Missouri was one of those states that I was less than enthused about visiting. Driving through the mid-west can be monotonous and tiring with long stretches of corn fields in every direction.
However, Missouri must have known it needed to impress a discerning and weary traveler, because it really showed up! After all, it is called the “Show-Me” state, for a reason!
Missouri is exciting, compelling and alluring. There’s the big cities, the country lanes and all the places in between that make you want to keep searching the state for more to do, see and experience.
So let’s explore this great mid-western state and see what makes it fun, interesting and beautiful!
Read on for my list of the top interesting and beautiful places to visit in Missouri.
1. St. Louis
Exploring St. Louis will have you searching for the three B’s. Baseball, breweries and blues. St. Louis has a multitude of activities to keep you entertained, but these three must be investigated if visiting this great city in Missouri.
Baseball is big in St. Louis, so make your way down to Busch Stadium and catch the Cardinals as they try for another World Series ring. Grab a hot dog and a frosty beverage and enjoy the sights and sounds and sea of red before you at one of the best places to go in St. Louis.
Next, visit one of many famous breweries in the vicinity. With at least 65 breweries in St. Louis alone, you’ll be beer tasting for months trying to find that perfect frosty head.
However, hunting for the best brewery in town wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Schlafly Bottleworks and a tour of their brewery. After this “behind the scenes tour”, grab a bite at their delicious restaurant along with their signature beer.
Top the night off with an evening filled with soul. Stop by Hammerstone’s and listen to smooth jazz sounds along with the cocktail of your choice. On Sundays, sample the “up and coming” artists that grace the scene, as local musicians entertain and delight closing your visit to the great city of St. Louis.
2. Gateway Arch
You can’t speak of Missouri without this iconic structure taking hold of your brain.
The Gateway Arch is the “Gateway to the West” and welcomes all to pick their adventure when exploring this great country. It is a symbol of the freedom and wonder that early Americans possessed and acted on as they founded the United States of America.
At 91 acres, this National Park is an expansive part of downtown St. Louis that can be both an adventure and a history lesson.
First, ascend 630 feet up into the top interior of the structure by tram. This is a unique experience that my kids and I loved when we visited. At the top, there is nothing like peering out at the vast city below through the plate glass windows and the tallest arch in the world.
Next, take a tour of the Old Courthouse where famous American court cases were tried and history was made by its part in the Underground Railroad. This ornate building is an important part of American history for all to enjoy and a great place to go in Missouri.
3. Lake of the Ozarks
Missouri’s best vacation destination lies in the middle of the state and boasts 1,150 miles of shoreline ready to show you a good time.
From state parks, to caverns to wineries, this lake has a lot going for it besides the recreation that a waterfront destination can bring. It is the perfect place to spend a day or a week skiing, spelunking, wine tasting or just lazing around in a hammock.
Luxurious accommodations and great places to eat are also on the docket while at Lake of the Ozarks.
Stay in a resort like The Lodge of Four seasons and play a round of gold before relaxing on the beach. Then enjoy a wonderful meal at Baxter’s Lakeside Grille.
For the kids, stay at Margaritaville Lake Resort where there’s poolside relaxation for the adults along with indoor water play for the kids, making this a number one vacation spot for families.
4. Ha Ha Tonka State Park
Springs, caves, bluffs, natural bridges and so much more await you at one of the coolest places to go in Missouri. Ha Ha Tonka State Park is an adventurers wonderland that you definitely need to put on your itinerary.
Located in the midst of Lake of the Ozarks, the setting is gorgeous and there is a multitude of activities to keep you entertained.
Walk among the castle ruins and get your history on. See the stunningly beautiful mineral, springs then check out the giant natural bridge as you take a hike on the scenic trails of the park.
This is one state park in America that has a little bit of everything including accommodations in every price point so that you can explore from dawn until dusk.
So, watch the sunset over the lake and stay the night at this great state park.
Branson is interesting and unique. Nowhere in America have I been that feels like Branson. Take Disney World and add in a bit of religion and you have Branson.
Amusement parks, museums, country music theaters and a multitude of places to eat keep you entertained in this unique place to visit in Missouri.
My favorite place to visit in Branson was the Titanic Museum. A ticket to the doomed liner is the first souvenir you will be given before you explore 20 galleries and 400 artifacts from the ship. It is a really fun experience that is difficult to find anywhere else.
