Much of southern Missouri is defined by the rolling hills, lush forests, rivers and lakes of the Ozark Mountains. This region is ideal for all kinds of outdoor recreation, in addition to playing a role in the state’s agriculture industry. There’s a lot of rural land and small-town charm in these parts, and access to the amenities of much larger cities isn’t that far away.
At United Country Real Estate | Ridgeway Real Estate, we stay busy serving clients’ property needs in Mansfield, Wright County and surrounding southern counties. But – particularly when we get a little down time – we often realize how blessed we are to live in such a beautiful part of Missouri.
Let’s take a closer look at the appeal of southern Missouri to visitors and residents alike.
When it comes to outdoor recreation in Missouri, the Lake of the Ozarks (1 ½ hours north of Mansfield) often takes center stage, particularly as a resort destination with plenty of places to stay, eat and play. The lake (offering more shoreline than California) is great for boating, floating, fishing and more. But if you explore south-central and southern Missouri, you’ll notice many other spots for outdoor adventures.
Sure, Lake of the Ozarks has its own namesake state park, though about 1 ½ hours southwest of Mansfield is the popular Table Rock State Park near Branson. The park offers camping, hiking and two lakes. Around the same distance to the northwest sits Stockton State Park in Dadeville, perfect for sailing and water skiing on the lake. And these are just a few of the multiple other state parks in the area.
The Gasconade River and its tributaries all flow through Wright County, and a large portion of the county is located in Mark Twain National Forest. The forest offers an amazing number of recreation areas and trails, accessible from six ranger stations across the Ozarks.
The Ozark National Scenic Riverways lies near the middle of the national forest and is intended to protect the Current and Jacks Fork rivers. Theses rivers are clear, spring-fed and wonderful for paddling, while the surrounding area is popular with hikers, birders and hunters. And if you’re really into mountain biking, you’ll want to check out the 400-acre Two Rivers Bike Park in Highlandville.
Once you’ve had your fill of outdoor adventures, including exploring the many caves and caverns of the Missouri Ozarks (Or is that an underground adventure?), there’s still a lot more to discover in the region. There are several small towns where you can enjoy the local flavor, shopping, community events and such. And there’s an incredible number of museums and historical sites that provide insight into the area’s history and culture.
Branson is a family-friendly entertainment mecca located a little more than an hour southwest of Mansfield. The city offers live shows, a unique aquarium, dining and the wildly popular Silver Dollar City theme park, among other attractions.
For the history-minded, right in Mansfield the Laura Ingalls Wilder Home & Museum allows visitors a look into the American pioneer experience through Wilder’s life and literature (the Little House books). Branson has the Veterans Memorial Museum, and Ridgedale’s Ancient Ozarks Natural History Museum stands out, as does the Springfield Art Museum.Baker Creek Seed Company offers many festivals throughout the year and of course a massive supply of non gmo seeds for your gardens and flowers! A fun and educational place for the whole family! Family owned and operated.
An hour west of Mansfield, Springfield is a major metro area with all the big city amenities one could ever need and it’s worth at least a day trip. Be sure to check out the farmers market here, once named the 15th best in the country! The Springfield Botanical Gardens is another must-see place.
But for a more unique experience, head to nearby Seymour, which has Missouri’s largest Amish community. Many Amish here sell homemade baked goods and produce. The city also hosts a three-day annual Apple Festival. Similarly, up near Versailles by Lake of the Ozarks is Mennonite Farm Country, also good for touring.
Sources: Fs.Usda.gov; Recreation.gov; VisitMo.com; ExploreBranson.com; SpringfieldMo.org; SeymourMissouri.org; NationalForests.org; StateParks.com; Nps.gov; En.Wikipedia.org