The wealth of things to see and do at Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park is a bit of a surprise if you don’t live nearby or visit much. The large, multifaceted acreage is the sum of several distinct sections — kind of like Disneyland. You could call these sections pioneer-land, Japanese-land, butterfly-land, botanical-land, fountain-land and so on. Those aren’t real names, of course, but they illustrate why this park anchors our latest Neighborhood Guide filled with good local things to see, do and eat.
This guide covers a long stretch of city land between National and Golden avenues north of Battlefield Road and just shy of Sunshine Street. That includes a popular Greenways trail that’s easily accessed in the park.
Getting outdoors isn’t the only reason to visit. There are plenty of restaurants, shops and fun things to do — indoors and out. Keep reading for five great reasons to explore this southwest area of Springfield on your next day out.
What are neighborhood guides? (Click to expand)
We help you explore our town with Neighborhood Guides, an occasional series highlighting five ways to find things to do, see, eat or drink in a selected section of Springfield. Some sections are broad, others more compact.
We’d love to read your suggestions for neighborhoods or spots to highlight. Send ideas to Reader Engagement Editor Jeff Kessinger at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Explore the park
Whether you like gardening, gazing, walking, cycling, playing or relaxing, you can do it all in the Springfield Botanical Gardens at Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park, 2400 S. Scenic Ave.
Within the 114-acre park, various designated sections appeal to special interests. Garden-themed, kid-friendly play spaces are scattered throughout the park, as are picnic areas and sculpture art. The park also includes two relatively new fountains, a butterfly house and two dedicated sections that are must-sees when you visit: the Grey/Campbell Farmstead and the Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden.
The Botanical Center is a prominent building with an outdoor patio at the crest of a long, wide greenspace. Several important partners to the park are headquartered here, including Springfield Sister Cities Association, Friends of the Garden and Master Gardeners of Greene County.
To understand the full scope of the park and all it offers, check out this map found online with more information at the Springfield-Greene County Park Board’s website.
Go deep with beautiful photos and more details about the park. (Click to expand)
Just northeast of the Botanical Center parking lot, enjoy the twin Ambler fountains (added in 2019) which are part of the developing Sensory Garden. A sweeping view of the great lawn, south of the building, now includes the circular Kachel Fountain with its 30-foot-tall plume. (Note: the fountains are weather-sensitive and only flow in warm seasons.)
Central to this park are dedicated garden beds of all kinds, including the Master Gardener Demonstration Garden, the Winter Garden and English Garden, plus beds full of wildflowers, peonies, irises and other seasonal plants. All are easily accessed by lovely, meandering paths.
South of the Kachel Fountain, Lake Drummond is a popular spot to stroll around. Or sit on a park bench to watch the antics of ducks and geese. This is also where the South Creek Greenways Trail connects to the park. Nearby, more dedicated areas include the Hosta Garden, Rose Garden and Founders Garden.
The Dr. Bill Roston Native Butterfly House, demonstrating the life cycle of butterflies, is a popular family stop when it’s open in spring and summer. Follow the Butterfly House’s Facebook page for the latest updates.
On the east end of the park are two sections with distinct cultural flavors. The Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden, established in 1985, is a lovely peaceful place to walk, ponder life and take photos. Entrance to the Stroll Garden requires a $3-$5 fee.
Tip: It’s free to enter the stroll garden the first day it opens for spring with activities throughout the park during the Cherry Blossom Kite & Pinata Festival, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 1, 2023. Click here for more details.
The nearby Grey/Campbell Farmstead is a cluster of historic buildings and areas that depict life in the 1860s. This area includes the Liberty School, an old one-room schoolhouse.
There are all kinds of events and programs held year-round in the park. A few in the spring include Garden Tram Tours, offered in April and May, and Gigs in the Garden concerts on the first three Sundays of May. Follow the park’s Facebook page for the latest news and events.
Travel the Trail
With a mix of urban and natural scenic views, the six-mile Ozark Greenways South Creek Trail is one of the best east-west pedestrian pathways in south Springfield. In fact, it makes a nice 12-mile bike ride if you go end to end and back again.
The most natural section runs west of Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park, a primary place to access the trail at 2400 S. Scenic Ave. Starting here makes it easy to try out the path heading east or west of the park — especially on foot. It’s also a great way to add a picnic and other fun park activities to your outing.
