s Old Mexico.
Progress is a go-to for fine dining (and has a very approachable brunch menu), and Cellar and Plate is a solid wine bar.
We can’t neglect to mention Springfield-style cashew chicken, which you can truly find all over town. Leong’s is credited with inventing the dish, and Emma’s favorite is at Shanghai Inn.
Coffee & Desserts
Onto the sweet stuff! I looooove a good coffee shop hang, and we have some really great ones to choose from. The Coffee Ethic and Kingdom Coffee are my two personal favorites, and each has a location downtown.
Mudhouse is a classic Springfield coffee shop, and Green House is a newer spot that also has affogato on the menu—so fun. On C-Street, you’ll find Big Momma’s and Eurasia, which is also a really lovely boutique hotel. Try Cherry Picker in Rountree for coffee, wine, or any hours in between.
You’ll find the best desserts at Prairie Pie (downtown), Pineapple Whip (cutie little food truck vibes with multiple locations), Andy’s Frozen Custard (multiple locations), and European Cafe (downtown bakery).
Shopping & Retail
We have a mall that features many of the national stores you’d expect to find (H&M, Sephora, Lululemon, etc.), but some of the best shopping in Springfield is at our local boutiques and small businesses!
Pagination Bookshop is a highly-curated bookstore in a historic home built in 1905. It’s a wonderful place to roam around and check out their different sections in different rooms of the house. It’s worth noting that they also have a great selection of children’s books.
For clothes, Staxx is a local favorite that carries some great brands, and Springy Jeans are best in class vintage resellers—they’ve got their own line as well as curated vintage.
Culture Flock has really fun, inclusive apparel; many of it designed in-house. For gifts (for a friend or yourself), you can’t go wrong at The Market, and The Local Bevy is a super cute little shop with all locally-made goods and gifts.
As you may have heard if you’ve listened to the ABM podcast, we have some superior flea markets around town. Relics is probably the most well-known, and it’s actually the largest flea market in Missouri.
Another favorite is the Vintage Peddler—they’re known for having some great curation. A few other places to hunt for vintage include Freakin’ Antiquin’, Mike’s Unique, and S.T.D. (yes, it’s really called that).
Spring through fall are some of the best times of year to visit SGF, so you can take advantage of some of the warmer-weather entertainment options.
We’re home to the Springfield Cardinals, which is a minor league baseball team and, IMO, a fun place to eat a hot dog. BigShots and Getaway Golf are both fun activities when the weather is nice, too.
Some indoor kid-friendly activities include Wonders of Wildlife (the aquarium is amazingly larger than life), the Discovery Center, the Springfield Art Museum, and ice skating at Jordan Valley.
For an evening out, try the Blue Room Comedy Club, see what’s happening at the Gillioz, or catch a movie at either Alamo Drafthouse or the Moxie.
Hiking, Biking & Parks
Springfield is home to some fun trails and outdoor activities, as well. In town, you can visit the Springfield Nature Center or check out some of our beautiful greenway trails: South Creek, Wilson’s Creek, and Galloway Creek are a few favorites.
The Galloway trail borders Sequiota Park, which is a nice stop off. Nathanael Greene Park has a botanical garden, the Sac River Trail offers 14 miles of single-track mountain biking, and Fellows Lake is another good spot for mountain biking, picnics, and small boat rentals (though it’s not a lake you can swim in, just FYI).
Frequently Asked Questions
How big is Springfield, Missouri?
Your definition of how “big” Springfield is will very likely depend on your personal history. If you’re coming from a true small town, Springfield will offer many of the things you’d expect from a bigger city.
At the same time, it would be unfair to compare it to somewhere like Nashville or Dallas. The population is about 170,000, which is comparable to Cary, North Carolina or Salem, Oregon. Geographically, Springfield is spread out over 82 miles—about the same land area as Boise, Idaho or Toledo, Ohio.
Is Springfield a cheap place to live?
The cost of living in Springfield is good compared to other cities of its size. Taking a quick scroll of Springfield, Zillow will give you an idea of housing costs in the area, and generally speaking, people tend to buy “starter houses” here as there aren’t many condos or townhouses.
While Springfield does have some public transportation, you really have to have a car to live here, so that would be a cost to consider if you don’t have your own vehicle.
Is Springfield a good place to live?
Factoring in Springfield’s size, amenities, cost of living and more, we would consider Springfield a good place to live. Generally, Springfield is a good place to raise children, and there are many choices for schools, including some specialized programs depending on a child’s needs.
The location offers the opportunity for easy trips to St. Louis, Kansas City, northern Arkansas and more within a 2-3 hour drive, or you could drive to larger cities like Nashville or Chicago within 7-8 hours. Springfield’s airport is also very easy to fly out of, while a little more expensive than some other airports.
Thanks to Elsie and Emma for inviting me to share a little bit about good ‘ole SGF! While it’s a bit cheesy, I’ve gotta say the people make the place, and we have some really great people who make Springfield home.
As some of my good friends would say, this place is as good as any. xx, Ana
Can’t wait to make a pit stop at some antique stores on my way to Branson this year!! I can never remember the names! I love to hear you describe Branson on the podcast. Its such a gem but such a weird place and hard to describe!
Love this post, Ana! You highlighted the best places.
I would just add that it’s not necessarily safe for queer and trans people to visit or live in *most* Republican states right now, so perhaps “good” is relative. Queer children are especially under fire with anti-trans health care legislation aimed directly at children, and the education system is trying to erase us from discussion.
Hi Sandra- I really appreciate your comment and I believe the issues you are highlighting are important! I make no defense for any legislation that marginalizes any minority group. There are a number of laws as well as current representatives that I didn’t vote for and don’t agree with.
This post is about highlighting local businesses in my hometown. I know many of the business owner’s personally I am very proud to highlight their businesses on our blog. If someone chooses to move to our city, or is visiting for whatever reason I would be so happy for them to stumble on this post and find some great restaurants, bars, coffee shops, etc. to try when they are in Springfield.
This is such a great post Ana!!!!
As a mom to an Ana, your Insta username is perfection!