10 Best Places to Visit in Missouri

If you’re looking for an unforgettable travel experience, Missouri should be at the top of your list. With so many attractions to choose from, you might be wondering where to start. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the 10 Best Places to Visit in Missouri, highlighting the state’s top tourist destinations and Missouri attractions.

From the Gateway Arch in St. Louis to the Ozark Mountains and Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri offers something for everyone. Whether you’re interested in history, outdoor activities, or vibrant cities, you’re sure to find something to suit your interests. So pack your bags and get ready for an adventure in the Show-Me State!

St. Louis: Gateway to the West

Explore the vibrant city of St. Louis, Missouri’s largest city and one of the top tourist destinations in Missouri. Don’t miss the iconic Gateway Arch, which symbolizes the westward expansion of the United States. Take a riverboat cruise on the Mississippi River and enjoy the breathtaking views of the city skyline and the picturesque countryside.

St. Louis offers a plethora of things to do in Missouri, including visiting the Saint Louis Zoo, one of the top zoos in the country. You can also explore the interactive exhibits at the City Museum or immerse yourself in nature at Forest Park, a sprawling urban park with scenic trails and monuments.

Top Tourist destinations in Missouri

St. Louis is a city of opportunity, where new ideas are continuously being explored in the arts, architecture, and education. – Lyda Krewson

Kansas City: The City of Fountains

Kansas City, Missouri’s largest city, is known for its abundance of beautiful fountains and vibrant arts scene. As one of the must-see places in Missouri, make sure to visit the iconic Country Club Plaza, a shopping district with Spanish architecture and over 180 stores and restaurants. Take a break at one of the many outdoor cafes and enjoy the lively atmosphere and beautiful fountains.

Art lovers should not miss the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, which showcases over 35,000 pieces of art from ancient to contemporary times, including works by Rembrandt, Monet, and Van Gogh.

Must-see places in Missouri

No trip to Kansas City is complete without indulging in the city’s renowned barbeque cuisine. From pulled pork to burnt ends, there are plenty of delicious options to try.

Whether you’re interested in art, history, or food, Kansas City is a must-visit destination in your Missouri travel guide.

Branson: The Live Music Capital of the World

If you’re seeking the ultimate live entertainment experience, Branson should be your next vacation destination. This charming city has over 50 theaters showcasing a vast array of performances, ranging from country music and comedy to magic and acrobatics shows. Regardless of your favorite type of show, you are guaranteed to find something that suits your interests and tickles your fancy.

But Branson isn’t just about indoor entertainment. The surrounding Ozark Mountains offer a plethora of outdoor activities for nature enthusiasts and adventurers. From hiking and fishing to zip-lining and kayaking, the Ozarks are the perfect destination for anyone looking to enjoy the great outdoors.

Outdoor activities in Missouri

Some of the top outdoor attractions in the Ozarks include Table Rock Lake, where you can enjoy boating, swimming, and fishing, and Silver Dollar City, a theme park with thrilling roller coasters and water rides. If you’re looking for a relaxing outdoor escape, don’t miss Dogwood Canyon Nature Park, where you can enjoy serene vistas of waterfalls, forests, and wildlife while strolling or biking along its scenic trails.

Columbia: A College Town with Charm

Columbia is a hidden gem in Missouri, offering a variety of attractions that will enchant you. The city is home to the University of Missouri, which adds to its charming atmosphere and cultural richness. From stunning scenery to vibrant cultural experiences, Columbia has something for everyone.

When you visit Columbia, immerse yourself in the vibrant downtown area. Explore eclectic shops, indulge in local cuisine, and take in the lively music and art scene. Don’t miss the Columbia Art League, which showcases local artists and their works.

For a unique outdoor experience, visit the Shelter Gardens, a serene haven in the heart of the city. The gardens feature a variety of flora, including colorful perennials and a tranquil lake with waterfall.

Hidden gems in Missouri

“Columbia has a special charm that entices visitors with its unique combination of natural beauty and cultural richness.”

One of Columbia’s most notable attractions is the Ragtag Cinema, a nonprofit theater showcasing art-house films and documentaries. The cinema also serves delicious snacks and cocktails, making it the perfect spot for date night or a fun night out with friends.

Columbia Table of Attractions

Attraction Description
Downtown District Columbia’s eclectic downtown area features local shops, vibrant nightlife, and unique dining experiences.
Columbia Art League A gallery that displays local artists’ works, including paintings, sculptures, and mixed media pieces.
Shelter Gardens A peaceful park with a variety of beautiful flowers, a tranquil lake, and a small water cascade.
Ragtag Cinema A nonprofit theater presenting a wide selection of independent and international films, along with delicious snacks and drinks.