The eastern trailhead is at McDaniel Park, 2405 S. National Ave., at Sunset Street. From here, it goes west along Sunset, crossing Kansas Expressway via the overhead bridge, and continuing into Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park.
As the trail leaves the park, heading west, it goes under Scenic Avenue, continues around the Horton Smith Golf Course and meanders along South Creek with pretty views.
Past Golden Avenue near Sherwood Elementary School (another access point), it continues behind Carver Middle School and eventually curves toward Battlefield Road. Here you can go under Battlefield and follow the trail to a newer section that ends in a residential neighborhood, or traverse a path up to Battlefield Road. Learn more at the Ozarks Greenways website.
Tip: To make a longer ride, continue riding uphill on Battlefield Road to connect with the Wilson’s Creek Greenway Trail at Tal’s Trailhead, west of West Bypass.
Hunt for treasures
Whether you’re looking for something specific or just like to browse, visit a flea market antique mall where shopping is an adventure. This guide’s neighborhood area includes two great locations to try.
Ozark Treasures Antiques and Flea Market is at 2510 S. Campbell Ave. in the Old Town Shopping Center, just north of Sunset Street. It’s hard to miss the quaint old shop with bright red letters against a green roof. With more than 125 vendors, you’re sure to find something you can’t resist.
Even larger, Relics Antique Mall at 2015 W. Battlefield Road near Kansas Expressway has 90,000 square feet of antiques, vintage and flea market wares. One section features flea market finds; another is focused on vintage and antique wares. Their active Facebook page highlights a variety of vendor booth goods.
Each mall includes small furnishings among booths, with dedicated areas for larger pieces. Both are fun to browse for home goods, old books, nostalgic toys, hundreds of vintage finds and even new items and original handcrafts. Happy treasure hunting!
Tip: For more southwest Missouri antique shops, check out this robust list.
Whether you like to swing a club, roll a strike or try your hand at indoor games, you’ll find four great family-friendly spots in this section of town.
A part of Springfield for 60 years, Horton Smith Golf Course is a 6,312-yard greenspace at 2409 S. Scenic Ave. across from Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park. It’s one of four public courses managed by the Springfield-Greene County Park Board.
The 18-hole golf course was named for a Springfield native who was the first golfer to win the Masters Tournament, in 1934. With a pro shop, putting greens, driving range and cart rentals, playing at Horton Smith is a winning way to get outdoors.
If you don’t have the time or know-how for a conventional round of golf, head over to Fun Acre Mini Golf, a miniature course (complete with a dinosaur and the Eiffel Tower) just east of Campbell at 214 W. Glenwood St. Located behind Ozark Treasures Flea Market, this tucked-away play space also has a batting cage. Hours vary by season and weather.
When it’s too hot or too cold to get outdoors — and your kids need to burn a little energy — try Springfield’s Incredible Pizza Company, 2850 S. Campbell Ave. Here, active indoor attractions and small rides entertain kids of all ages. Somehow this building houses bumper cars, laser tag, arcade games, go-carts, trampolines, plus pizza dining and more.
For kids and adults who love to bowl, you’ll find that, too. But Andy B’s, 1127 E. Battlefield Road at the corner of National Avenue, is more than a bowling alley with dining and drink selections. It also houses laser tag and arcades.
With so much to do, you might want to start your day with a coffee to go. Or take a midday break with a light lunch, sweet treat or specialty beverage.
You can find all that in a tiny building with a menu large enough to satisfy your tastebuds. El Cafecito (the Little Coffee Shop), across the street from Ozark Treasures and Fun Acre, is at 2462 S. Campbell Ave. And, like treasure hunting, you’ll discover a little something different here. This coffee shop has Latin American flavor in its coffees and casual fare. They serve brews, smoothies, and “Cafecito Creations” (try the Mexican Mocha!). Breakfast or lunch items include quesadillas, tacos, sandwiches and burritos (the Chichaloco Burrito is great for lunch or breakfast). Plus, they make their own in-house salsa and feature artisanal pastries from Sweet Pieces. (You can also find El Cafecito on Facebook.)
If you’re closer to Kansas Expressway, try Classic Rock Coffee at 1900 W. Sunset St., where you can get breakfast fare, pastries, flatbread sandwiches, specialty drinks – and of course, classic brews. (Classic Rock Coffee also has a Facebook page).