Heading to Missouri? We share the best places to visit in Missouri to help you plan the perfect trip around the state.
Although it doesn’t have the worldwide appeal of California, Hawaii, Florida, or New York, Missouri is one of the best travel destinations to consider if you’re interested in the heartland of the United States. This Midwestern state is jam-packed with attractions, from historic landmarks to beautiful scenic drives in Missouri; there is plenty to explore. Whether you’re traveling alone or with your family, you can find attractions for every age.
Here are nine reasons to add Missouri to your travel bucket list.
Best places to visit in Missouri
1. The Attractions of St. Louis
A major river port on the banks of the Mississippi River, St. Louis is a large city where you will find an eclectic mix of natural and cultural attractions. A major attraction is the 30-foot Gateway Arch, built in commemoration of the 1804 start of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. The monument is considered the city’s symbol.
To enjoy spectacular views of St. Louis, you can hop on one of the traditional paddlewheel boats that regularly tour the river. Other major attractions are the St. Louis Cathedral, the Cardinals Hall of Fame, the Anheuser-Busch beer factory, and the Magic House.
Not only is St. Louis an iconic, historic city to explore but it is also a cheap place in the USA to enjoy a summer vacation. Hotel prices aren’t as high as other cities nearby, food is affordable and the attractions are not over priced, plus there are many free things to do here as well.
2. Shopping Opportunities in Branson
Right in the heart of the Ozark Mountains, Branson is a picturesque city where travelers can spend many enjoyable days without running out of things to do. Besides the scenic views of the mountains and the rich nightlife, the city is also known for providing a rewarding shopping experience.
The locally owned Speciality Shops in Branson MO are filled with handcrafted gifts and many unique products made by talented artisans. From original clothing items to sweet treats, you can easily find something to your taste. After enjoying some shopping, you could also check out the Titanic exhibit in the area too.
Missouri is the perfect affordable girls’ weekend getaway in the US, especially for those that are looking for shopping, exploring and some relaxing!
3. Branson’s Great Outdoors
Branson is one of the most attractive places in Missouri to add to your travel itinerary. And besides being a haven for shopping enthusiasts, Branson is also the perfect place to experience the great outdoors.
Surrounded by mountains, this lively city is a convenient starting point for hiking, fishing with trout lures for lakes, sailing, or surfing trips. If you love being active in your vacation, you’ll find many opportunities to do various outdoor sports in Branson or nearby. Expect dozens of hiking trails, serene lakes, and spectacular views.
4. The Lake of the Ozarks
Located in the Ozark Mountains in central Missouri, The Lake of the Ozarks is a premier travel destination in the Midwest. The Lake of the Ozarks looks like a sleeping dragon due to its shape dominated by numerous slow curves, which is why it is known locally as the ‘Magic Dragon’.
The area offers plenty of opportunities to spend quality time outdoors, boating, fishing, golfing, hiking, and doing various other water sports. You can find a wide variety of lodging, parks, restaurants, shopping areas, and anything you need for an energizing vacation in a picturesque location. It is possible to take an organised off-road adventure from Branson, through this scenic area.
5. The Worlds of Fun Amusement Park in Kansas City
Kansas City is an excellent reason to add Missouri to your travel bucket list. The state’s largest city is known for its thriving cultural and creative arts scene, important historical sights, a rich craft brewing culture, and not only. But the main attraction that brings many travelers of all ages to Kansas City is Worlds of Fun, the largest amusement park complex in the Midwest. It has 235 acres and features dozens of thrilling rides and coasters.
Kansas City is also nicknamed the city of fountains, with more than 200 fountains dotted around the streets; making the city a scenic and picturesque placate explore.
You can enjoy the Kansas City-style barbecue food here, explore the world-class museums and wander through the artsy neighbourhoods. You can also visit the impressive Sea Life Aquarium and the Legoland here too.
6. American Jazz Museum in Kansas City
Jazz is one of the most complex and influential components of American culture. Few other types of music have the same distinctive power to seduce people of all ages, nationalities, or backgrounds. The American Jazz Museum in Kansas City is a tribute to the incantatory energy of jazz and presents its role in the nation’s history through interactive and sensory exhibits and films.
Located in the Historic 18th & Vine Jazz District, saxophonist Charlie Parker’s neighborhood, the museum is considered the crowning jewel of Missouri. If you travel to Kansas City, a visit to the American Jazz Museum should be at the top of your must-see list.
7. The Historic Rocks Bridge
For decades, travelers driving Route 66 crossed the Mississippi River on the historic Chain of Rocks Bridge, a colorful mile-long bridge standing 60 feet above the rapid waters of the Mississippi.
Part of the history of Route 66, the Chain of Rocks Bridge is a significant landmark that you shouldn’t miss if you find yourself near St. Louis. The architecture is unique: the bridge has a 22-degree bend in the middle that gives it a quirky shape. You can walk or cycle over the river, but cars are no longer allowed to cross over.
