KSNF/KODE — With inflation and record-breaking prices, it can be difficult to find activities individuals and families alike can enjoy this summer without a bank-breaking vacation. We asked locals what their favorite activities are in the Four State area.

Creation Safari Wildlife Park

It’s about a 33-minute drive from the Joplin area to Creation Safari Wildlife Park where over 200 animals are cared for, including some endangered species. Their Facebook page showcases and highlights a number of patron testimonies and photos of critters such as kangaroos, giant tortoises, and zebras. The safari offers a shaded petting zoo to pet and feed some of the wildlife. Their property also has an air-conditioned gift shop with cold drinks available.

Admission is $10 for adults and $8 for kids. You can check out their Facebook page here for their hours of operation.

Twin Bridges Area at Grand Lake State Park

Also in Oklahoma, is Twin Bridges Area at Grand Lake. Less than an hour from the Joplin area, it’s a popular spot for fishing a variety of fish, boating, picnics, and camping. Their facilities include picnic areas, playgrounds, restrooms, and horseshoe pits. There are options for lake huts and RVs as well. For more information, you can check out this link here.

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

General admission is always free at Crystal Bridges in NW Arkansas. The unique day trip, located on 120 acres of Ozark forest with five miles of trails, has something for everyone. The permanent art collection is indoors, but there’s also an art trail outside that features great photo-ops near unique sculptures.

Temporary exhibitions make their way to the Museum of Art throughout the year for an admission fee. The facility also offers a restaurant, coffee, and unique gift shop experience. For a full guide of tours available, trail maps, and more information to plan your visit follow this link here.

Scott Family Amazeum

This unique and creative experience offers 50,000 square feet of a variety of exhibits that use Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM) learning through play. Families can play all day in a safe and fun environment that will pique their curiosity with hands-on functional play. Admission is $11 per person aged 2 and older. You can check out their website here.

George Washington Carver National Monument

Rich in history and culture the Monument is a national treasure that highlights the life of agricultural scientist and teacher George Washington Carver through guided tours, breath-taking nature trails, diverse woodland, streams, and prairie land. A Carver family cemetery, 1881 Carver house, and sculptures are also located on the property. The Monument offers a visitor center where you can browse historic documents, interactive exhibits, and a 19th-century classroom. Follow this link here to see their website and hours of operation.

Diamond Grove Adventure Park

Diamond Grove Adventure Park is located in Diamond, Missouri and has a range of activites from a scenic train ride, miniature donkeys and goats, to a natural play scape and gem mining. The park also features a 14-foot platform for those brave enough to jump off onto a giant inflated pillow. To see pictures and reserve tickets you can follow this link here.

Kiddieland in Lincoln Park

The amusement park in Pittsburg, KS first opened in the early 1950’s, eventually closed, and reopened in 2022. The park includes a train, roller coaster, planes, Ferris wheel, cars, tubs, and carousel. You can find information on their cheap tickets and hours here.

Route 66 Drive-In Movie Theatre

Break out the lawn chairs and blankets, or hangout inside the car or bed of the truck while you enjoy the classic, iconic experience of the Route 66 Drive-In. Every weekend the theater offers a double-feature of popular new releases and the occasional throw-back to an old time classic. Admission is cash-only but the concessions do take cash and debit cards. To see times and featured films follow this link here.