The “creative class” has been active in Springfield, the cultural core of Southwest Missouri. As in larger urban areas, cohorts of artists and visionary entrepreneurs have led the charge to reclaim the city’s heart. More than two decades of effort have transformed the nearly forgotten district into a vibrant mélange of arts and entertainment venues, living spaces and restaurants, which pay tribute to its past and keeps its eyes on the future.
First Friday Art Walks
People in droves take to the streets on the first Friday of the month year around to take in the art at local galleries, all clustered in the Downtown Arts District. Shops and restaurants stay open longer on First Fridays, some with special deals. ffaw.org
The Little Theatre
Springfield’s volunteer-driven Little Theatre offers live family entertainment in the historic Landers Theater at 311 E. Walnut St. Take the kids to see Junie B. Jones the Musical playing April 14-24. springfieldlittletheatre.org
The Homes of Walnut Street
The main thoroughfare through downtown extends to a refined area that has been designated as a National Historic District because of its rich architectural history. Every residential architectural style evident in Missouri is represented on Walnut Street in Springfield. And it’s all free for the looking.
Where to Stay
One of the crowning gems of downtown’s resurgence. The new boutique hotel was recently carved from the interior of the old Masonic Temple at 305 E. Walnut St. It’s worth a look even if you’re not staying. Rooms from $149/night.
Where to Dine
Leong’s Asian Diner
A trip to Springfield would not be complete without a serving of authentic Springfield Chicken, first concocted by chef David Leong in 1963. The dish has found its way onto Asian menus the world over, including almost 70 Asian restaurants in Springfield. Here, Leong’s three sons carry on their father’s tradition.
1540 W. Republic Rd. 417-887-7500
Located on the second floor of the Hotel Vandivort, The Order has quickly become one of Springfield’s culinary destinations.
305 E. Walnut St.