Nicknamed “The Show Me State,” the state of Missouri is home to 5,500 recorded caves, historical sites, incredible nature, and a wide variety of museums designed as perfect attractions for families with kids to visit throughout the year.
From the Talking Rock Cavern and the Mark Twain Cave to Fort Osage and the Lewis and Clark Boat House to a myriad of hands-on and interesting children museums, there’s plenty for kids to see, do, and be entertained throughout Missouri.
1. Arabia Steamboat Museum
© Arabia Steamboat Museum
The Arabia Steamboat Museum in Kansas City is a unique city attraction that serves as a sort of time capsule of what life was like during the middle of the nineteenth century on the American frontier.
Museum guests are offered a unique chance to experience the everyday objects pioneers used during the 1800’s that made life in the frontier possible.
Arabia Steamboat Museum is considered to be a hidden gem of Kansas City and contains the world’s largest single pre-Civil War artifact collection, which has been featured by the History Channel, CNN, Southern Living, the Smithsonian, and National Geographic.
400 Grand Blvd, Kansas City, MO 64106, Phone: 816-471-1856
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2. Auto World Museum
© Auto World Museum
The Auto World Museum, located in the city of Fulton, is home to a wide array of automobiles within historic settings. The oldest of these vehicles in the museum collection is the Humbrette, which dates back to the year 1903, and the newest is the UMC solar race cary from 1997.
Around eighty automobiles are displayed at the Auto World Museum from its larger collection, with interactive kiosks providing visual and audio information about the various vehicles and their spot in history.
Unique historic settings include almost full-scale building facades and massive prints of a variety of historic scenes.
200 Peacock Dr, Fulton, MO 65251, Phone: 573-642-2080
3. Bridal Cave and Thunder Mountain Park
Bridal Cave and Thunder Mountain Park are both unique and fun family attractions in Camdenton, Missouri. Guided tours of Bridal Cave depart nearly every few minutes, lasting around one hour. These tours take place on concrete pathways through a 60-degree cave environment with park interpreters leading the way from one room of amazing mineral deposits to the next. Facilities at the Thunder Mountain Park include an observation towers, lakeside viewing decks, a public boat dock, a snack center, picnic areas, nature trails, a unique mineral and rock shop, and the largest lakeside gift shop in The Ozarks.
526 Bridal Cave Rd, Camdenton, MO 65020, Phone: 573-346-2676
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4. Children's Peace Pavilion
© Children's Peace Pavilion
The Children’s Peace Pavilion features over twenty-five interactive, hands-on exhibits designed to engage children in learning an assortment of life skills in a fun way, such as planetary stewardship, cultural appreciation, conflict resolution, cooperation, communication, appreciation, and self-acceptance. The mission of the Children’s Peace Pavilion is to approach the idea of peacemaking from a more holistic perspective, defining “peace” beyond its traditional meaning of an absence of war or conflict. It instead focuses on a comprehensive approach that includes four concepts, which are “Peace for The Planet, Peace for Everyone, Peace for Us, and Peace for Me.”
1001 West Walnut, Independence, MO 64050, Phone: 816-521-3033
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5. Dickerson Park Zoo
© Dickerson Park Zoo
The Dickerson Park Zoo in Springfield, Missouri provides an adventure full of discovery for both kids and adults alike, making it a great attraction in the state for families. Visitors get an up-close adventure into nature and wildlife as they view and learn about hundreds of different animals from all over the world. The Tropical Asia exhibit features siamangs, tigers, and elephants, while the Missouri Habitats is home to black bears, river otters, mountain lions, and wolves. Guests can also see a wide variety of reptiles at the Dickerson Park Zoo in the Ambler Diversity of Life Building.
1401 W Norton Rd, Springfield, MO 65803, Phone: 417-864-1800
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6. Field House Museum
© Field House Museum
The Field House Museum in bustling St. Louis, Missouri is the city’s first historic house museum, established in 1936. It didn’t become a National Historic Landmark, however, until 2007. The Field House Museum displays several different collections, including the Book Collection that spans two and a half centuries, the Toy Collection featuring items dating back to the 1790’s, and the Field Collection, which includes items owned by Roswell Field and Eugene Field, as well as their descendants.
