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Top Ten Destination Spots in Missouri

Updated on October 15, 2015

10. Kansas City

Founded in 1838, Kansas City is known for its fountains, boulevards and barbecue. Westport is a great place to visit in Kansas City and is the oldest established community in Kansas City.

Westport is in the entertainment district and you will also find eateries, shopping and lodging.

The Trailside Center is another interesting place located in Kansas City. Here you will find a museum that houses artifacts having to do with the Battle of Westport from The Civil War as well as items from the Santa Fe, California and Oregon Trails.

The River Market is a popular attraction full of different farmers markets along the riverfront along with restaurants, bars, cafes and ethnic markets.

Swope Park is home to the Kansas City Zoo which opened in 1909 and a place anyone can enjoy. Swope park is a huge park that houses not only the zoo but baseball diamonds, a golf course, a swimming pool, a disc golf course and a soccer field as well.

Swope Park is one of the largest parks in Missouri and most of the park contains heavily wooded areas that are undeveloped.

The historic Union Station in Kansas City opened in 1914 and closed in 1988. Today it is the Amtrak Station.

Union Station


Kansas City River Market


9. Meramec River

The Meramec was used for years for transporting lead, iron and timber. Today it is used by tour boats and ferry boat excursions.

There are hiking trails all along the Meramec River giving many opportunities to experience the river as well as the flora and fauna native to the area.

The river stretches from Salem, Missouri to the Mississippi River in St. Louis.

Meramec Springs is a National Natural Landmark and is well known for trout fishing.

While visiting Meramec Springs you will see the Meramec Iron Works which was used from 1827 until 1891 and even made some of the cannon balls used in the Civil War.

The springs were used to power the machinery.

Meramec River


Meramec Spring


8. Lake of the Ozarks

The Lake of the Ozarks offers spectacular views all year round.

There are two golf courses, one is the Osage National Golf Club and the other one is the Shawnee Bend Golf Course.

Anderson Hollow Cove, Also known as Party Cove is a popular Spring break destination and offers many recreational activities including; boating, water skiing and other water sports.

Anderson Hallow Cove is also a great place to see the fireworks on the 4th of July.

There are designated areas for fishing as well as boating.

Cabins, campgrounds, resorts and other rentals are available at the Lake of the Ozarks, including bed and breakfasts.

Fine dining, fast food and other eateries are all available while visiting this beautiful lake.

Lake of the Ozarks

Lake of the Ozarks


7. Fantastic Caverns

Located in Springfield Missouri, Fantastic Caverns was discovered in 1862.

These caverns were formed by an underground river which caused large formations and tours are offered.

The tour is a ride through tour in propane powered jeep drawn trams, which both children and adults will love, and a 55 minute guided tour.

The guides are knowledgeable and the staff is friendly.

There is a gift store with a large collection of rocks that a rock collector would love along with many other items to purchase.

You will also have the opportunity to view a short film about the history of the caverns.

A fun fact about Fantastic Caverns is that it was once used as a performance hall.

Fantastic Caverns Tour

Fantastic Caverns


6. Tablerock Lake and Silver Dollar City

In the middle of the Ozarks lies Table Rock Lake, a reservoir that has become a popular destination for many visitors due it its clear waters, water sport opportunities and bass fishing.

There are a number of coves located at Table Rock Lake and the lake is close to Branson Missouri and Silver Dollar City. Silver Dollar City started as the site to Marvel Cave, which is a National Natural Landmark, and has grown into an 1880’s theme park

There are many different rides and attractions as well as entertainment and events. An Old Time Christmas is a must! It is a yearly event and has been recognized by some morning talk shows and more.

There are also areas for you to shop and dine at.

Silver City Whitewater is a water park with water rides, cabanas, dining and shops. Another part of Silver Dollar City is the Silver Dollar City Wilderness area where you will find log cabins, RV sites, trailer rentals and campgrounds.

You will have no trouble experiencing the flora and fauna in the area.

Don’t forget to take a tour on the Ride the Ducks attraction which is a vehicle that will take you on both land and in the water.

The Branson Belle Showboat will take you on a lunch or dinner cruise on Table Rock Lake. This three deck showboat offers seating for 700 and is a two hour cruise.