Jefferson City: The State’s Capital

Missouri’s capital, Jefferson City, is a historically rich destination that offers plenty of things to do. If you’re a history buff, consider visiting the Missouri State Capitol building, which showcases the state’s impressive architecture and offers guided tours. You can also tour the Governor’s Mansion, which displays a magnificent mid-19th century Victorian style. Moreover, the Missouri State Museum offers fascinating exhibits about the state’s rich history, including its indigenous cultures, Civil War battles, and more.


Historic sites in Missouri

Jefferson City’s picturesque surroundings are worth exploring too. Take a stroll through the North Jefferson City Historic District, which features beautifully preserved buildings from the early 1900s. You can also enjoy a picnic at the scenic North Jefferson Recreation Area. And if you’re an outdoor enthusiast, don’t miss the opportunity to hike, bike, or fish along the Katy Trail State Park, which spans over 230 miles of trails and beautiful scenery.

Springfield: Birthplace of Route 66

One of the top tourist destinations in Missouri is Springfield, which holds distinction as the birthplace of Route 66. Take a nostalgic journey through the iconic highway’s history by visiting the Route 66 Car Museum and exploring the fantastic Fantastic Caverns.

Springfield offers the perfect mix of outdoor activities, cultural attractions and historical landmarks. For nature lovers, the Springfield Conservation Nature Center is a must-visit. Take a walk, hike or bike on the trails while enjoying the idyllic scenery of the area. The Nature Center is a popular local hub for wildlife watching, birding, and other outdoor activities.

Whether you’re interested in history, culture or nature, Springfield provides plenty of options for a memorable visit to the Show-Me state.

Outdoor activities in Missouri

Lake of the Ozarks: A Water Lover’s Paradise

If you enjoy water sports, Lake of the Ozarks is an excellent destination for your Missouri vacation. The lake is perfect for boating, fishing, and swimming in the crystal-clear waters. The scenic surroundings and fresh air make the experience even more enjoyable.

There are plenty of outdoor activities to choose from when you’re not on the water. The Lake of the Ozarks State Park offers 50 miles of hiking trails with stunning views. If you prefer golf, there are several courses to choose from. And if shopping is your thing, the nearby city of Osage Beach offers plenty of retail therapy opportunities.

Outdoor Activities at Lake of the Ozarks

Boating, Fishing, and Swimming

The most popular attractions at Lake of the Ozarks are boating, fishing, and swimming. With over 1,150 miles of shoreline, there are plenty of places to explore by boat. You can rent boats, jet skis, and other watercraft at the marinas around the lake. The fishing is excellent, with bass, catfish, crappie, and other species available. Several swimming areas around the lake are perfect for cooling off on hot summer days.

Hiking and Biking

The Lake of the Ozarks State Park offers over 50 miles of hiking trails with beautiful views of the lake and surrounding hills. The trails range from easy to moderate, so there’s something for everyone. If you prefer biking, there are several bike trails to choose from, including the Katy Trail, a 240-mile bike trail that runs through the heart of Missouri.


With several golf courses around the lake, golf enthusiasts will have a great time playing a round or two. The courses range from beginner-friendly to challenging, so there’s something for golfers of all levels.

Shopping and Dining

The nearby city of Osage Beach offers plenty of shopping opportunities, from outlet malls to local boutiques. After a day on the lake, relax and enjoy a meal at one of the many restaurants offering lakefront dining.

“The Lake of the Ozarks is a perfect spot for water sports enthusiasts. There’s so much to do both on and off the water. You won’t be disappointed!”

Hannibal: Mark Twain’s Hometown

Step into the world of one of America’s most beloved authors in his hometown of Hannibal, Missouri. Your first stop in Hannibal should be the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum, where you can admire the property that inspired the stories of Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer. Afterwards, take a ride on a riverboat and let yourself be transported back to the days of steamboats and paddlewheels.

Immerse yourself in Mark Twain’s life and inspirations, including the scenic Mississippi River, which served as a backdrop for many of his works. The charming town of Hannibal also offers delightful antique shops, unique eateries, and Victorian-style architecture, making it a hidden gem in Missouri that you won’t want to miss.

Hidden gems in Missouri

Independence: A Historic Gem

If you are a history buff, don’t miss Independence, a city steeped in history that offers visitors an excellent opportunity to glimpse into the past. One of the most well-known historic sites in Missouri, the Harry S. Truman National Historic Site, is located here. This site preserves the home of the 33rd President of the United States, where Truman lived from 1919 until he passed away in 1972. You can also explore the historic Independence Square, where you’ll find numerous museums, including The National Frontier Trails Museum, where you can learn about the Oregon Trail and other famous pioneer trails.

Independence is a highlight on any Missouri travel guide for its rich history and landmarks. While exploring Independence Square, don’t forget to visit the Bingham-Waggoner Estate, another iconic historic site in Missouri. The estate features a beautiful antebellum mansion and a fascinating museum with artifacts and other items from the late 19th century.

If you are keen to do some independent exploration, you can also follow the Historic Independence Walking Tour. This walking tour is easy to follow and ideal for history lovers who enjoy taking their time to experience and appreciate everything in detail. It will lead you to various significant landmarks, such as the Truman Courthouse and the Historic Truman Presidential Library.

