St. Louis is one of the Midwest's most vibrant cities, known for its iconic St. Louis Arch, which commemorates the westward journey of the 1804-1806 Lewis and Clark Expedition. Visitors and area residents can day trip to some of Missouri's best attractions from the city, including the acclaimed rides and attractions of St. Louis Six Flags, located in nearby suburb Eureka. Katy Trail State Park serves as the launch point for the 240-mile Katy Trail, which spans the length of the Missouri River along a former railroad route. Unique natural attractions include Ha Ha Tonka State Park, which preserves a 20th-century castle's ruins, and Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park, which offers natural rock slides during the summer months. Historic attractions abound in cities such as Columbia, Hermann, and Jefferson City, including attractions connected to American author Mark Twain.
1.The Fugitive Beach
The Fugitive Beach is one of the United States' most unique water parks, located within a former 25-acre rock quarry facility that has been filled in with water. Visitors can travel to the park seven days a week throughout the summer months and enjoy a plethora of high and family thrill water rides, including a 60-foot water slide, a 50-foot slip-and-slide, a nautilus floating water toy and climbing wall, and 10, 15, and 20-foot cliff jumps. Sand volleyball and human foosball courts are also offered, along with a children's play area and day-use picnic pavilions. The park's delicious Beach Bar and Grill serves up American favorites like cheeseburgers, nachos, soft pretzels, and pizza. Adults can enjoy refreshing alcoholic frozen beverages or ice-cold beers to sip on while they relax and play.
16875 County Rd 5285, Rolla, MO 65401
2.Katy Trail State Park
Katy Trail State Park is one of Missouri's most famed state parks, home to the 240-mile Katy Trail, the nation's longest recreational rail trail. The park and trail are named for the phonetic pronunciation of "KT," short for the former Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad, which its trail traverses the former route along the banks of the Missouri River. It was converted into a right-of-way rail trail in 1990 following the National Trails System Act. Today, the trail begins at the city of Machens and runs along the route of the Missouri River's northern edge, traversing through sites like Jefferson City, Columbia, and Boonville before terminating at Clinton. Hikers, joggers, and cyclists can use the limestone pug paved trail, which is open to the public year-round between sunrise and sunset.
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Kirkwood is a lovely suburb of St. Louis, originally founded in 1853 and named in honor of Pacific Railroad builder James P. Kirkwood. The city, which is easily accessible from downtown St. Louis via commuter passenger train, is home to a wide variety of historic homes within its National Register of Historic Places-listed downtown district, including lovely Victorian, Italianate villa, and Tudor-style homes dating back to the mid-19th century. More than 100 specialty stores and restaurants line the city's downtown district, including the historic Kirkwood Farmers Market and the quaint independent stores such as the Bug Store, Paperdolls Boutique, the Sugar Shack, and Pottery Hollow. Annual special events include a summer Peach Festival, a Tunes at Ten concert series, a Pumpkin Patch and Harvest Festival, and a Route 66 Cars and Guitars Festival.
4.The Great River Road
The Great River Road is a unique collection of regional roads that collectively follow along the route of the majestic Mississippi River, spanning 10 states headed south from Minnesota to the river's terminus at Louisiana. The unique route is home to some of the most renowned historic attractions in the state of Missouri, including the beautiful Mark Twain Cave Complex, which preserves cave sites that were featured in a number of the author's famed novels. Visitors can explore natural sites like Mastodon State Historic Site, which showcases archaeological sites connected to the Paleoindian Clovis culture, or tour the 1792 National Historic Landmark Bolduc House Museum, which is open as a living history museum. Other attractions include the Rosemary Berkel and Harry L. Crisp II Museum, historic chocolatiers Bankhead Chocolates, and picturesque Cuivre River State Park.
Springfield is the capital city of Illinois, known for its attractions connected to United States President Abraham Lincoln, who was born in the city. Visitors can explore the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, which features exhibits and documentary films related to the 16th president's life and legacy. The Lincoln Home National Historic Site preserves Lincoln's adult homestead, while Lincoln's New Salem Historic Site recreates Lincoln's one-time hometown near Petersburg. Other historic attractions include the 1902 Dana-Thomas House, a splendid Frank Lloyd Wright creation, and the state's century-old Governor's Mansion. Each year, the city hosts the International Route 66 Mother Road Festival, which features a massive hot rod and vintage motorcycle show, live music performances, and delicious food vendors.
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Chesterfield is the largest city within western St. Louis County, located just half an hour outside of the St. Louis city center via Interstate 64. The city is located within the unique Gumbo Flats geographical region and is comprised of the historic communities of Bellefontaine, Lake, Gumbo, Monarch, and Bonhomme, which were combined to form the town in 1988. Today, the city is best known as the home of beautiful Faust Park, which is home to an historic village that preserves four homes and 14 structures constructed between 1840 and 1910. Thornhill Grounds preserve the former home of Missouri Governor Frederick Bates, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Other park attractions include a butterfly house, a children's playground, and the quaint St. Louis Carousel.