Silver Dollar City

Silver Dollar City


The Branson Belle on Tablerock Lake


5. St. Louis

Established in 1764 by Pierre Laclede and Auguste Chouteau, St. Louis offers all kinds of entertainment, dining, shopping and more!

St. Louis hosted both the World’s Fair and the Summer Olympics in 1904. Both of these events were hosted at Forest Park which is home to the St. Louis Zoo, The St. Louis Art Museum, the Missouri History Museum and the St. Louis Science Center.

Gateway Arch is probably the most noticeable landmark in St. Louis and is part of a memorial for Western expansion in the United States, called the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial. This 630 foot, clad with stainless steel, arch was completed in 1965 and holds a tram that takes visitors to the observation deck where spectacular views of St. Louis can be seen.

Another part of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial is the Old Courthouse, built in 1864. An interesting fact about the Old Courthouse is that two of the Dred Scott vs. Sanford trials where held here in 1847 and 1850.

St. Louis also houses many historical sites. One of these sites is the home of Daniel Boone which is now a museum and holds items that were used by Daniel Boone, his wife and ten kids.

Another historical site, founded in 1859 is the Missouri Botanical Gardens. The Missouri Botanical Gardens are one of the oldest in the United States and is known for its bonsai growing. While visiting the Missouri Botanical Gardens some of the exhibits you will see are rose gardens, a Chinese garden, sculpture gardens and Seiwa-en, the largest Japanese Garden in North America.

Opened in 1852, the Anheuser-Busch Brewery offers tours of the facility where you will learn how they produce and package the beer. While taking this tour, visitors over 21 have the option to taste the beer and get two free drinks. The Anheuser-Busch Brewery also has Clydesdale horses on site.

There are also many different events and festivals to partake in.

Daniel Boone Home


Missouri Botanical Gardens


The St. Louis Old Courthouse and Gateway Arch


Forest Park


4. Mark Twain National Forest

Located in the Ozarks, the Mark Twain National Forest was established in 1939 and was named after the author Mark Twain, also known as Samuel Clemens.

The Mark Twain National Forest is home to Greer Springs which is the second largest spring in Missouri. Located in Southern and Western Missouri, this beautiful forest offers campgrounds with picnic tables, grills, toilet facilities and even drinking water!

There are many places to explore the flora and fauna in the area and trails throughout the forest make it easier to do. There are trails for ATV’s and motorcycles as well as walking trails and mountain biking trails.

The Mark Twain National Forest headquarters are in Rolla Missouri.

A lot of the Ozark Trail runs through this national forest and there are seven different wilderness areas. These wilderness areas are secluded and offer a relaxing, serene experience.

Horseback riding and backpacking are popular in this forest along with fishing and boating.

A popular place to go boating and fishing at is the Eleven Point National Scenic River.

While visiting the Mark Twain National Forest you will have the opportunity to see the many natural attractions and a camera is a necessity.

Greer Spring


Mark Twain National Forest

3. Mark Twain Tour

Hannibal Missouri is where Mark twain grew up and there are several different buildings that Mark Twain either wrote about or had something to do with. In 1844 John Marshall Clemens moved his family into what is now known as the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum.

This home was occupied by the Clemens family from 1844 to 1853 and became open to the public in 1912. There is a gift shop in a small building next to the museum that offers Mark Twain books, photographs, postcards and more.

During this tour you will also see the home of Laura Hawkins who was a few years younger than Samuel Clemens and is his inspiration to create the character, Becky Thatcher in the Tom Sawyer novel. This is referred to as, The Becky Thatcher House and is closed to the public due to lack of funding for renovation.

John Marshall Clemens was a judge in Hannibal and the Justice of the Peace office still stands today as well as Grants Drug Store, also known as the Pilaster House. Grants Drug Store was owned by Dr. Orville Grant who took the Clemens family in due financial problems and being forced to leave their home. They stayed at the drug store.

The first floor of Grants Drug Store has been restored as an old drug store and is open to the public for viewing.

The final place on the Mark Twain Tour is the Museum Gallery which was an 1850’s department store which houses exhibits from five different Mark Twain books. Normal Rockwell took a trip to Hannibal to get inspiration for Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn illustrations. Rockwell signed 15 original pieces of his art and donated them to the gallery.

