Missouri Travel Guide
The lush, rolling hills of the Ozark mountains, deeply delicious barbecue, and an incredible music scene, it's all in Missouri. This often overlooked state has so much to offer. From the bigger cities of St Louis and Kansas City to the forests and outdoor experiences near Springfield, and the “Vegas” style family fun of Branson, there's more to Missouri than many think!
This Missouri travel guide will give you all the Missouri tips you need to make the most of your trip. From where to go, what to see, and even where to eat, this Missouri guide has got you covered. So whether you're looking for a family-friendly vacation or a weekend getaway with friends, Missouri is the perfect destination.
Top Places to Visit in Missouri
✦✦✦ St Louis
Gateway Arch National Park – The iconic Gateway Arch is the most recognizable symbol of St Louis. At 630 feet tall, it's the tallest monument in the USA! You can ride up the arch and gt an incredible view of the city.
Missouri Botanical Garden – One of the top botanical gardens in the US, Missouri Botanical Garden is a must-see for any plant lover.
City Museum – A unique and interactive museum that's perfect for kids and adults alike, City Museum is a must-visit in St Louis.
Forest Park – A large urban park that's perfect for a day of picnicking, hiking, or just relaxing in nature.
Market Street – A historic street in downtown St Louis that's home to many shops and restaurants.
National Blues Museum – Explore the history of the Blues and how it impacts so many forms of music today. Missouri is home to many musicians including Chuck Berry, Sara Evans, Josephine Baker, and more. It's so interesting to see where the music started.
Go to a Cardinals game – Missouri is home to the St Louis Cardinals, one of the most iconic baseball teams. If you're a fan, or even if you're not, going to a game is a great experience.
Where to eat in St Louis: Pappy's or Sugarfire for barbecue. If you're short on time I highly recommend a trolley tour of St. Louis!
✦✦✦ Kansas City
National WWI Museum and Memorial – Learn about the Great War at this interesting museum.
President Truman Library and Museum – Located nearby Kansas City in Independence, this museum is so informative. Learn about the life and times of one of Missouri's most famous residents, President Harry Truman. He was basically unknown when Roosevelt sought a historic 4th term in the midst of WWII. When he passed away 82 days after taking on the 4th term, Truman was in charge. From making huge decisions relating to the war, the Atomic bomb, racial segregation, the Korean war and more. We spent 3 hours here and could have spent more!
National Jazz Museum – Missouri is known for its jazz music, and this museum is a great place to learn about the history and culture of jazz.
Arrowhead Stadium – Home of the Kansas City Chiefs, Arrowhead Stadium is a great place to catch a football game.
Union Station – A beautiful historic train station that's now home to shops, restaurants, and a hotel.
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art – Known for its encyclopedic collection of art from all over the world.
Kansas City Library – A beautiful library with unique architecture.
Where to eat in Kansas City: Arthur Bryant's for traditional barbecue, Q39 for modern barbecue. Louisburg Cider Mill is a great place for hot cider donuts (and a place to camp if you have an RV), and Green Lady Lounge for live jazz and cocktails.
Silver Dollar City – A family-friendly amusement park with rides, shows, and more. This was so much fun! I surprised myself by doing all the “big” rollercoasters. The park is super clean, lots of good food, and easy to get around. I recommend downloading their app while you're in the park.
Live Shows – You can't go to Branson without seeing some shows! We used “Save on Branson” to book. I recommend seeing Reza – a magic show that was WILDLY entertaining or if you're interested in music, The Haygoods. There's also lots of music at Silver Dollar City.
Titanic Museum – Missouri is home to the largest collection of Titanic artifacts in the world. This museum is so well done and informative. If you're interested in history or the Titanic, this is a must-see. Titanic museum tickets here!
Dogwood Canyon Nature Park – A beautiful nature park with hiking trails, a tram, and more. We loved exploring here by bike! It's a 7 mile walk so I do recommend bringing or renting a bike.
Table Rock Lake – A popular spot for fishing, boating, and swimming. This is a must-see if you're looking to get outdoors.
There's a LOT of entertainment in Branson. From golf, rides, and more. Other popular attractions are WonderWorks, Beyond the Lens, and Dolly Parton's Stampede Dinner. I do recommend skipping the overly cheesy show “Grand Jubilee.”
Where to eat in Branson: Gettin' Basted for BBQ, Creams and Cakes or Mel's Hard Luck Diner for burgers and fries.
World of Wonders Aquarium – This museum is shockingly well done. Johnny Morris, the founder of Bass Pro Shops started the museum and aquarium and it helps promote conservation as well as learning about nature and animals.
Wilson's Creek National Battlefield – Now, a beautiful and peaceful place to visit, Wilson's Creek National Battlefield is the site of one of the first major Civil War battles west of the Mississippi River.
Fantastic Caverns – Missouri is home to many caves, and Fantastic Caverns is one of the best. Take a tour through this huge cave system and learn about the history
✦✦ Walt Disney Hometown Museum
I didn't expect to like this museum as much as I did! Walt Disney, his real name, grew up in the town of Marceline, Missouri that he called his “paradise” and was the inspiration for much of his work. In fact, Walt Disneyland's “Main Street” came from Marceline. With success, he gave back so much to his home town and its people.
✦✦ Mark Twain's Home
Chances are you've read a Mark Twain book. And for good reason, they are classics! Going to his hometown is so interesting to see how his books took shape and came to life. The town of Hannibal is located right by the Mississippi river and you can see where he got inspiration for his books. From white washing the fence, to the characters that were based on real life people in his life.
✦✦ Jesse James Home
Known to many as “The American Robinhood” the infamous outlaw had a turbulent past and history. His outlaw career lasted from 1866 to 1882. He and his gang robbed a dozen banks, trains, and many, many more. He was never captured but shot by the “coward” Robert Ford, a newer member of the gang, when he turned his back. You not only learn about Jesse, but his family and what turned him into an outlaw.
✦ St Charles
The first state capital of Missouri and home to the Lewis and Clark expedition, St. Charles is known for its rich history and beautiful brick boulevards and architecture. With a quaint Main Street full of shops and restaurants, St. Charles is the perfect place to stop and explore.
✦ = most important to visit
Our 7 Day Missouri Itinerary
Day 1: Branson, Magic Show Reza
Day 2: Dogwood Canyon, Titanic Museum, Show in Branson
Day 3: Springfield, Wilson's Creek, World of Wonders
Day 4: Silver Dollar City in Branson
Day 5: St. Charles & St Louis (we spent only a short time in St. Louis since we'd been before. I recommend 2-3 days), Mark Twain Home Town
Day 6: Walt Disney Home Town, Jesse James Home Town, Kansas City
Day 7: Kansas City, Truman Library, Jazz Museum, WWI museum – this could easily be broken up over more than one day, we were short on time!
Missouri is a great state for a vacation because there's something for everyone. Whether you're looking to explore history, enjoy the outdoors, or just have some fun, Missouri is the perfect place.