634 South Broadway, St. Louis, MO 63102, Phone: 314-421-4689
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7. Fort D Historic Site
© Friends of Fort D Historic Site
The Fort D Historic Site is part of four forts designed by German-American engineers and constructed back in 1861 around Cape Cape Girardeau, a strategic city at the time. These forts were manned during the Civil War, but Fort D is the only one to still remain. Living History demonstrations take place at the Fort D Historic Site on Memorial Day weekend, the 4th of July, and Labor Day. Visitors can take a self-guided tour of the grounds at any time, with no charge for admission. The fort’s original earthworks can be seen, along with display panels providing historical information.
920 Fort St, Cape Girardeau, MO 63701, Phone: 573-335-1631
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8. Fort Osage
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The Fort Osage National Historic Landmark, located in what is now the historic village of Sibley, Missouri, provides visitors with a glimpse into the past to experience what life was like for the women and men who secured the frontier of America. Constructed in 1808 by William Clark, the fort acted as both a trade center and military garrison. Historical interpreters in authentic attire guide visitors on an interesting journey through the history of Fort Osage as they take in the amazing view of the reconstructed historical site overlooking the Missouri River and learn about the different groups that used the fort.
107 Osage St, Sibley, MO 64088, Phone: 816-650-3278
9. Grant’s Farm
© Grant’s Farm
Grant’s Farm is one of the most popular family attractions in the city of St. Louis, and has been since 1954. The 281-acre property is the ancestral home of the famous Busch family and is named after Ulysses S. Grant, who at one time worked a part of the land. Attractions at Grant’s Farm include Grant’s Cabin and Deer Park, which is home to a variety of different species of animals from all over the world. At the Tier Garten, visitors can feed parakeets or goats, take a ride on the carousel or a camel, or watch an animal show.
10501 Gravois Rd, St. Louis, MO 63123, Phone: 314-577-2626
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10. Hollywood Wax Museum Branson
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The Hollywood Wax Museum Branson offers a chance for people to “come play with the stars.” This world famous tribute to a wide variety of celebrities lets visitors get up-close and personal with their favorite stars, taking “selfies” with the wax figures that bare an uncanny likeness to the actual people they portray. Guests can also learn fun facts for each celebrity about their accomplishments, pet peeves, pets, and much more. Along with visiting the Hollywood Wax Museum Branson, visitors can purchase the All Access Pass to also visit the Shoot for the Stars Mini Golf, Castle of Charos, and Maze of Mirrors.
3030 West 76 Country Blvd, Branson, MO 65616, Phone: 417-337-8700
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11. Jefferson Barracks Telephone Museum
© Jefferson Barracks Telephone Museum
The Jefferson Barracks Telephone Museum in St. Louis is located within a circa 1896 building that has been beautifully restored and houses a large collection of telephones, memorabilia, and telephone related equipment. Listed on the country’s National Register of Historic Places, the building is situated just a distance from downtown on the 426-acres grounds of the historic Jefferson Barracks Park. Open Wednesday to Sunday, visitors can take a self-guided tour of the several educational and hands-on exhibits at the accessible Jefferson Barracks Telephone Museum. Several displays at the museum aim to inspire visitors to be interested in history and engineering.
12 Hancock Ave, St. Louis, MO 63125, Phone: 314-416-8004
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12. Family Things to do Near Me: Kansas City Zoo
© Rusty Dodson/stock.adobe.com
The Kansas City Zoo encompasses over 200 acres and is home to over 1,700 different animals. Visitors can delight in playful penguins at the Helzberg Penguin Plaza as they torpedo through their 100,000-gallon pool, or be adventurous and touch bamboo sharks and stingrays as they swim through a shallow pool in Stingray Bay. Visitors can also see polar bears at Polar Bear Passage, get up close with apes at Orangutan Canopy, and get an aerial view of rhinos, giraffes, and zebras aboard the African Sky Safari. Other areas include the Asian mountainside, the Australian Outback, and the African Savanna.