Clayton is a lovely suburb of St. Louis, originally founded in 1877 and named in honor of land donor Ralph Clayton. The city is best known as the home of the annual Saint Louis Art Fair, the top-rated art fair in the United States. More than 150,000 annual visitors attend the festival, which showcases a large number of artist vendors selling beautiful works across all mediums. Other special events throughout the year include the delicious Taste of Clayton food festival, the Big Read literary festival, the Parties in the Park cocktail gathering series, and the monthly Gallery Nights art walk reception series. St. Louis County government buildings dot the city's downtown district, along with a collection of delightful boutiques, art galleries, gourmet restaurants, and nightlife destinations.
8.Finger Lakes State Park
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Finger Lakes State Park spans more than 1,100 acres throughout Boone County, located near the beautiful town of Columbia. The picturesque state park and recreation area is located on land that once belonged to the Peabody Coal's Mark Twain Mine attraction, which was donated to the state in 1974. Today, it is known as a popular destination for off-road motorcycling and all-terrain vehicle driving, offering more than 70 miles of driving trails throughout its gorgeous rolling hill landscape. More than a dozen small lakes throughout the park's lands give the park its name, combined into a beautiful 4.5-mile canoeing and kayaking water trail. Day-use picnic sites are also available for visitor use, along with campground areas with modern showers and restrooms.
9.Ha Ha Tonka State Park
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Ha Ha Tonka State Park is a beautiful recreation area that spans more than 3,700 acres throughout the Lake of the Ozarks region, along the lakes' Niangua arm near the city of Camdenton. The park is anchored around the preserved ruins of the 20th-century Ha Ha Tonka stone mansion, which was originally constructed in 1905 by Kansas City businessman Robert McClure Snyder, Sr. It was named in honor of an indigenous word that is believed to have translated to "smiling waters" or "big laugh." Though the European-style castle was destroyed following a fire in 1942, its remains can still be viewed today throughout the park. Visitors can also enjoy excellent opportunities for hiking, boating, fishing, and swimming throughout the park year-round.
1491 Missouri D, Camdenton, MO 65020, Phone: 573-346-2986
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Johnson’s Shut-Ins is a unique recreation area in Middle Brook, spanning over 8,700 acres along the banks of the gorgeous East Fork Black River. The park is named for its unique geological features of the same name, which limit the breadth of the river and create natural rock slides that can be used like water park slides throughout the summer months in safe water conditions. It is operated in conjunction with nearby Taum Sauk Mountain State Park, stretching throughout the stunning landscape of the St. Francois Mountains. Visitors can also rock climb, hike, swim, and ride horses throughout the year at sites such as the 10-mile Goggins Mountain Equestrian Trail, located within the Ozark Trail, and the two-mile Scour Trail. Basic and hookup campsites are available for overnight stay, offering day-use picnic tables, fire pits, and trash stations.
148 Taum Sauk Trail, Middle Brook, MO 63656, Phone: 573-546-2450
Hermann is one of Missouri's most unique historic towns, celebrating its 19th-century German past at historic sites such as the Deutschheim State Historic Site. The picturesque Missouri River Valley town is home to attractions such as the Historic Hermann Museum and the privately-funded Gasconade County Courthouse. Nearby, the Hermann American Viticultural Area is one of Missouri's top wine-growing regions, home to seven lovely wineries that produce over a third of the state's wine output throughout the year. Visitors can explore the scenic 20-mile Hermann Wine Trail and attend special events throughout the year like a Valentine's Chocolate Wine Trail and a summer Berries and Barbecue event. Outdoor attractions include the lovely 240-mile Katy Trail State Park, which stretches along the banks of the Missouri River.
150 Market Street, Hermann MO 65041, Phone: 573-486-2744
Meramec Caverns are Missouri's most famed show cave, originally discovered by European pioneers during the 18th century. Throughout the 19th century, the caverns are believed to have served as an infamous hideout spot for notorious Wild West outlaw Jesse James. Today, they attract more than 150,000 annual visitors throughout the year for guided tours and family-friendly entertainment. Visitors can explore the 4.6-mile cavern system as part of regular tours throughout the year and view sites such as the lovely Theatre Room, Stage Curtain, and Ballroom. The picturesque Hollywood Room also showcases areas that were used during the filming of motion pictures like Deep Impact. Above ground, family attractions include a zipline adventure trail, a riverboat ride, and a gem mining attraction. Visitors can also eat at the park's Southern-style restaurant or stay overnight at its lovely seasonal motel and campground.
