Best Things To Do in Missouri, Essential Places

Missouri is often one of the most overlooked Midwestern states, but it is a fascinating place to visit, with plenty of incredible sights.

Here you will find the Ozark Mountains, caves, lakes, the Missouri River that gives the state its name, and the Mississippi River.

Missouri, the “Show Me State,” is a Midwestern state once known for its prosperous frontier towns, outlaws, and adventurers. It’s a state with modern metropolitan centers like Kansas City and charming resort towns like Branson.

Plus, you’ll find incredible wilderness, manufactured engineering wonders, vibrant cities, and quaint little towns.

Use this guide for the best places to visit in Missouri. It will help you plan your trip across the American Midwest.

Best Things To Do in St. Louis

St. Louis is a large city and major river port in Missouri on the Mississippi River.

We visited this city as part of our road trip on the US66 itinerary. But, this city has a lot to offer to travelers. Here, you’ll find some ideas for your trip.

Route 66. Stretch from St Louis to Bloomington
  • The symbol of the city of St. Louis and its most visible icon is the 30-foot Gateway Arch, which commemorates the start of the Lewis and Clark Expedition in 1804.
  • Charming replicas of traditional Mississippi oars ply the river, offering views of the city and the arch.
  • The best place to try the famous St. Louis and listen to real blues is the Soulard district.
  • To learn more about the Lewis and Clark Expedition, visit the Westward Reach Museum.
  • Don’t miss the Cardinals Hall of Fame and Museum, visit the beautiful St. Louis.
  • Take the Anheuser-Busch Brewery Tour.
  • Cross the New or the Old Chains of Rock Bridge or the McKingley Bridge

Accommodation in St. Louis, Missouri

Check Out: The Best Things to do in Saint Louis, MO

Visit The Gateway Arch

arch gate st louis sunset

Visit the Arch of St. Louis. This monument celebrates the westward expansion of the United States.

The Gateway Arch is the iconic structure that visually defines St. Louis as the symbolic “Gateway to the West.”

When you visit, you can take an elevator to the top to enjoy stunning views of the city from 192 meters above the ground.

The arch is located in the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Park but can be seen from all over the city and even from great distances on the surrounding highways.

Other ways to enjoy the arch include helicopter tours, riverboat cruises, and visiting the Old Courthouse for a historical perspective on the area.

Price of admission

Visiting the arch is free, but climbing to the top, “Tram Ride to the Top,” has a cost:

  • Adult $15 – $19
  • Kids (3–15) $11 – $15
  • America the Beautiful Pass $12 – $16

Address: Calle 11 N 4.


Branson is a small Missouri town in the Ozark Mountains, a popular tourist destination in the region, famous for its varied and lively entertainment offerings.

Along 76 Country Boulevard, you will find many places where only country music was once heard; today, you can enjoy shows for all tastes.

Branson Wax Museum

One of the most popular attractions is Silver Dollar City, an amusement park created as an 1880s city, with all kinds of entertainment and tours of the famous Marvel Cave.

  • Visit Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede dinner attraction, created in the Wild West style,
  • The Hollywood Wax Museum Branson,
  • White Water,
  • Ziplines,
  • National Tiger Sanctuary,
  • Butterfly Palace,
  • Rainforest Adventure,
  • Ripley’s Odditorium
  • and several warehouses.

Where to stay in Branson

Stroll through Silver Dollar City

One of the most popular places in Branson is the Silver Dollar City amusement park.

It is a special place in the heart of the United States where you can gather with your family to have fun.

This 61-acre park that opened in 1960 takes you back to the 1880s. A bygone era with roller coasters that look like carriages or steam trains, blacksmiths, and old-fashioned cabins.

Enjoy a wide variety of attractions for the whole family, including a 13-acre water park.

If you’re looking for something a little different, check out the dinner cruise or enjoy one of the 100 artisan stalls.

Ticket prices

  • 1 day ticket (age 12-64) – €79
  • 2-day ticket (age 12-64) – €99
  • 3-day ticket (Age 12-64) – €109

Address: 399 Silver Dollar City Parkway

Catch a Live Show in Branson

Branson is known as the “Live Entertainment Capital of the World,” and for a good reason! The Branson strip is filled with music venues, restaurants, and souvenir shops.

Branson’s music venues are known for hosting some of the best artists in country music, so taking in a live show during your visit is a must.

In case you’re having trouble choosing a live music venue, here are a few suggestions:

Crazy Craig’s Cheeky Monkey Bar

This quirky bar/restaurant/live music venue is decorated with stuffed monkeys hanging from every beam.

The music selection here is eclectic. You can enjoy great old and new hits, a great selection of cocktails, theme parties, and much more.

This Branson venue will enchant you to enjoy the city’s nightlife.

Address: 120 Montgomery Drive

Clay Cooper Theater

If you are looking for vintage music, Clay Cooper Theater will be the perfect live music venue for you.

An ideal place that will instantly transport you to the 50s and 60s. With shows throughout the year. Check your billboard here and book the dates of your trip.