Historic sites in Missouri

“Independence offers visitors an excellent opportunity to glimpse into the past…”

Joplin: A Whirlwind of Culture

As you explore Missouri, Joplin offers a vibrant culture to experience. The George A. Spiva Center for the Arts presents rotating art exhibitions, art classes, and workshops. Explore the Joplin History and Mineral Museums which showcases a broad collection of mineral specimens, earth science exhibits, and historical mining artifacts. Lastly, experience the historic Joplin Little Theatre which has been providing live performances for over 80 years.

The city’s unique culture makes it a hidden gem in Missouri’s attractions.

Hidden gems in Missouri

Famous Quotes about Art and Culture

“Culture is the soul of the nation” – Confucius

“Without culture, and the relative freedom it implies, society, even when perfect, is but a jungle” – Albert Camus

Local Performing Arts Venues in Joplin:

Venue Type of Performance Address
Joplin Little Theatre Live theatre 3009 West 1st Street, Joplin
Stone’s Throw Dinner Theatre Dinner theater 2466 West Old Highway 66, Carthage

Don’t miss out on the exciting cultural experience Joplin has to offer during your Missouri travels.

Cape Girardeau: A Riverfront City

Cape Girardeau is a beautiful city located on the Mississippi River, offering a unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. If you’re looking for a top tourist destination in Missouri, Cape Girardeau should be on your list.

One of the main attractions of Cape Girardeau is its scenic Riverfront, which offers breathtaking views of the river and the stunning sunset. Take a stroll along the Riverwalk and enjoy the peaceful surroundings or rent a bike and go for a ride.

Outdoor activities in Missouri

Another must-visit attraction in Cape Girardeau is the Old St. Vincent’s Church, a historic Catholic church dating back to the early 1800s. The church’s architecture and interior design are mesmerizing, and you can join a guided tour to learn more about its rich history.

For outdoor enthusiasts, Cape Girardeau offers plenty of opportunities to enjoy the natural beauty of Missouri. Take a hike in the Cape LaCroix Trail or explore the Red Star Conservation Area, where you can go birdwatching, fishing, and picnicking.

Outdoor activities in Cape Girardeau

Activity Location Description
Hiking Cape LaCroix Trail A scenic trail that offers stunning views of the Mississippi River
Birdwatching Red Star Conservation Area A beautiful area with diverse habitats that attract a wide variety of birds
Fishing Mississippi River Anglers can catch a variety of fish species, including catfish, bass, and bluegill
Kayaking Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center Explore the river and its tributaries on a kayak tour led by experienced guides

If you’re planning a trip to Missouri, make sure to include Cape Girardeau on your itinerary. With its unique attractions, outdoor activities, and natural beauty, Cape Girardeau is a top tourist destination in Missouri that won’t disappoint.

St. Joseph: Where the Pony Express Began

Step back in time and explore the rich history of St. Joseph, Missouri at the site where the legendary Pony Express began its famous mail delivery service. The Pony Express Museum offers a glimpse into the life of brave riders who risked everything to deliver messages across the rugged West.

Don’t miss the Jesse James Home Museum to learn about the infamous outlaw and his impact on Missouri history.

Take a stroll through the historic downtown area to admire the beautiful architecture and charming atmosphere.

Historic sites in Missouri

Museums in St. Joseph

Museum Description Location
Pony Express Museum Exhibits on the history of the Pony Express and the American West 914 Penn St.
Jesse James Home Museum Learn about the life of infamous outlaw, Jesse James 1215 Lafayette St.
Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art Collection of American art, including works by O’Keeffe and Wyeth 2818 Frederick Ave.

St. Joseph is an essential stop for history buffs and offers unique insights into Missouri’s past. Make sure to add this must-see destination to your Missouri travel itinerary.


Congratulations, you’ve learned about Missouri’s top 10 must-see destinations. From St. Louis, the Gateway to the West, to Hannibal, Mark Twain’s hometown, Missouri offers a diverse range of attractions. Whether you’re interested in history, outdoor activities, live entertainment, or cultural experiences, there’s something for everyone in the Show-Me State.

Now it’s time to plan your visit and create unforgettable memories. Explore the vibrant city of Kansas City, known for its abundance of beautiful fountains and vibrant arts scene, or immerse yourself in the college town charm of Columbia. If you’re a fan of live entertainment, don’t miss the opportunity to visit Branson, the Live Music Capital of the World.

Outdoor enthusiasts will love the Lake of the Ozarks, a water lover’s paradise offering boating, fishing, and swimming opportunities. History buffs will find plenty to explore in the state capital of Jefferson City and the historic city of Independence.

No matter where you go in Missouri, you’ll find friendly locals, stunning scenery, and a warm welcome. Start planning your trip today and discover all that this great state has to offer.