LOCAL ATTRACTIONS / PARKS
There are lots of other things to do right in West Plains like catching a movie or skating, challenging your friends to a game of disc golf, or taking a leisurely stroll through Galloway Creek Nature Park.
THINGS TO DO IN WEST PLAINS
The Avenue Theatre, featuring Art Deco details, originally opened in 1950 as a movie house. The very first film shown was Fancy Pants, starring Bob Hope and Lucille Ball. After closing in the early 1980s, the building sat empty for several years until a group of local citizens formed a not-for-profit organization, Arts on the Avenue, to oversee its renovation. The building had been purchased by a local family and was donated to the organization. Starting in the 1990s, with minimal renovation, a homemade lightboard, and tin-can footlights, plays and talent shows were held in the auditorium. Over the years, renovation and upgrades have continued and now the building is home to community theater and hosts other events. Stage plays are held throughout the year, with a major musical production each summer. A recent addition of a movie screen has enabled the facility to come full circle back to its original purpose.
Butler Children’s Park
On the corner of Broadway & Halstead
A music-themed splash pad, installed and opened to the public in 2021, is the centerpiece of this park which is dedicated to children’s activities and good times for families. In addition to this wonderful, water-fun feature, the park has playground equipment which was installed in 2006 when the park was remodeled. There is also a large pavilion, available on a first come, first serve basis, which is great for parties and get-togethers. Other amenities include restrooms, picnic tables, benches, and trash receptacles. A new walking trail and a comprehensive, all-inclusive playground were recently added.
Go Farm Farmers Market came about from The Ozark Farmers Agricultural Cooperative (OFAC) mission to develop agricultural enterprises and market products produced by its members in the Ozarks. In addition to hosting regular market days, it accomplishes this by coordinating the marketing of member products and providing members with ongoing education for the purpose of increasing production or accessing larger markets. OFAC’s mission is to develop sustainable agriculture practices and markets for the area served by OFAC, to encourage local food production, and encourage healthy eating. Support local farmers and sustainability by shopping at Go Farm!
Galloway Creek Nature Park is a 40-acre tract owned by the city, used for recreational purposes. Galloway Creek, a 5.3-mile-long tributary creek, runs through the property. The park was developed/continues to be maintained by various civic organizations, local Boy and Girl Scout troops, environmental agencies, and the City of West Plains. Areas in the park serve as a “green area” for wildlife, maintaining the natural habitat of native plants and animals. A covered bridge crosses the creek as part of the walking trail through the park. Other amenities include a restroom, a play area, barbecue grills, and picnic tables. A large pavilion is available for reservation. The park is a great place for families to spend quality time together, enjoying the outdoors and learning about nature.
From Holiday Lane, go east on Girdley Street, continue under railroad bridge until you see Galloway Nature Park sign (County Road 1770) then take a left. Park will be 1/4 mile on the left.
Georgia White Walking Park
Thornburgh Street between Minnesota St. & Missouri Ave.
The Georgia White Walking Park features a 2.4-mile blacktopped walking track and greenspace. Decorative light poles provide LED lighting along the track and in the parking lot, making the area well-lit and suitable for early morning and evening strolls. The park is named in honor of Georgia White, who in 1989 donated a portion of the land behind her home to the city of West Plains to develop a walking park.
As an interesting historical note, included in the park’s tree population is a special tulip popular. One of the largest native trees in North America, the tulip poplar can reach heights of 150 feet. A member of the magnolia family, the tulip poplar is named for its distinct tulip-shaped leaves and flowers. These showy, goblet-shaped, green, orange, and yellow flowers appear in late spring. Standing tall in the middle of the Georgia White Walking Park is an offspring of a tulip poplar that George Washington planted in 1775 at Mount Vernon, Virginia. The Missouri Department of Conservation, with assistance from the West Plains Rotary Club, planted the offspring tree April 3, 1991.