Address: 3216 West 76 Country Boulevard

Kansas City

Known for jazz, barbecue, and fountains, Kansas City is one of the largest and liveliest cities in the Midwest. It has a great creative community that prides itself on good times friendly, and fun-loving people.

fountain at sunset in Kansas City

It has the nickname “City of Fountains,” it has about 200 distributed throughout its streets!

The city’s cool, cultural vibe is inspired by a thriving art scene, unique museums, and fantastic shopping.

Of course, do not confuse Kansas City, Missouri, with Kansas City, Kansas. They border, and it may seem like the same city, but they are practically divided by the Kansas River.

Where to stay in Kansas City

Take a tour of breweries, wineries, or distilleries in Kansas City.

Marvel at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City is located in a place that is a work of art in itself. Before entering the museum, you will be mesmerized between the landscape, the walking paths, and the outdoor sculptures.

The museum opened to the public on December 11, 1933, with lines of people stretching out into the street.

The east wing was called the Atkins Museum of Fine Arts, and the rest of the building was called the William Rockhill Nelson Art Gallery.

In 1982, in preparation for the museum’s 50th anniversary the following year, the institution became known as the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

Now almost nine decades have passed since the museum opened to the public.

Thanks to the care and support of many people over the years, Nelson-Atkins is home to more than 42,000 works of art, with a campus that includes the original Nelson-Atkins Building, the Bloch Building expansion that opened in 2007, and the Donald J. Hall Sculpture Park.

Admission to the main building is free, but guided tours must be purchased in advance.

This museum was voted the best museum in the United States, according to Yelp.

Free pass

Address: 4525 Oak Street, Kansas City, MO 64111

Visit Mark Twain’s Childhood Home

Samuel Clemens, better known as Mark Twain, moved to Missouri around 1843 and lived in this two-story house from 7 to 18.

The house has been open to the public since 1912; it has been restored and furnished with a 19th-century decor. The adjoining museum contains interesting Twain memorabilia, including first editions of his most famous works.

It also features photographs, original manuscripts, and the desk where Twain wrote The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.

Twain fans won’t want to miss the hour-long tour of Mark Twain’s Cave, now well-lit with paved walkways, so vividly written about in Tom Sawyer.

Ticket prices

  • Adults (18+) – €12
  • Seniors (60+) – €10
  • Children (6-17) – €6
  • Children under 5 years – Free

Address: 120 North Main, Hannibal, MO 63401

Walk through Forest Park

Lake surrounded by trees Forest Park

Enjoy nearly 1,300 acres of things to do in downtown St. Louis in Forest Park. The park offers everything from a zoo to a summer concert series to a golf course.

Walk or play sports on the park’s many trails or navigate its canals.

Forest Park has been open since 1876 and hosted the World’s Fair in 1904.

Here you can visit

  • the Zoo of St. Louis,
  • the Saint Louis Museum of Art,
  • the Missouri History Museum
  • and the Science Center of St. Louis, all on the grounds of Forest Park.

Address: 5595 Grand Drive

Relax at Lake Of The Ozarks State Park

Panoramic Lake of the Ozarks view

The largest state park in Missouri is Lake of the Ozarks State Park. It has approximately 7000 hectares to have fun outdoors.

This park gives you easy access to both the lush Ozark Mountains and the beautiful Lake of the Ozarks. You’ll find iconic hikes on trails like the Trail Of Four Winds, a 20-kilometer hike that gives you stunning views of the lake.

Or check out the Water Trail, a 15km interpretive trail that gives boaters the information they need about the lake.

Address: 403 MO-134, Kaiser, MO 65047

Pay Your Respects at the World War I Museum

In 1919, the 5 Supreme Allied Commanders of World War I met in Kansas City, Missouri, to dedicate the Freedom Monument.

It was the only time that all 5 supreme commanders were in the same place because the monument remembered the lives lost in battle and symbolized an act of gratitude for the freedom that was fought so hard for during the epic battles of the Big war.

The museum reopened to the public in 2006 and was designated a National Historic Landmark. It is dedicated to remembering, understanding, and interpreting the Great War and its enduring impact on the world.

Ticket Price

  • Adults – €23
  • Seniors (65+) – €19
  • Youth (6-18) – €15
  • Children under 6 years – Free
  • Military – €19

Address: 2 Memorial Drive, Kansas City, MO 64108

Visit the Birthplace of Route 66: Springfield

Route 66 stretch Springfield St Louis

Springfield, Missouri, emerged as the birthplace of Route 66 in the 1920s when the government decided to mandate the construction of this famous national highway.

On April 30, 1926, at the Colonial Hotel via telegram, Springfield businessman John T. Woodruff and Oklahoma businessman Cy Avery first proposed US 66 as the name of the new highway from Chicago to Los Angeles. Angels.

On the east side of Park Central, the heart of downtown, you’ll find a sign with the official designation.

Route 66, also known as Mother Road and Main Street America, this iconic route runs from Chicago to Los Angeles.

