What the locals do for fun

Get off the tourist track and relax

click to enlarge What the locals do for fun
Photo courtesy Knights Action Park
Knight’s Action Park and Caribbean Water Adventure

Haven't you seen enough sights? How about some fun? Take it from the locals – here are many ways to have a good time in the capital city that don't involve learning anything at all. Just enjoy.


AMF Strike N Spare Lanes
2660 W. Lawrence Ave.

Traditional bowling on 36 lanes, plus a game room. Karaoke is offered every Saturday night in the lounge.

Bounce Tag
3720 Hollis Dr.

An indoor play park for kids and teens. Bounce houses, activity areas, arcade and laser tag.

Ergadoozy Creative Play Center
1320 S. State St.

An indoor play center for kids under 12. Seven play spaces offer unique ways to run, crawl and slide, no matter the weather.

Escape Springfield
2501 Chatham Rd.

Choose from three different live escape rooms, or try an immersive mobile experience that can be completed anytime, anywhere.

Glow Golf
2501 Wabash Ave.
White Oaks Mall

Enjoy glow-in-the-dark mini golf on two different courses, and try the laser maze challenge or the 3Kick.

Henson Robinson Zoo
1100 E. Lake Shore Dr.

Just south of town near Lake Springfield, Henson Robinson Zoo features more than 90 species of animals from Africa, Asia, Australia and North and South America. Parking is free, and food is available for purchase or you can bring your own and have a picnic in the pavilion.

King Pin Lanes Bowling Center
3115 E. Sangamon Ave.

This family-owned and operated bowling center can host your party or special event, or just a night out with the family.

Knight's Action Park and Route 66 Twin Drive In
1700 Recreation Dr.

Prepare to get wet and wild at Knight's Action Park. In addition to pedal boats and water slides – including the four-story Devil Ray and the popular Splash Kingdom – this perennial local favorite also offers mini-golf, a driving range, batting cages, kiddie rides, go-karts, an arcade and more. After dark, have a nostalgic family movie night in the car. Route 66 features two screens, each showing double features that begin shortly after dusk on the weekends April through October and seven nights a week between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day weekend.

Nelson Center
1601 N. Fifth St.

In the heart of Lincoln Park sits the Nelson Center, home to an ice rink that features year-round public ice skating sessions. Nelson Center also has an outdoor pool that includes a diving board, slide and separate kiddie pool. Open between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day weekend.

Riverside Stables
2310 Chinchilla Rd.

Take a scenic trail ride along the Sangamon River. You can also rent a canoe or kayak for a half day or full day excursion.

3801 S. MacArthur Blvd.

This destination shopping experience has a large selection of sporting gear and fashion, but also features a 16,000 gallon salt water aquarium, a 65-foot-tall Ferris wheel, putting greens, golf stimulators and Walk of Presidents. Ginna's Café and Fuzziwig Candy Shop are located inside.

Skateland South
1500 Recreation Dr.

Whether you're looking for an afternoon of fun or a venue for a celebration, Skateland is a family-friendly roller skating rink.

SkyZone Trampoline Park
3454 Liberty Dr.

This all-walled trampoline playing court features an array of fun activities ranging from fit to low-impact.SPECIAL EVENT AND CONCERT VENUES

2909 N. Dirksen Pkwy.

Both national and local talent perform at this live music venue, which won the Academy of Country Music's "Nightclub of the Year' award in 2016. It is primarily a standing, general admission venue.

Donnie B's Comedy Club
3455 Freedom Dr.

Donnie B's is the premier comedy club in the Midwest, offering everything from nationally touring acts to open mic nights.

Illinois State Fairgrounds
801 E. Sangamon Ave.

If you happen to be visiting the capital city between Aug. 13 and 23, we recommend the spectacular Illinois State Fair, featuring all the animals, rides, tractors, concerts and attractions you can imagine. But nearly every weekend of the year there is something special happening on the fairgrounds, which is just a couple of miles north of downtown Springfield. Events run the gamut from horse shows and a giant flea market, to a weekly farmers market (spring through fall) and craft sales. Other weekend-long events include a home show, garden sale, motorcycle races and coin show, among many others. If you're looking for something fun to do on a weekend, visit the Illinois Department of Agriculture's calendar of non-fair events.

The BOS Center
One Convention Center Plaza

Located in the heart of downtown Springfield, this multi-purpose facility hosts many events open to the public including concerts, circuses, sports tournaments and much more. Check their calendar for upcoming events.