Glass Sword Cinema
Lanton Rd. & S. Hwy 63 West Plains, MO
The Glass Sword is a locally owned and operated movie theater which has been in operation for over 40 years. Starting out as the “Glass Sword Twin Cinema” with only two screens, the theater has expanded and been renovated over the years. It is now home to six screens, and as always, shows the latest releases. With upgraded seating and sound systems, the Glass Sword now has not only 2-D, but 3-D capabilities. A clean facility and friendly staff make your bigscreen, moviegoing experience lots of fun.
The Harlin Museum is a cultural arts center that has been telling the story of the Ozarks through art and history since 1972. The museum, a not-for-profit organization, is the exclusive owner of the L.L. Broadfoot art collection, which includes the original artwork and background notes of Lennis L. Broadfoot who published a book in 1944, “Pioneers of the Ozarks,” a unique portrayal of early Ozark residents. The museum offers historical artifact and art preservation, instructional workshops in fine art and folk art subjects, competition art shows, and historical exhibits, as well as educational programming for youth and adults.
The original Harlin House, which served as the initial museum space, was built in 1889. It was the residence of Mr. and Mrs. James P. Harlin. James Harlin served as mayor of West Plains for 32 years. There is a modern two-story addition which serves as exhibit, classroom, and gallery space. A small gift shop on the main floor of the gallery offers unique art, books on regional history, and other locally made gifts such as jewelry, ornaments, scarves, repurposed wood décor signs, and candlesticks.
The Heart of the Ozarks Fairgrounds is the site of our community’s annual summertime fair which features carnival rides on a midway and good old-fashioned country fun. But the fairgrounds hosts many other events as well. Truck and tractor pulls, rodeos, monster trucks, and demolition derbies are the kinds of attractions that you might catch at the fairgrounds. Indoor facilities are also available with occasional craft shows and other events.
The HOBA (Heart of the Ozarks Bluegrass Association) Bluegrass Park is an outdoor, live music venue, which was founded in 1980 to further the education and enjoyment of bluegrass music. HOBA hosts bluegrass concerts on a periodic basis, with three-day, annual spring and fall festivals as its two main events. The park has approximately 130 RV sites, with plenty of 30-amp plug-ins and limited 50 amp. The park is open the Saturday before festivals begin, but for those who might need in sooner, call to make arrangements. HOBA does not take reservations. Sites are on a first come, first served basis. All the RV sites have electric and access to water. Many have sewer in addition to electric, and water. A dump station and shower house/bathroom facilities are available. Concession stand is open during festivals, serving up “home cooked” menus. The performance stage is covered, but the audience area is open air. Shows are held rain or shine but postponed during extreme weather. Bring your own lawn chairs and enjoy great bluegrass music!
JMB Park/Disc Golf Course
BB Highway, West Plains MO
The park has one small pavilion available on a first come, first serve basis, and a larger, 3,500-square-foot pavilion which can be reserved. Other amenities include picnic tables, barbecue grills, a single track mountain bike trail, and restroom facilities. The JMB Park’s main attraction is a disc golf course. For those unacquainted with disc golf, it is played like traditional golf but with flying discs and specially designed large, metal “baskets” instead of balls, clubs, and holes. The flying discs for disc golf are different than a typical, classic Frisbee©. They are smaller and heavier, designed to go further and with greater accuracy. Like regular golf, there are putters and drivers and other discs for in-between. However, even though serious disc golf players discourage the idea, if you don’t want to make an investment in equipment, a classic flying disc can be used to get a feel for the sport. As for the rules, just like regular golf, the goal is to play each hole in the fewest strokes possible, and the player with the lowest total strokes for the entire course wins. At JMB Park, there is a 9-hole recreational course with one pin position, approximately 2,200 feet. The 18-hole championship course has two pin positions, approximately 7,650 feet to 9,150 feet. The course was professionally designed by HB Clark and is located in mature woods in moderately hilly terrain with well-defined fairways throughout. Play on the course is free, except for occasional sponsored tournaments.
