Henry the triceratops is a centerpiece exhibit at the Missouri Institute of Natural Science Museum in southwest Springfield. (Photo by Sony Hocklander)

Every corner of Springfield has good things to do and reasons to visit. Making fun discoveries around the area is a great way to refresh routines and see more of the community we call home. Wouldn’t it be nice to know a few places to start? 

This new neighborhood series, 5 Things, can help. Each roundup will highlight five places with something fun to do, see, eat or drink in a selected section of Springfield or neighboring metro town. We may highlight an under-explored place you know by name and we’ll tell you about places you probably don’t — perhaps a  local coffee shop you haven’t tried, a Greenway trail you’ve never tread or something fun to do with kids and grandkids.

Mini-road trip anyone?

Yes, please.

First up, southwest Springfield.

(P.S. We’d love to hear your suggestions, too. Send spots we missed to Springfield Daily Citizen Managing Editor Brittany Meiling at bmeiling@sgfcitizen.org)

5 things to do in southwest Springfield

Southwest Springfield, which flows seamlessly into the town of Battlefield, is home to Chesterfield Village, a charming planned live-work-play development, and Rivercut Golf Course, a public course with a country club vibe. Both are good reasons to go. 

But this little corner of our community, southwest of Kansas Expressway and Battlefield Road, boasts a few more gems enjoyed by locals and people in the know. If you’re looking for a new diversion, here are five more reasons to visit.

Wire Road Brewing Company

Wire Road Brewing Company serves craft beers and other beverages in Battlefield. (Photo by Sony Hocklander)

At last, a local brewery has arrived in this section of the community, quenching the craft beer thirst for southwesterners and many others. Wire Road Brewing Company, fronting State Highway FF just south of Republic Road, has had taps flowing since it opened in January. With morning to evening hours, plus indoor and outdoor spaces including a large lawn and patio area, the brewery exudes a fun, neighborhood vibe. (Lawn chairs and dogs on leash are welcome outdoors.)

Friends gather after a Saturday bike ride in the backyard area of Wire Road Brewing Company. (Photo by Sony Hocklander)

Not only do they serve a variety of craft beers on tap with names like Spirit Horse Hazy IPA, No Mo’ Worries IPA and Limestone Cowboy Kettle Sour, you’ll find wine, kombucha and more. Satisfy your hunger at an array of rotating food trucks; dine on the lawn, indoors or in a covered outdoors space that’s heated when it’s cool. Need your morning cuppa Joe? You can get that here, too, with coffee sourced from nearby Battlefield business, Copper Canyon Coffee Roasters. Bring a friend and sit awhile. 

Where: 4453 S. Timbercreek Ave., Battlefield

Online: https://wireroadbrewing.com/home; also Facebook and Instagram

Contact: 417-512-7391 or message online 

Travellers House Coffee & Tea

Travelers House Coffee & Tea is a local hangout in Southwest Springfield. (Photo by Sony Hocklander)

On any given morning, the original location of locally-owned Travellers House is brimming with friend meet-ups, people working remotely and group gatherings. Established in 2016 at the end of a small shopping center, Travellers is quickly accessed from James River Freeway,  just west of the Kansas Expressway exit. The friendly baristas offer several kinds of roasts, specialty herbal teas, seasonal and standard lattes, smoothies, plus a variety of nibbles. Cool morning? Warm up by the fireplace. Locals love it — you will too!

Where: 2151 W. Republic Road

Online: travellershousecoffee.com; also Facebook and Instagram

Contact: 417-720-4640 

Chesterfield Family Center Aquatic Center

A twisty tube slide and other kid-friendly pool amenities can be found at the Chesterfield Family Center in Southwest Springfield. (Photo by Sony Hocklander)

While Chesterfield Family Center is a gym/track/fitness kind of place, did you know it’s got a great indoor pool your family can enjoy any time of the year? The day rate for non-members over age 2 is $6-$8. With a twisty tube slide and other kid-friendly pool amenities, it’s like a mini-water-park playground — a great place to make a splash with your family! 

