Missouri is home to the magnificent Ozark Mountains, ethnically vibrant towns, and deep threads of US history. While there are many attractions in Kansas City and St. Louis, there are other places to visit in Missouri that have even more to discover.
The Wilson Creek National Battlefield in Springfield preserves a pivotal point in Civil War history, and Branson is a great destination for outdoor activities and its vibrant live music scene. With resorts, campgrounds, and thousands of miles of beachfront, the Lake of the Ozarks is a must-visit vacation location for truly savoring the flavor of Missouri tranquilly.
Plan your itinerary with our list of the top Missouri attractions.
- 1. Learn the War History at Kansas City’s National World War I (WWI) Museum and Memorial
- 2. Take a Walk Through Forest Park
- 3. Travel to the St. Louis Gateway Arch
- 4. Visit Jefferson City’s Attractions
- 5. Learn Wartime History at Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield in Springfield
- 6. Take a Day Trip to Springfield Missouri
- 7. Attend a Branson Concert
- 8. Tour the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum
- 9. Visit St. Louis’ Missouri Botanical Garden which is also a National Historic Landmark
- 10. Tour the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
- 11. Visit Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum
- 12. The Lovely Campus of the University of Missouri is Something not to miss!
- 13. Rides are available at Silver Dollar City
- 14. Experience the outdoors at Lake of the Ozarks
- 15. Visit the Saint Louis Zoo to See the Animals
- 16. Learn the War History at Small Missouri Town at Carthage
- 17. Experience the Geological Events at Elephant Rocks State Park
- Plan Your Trip to Missouri
1. Learn the War History at Kansas City’s National World War I (WWI) Museum and Memorial
The National World War I Museum, which houses one of the world’s biggest collections of World War I artifacts, officially opened in 2006.
Since then, it has drawn millions of visitors from all over the world, and is one of the best places to see in Missouri.
Long before the museum was built, the neighboring Liberty Memorial stood guard over Kansas City’s streets for more than 90 years.
The Liberty Memorial, completed in 1926 and dedicated by President Calvin Coolidge as a living testament to the Great War.
Visitors to the museum can learn more about this history through interactive exhibitions, verifiable eyewitness testimonies, and over 75,000 historical relics on rotating display.
2. Take a Walk Through Forest Park
This lovely St. Louis city park sprawls out over more than 1,300 acres and welcomes millions of visitors each year.
A number of the city’s key cultural attractions are located in Forest Park, which is regarded as one of the most beautiful urban parks in the entire world. It also offers picturesque natural settings thanks to ponds, gardens, and more than 45,000 trees.
Visitors can enjoy live performances at The Muny, America’s oldest and biggest outdoor musical theater. You can also visit the St. Louis Zoo, Saint Louis Art Museum, Missouri History Museum, and St. Louis Science Center on the property.
3. Travel to the St. Louis Gateway Arch
The Gateway Arch is the aesthetically defining monument that also serves as the symbolic “Gateway to the West”, and is among the top Missouri tourist attractions.
Visitors can take a tram up to the summit, which reaches 630 feet, for excellent views of the city. You can also explore the several galleries inside the Museum at Gateway Arch as well as a series of exhibitions about the history of the arch during tram rides.
The arch is located in Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Park, although it can be viewed from all across the city, including long distances on nearby roadways.
Other ways to view the arch include helicopter excursions, riverboat cruises, and a visit to the Old Courthouse, which also offers the historical context for the area.
4. Visit Jefferson City’s Attractions
Jefferson City, the state capital, is well worth a visit, and is one of the great places to go in Missouri. Its museums and galleries house some of the state’s greatest collections and artifacts. Its Gothic-era federal buildings give the city a distinct feeling of majesty.
The Missouri State Museum, the Governor’s Mansion, the Missouri State Penitentiary, and the state capitol building are a few of the must-see attractions. The Lewis & Clark Monument, located near the state legislative building, is a lovely tribute to these adventurers.
5. Learn Wartime History at Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield in Springfield
On August 10, 1861, the Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield saw combat between 5,400 Union soldiers and 11,000 Confederates. Even though the Confederates won, Missouri saw additional fighting as a result of this conflict.