6800 Zoo Dr, Kansas City, MO 64132, Phone: 816-595-1234
13. Lewis and Clark Boat House and Nature Center
© Lewis and Clark Boat House and Nature Center
The Lewis and Clark Boat House and Nature Center is located in St. Charles, Missouri and is home to the Lewis and Clark Museum. Among the several exhibits of the museum are dioramas that illustrate highlights of the historic Lewis and Clark Expedition, as well as a variety of Missouri River habitats the expedition encountered during their journey and Native American displays. Visitors can take a self-guided tour of the Lewis and Clark Museum on the Boat House’s upper level.
1050 S. Riverside Dr, St. Charles, MO 63301, Phone: 636-947-3199
14. Mark Twain Cave
The Mark Twain Cave is part of a cave complex that boasts both the newest and oldest show caves in America. This particular cave is the first show cave in the state of Missouri, with the first guided organized tour taking place back in 1886. In 1972, the Mark Twain Cave was named a National Natural Landmark. Guests can start their visit to the Mark Twain Cave Complex at the Visitor’s Center where they can buy their tickets and souvenirs, as well as start a tour. Tours of the Mark Twain Cave, which includes no steps, last around one hour.
300 Cave Hollow Rd, Hannibal, MO 63401, Phone: 573-221-1656
15. Mark Twain Riverboat
The Mark Twain Riverboat has been a one-of-a-kind features along the riverfront of Hannibal, Missouri for over thirty years. This family-owned and operated business has been around since 1997 and provides a unique riverboat cruise experience for both residents and visitors alike on the Mississippi River. Two different types of river cruises are offered daily by the Mark Twain Riverboat: the evening Dinner Cruise and the daytime Sightseeing Cruise. The Sightseeing Cruise lasts approximately sixty minutes and offers a relaxing journey on the Mighty Mississippi. The captain provides historical commentary during the cruise about the sights, legends, and history.
Center Street Landing, Hannibal, MO 63401, Phone: 573-221-3222
16. Meramec Caverns
© Meramec Caverns
The Meramec Caverns provides visitors and locals alike around Stanton, Missouri with a chance to join a guided tour of a seve-level natural wonder, which also happens to be perhaps the oldest stop on the historic and iconic Route 66. These tours take around an hour and 20 minutes and cover approximately 1.25 miles of well-lit walkways. The Meramec Caverns has long been a popular tourist attraction in the area, every since the year 1933, and was supposedly used as a hideout by Jesse James. Facilities now include a candy store, a restaurant, a gift shop, and more.
1135 Route W, Stanton, MO 63079, Phone: 573-468-3166
17. National Frontier Trails Museum
© National Frontier Trails Museum
The National Frontier Trails Museum in Independence is the country’s only museum dedicated to America’s three “great western routes.” Independence, Missouri was the main “jumping off point” of the California Trail, the Oregon Trail, and theSanta Fe Trail and the museum showcases each trail’s unique features, as well as their impact on the history of the United States. Other exhibits are focused on the Lewis and Clark explorations, why people chose to “go West,” and the early traders and fur trappers. The National Frontier Trails Museum includes children’s activities, trail artifacts, authentic covered wagons, and much more.
318 W. Pacific Ave, Independence, MO 64050, Phone: 816-325-7575
18. National Museum of Toys and Miniatures
© National Museum of Toys and Miniatures
The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures preservers and exhibits the largest collection in the world of fine-scale miniatures, as well as one of the largest antique toy collections in the country. Originally established as the Kansas City Toy and Miniature Museum in 1982, the National Museum of Toys and Miniatures now holds more than seventy-two thousand items and displays simple wooden boats, a wide assortment of vintage doll houses, and an array of tin toys that range from monkeys to soldiers. The unique museum is open to the public Wednesday through Monday, except for major national holidays.