On your visit to Branson, make sure you visit Silver Dollar City and get a thrill from a roller coaster or five. Then stop by Dolly Parton’s Stampede for a dinner theater extravaganza that is rare and entertaining, alike.
Branson is a one-of-a-kind stop in Missouri that is something everyone should experience at least once.
6. Fantastic Caverns
If you have been reading this site for a while you will know that I am a fan of caverns, caves and small interesting spaces. I am also an off-roading enthusiast that loves all things Jeep and Landcruiser.
Let me tell you, I was in hog heaven to be able to find both of these adventurers rolled into one!
At Fantastic Caverns you can explore an amazing one mile stretch of some of the Earth’s most fascinating secrets. Ride in a jeep that will take you on a tour to see stalactites, stalagmites, soda straws and much more in one of the most fun things to do in Missouri.
Learn about the caves and the wild life that quietly inhabits such a dark and solemn place.
After your tour, you can walk on some trails, have a picnic and peruse the gift shop, making for a great day spent on vacation.
7. Branson Scenic Railway
What better way to see the countryside of Missouri than by riding the rails! Nobody does this better than Branson Scenic Railway. Tour through the mountains and have dinner while you gander at the sights out of your floor to ceiling window.
The dinner train is the best adventure to join in on if you are with family or friends. Enjoy watching the landscape pass you by at sunset and twilight as you devour a four course candlelight meal.
After you eat, make sure you tour the train, as there is plenty of history in all those nooks and crannies.
If a dinner is not in your plans, take the train for another excursion such as the Polar Express or watch the Fall foliage change before your eyes.
Whichever trip you take, this is a great way to see the varying terrain of the great state of Missouri.
8. St. Charles
I like to think of St. Charles as being the birthplace of the west. This is the town where Lewis and Clark passed through on their more than 8,000 mile journey to see what the rest of the, soon-to-be America,, was like.
St. Charles lies on the Missouri River and was “the last civilized stop”, before the wilds of the unexplored territories took hold of Lewis and Clark and their party. In 1804, the President’s appointed explorers passed through the town and stayed for six days before setting off again.
Today, you can tour the Lewis and Clark Boathouse museum and see replicas of the traveling fleet of boats that took the fateful voyage to discover the rest of America.
Then, you can explore this picture perfect town and sample some fudge, peruse some antiques and catch a live show at Frontier Park. Cap the night off with a pint at O’Fallon’s Brewery. St. Charles has that charm that will add that something special to your holiday around Missouri.
9. Anheuser-Busch Brewery
Beer is one of Missouri’s claim to fame. At Anheuser-Busch, you’ll find one of the oldest breweries in America.
At 171 years old, this brewery brought Budweiser to the forefront as one of America’s favorite beers. After all, they don’t call it “The King of Beers”, for nothing.
There are so many ways to experience the brewery. Enjoy an all-inclusive Biergarten dinner with beer pairings with a crowd of old friends.
For animal lovers, there’s a Clydesdale V.I.P. Experience that you can’t miss. However, the Brewmaster Tour is the one for the true craftsmen out there that can’t wait to brew their next batch when they get home.
A visit to St. Louis wouldn’t be complete without this slice of Missouri heritage and tradition poured to perfection.
10. Missouri Botanical Gardens
Missouri is in the middle of America, but that doesn’t mean is lacks lush and stunningly beautiful gardens, lovingly cared for.
At the Missouri Botanical Gardens you’ll stroll through one of the oldest botanical gardens in the United States. In fact, there was a bald cypress planted in 1874 that still thrives today.
Considered to be in the top three botanical gardens in the world, this is one stop in Missouri that needs to be on your itinerary, especially if you have a green thumb.
With 79 acres to explore including extensive gardens, a historic mansion and museum to explore, you will need an entire day to explore this National Registry of Historic Places landmark.
Touring the garden is easy with the unique feature of customized tours to fit your particular interests. Are you interested in history and archtecture? A tour can be designed with these two items in mind. Do you want to know more about plant research? A customized plan will be written with this in mind.
Missouri Botanical Gardens is as interesting as it is beautiful and was at the top of my list for great places to go in Missouri.
Did we miss anything you would like to see in Missouri? We’d love to hear from you!
Leave what you’d like to see in the comments!