Where: 2511 W Republic Road

Contact: 417-891-1616

Online: parkboard.org; also on Facebook

Short & easy nature trails

The Ward Branch Greenway Trail accessed off Farm Road 139 in Southwest Springfield is an easy wooded trail to walk. (Photo by Sony Hocklander)

Southwest Springfield has three short easy trails — two with historic ties.

Take your kids for a walk on a natural path that follows the National Trail of Tears. Following this short, marked Greenway Trail within a neighborhood won’t generate a sweat but you can imagine the feet of roughly 16,000 Cherokee who followed the same path more than 180 years ago. To find it, take Golden Avenue south from West Republic Road about one block to West Marcella Drive. Turn right (west) and look for the trail on your left. (Google Maps directions).

Or walk the short south-end portion of the Wilson’s Creek Greenway Trail, accessed just north of Republic Road off Highway FF. Turn west down Round Tree Road to the Round Tree Public Access. (Google Map directions). Parking is plentiful and the trail goes both south and north from here. Heading south – the short end – through a natural area, the trail passes by the Civil War-era McElhaney Cemetery and ends at a Republic Road overpass. Heading back, take the unpaved path along the creek. From the same parking lot, you can also take a longer, hilly portion of the Wilson’s Creek trail north to Kaufmann Road. From here, trail-users can continue the trail south from the Tal’s Trailhead, at 3351 S. Kaufmann Road.

A little farther south, a section of the Ward Branch Greenway is a popular 2-mile out and back paved nature trail that follows the Ward Branch creek through a wooded park-like setting. It can be accessed at either end or in the middle. There is gravel parking at one trailhead, 5909 S. Farm Road 139 (watch for two old silos at the east-side turnoff). (Google Map directions). This trailhead is near the Missouri Institute of Natural Science. Or park near Wanda Gray Elementary Elementary School and start the trail at that end nearby.

Want more trail options? Check out our past coverage of five easy trails within one hour of Springfield.

Missouri Institute of Natural Science Museum

Henry the triceratops is a centerpiece exhibit at the Missouri Institute of Natural Science Museum in Southwest Springfield. (Photo by Sony Hocklander)

As long as you’re walking the Ward Branch Trail, pop into the Missouri Institute of Natural Science Museum. It tells the story of the Riverbluff Cave, discovered in 2001 filled with prehistoric treasures – but that’s not all. You can’t miss the centerpiece exhibit, Henry the triceratops, found at a more distant dig. There are more trails on the museum grounds including an exposed boulder area to hunt for fossils. If you have dino-loving kids (of any age!) this is the place for you. The museum is open Monday through Saturday starting April 4. 

Where: 2327 W. Farm Road 190

Contact: 417-883-0594

Online: monatsci.org; also on Facebook

Bonus stop: The giant fork

Springfield’s Giant Fork, a local curiosity, is located in Chesterfield Village at the former Noble and Associates’ Food Channel Network headquarters. (Photo by Sony Hocklander)

Springfield boasts all kinds of weird and wonderful giant things, including its famous giant fork, tucked behind a building at the former Noble and Associates’ Food Channel Network headquarters, 2215 W. Chesterfield St. in Chesterfield Village. At 35 feet tall and weighing around 11 tons, this tasty sculpture was created in 1990 for a Glenstone Avenue restaurant. It’s not exactly something to do but as long as you’re in southwest Springfield, it’s a unique sight to see. You won’t be the first to get your selfie in front of the fork, touted by many (though not without competition) as the world’s largest.

Sony Hocklander

Sony Hocklander is a freelance journalist, video storyteller and photographer who produces creative content through her small solo business, Sony Hocklander Creative LLC. When she’s not telling community stories, she loves wandering the Ozarks outdoors with a camera in hand. You can follow her on Twitter @SonyHocklander and on Instagram @shocklander or email her at: sonyhocklander@gmail.com More by Sony Hocklander