5235 Oak St, Kansas City, MO 64112, Phone: 816-235-8000
19. Pony Express Museum
The Pony Express Museum is an educational, interactive, and modern tribute to the legend and history of the Pony Express. In St. Joseph, Missouri a single rider left Pikes Peak Stables on April 3rd of 1860, beginning the historic service. The stables that were once the start of the historic Pony Express now house state-of-the-art educational exhibits that chronicle the need for, creation and operation, and the end of this courier service, in which brave riders traveled out West for over two thousand miles to California. The Pony Express Museum is open seven days a week throughout the year.
914 Penn St, St. Joseph, MO 64503, Phone: 816-279-5059
20. St Louis Zoo
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The St. Louis Zoo is considered by several publications, such as Zagat and Parenting Magazine, to be one of the best zoos in the United States, as well as respected for its exhibits that resemble the natural habitats of the various animal residents. One of the reasons why people love this zoo so much is that it doesn’t charge anything for admission. Visitors can watch penguins zoom through the water at the Penguin and Puffin Coast, get up close to hippos at Hippo Harbor, explore the unique Children’s Zoo, and walk through an underwater tunnel at Sea Lion Sound.
Government Dr, St. Louis, MO 63110, Phone: 314-781-0900
21. Talking Rocks Cavern
© Talking Rocks Cavern
The Talking Rocks Cavern is an exciting destination that visitors of all ages today can enjoy, with the stunning glistening crystal landscape providing an ideal backdrop for an amazing and unforgettable family adventure. Open the entire year, the Talking Rocks Cavern has a vertical nature, with steps and concrete handrails throughout the cave. Tours of the cave last around one hour and are what the attractions calls “edutainment,” meaning that they focus on both education and entertainment. Activities offered above ground include miniature golf, panning for gemstones, SpeleoBox crawl mazes, nature trails, a Kid’s Play Area, and more.
423 Fairy Cave Ln, Branson West, MO 65737, Phone: 417-272-3366
22. The Discovery Center of Springfield
© The Discovery Center of Springfield
The Discovery Center of Springfield is a hands-on and interactive science museum dedicated to inspiring visitors of any age to have a lifelong passion for learning, as well as an appreciation fro the world and their place in it. Fifty thousand square feet and seven floors of hands-on activities, technology, and interactive exhibits make up the facility. At the Discovery Center of Springfield, people of all ages can take a walk through the various inner workings of a massive eyeball, learn about many different cultures, dig for dinosaurs, ride a HighWire bike, take home their own DNA, and much more.
438 E St. Louis St., Springfield, MO 65806, Phone: 417-862-9910
23. The Gateway Arch
The Gateway Arch can be considered quite a majestic sight to behold from below. Local residents and visitors alike can take in thrilling views with a “tram ride to the top,” up 630 feet and 63 stories to the very top of the country’s tallest man-made monument. The view of the Midwestern sky stretches up to as many as thirty miles to the west and east. Tram tours take around forty-five to sixty minutes. The Museum at the Gateway Arch is made up of six exhibit areas and traces stories of rebels, pioneers, explorers, and Native Americans who helped make America possible.
St. Louis, MO 63102, Phone: 877-982-1410
24. Magic House Museum
© The Magic House Museum
Open Tuesday through Sunday, the Magic House Museum is home to hundreds of different interactive exhibits designed specifically to spark imagination, pique curiosity, and create a life-long love for learning. Aligned with both state and national academic standards, the museum exhibits engage kids in an array of interactive and hands-on experiences that promote important modern skills, such as collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity. Exhibit areas at the Magic House Museum include Waterfall Patio, Children’s VIllage, Nature Play, Art Studio, Wonder Works, Math Path, Music Play, Bubble Room, Kids Construction Zone, Balls in Motion, Future Play, and the Outdoor Play Garden.
516 S. Kirkwood Rd, St. Louis, MO 63122, Phone: 314-822-8900
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