UIS Performing Arts Center
One University Plaza

This auditorium located on the campus of University of Illinois Springfield hosts national tours for musicians, comedians, Broadway shows and more. Check their calendar for upcoming events.


MidState Mayhem Roller Derby
Skateland South
1500 Recreation Dr.

This all-female, amateur roller derby team promotes and supports local athletics, charities, civic organizations and businesses.

Springfield Jr. Blues
1601 N. Fifth St.
Nelson Center

The season for this North American Hockey League team runs from September-March. All tickets are general admission.

Springfield Sliders
1415 N. Grand Ave.
Robin Roberts Stadium

The Sliders are members of the Prospect League, a wood bat experience similar to most minor league parks around the country. All tickets are general admission, although party rooms are available for rent.

Springfield FC Soccer Semi-Pro Soccer
4600 11th St.
SASA Fields

Springfield FC is now a member of the United Premier Soccer League.

click to enlarge What the locals do for fun
Where kids can be kids…Tickle a giant nose and make it sneeze! Race your sailboat across Lake Springfield. Milk a cow. Create your own weather announcement. Be a veterinarian. Plant a garden. Crawl through a giant intestine! There’s a lot to do at Kidzeum.

Kidzeum of Health and Science
412 E. Adams Street

There are no "do not touch" signs at the Kidzeum of Health and Science, a new destination for families in downtown Springfield. Located on Adams Street in an historic building one block west of the Old State Capitol, the long-awaited children's museum opened in July 2018. Kidzeum features interactive exhibits where kids are encouraged to touch, jump, climb, move, play, create, be active and explore. Although the focus for kids is having fun, at the Kidzeum "It'SNOT just fun, it's educational!"

Kidzeum is the perfect place for the entire family to take a break from visiting all the wonderful historic sites in Springfield and let kids blow off some steam. Through state-of-the-art exhibits and programs, Kidzeum is a place where kids learn while they play.

Healthy Body, one of the most distinctive exhibits in the museum, introduces children to "Active Alex," a three-story centerpiece of the museum showcasing the wonder of a human body from head to toe. Visitors can don a white jacket and stethoscope while they give Alex a physical or a shot or climb through Alex's brains and intestines! More than 100 exciting interactives highlight the major systems including skeletal, respiratory, nervous, circulatory and sensory.

Health and wellness is an overarching theme of the Kidzeum. Numerous exhibits promote healthy eating and exercise. SMILE, EAT CLEAN, TRAIN DIRTY, DON'T FORGET TO BREATHE, is on the wall in a kids' fitness area. Emblazoned in the exhibit are messages to drink more water, eat clean and work out, don't quit, eat more green things and witness the fitness. Children – and adults – may be surprised to see how many teaspoons of sugar are in a typical sports drink.

The Healthy Earth Gallery promotes children's understanding of their relationship to the land with exhibits that focus on weather, natural resources and agriculture. Kids will enjoy getting their hands (and more) wet at the splashy water table where they can modify the stream flow and learn about floods, dams and erosion. In the WKID Weather Station, kids will create their own weather report and learn about weather patterns and what meteorologists do. They can manipulate devices to add sounds, such as rain and wind. Kids can also take a walk through the corn maze.

The Healthy Community exhibit shares the vital message of our responsibility to our communities and educates about the roles of dedicated people who provide the services that make communities thrive. There is a "green" playhouse where a thermal-imaging camera enables visitors to see what's hot in their own bodies and what's not. Other exhibits include a veterinary pet clinic, dental clinic with dental chair and an interactive ambulance.

With several changing exhibits each year, there is always something new to see and do.

Hours of operation:

(March – August) Tuesday – Saturday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Sunday 12 – 5 p.m.

(September – February) Thursday – Saturday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Sunday 12 – 5 p.m. Special hours twice monthly for lower-sensory experiences for children with special needs. Check kidzeum.org for dates.

Special exhibits for 2020

Bees, Butterflies and Blooms (April 25 - August)

Kids can get up close and personal with live honey bees and butterflies, make a robotic butterfly move and do the waggle dance like a honey bee, along with other fun and family-friendly learning activities. Bees, Birds, Butterflies & Blooms will launch on April 25 and remain open through mid-August. Bee sure to stop by and check it out!

Tools of the Trade (Begins September 2020)

This exhibit will provide a hands-on way for kids to learn about various trades from construction to cosmetology.

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