The original and largest store is in Springfield, Missouri.
STORY BY SUSAN WADE
Few would dispute the original Bass Pro Shops® Outdoor World® in Springfield, Missouri, is a must-see in the Ozarks. Affectionately known as The Grandaddy of All Outdoor Stores®, more than four million people from all over the world enter the store annually making this massive outdoor-themed experience the number-one tourist attraction in Missouri.
The first Bass Pro Shops in the world, the flagship store in Springfield offers nearly 500,000 square feet of immersive shopping fun with one of the largest assortments of outdoor gear, apparel, and gifts under one roof. Friendly experts are available to help shoppers find everything an outdoor lover could want from an extensive selection of items related to fishing, hunting, camping, boating, hiking, boats, and more. Don’t miss the collection of rare weapons that are as beautiful as they are functional in the Fine Gun Room. From recreational fishing boats to pontoons, the boat showroom is the place to go if you’re looking for a new watercraft.
For those who enjoy shooting sports and archery, the shooting ranges offer guests an opportunity to hone their skills and sight in their gear, and a visit to the knife shop for a sharpening session will put a fine edge on nearly any blade.
Meanwhile, Bass Pro is no stranger to fashion. Along with the camouflage hunting attire and fishing vests you expect to find in a store selling outdoor gear, the clothing and shoe sections are filled with stylish casual wear for every member of the family. From summer dresses to winter flannel, fashionistas are sure to fill their shopping carts and show off their outdoor spirit with sophisticated and comfortable clothing.
Shoppers can also explore the store’s aquariums filled with fish from around the world and marvel at the alligators and turtles traversing the in-store swamp. Exploring the huge selection of lifelike wildlife mounts throughout the store and the fish in the pools formed by cascading indoor waterfalls is enough to make any hunter or angler long for an outdoor adventure. Fish feeding shows in Uncle Buck’s Auditorium showcase divers feeding the fish that are native to Missouri and presenting an educational seminar about the underwater creatures and their habitats.
If all this excitement makes visitors hungry or thirsty, a coffee shop, fudge counter, and a full-service restaurant—Hemingway’s Blue Water café—will take care of the need.
Even with all that, “The Grandaddy” is just one component of the Bass Pro Shops campus. A number of additional wildlife and conservation-based attractions and amenities makes this experience a “must-see” when visiting the Ozarks. Additional attractions within the Bass Pro Shops campus in Springfield include:
NATIONAL ARCHERY HALL OF FAME
This free gallery seeks to preserve archery’s history and tradition in the United States. The hall showcases more than 1,500 artifacts, including a handmade bow created by Native American Apache leader Geronimo and memorabilia highlighting the careers of professional archers participating in their sport.
NRA NATIONAL SPORTING ARMS MUSEUM
This free museum chronicles the development and evolution of hunting arms in America from colonial times to present day. It’s home to the premier collection of sporting arms in the world and features legendary items such as President Teddy Roosevelt’s hunting rifle, weapons used by famed sharpshooter Annie Oakley, firearms with movie acclaim, and more.
BASS PRO SHOPS MOTORSPORTS MUSEUM
The free Motorsports Museum features a variety of NASCAR racing memorabilia, such as fire suits, helmets, and collectibles. Visitors can get an up-close look at the actual cars used in races, such as the champion No. 3 car Dale Earnhardt drove for his Daytona 500 win in 1998.
BASS PRO SHOPS MUSEUM
For a look at the humble beginnings of Bass Pro Shops and how it evolved over the years into the giant retailer and attraction it is today, the free Bass Pro Shops museum is the place to go. See a life-sized replica of the original store and hundreds of items collected over the years as the store grew, including items representing the recent acquisition of the Cabela’s chain of outdoor stores.
JOHNNY MORRIS’ WONDERS OF WILDLIFE NATIONAL MUSEUM & AQUARIUM
Adjacent to Bass Pro Shops, Wonders of Wildlife is another must-see attraction for outdoor enthusiasts. Twice named the Best Aquarium in the United States by a USA TODAY public poll, this world-class fish and wildlife attraction features 35,000 live fish, reptiles, mammals, and birds and one-and-a-half million gallons of water.
In the wildlife galleries, a walkway winds through a journey around the world through immersive displays that bring visitors eye-to-eye with the greatest collection of record-setting game animals ever assembled. Patrons can explore a gallery dedicated to birds, an area filled with dozens of world-record whitetail deer mounts, an African area complete with elephants and giraffes, and more. Every detail is complete from the temperature of the room, set to match the habitat it represents, to scents that represent the nearby terrain.
Live animal exhibits can be found throughout the aquarium. In addition to the thousands of colorful sea creatures ranging from tiny seahorses to massive sharks, guests can also observe a colony of penguins in Penguins Cove and two North American brown bears in their outdoor habitat.
Wonders of Wildlife offers up-close wildlife experiences, including the Penguin Encounter that puts guests “face-to-feather” inside the gentoo penguin enclosure and the Out to Sea Feeding Frenzy and Shark Dive, where guests slip beneath the waves inside the underwater shark tank.
That’s just a sample of what Wonders of Wildlife has to offer. Be sure to schedule plenty of time when you’re planning to visit.