If you are like most of us, you are on a budget. And as a student, that budget for me can be VERY tight! This leaves very little room for fun and activities. But still, as a human I like to go out and do things when I have spare time. So I’ve had to get creative. Luckily I live in a city where there’s usually something going on. I’ll start with the few freebies that I feel are worth mentioning. I know there are more, but these are the ones that I have personally done or would do myself and would recommend to others.
Top of my freebies list is the First Friday Art Walk. It takes place on the first Friday of every month (sometimes it gets rescheduled due to bad weather and such, so check the website to be sure) in downtown at local shops, museums, tattoo parlors, and other businesses. There is a complete map and a listing of participating businesses at http://www.ffaw.org/. It is a wonderful way to spend an evening with friends, that special someone, or on your own. You can see loads of great art by local artists. A personal favorite of mine is the Gillioz Theater in the upstairs where students display their work. I was once a student in their painting class, so it is near to my heart. You will be surprised where you find some of the best art!
Next on my list would have to be some of the beautiful parks in town! Two that immediately come to mind are the Nathaneal Greene Park on Scenic and the Jordan Valley Park on Trafficway across the street from the Hammons Tower. I love these parks! They are wonderfully well kept, each with things I like about them. Nathaneal Greene has a butterfly sanctuary in the warm months, a small lake with geese, interesting statues, children’s play equipment, a cabin, and a Japanese stroll garden (this has a fee). It’s a great spot for a romantic stroll, an afternoon Bible study, a jog, taking photos, or for the kids to play. Jordan Valley has the water fountains in the warmer months that are great for all ages, trails for walking or jogging, children’s play equipment, gentle hills that would be great for sledding in the winter, they usually host a New Year’s firework show among other activities the Park Board assembles. Both are wonderful parks, conveniently located within Springfield. I should mention a third free park that is great for kids: the Rutledge-Wilson Farm Park. It has farm animals for viewing and play equipment. You can also rent out event space there, that might be a good idea for birthday parties.
My last freebie (which I have yet to try but would love to) is the Baker’s Observatory. Now this one is not in Springfield, as it is 10 miles northwest of Marshfield, but it is mostly used for Springfield MSU astronomy students. However they do have days in September or October and in April or May when they are open to the public free of charge. They setup telescopes so that viewers can see some interesting celestial objects. They do ask that you bring a red flashlight or a flashlight with red plastic or tape covering it help keep it dark for viewing. The dates are also dependent on if there are clear skies that night. If it is cloudy, they will reschedule for the following night. More information on this is at http://physics.missouristate.edu/NASAObservingNight.htm.
For anyone that lives in Springfield, the Palace Theater is an obvious choice. This is a movie theater that shows newer movie titles in between being released in theaters and coming out on DVD (sometimes even after, if it is popular enough). I really love this theater though! It allows for a great date night without breaking the bank! Tickets are $3 per person on every night except Tuesdays, when they have their “Time Warp Tuesdays”, then tickets are $1.50 per person. However, their concessions are still pretty pricey so be aware.
For my sports fans out there, I haven’t forgotten you! There are our local Springfield Cardinals at Hammons Field. I have been to see them many times and always have a good time. I am not even an avid sports person, but there is something to be said about going to the stadium and seeing it live! This also makes a terrific gift, and have went with my dad before. The price isn’t bad either, for a general admissions ticket it’s around $6 per person. If you are coupon savvy, the local universities have coupon books, and one of them is for a “College Night” on a set date where you get general admission, a hotdog, and a pop for $5. However, you have to have a coupon for each person and a student ID (I found this out the hard way). But definitely worth it for a different kind of night out, even if you’re not a sports fan.
For my gamers out there, have you tried the 1984 Arcade in downtown? I know it sounds really cheesy, and I thought so too until I checked it out. They have all the classics! You can’t help but say “Oh! I remember that game!” while going down Memory Lane. And the price is great, at $5 per person for admission and all you can play. It really was a good time playing all those old favorites and trying out some new ones. Plus remember that coupon book I mentioned earlier? There is usually a coupon in there for a discount here too!
If all this reminiscing is up your alley, then you might consider Fun Acre Mini Golf. It is $2.50 for adults per game and $1.75 for kids 5-11. This could be a great way to have a little fun within budget. They also have a cheap batting cage onsite if you want to test your skills.
If you want something a little more adult, there is always the Springfield Improv downtown. They have adults only comedy shows at 6:30, 8, and 10 pm at 308 South Ave. The cost is $10 for students or $12 otherwise, plus the actors expect a tip if they do a good job. If I remember correctly, they also serve beer and wine as well as other refreshments. This is a different group than the one I have seen in the past (it used to be Skinny Improv), who were very funny. There is a second improv company called the Moon City Improv who are also located in downtown at Big Momma’s Coffee and Espresso Bar. They have shows at 7 and 9 pm and the price is $5 for students, $7 otherwise, or add $3 if you want to stay for both. I have not personally seen this group, so I cannot say how good it is.
I hope my this helps those on a budget, my fellow Springfielders, and those who might want to see our city! If you have any other suggestions to add, or have enjoyed this plus feel free to add a comment. Until next time, Buenas Noches!