If you’re interested in visiting the birthplace of this famous route, Get Your kicks on Route 66, right in Springfield.

Ride the Branson Scenic Railroad

The Branson Scenic Railroad has been in operation since 1905 and will instantly transport you to a bygone era.

The 1-hour 45-minute ride on this early 1900s train will take you over hills, tunnels, bridges, and around the beautiful and picturesque Ozark Mountains.

It’s as simple as hopping aboard the vintage trains and enjoying the view on this nearly 2-hour tour.

If you choose to travel at night, your trip can be completed with dinner on the train. Only available from April to October on Saturdays

Ticket prices

  • Adults – €30
  • Children (3-12) – €19.50
  • Veteran/Active Service (must show ID) – €15.50
  • Less than 3 – 2€

Address: 205 E Main Street, Branson, Missouri 65616

Discover Ha Ha Tonka State Park

Ha ha Tonka ruined building

This state park offers beautiful scenery of the Ozark Mountains and offers an exciting look into the area’s past.

Ha Ha Tonka State Park has more than 1,200 hectares of outdoor attractions. It’s a geological wonderland with sinkholes, caves, a huge natural bridge, sheer cliffs, and the 12th largest spring in Missouri.

You can also boat, swim, and fish here, thanks to easy access to the water.

If you’re lucky, you’ll find the park’s hidden gem, the ruined remains of a castle from the early 20th century.

The mansion-turned-hotel burned to the ground in the 1940s, and today the ruins are one of Ha Ha Tonka’s most popular attractions.

Address: 1419 Missouri D, Camdenton, MO 65020

See Animals at the Saint Louis Zoo

The Saint Louis Zoo is home to a fantastic variety of animals and is completely FREE. Large, natural enclosures ensure that the lions, tigers, and bears that call this zoo home are comfortable and well cared for.

In fact, this zoo is famous for its animal care and wildlife conservation efforts.

Check out the sloths, penguins, and many other creatures roaming around this unique place. Then, head to Caribbean Cove, where you can see a wide variety of rays.

Please be respectful of animals, don’t feed them, and don’t touch them.

Address: 1 Government Drive, St. Louis, Missouri 63110

Visit Elephant Rocks State Park

Huge elephant-shaped granite boulders are the star of the show at Elephant Rocks State Park in Belleview.

The park got its name from these 1.5-billion-year-old granite boulders that stand end to end, like elephants in line at a circus. This park is unique because of the mile-long interpretive trail known as the Braille Trail.

The first trail in Missouri was specifically designed to help the visually impaired enjoy nature.

Address: 7390, 7406 MO-16, Belleview, MO 63623

Visit Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield

Wilson’s Creek is a must-see if you’re looking for a historical attraction in Missouri. The battlefield is the perfect stop for anyone who wants to learn more about Missouri’s role in the Civil War.

The battlefield covered 775 hectares and was the site of 2 major battles fought in August 1861.

Take the 5-mile self-guided tour with many interpretive stops to explore the park at your own pace. Then, be sure to hike some of the 7 miles of trails to get a deeper look at Bloody Hill and Edwards Cabin.

Address: 6424 W Farm RD 182, Republic, MO 65738

Between the bustling cities and charming small towns of Missouri, you’ll leave with lasting memories of your time in this Midwestern gem.

Whether you’re visiting museums, enjoying live music in Branson, or relaxing in nature at the Lake of the Ozarks, the ‘Show Me State’ is sure to show you a good time.

Why is it Called “The Show me State”

There are two explanations for this Missouri nickname:

The first is that the people of Missouri are by definition distrustful and apply the saying “if I don’t see it, I don’t believe it,” “show me” in Spanish means show it to me or show it to me, so that it is very common for them to say, “I’m from Missouri so show me, or I don’t believe it.”

The second explanation is that many miners were moved from the state of Missouri to Colorado to work during a strike period and because they did not know the methods, they were very often asked to be taught things.

Either way, you will see “Show Me State.”

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance

Do not forget to buy travel insurance to travel to the United States. Hopefully, you don’t need to use it, but it is better to be prepared for any eventuality or emergency.

In my case, I have Chapka’s annual insurance, with worldwide medical assistance with good coverage. Also, you can use our link to get a 7% discount on Chapka Insurance.

Choosing travel insurance will depend mainly on the duration and coverage of the insurance. Therefore, it is best to inform yourself well to choose the best insurance available.

If you want, you can review our guide on choosing travel insurance, where you will find comparisons, opinions, and discounts.

Plan Your Trip to the United States

Best Places to visit in Missouri

Last Updated on 25 October, 2023 by Veronica

Disclosure: Some of the links on this post are affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Author: Veronica

Vero, a seasoned traveler, has explored 25 countries and lived in five, gaining a rich perspective and fostering an infectious passion for travel. With a heart full of wanderlust, Vero uncovers the world’s hidden gems and shares insights, tips, and planning advice to inspire and assist fellow adventurers. Join Vero and let the shared passion for travel create unforgettable memories.


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