Day Trippin near southwest Missouri: Dickerson Park Zoo

Seth Kinker
Neosho Daily News

Over the course of this summer, I’ll be plotting out and exploring some day trips that can be made in the southwest Missouri area.

This past weekend, I picked a family friendly adventure that’s close and provides entertainment for everyone in the Dickerson Park Zoo in Springfield at a reasonable cost.

It’s a short trip, just about an hour away to get there from my place in Joplin with plenty of sights, sounds and experiences for the family.

The Baringo Giraffe's can be fed at the Dickerson Park Zoo!

Travel time: I left from Joplin right around 12:30 and got there at 1:30. One thing to keep in mind if you’re planning a trip to the zoo, the weather.

After going through the Zoo, I was back to my car by 3:30 and home by 4:30 but again, that’s just me as one person. It could take longer with more members in tow.

Round trip, it was only about 140 miles.

Price: Adults and teens: $15, 60 and older: $12, children ages 2-12: $10

Hours: March – October: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., November – February: 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

What to look out for: For you and whoever is with you when walking around at the zoo, when I planned to go on this trip a day or two prior, the rain drove me away because I knew the animals would likely be inside.

Conversely, if it’s too hot, they’ll just be lounging about or avoiding the sun. I got lucky and was able to get there on a day that wasn’t too hot with clouds rolling through here and there.

You’ll receive a map shortly after buying your tickets that can direct you wherever you’d like to go. One of the things I liked about this zoo was how it split it’s sections into parts of the world and what type of animals you would see there.

From South America and the different types of monkeys and exotic birds to Tropical Asia and the tigers and the elephants to Africa and the zebras and other animas of the plains, there’s something for everyone.

A Chacoan Peccary, found in the hot, dry, thorny scrub of the Gran Chaco region of South America.

There’s a petting zoo where you can feed the goats out of your hand and even a chance to feed the giraffes from a tall feeding deck too.

The diversity of life building has all manners of snakes, newts and spiders with parts of the zoo educating visitors on the different types of animals found in Missouri, too.

Throughout the loops in the zoo, there’s bathrooms, water fountains and vending machines available and even fans hooked up with hoses to spray out a mist on these hot summer days to allow you to cool down.

Black and White Colobus Monkeys with a young one at the Dickerson Park Zoo.

There’s a café that you can make a stop in for a bite to eat if anyone is hungry and the exit has a train station ride for the kids and a gift shop before you leave.

It’s a change up from the hikes that’ve comprised most of these Day Trips but it was another fun stop in getting to know the area.

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