There is also a replica of a steamboat pilot house overlooking the Mississippi River which gave Samuel Clemens the idea to become a steamboat pilot. Mark Twain was a steamboat pilot from 1857-1861.

The Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum


The Becky Thatcher House


Grants Drug Store


2. Cape Girardeau

Founded in 1793, Cape Girardeau became a city in Missouri in 1843 and sits on the Mississippi Riverfront. Along the river you will find a wall with a mural on it and can be seen all along the shoreline on the river in Cape Girardeau.

There are plenty of places to stay such as bed and breakfasts, hotels and even campgrounds. And you will not have any trouble finding a place to eat. Cape Girardeau has its own farmers market as well.

Cape Girardeau has four museums, a popular one being The Glenn House. Built in 1883 for David A. Glenn, The Glenn House is on the National Register of Historic Places and is used as a museum today. Christmas at the Glenn House is a popular event and worth a visit around the holidays.

Stop by the Cape Girardeau Commercial Historical District to find entertainment and do some shopping, or just to walk around. It is also on the National Register of Historic Place with 17 buildings accompanying it.

Some other places to see while visiting Cape Girardeau are; Isle Casino to do some gaming and Fort D which was built in 1861.

Not too far away from Cape Girardeau is The Trail of Tears where many Cherokee lost their lives during relocation.

A fun fact about Cape Girardeau is that Rush Limbaugh is from there.

Fort D


Just a piece of the River-Walk Mural


1. Branson

Established in 1882 and incorporated in 1912, Branson Missouri has become a popular vacation spots over the years due to the different theaters and other attractions in the area.

The first live music show in Branson was in 1959 and has been going on ever since. In 1983 Roy Clark opened the Roy Clark Celebrity Theater and popularity exploded when many celebrity country stars opened their own theaters in Branson. Some of these celebrities include; Boxcar Willie, Mickey Gilley, Loretta Lynn, Waylon Jennings and Dolly Parton.

Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede is an entertaining place to visit which offers a show and dinner in a arena while watching western themed entertainment. After the show you will have the opportunity to meet the animals from the show and there is also a gift shop.

Another attraction in Branson is the Titanic Museum. The structure that houses this museum is a smaller scale replica of the Titanic. When you arrive you will be given a boarding pass with your name on it before you enter. Inside the museum you will find artifacts and even hear stories about some of the passengers inside the memorial room. At the end of the tour you will find out if you lived or perished.

Branson has all kinds of places to shop, dine and sleep. Don’t forget to explore the historical downtown Branson.

The Titanic Museum


A road map to help you get around Missouri

Kansas City:
Kansas City, MO, USA

get directions

Meramec River:
Meramec River, Missouri, USA

get directions

Lake of the Ozarks:
Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri, USA

get directions

Fantastic Caverns:
Fantastic Caverns, 4872 North Farm Road 125, Springfield, MO 65803, USA

get directions

Silver Dollar City:
Silver Dollar City, 399 Silver Dollar City Parkway, Branson, MO 65616, USA

get directions

St. Louis:
St. Louis, MO, USA

get directions

Mark Twain National Forest:
Mark Twain National Forest, Missouri 17, Hartshorn, MO 65479, USA

get directions

Cape Girardeau:
Cape Girardeau, MO, USA

get directions

Branson, MO, USA

get directions


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    • mbgphoto profile image

      Mary Beth Granger 

      4 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA

      Lots of great places to visit in Missouri. I am have lifelong resident of the states having lived in Kansas City, Columbia and St. Louis. Thanks for promoting our great state.

    • April Dawn Meyer profile imageAUTHOR

      April Dawn Meyer 

      5 years ago from Belle Fourche, South Dakota

      Thanks for reading and have a blast on your trip to Missouri. The Ozarks are just gorgeous :)

    • brownella profile image


      5 years ago from New England

      As I love Mark Twain, Rose Wilder and "Meet Me In St. Louis" it is funny that I've never thought of visiting the Ozarks and St. Louis. After reading this I think I'll have to take a road trip next summer. Thanks for sharing :)


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