5 Ways Springfield, MO, is like an itty-bitty Portland

Ellen drinking beer at Mother's

5 Ways Springfield, MO, is like an itty-bitty Portland

My recent trip to my home-state landed me five days in Springfield, Missouri, visiting with college friends, attending my cousin’s beautiful wedding, and chilling out with my in-laws. And as it had been several months since we’d been to Springfield, I was suddenly aware of some changes that have made Springfield a bit more, well, awesome.

These changes were surely gradual, but after months away they’re as blazing as the neon at Steak and Shake at St. Louis & National. And, it’s strengthening my theory that Springfield, Mo, is actually a tiny, Portlandy oasis in the Ozarks. Here are five reasons:

Bike infrastructure, yo!

You knew I HAD to talk about this one! 😉

I can fondly reminisce about pedestrians lingering in the bike lanes on Missouri State’s campus (and the near-misses which resulted), but at this point there are bike lanes and marked trails galore leading to Commercial Street, the Downtown square and beyond in Springfield. There is even a completely separate, two-way bike lane for about three blocks near the new bus station (and conveniently near Mother’s Brewing… yummmmm) as well as an entire bike-themed cafe/bar across from Sequiota Park — aptly named Sequiota Bike Shop. As an added bonus, Springfield is relatively flat, so pedaling around was a cinch.

Ellen and Britton in Springfield Missouri on Bikes

Springfield Missouri Divided Bike Lane painted green

Cycling mural in springfield mo queen city cycles

bike rack at coffee shop in springfield mo

sequiota bike shop store front

sequiota bike shop with bike skirt

sequiota bike cafe


Coffee shops per capita.

A quick Yelp search yields 15 independent coffee shops before a Starbucks is even mentioned — and seeing as the main part of the city is barely 5 miles wide, we’re talking lots of options for its 166,000 residents. And these aren’t just McDonald’s drip quality coffee places. Artisan styles, pour-over, cold press, you name it they got it.

brick and mortar coffee springfield mo

Food trucks are rolling in.

And not just popping up like daisies. They’ve arrived like a convoy, rockin’ through the night! There’s an entire parking lot dedicated to housing these foodie favorites. It all started with the London Calling Pasty Company — complete with double-decker bus for seating! — who have since been joined by specialty french fries, gourmet hot dogs, pizza, ice cream and more. Plus, there’s a life-size foosball game ready for you to challenge your friends. You read that right.

london calling red double decker bus springfield mo

springfield mo wheelhouse food truck

An amazing selection of niche shops.

Custom hair cut, shave or shoe shine? Yep. Artisan bakeries? Yep. A neat clothing store which also benefits the local food pantry? Also yep.

chris britton sitting outside coffee shop

A non-profit, community-supported indie movie theater.

When The Moxie needed to upgrade, it asked Springfield for a bit o’ love and Springfield answered. Now supported by dozens of residents and peer businesses, the Moxie’s playbill ranges from off-the-wall classics to contemporary favorites. To add just a bit more Portland-ness into the mix, they sponsor movie nights in the backyard at the local craft brewery, Mother’s.

Ellen drinking beer at Mother's

I forgot to take a photo at The Moxie, so here’s me drinking beer at Mother’s Brewing Co., complete with coordinating adirondack chair and sunglasses.

So there you have it. Just add skinny jeans and resident goats and you’ve concocted Springfield, Mo: an itty-bitty Portland city, deep in the heart of the Ozarks.

Sequiota Bike Shop Springfield Mo

  • Vivian Short
    Posted at 17:35h, 17 June Reply

    Ellen, thanks for a lovely article and photos of some of Springfield’s highlights! And as for the goats … a car stopped in the road in front of my house last week (in the Galloway area behind Sequiota Park) and a woman leaned out of the driver’s side window to ask if we’d seen her lost goat! Yes, we’re well on our way to Portlandia!

    • Ellen Schwartze
      Posted at 22:43h, 19 June Reply

      Vivian, that is hilarious! Keep it up, Springfield, the future is looking bright. 😀

  • Liz Harris
    Posted at 13:08h, 19 June Reply

    I can’t wait to visit the ol’ stomping grounds this weekend. I’ll be looking for those bike lanes!

    • Ellen Schwartze
      Posted at 22:43h, 19 June Reply

      They are seriously common! I was floored. Have a great time, Liz!

  • Nathan Carr
    Posted at 13:21h, 21 June Reply

    I used to live in Springfield and now I live in Portland. This is so true. Thanks for the awesome article. I can’t wait to come back to visit!

    • Ellen Schwartze
      Posted at 14:53h, 21 June Reply

      Thanks, Nathan! Glad to hear my assessment holds up! 🙂

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