The sword belt and sash of Arkansas General Patrick Cleburne are among the artifacts housed in the Wilson’s Creek Civil War Museum.
A 4.9-mile tour route provides ample parking for visitors to enjoy the seven miles of trails that connect across this gorgeous area, and is one of the best places to see in Missouri.
6. Take a Day Trip to Springfield Missouri
One of the popular cities in Missouri, Springfield is a charming city with a small town vibe with gardens, green spaces, and other natural attractions.
Among the outdoor delights are the wonderfully designed Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden and the Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park, which features walking routes, gardens, and playgrounds.
The Fantastic Caverns, which bills itself as “America’s only drive-through caverns,” is another intriguing location close to Springfield. Taking the cave tram trip does not involve any walking.
The Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium, which offers a glimpse into the undersea world and is located next to the original Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World, is another well-liked Springfield tourist destination.
7. Attend a Branson Concert
Branson, Missouri, proudly proclaims itself to be the “Live Country Music Capital of the Universe.” It attracts millions of travelers each year, the most of them are country music lovers.
The “Strip” is jam-packed with clubs, hotels, eateries, and gift shops offering every form of kitsch conceivable. Some of the best country music musicians perform in these venues, and is among the best things to do in Branson.
Branson is also a popular starting point for treks into the nearby Ozark Mountains. Natural attractions include Talking Rocks Cavern and Table Rock Lake State Park.
The Branson Scenic Railroad, which has renovated 1930s passenger carriages, is a wonderful way to experience Branson’s wild side. The rides and roller coasters at Silver Dollar City offer thrills for more exhilarating activity, and are among the best places to visit in Missouri.
8. Tour the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum
Before using the pen name Mark Twain, Samuel Clemens moved into this two-story home in 1843 and lived there from the time he was seven to the age of eighteen.
Since 1912, the house has been open for public tours and has been refurbished and adorned in period style.
The adjacent museum consists of two buildings containing Twain collectibles such as early editions of his books, photographs, actual manuscripts, and the desk where he sat to compose The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
9. Visit St. Louis’ Missouri Botanical Garden which is also a National Historic Landmark
The Missouri Botanical Garden, with its 79 acres of space, is a great place to take a stroll.
The gardens were established in 1859 and are a National Historic Landmark for the state, and is also counted among the top Missouri tourist attractions.
With the new addition of the Jack C. Taylor Visitor Center, the gardens are undertaking a comprehensive renovation of their facilities.
Visiting the Climatron is one of the highlights of a trip to the gardens. The 24,000 square foot inside of this enormous geodesic dome is home to 2,800 plants from 1,400 different kinds.
The Japanese Garden and the Linnean House are among noteworthy attractions in the gardens. Every half hour, a team travels the length of the park, and is the main highlight of your visit here.
10. Tour the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
The Nelson Atkins Museum of Art is one of Kansas City’s top cultural destinations, and among the top places to go in Missouri. Its extensive collection includes artifacts from all around the world, but it places a special focus on East Asian art. There is a sculpture garden on the museum grounds that anyone can enjoy.
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art always has free admission, and changing exhibitions make every visit different. The museum hosts free family fun weekends, live music every third Thursday of the month, and a wide range of art programmes for all ages.
11. Visit Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum
At the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum in Independence, there are historical and artistic artifacts on display.
The museum’s primary focus is on the life and times of Harry S. Truman and the years 1945 to 1953 in US history. President and Mrs. Truman’s tombs are located in the courtyard, and a model of Truman’s White House office is on exhibit.
Visitors can take a tour of the Victorian home where the Truman family resided from 1919 until his death in 1972 at the Harry S. Truman National Historic Site, which is about a mile away. The residence has original furnishings as well as additional Truman family artifacts.
12. The Lovely Campus of the University of Missouri is Something not to miss!
The university lies in the heart of Columbia, with a beautiful campus radiating from the David R. Francis Quadrangle.
This lovely location is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is equally well-liked by locals, tourists, and students.
It is home to the magnificent Jesse Hall and six majestic columns that are the final remnants of Academic Hall, which was destroyed in an 1892 fire.