Test your skill (or luck) throwing sharp objects and making them stick! Johnny Hatchets offers a safe, fun, family environment for throwing axes of all shapes and sizes along with hatchets, tomahawks, knives, and even throwing stars. There are several lanes, similar to a bowling alley, but shorter and with a big, wooden bullseye target to hit (like an oversize dart board) instead of pins to knock down. Individuals and groups are welcome. It’s a great place for parties, events, date nights, and celebrations. Expertise and prior experience not required. Call to schedule your throwing time and for pricing.
Legit Speedway Park is an 80-acre motorsports facility six miles south of West Plains. The complex accommodates over 12,000 fans, racers, and crew members and is rated as one of the finest dirt track facilities in the nation. Fans can enjoy the action from their choice of molded-contour seating, ground-level bleachers, high-rise stadium-style seating, or in a tailgate area. On-site camping is available free of charge offering clean restrooms, showers, water fill, and a dump station for motorhomes. Full-service food and souvenir concessions are also conveniently located within the facility, along with acres of free parking. Divisions featured on the weekly racing card are the Super Late Model, A-Modified, B-Modified, Super Stock, Hobby Stock, and Bone Stock classes, giving motorsports enthusiasts the opportunity to experience the excitement of grass roots racing on the 3/8-mile red clay oval track. See the website for ticket pricing and information and schedule. Races typically start in March or April and go into the first part of October.
Lightning Bowl offers a great opportunity for family fun. Open bowling is typically available on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, with limited open play on Mondays and Thursdays to accommodate leagues. Glow bowl on Friday and Saturday nights starting at 8 p.m. until 10:30. They do not reserve lanes, but you can call ahead to confirm open bowling times and lane availability. Their concession stand food and drink menu includes pizza, burgers, sandwiches, nachos, hot dogs, and sides. Soft drinks, hot beverages, and beer are available. Check out their Facebook page for any updates in schedules and new events.
This locally owned and operated farm offers seasonal family fun for all ages. They are open for a few weeks in the fall, typically starting in late September and continuing through October. Before visiting, be sure to check their schedule by messaging on Facebook or calling. The McWilliams Family started small over a decade ago, selling pumpkins and offering a few things to do on their farm. Through the years they have added more activities. Now, in a typical season, they have corn mazes, a corn hut, mini zip line, barrel train, and hayrides. They also have giant slides and a “Jumbo Jumper” big bouncer. There are farm animals to look at, a sunflower patch, concession stand, and of course, they still sell pumpkins! All sizes and shapes are available.
The MDC Ozark Regional Office and recreational area is a 20-acre hidden gem right in the city limits of West Plains. It features a park, walking trails, a nature area that includes an educational pond, with a catch-and-release fishing opportunity for children 15 and younger from May to September. In addition to the trail and pond, the area has a backyard feeder/bird viewing area and pollinator-benefiting landscaping surrounding the building, with a picnic table and benches. Nets, jars, and magnifying glasses are provided in the equipment bucket to assist children in capturing insects for close-up study. A map and compass course is also available on the property. In the office lobby, children can interact with a life-sized tent, draw and color outdoor photos at a picnic table, and view the native fish aquarium. Free MDC publications are available at this location. Office open M-F, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. The outside area is open seven days a week, 4 a.m. to 10 p.m.
North Terra is an 18-hole, public golf course owned and operated by the City of West Plains. Call for information about greens fees and hours of operation. Driving range and pro shop available.
The Ozarks Heritage Research Center (OHRC) is committed to preserving the work of Ozarks scholars and authors. Materials preserved in the collection are meant to serve scholarly researchers, regional history enthusiasts, and students. To this end, OHRC is working to collect and make available documents and visual sources that represent the history and cultural heritage of the southern Missouri Ozarks. As OHRC continues to build historical and cultural collections not available anywhere else, it seeks to play a role in the broader research community.