8. The beauty of the Mark Twain National Forest
Mark Twain is one of the most famous literary names in American history, born and raised in Missouri. His entire work was inspired by the river life in Missouri, with the Mississippi River as a constant background for the most humorous and original adventures. As the home of the famous writer, Missouri celebrates its popularity with many monuments and landmarks.
The Mark Twain National Forest is one of Missouri’s top attractions, offering plenty of opportunities for adventure and recreation. Hiking, mountain biking, horseback, riding, canoeing, and kayaking are only of few examples of activities that will make you feel as adventurous as Twain’s beloved characters.
9. Wonders of Elephant Rocks State Park
Located in the Saint Francois Mountains in Missouri, Elephant Rocks State Park is a geologic reserve famous for a unique outcropping of granite boulders that looks like a herd of elephants. The rocks have been standing there for 1.5 billion years, so geology enthusiasts will have a lot of fun exploring the area. Visitors will find many hiking trails, and rock climbing opportunities, but also areas for picnics and relaxation.
Often referred to as the birthplace of Route 66, Springfield can be found in the southwest of Missouri. Around the city, you can find various Route 66 inspired attractions, including themed diners and motels as well as a vintage car museum.
Whilst in the city, you can also visit Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield before heading to Fantastic Caverns; a huge cave system that you can explore in a jeep-drawn tram.
11. Ha Ha Tonka State Park
Known for being one to castle ruins, the Ha Ha Tonka State Park is a beautiful place to take a stroll, especially in the warmer weather. Not far from the Lake of the Ozark, the park was originally developed in 1905 as private property, before a fire destroyed the stone mansion built here.
You can now take a walk around the bar, see the remains of the home and check out the caves, hiking trails, viewpoints and even sinkholes surrounding the castle.
On the border with Illinois, Hannibal is a picturesque, historic city, known for being the home of author Mark Twain. He even bought the city to life, setting his Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Fin novels in this laidback town.
Nowadays, you can find various historical sites mentioned in his stories but you can also see the authors boyhood home and visit a museum to learn more about this famous writer.
13. Meramec State Park
For lush forests and mysterious caves, head to the Meramec State Park. This is a beautiful place to unwind and enjoy landscape views that never seem to end. Fraser Cave is the most impressive cave, complete with stalactites and stalagmites shining across the interior.
Booking a trip to Missouri is a great way to discover many unique attractions that are an essential part of American culture and heritage. Use our list as inspiration for a memorable trip.
Cool places to visit in Missouri F.A.Q
What is the number 1 attraction in Missouri?
Gateway Arch is the number 1 attraction in Missouri, located in St. Louis, this is an iconic American landmark that offers amazing views of the city. This is also one of the best things to see in the US and should be on your USA Bucketlist.
What is the prettiest place in Missouri?
Missouri is home to a range of beautiful nature including Dogwood Canyon, Blue Spring, Grand Falls, and the Ozark mountains.
What is the coolest place in Missouri?
The Gateway Arch is an iconic attraction in the state but you should also check out City Museum, the lake of the Ozark, and the National World War I Museum. Those looking for adventure should head to the Adrenaline Zone and those looking for a romantic evening should take the Hermann Wine Trail.
Is there anything worth seeing in Missouri?
Of course, there are plenty of things to see in Missouri, including the State Capitol building, the Missouri State Penitentiary, the Gateway Arch, the Missouri State Museum, and the many nature parks.
What is Missouri known for?
Besides the Gateway Arch, Missouri is known for its agriculture industry and amazing barbecue food as well as being home to many beautiful state parks.
What is the nicest part of Missouri?
Richmond Heights is rated as one of the best places to live in Missouri and the USA. St. Louis, Chesterfield, Brentwood, and Clayton are also great places to live in as well.
The best time to visit Missouri?
May to June and September to November are the best months to visit Missouri. This is when the monsoon season has stopped and the summer temperatures aren’t making outdoor sights hard to enjoy.
Where is the Missouri ghost town?
Times Beach is known as a guest tone in St. Louis County, around 17b miles from the city of St. Louis. The town was once one to over 2000 people, who were evacuated in 1983 due to dioxin contamination.
What is Ozark known for?
The Ozark region is known for its beautiful landscape, which includes stunning waterfalls, crystal clear lakes, unique caves, and caverns as well as interesting karstic landforms.
How to visit the USA on a budget
- We LOVE this camera for our travel photography.
- For a cheap, easy, and compact camera, we use this to vlog and take photographs.
- We use this microphone for all our Youtube voiceovers.
- We use this travel drone (but make sure to check drone laws in your chosen destination first).
- This is our favorite travel insurance because it covers so many activities and travel situations that could arise on longer trips but also offer year coverage.
What to pack
- No matter where we travel, I always take these trusty hand sanitizers and a mini first aid kit.
- We love these toiletry bags (especially great for smaller bathrooms) and choose a laptop bag like this as our hand luggage.
- We keep our devices charged on long travel days with these lightweight battery packs and bring these worldwide travel adaptors on all our trips.
- I still struggle not to overpack so stick to using an expandable suitcase like these and always take my trusty luggage scales to avoid being charged at the airport.