The institution also serves as the location of the Museum of Art and Archaeology, and there are numerous cultural events held there throughout the year.
This free museum includes a variety of exhibits, guided tours, and workshops, among other things.
13. Rides are available at Silver Dollar City
The Silver Dollar City in Branson blends a sizable amusement park with handicrafts and the preservation of 1880s Ozark culture, and is one of the top Missouri destinations.
In the park, artisans show off their skills in pottery, glassblowing, candlemaking, handicraft, blacksmithing, and more. The park also offers shops, restaurants, live performances, rides, and other activities.
Silver Dollar City includes Marvel Cave. It continues the customs of the mining community that existed at the cave’s entrance in the 1880s. The Osage Indians found the cave in the 1500s, and it has since drawn travelers hunting for the Fountain of Youth, miners of marble and bat guano, and geologists.
14. Experience the outdoors at Lake of the Ozarks
Lake of the Ozarks, formed by an impoundment of the Osage River in 1931. It is one of the Midwest’s most popular lake resorts.
One of the best vacation spots in MO features planned golf courses, gorgeous campsites, and lakeside resorts. Besides that, it also offers a variety of water sports like kayaking, fishing, and swimming at sandy beaches.
The enormous beachfront offers plenty of attractions and things to do, including shopping, restaurants, and a community that always welcomes out-of-towners.
A drive over the Bagnell Dam is advised to view the engineering marvel that produced the Lake of the Ozarks.
Bridal Cave in Camdenton is yet another popular destination nearby. Native Americans have used this subterranean sanctuary underneath Thunder Mountain for years.
It is a well-known tourist destination today because of its stunning rock formations.
15. Visit the Saint Louis Zoo to See the Animals
The Saint Louis Zoo is among the top things to do for free in Missouri. Bring the family to see the animals, but keep your wallet in your pocket. There are plenty of furry critters to view at the zoo, which is home to over 14,000 animals from around 500 different kinds.
Six main areas make up the zoo: Red Rocks, Lakeside Crossing, Discovery Corner, The Wild, and River’s Edge. There are specific species unique to each of these regions that are adapted to the local ecosystem.
This petting zoo also offers behind-the-scenes encounters that give visitors the chance to meet the professionals at the park veterinary facility. Here you may hand-feed reticulated rhinos, visit the section where rare birds are kept in nurseries, and cook specialty meals with the zoo’s nutritionists.
16. Learn the War History at Small Missouri Town at Carthage
A small Missouri town named Carthage has an intriguing war history that includes Civil War battles, Fortune 500 entrepreneurs, folk music entertainers, and women’s rights pioneers.
After being burned to the ground during the Civil War, the city was quickly rebuilt with stunning Victorian architecture and is scattered throughout all four districts.
It has more than 600 structures, all of which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Battle of Carthage State Historic Site is a good place to learn about Carthage’s past.
Explore Lowell Davis’ recreation of a nineteenth-century community called Red Oaks II. Enjoy the intriguing Precious Moments chapel and the gallery that Samuel J. Butcher, the artist and creator, built. His vivid mural of biblical subjects was influenced by Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel.
17. Experience the Geological Events at Elephant Rocks State Park
Elephant Rocks State Park is located in the Saint Francois Mountains of the southeastern side, and is among the top Missouri destinations.
It is a geologic reserve and a popular hiking location with an odd protrusion of granite boulders that resemble a train of marching elephants.
A dome of molten lava that broke and got eroded, revealing the ancient granite, gave rise to the elephant-like boulders some 1.5 billion years ago.
The region was once a quarry, but it is now a popular rock climbing and hiking spot as well as a geology enthusiast’s paradise.
The Braille Trail, the park’s primary path, winds through the boulders and eventually arrives at a long-abandoned engine house for a train.
Plan Your Trip to Missouri
Missouri is an alluring state. Its small towns and great outdoors, stunning landmarks and rolling Ozark Mountains. It provide plenty to do no matter how much time you have to visit. Whether you’re into history, music, battle reenactments, or fishing, there is definitely something for everyone in this Midwestern state.
While there are many places of interest to visit in Missouri, we’ve tried to include only those we think stand out. Let us know if you think we missed any.