A large pavilion – 4,500 square feet – is at the heart of People’s Park, but there are also picnic tables, barbecue grills, a short walking trail, a tennis court, and a basketball court. Restroom facilities are available. There is no charge to use park facilities, but there is a fee to reserve the pavilion for organized events. The West Plains Aquatic Center is the main feature of People’s Park. Open to the public seven days a week during the summer season, the aquatic center consists of two swimming pools, including a large lap pool. The smaller pool is a zero-entrance pool and equipped with a mother’s bench in the water, a mushroom waterfall, a frog slide for smaller children, and a large water slide located at the opposite end of the pool with a 3-foot, 6-inch depth. The larger pool includes two diving boards with a depth of 12 feet. Both pools are surrounded by concrete leisure areas filled with lawn chairs. There is a dining area outside of the concession stand complete with umbrella-covered tables for guests to sit and eat. Admission rates depend on age. Please call for current information.
The Robert Neathery Skate Park provides in-line and skateboard enthusiasts a layout designed especially for their sport, offering features to match all skill levels. In addition to the concrete skate areas, the park has a small pavilion.
Sadie Brown Cemetery
Junction Hwy US 63 & Hwy 14 West Plains, MO
Established in the late 19th century, the cemetery rests on the homestead of Saint Leger Brown, a Methodist minister who had been enslaved. It is one of the only burial grounds established for the Black community in Howell County. Some of the graves are marked, but others are not. A research project is currently underway to identify unmarked graves and a recent grant will help in the quest to provide headstones.
S&S Skateland is a family friendly skating rink that offers open skate times and special events. They have a small rink for young children and beginners, with a large rink for more experienced skaters. Fun lighting and music. Concessions with seating area and pool tables available. Skateland is typically open on Fridays and Saturdays. Give them a call or message on Facebook for pricing and hours of operation.
The Bounce House
1659 Porter Wagoner Blvd. West Plains, MO
The Bounce House is an indoor venue which has inflatable bounce houses, slides, video games, and other activities. Contact them for hours of operation or to schedule a private event.
The West Plains Civic Center is a popular multi-purpose facility which hosts everything from concerts to circuses, stage shows to athletic events, and much more. With a 3500-seat arena, a 10,000-square-foot exhibit hall, and a performing arts theater, the Civic Center has a full schedule. Local art exhibits are frequently on display at the mezzanine “Gallery at the Center,” and programs around holidays – such as Christmas craft shows, Veterans Day salutes, and musical tributes – are common. It is also home to various events which extend to its outdoor spaces, including the annual Old-Time Music, Ozark Heritage Festival. Be sure to call ahead for information and updates. The Civic Center is also the site for many meetings, conferences, and conventions. It has multiple large and small rooms which are available for rent by individuals for a variety of purposes, including reunions and parties. Activities at the Civic Center for visitors range from Grizzly Basketball and Volleyball games to periodic stage shows which are as varied as magic acts, kids’ entertainment, and comedy. There is also an indoor pool and fitness center available.
The West Plains Country Club was established in 1926 and has undergone multiple renovations and upgrades through the years to become a full-service event center. There are a variety of membership categories available ranging from golfing on an individual or family basis to different levels of involvement in social activities. There is a non-resident member opportunity. Amenities include an 18-hole golf course, restaurant, bar, swimming pool, and two regulation-size tennis courts.
The West Plains Public Library Genealogy Room offers numerous resources for genealogical research and study for several states. There are local newspapers dating back to 1907. Some Civil War information is available on microfilm. Books and publications on American genealogy, Howell County Post Offices, area histories, county histories, family histories, cemetery records, Ridgerunner Magazines, West Plains Gazette magazines, and Zizzer annuals are available along with marriage records and census information.
West Plains Senior Center
416 E. Main St. West Plains, MO
The senior center offers a variety of programming and activities. There are many services for seniors, but the facility aims to involve community members of all ages, encouraging friendship, fun, and healthy living across generations. Lunch is served Mondays through Fridays, and the community room is also available for rent for events outside regular hours.