1135 Hwy W, Sullivan, MO 63080, Phone: 573-468-2283
13.Bonne Terre Mine
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Bonne Terre Mine was originally developed in 1860 as part of the St. Joe Minerals lead mine network, which produced more lead throughout the 19th century than any other region in the United States. During the American Civil War, the mine was notoriously targeted as part of Price's Raid. Today, it has been reopened to the public as a visitor attraction for guided tours, which explore its five beautiful underground levels. The mine's three lower levels are home to a crystal-clear billion-gallon lake, which has been named as one of the United States' top 10 greatest adventure experiences by National Geographic. Visitors can explore the lake as part of guided boat tours or enjoy scuba diving experiences at the world's largest freshwater diving venue.
185 Park Ave, Bonne Terre, MO 63628, Phone: 888-843-3483
St. Charles is one of Missouri's oldest towns, originally founded in 1769. The charming St. Charles County city, which is located just half an hour outside of the city of St. Louis, is known throughout the nation today for its beautiful National Register of Historic Places-listed South Main Street district, which offers more than 100 unique shops, boutiques, antique stores, cafes, and restaurants for visitors to enjoy. Delicious restaurants line the city's historic districts, including favorites like the Western House, Farmer's Home Tavern, and Eckert's Tavern, offering beautiful waterfront seating. A number of attractions throughout the city preserve the history of the famed 19th-century Lewis and Clark Expedition, including the Lewis and Clark Boat House. Other attractions include the First Missouri State Capitol Building and the preserved Shrine of St. Rose Phillippine Duchesne.
Florissant is a lively historic community in St. Louis County, located throughout the Greater St. Louis region just north of St. Louis. The charming city is home to a plethora of historic landmarks, including the Old St. Ferdinand Shrine, the oldest Catholic Church in the central United States. The Old Town Wedding Chapel formerly served as the city's first Protestant church, while the 1867 John B. Myser House and Barn preserves the city's pioneer history through a variety of living history demonstrations. Delightful shopping and dining destinations are located throughout Historic Old Town Florissant. Annual special events hosted on the city's historic St. Francois Street include the Valley of Flowers Festival, the Wednesday Night Out Parties music series, and the city's annual Fall Festival.
16.The Ozark National Scenic Riverways
The Ozark National Scenic Riverways are a beautiful national park in southern Missouri's Ozark Mountains region, originally created in 1964 to protect the lovely Jacks Fork and Current Rivers. The 80,000-acre park receives 1.3 million annual visitors, known for its excellent swimming, fishing, canoeing, and hiking experiences. Visitors can explore the park's abundant caves, including Round Spring Caverns, which is showcased during ranger-led tours throughout the summer months. The long-distance Ozark Trail hiking trail traverses past sites such as beautiful Rocky Falls. Historic sites throughout the park include the Buttin Rock School building, Walter Klepzig Mill and Farm, the Reed Log House, and the Alley Spring Roller Mill. Campgrounds are offered along the river at sites at Round Spring, Pulltite, Two Rivers, Big Spring, and Alley Spring.
County Rd 60-221, Ellsinore, MO 63937, Phone: 573-323-4236
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Columbia is one of central Missouri's loveliest and most progressive cities, best known as the home of three college campuses: the University of Missouri, Stephens College, and Columbia College. The University of Missouri campus is home to stunning architecture, most of which has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places, including iconic landmarks such as the neo-Gothic-style Memorial Union and Jesse Hall. Visitors can peruse the exhibits of university museums like the Museum of Art and Archaeology or attend theatrical performances throughout the year at the Missouri Theatre Center for the Arts. A plethora of art galleries populate the city's lovely North Village Arts District. Annual special events include the Roots 'N Blues 'N BBQ Festival and the We Always Swing Jazz Series.
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Hannibal is a charming city in northeast Missouri, located along the banks of the majestic Mississippi River. The town is best known as the home of a number of attractions connected to famed 19th-century American author Mark Twain, known for his classic Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn novels. Visitors can explore the attractions of the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum as part of self-guided tours throughout the year. A landmark chain of caves is preserved as part of the Mark Twain Cave Complex, including caves featured in Twain's novels. The gorgeous 1900 Rockcliffe Mansion stands as one of the nation's best examples of Gilded Age architecture today, operated as a living history museum. Visitors can also attend performances of the one-man show Mark Twain Himself, explore the exhibits of the Hannibal History Museum, or embark on scenic dinner cruises aboard the Mark Twain Riverboat.
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Jefferson City is Missouri's beautiful state capitol, named in honor of United States President Thomas Jefferson. The city is home to a plethora of historic attractions, including the Missouri Governor's Mansion, the Missouri State Penitentiary, the Jefferson Landing State Historic Site, and the National Register of Historic Places-listed State Capitol Building. Civil War-era figures from the city's history are interred at the lovely Jefferson City National Cemetery, part of a network of cemeteries overseen by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. Unique museums include the Missouri State Museum, preserving the city's government and cultural history, and the Veterinary Medical Foundation Museum, showcasing veterinary practices and technologies throughout United States history. Cultural attractions include the Capital Arts Gallery and the Miller Performing Arts Center.
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Ste. Genevieve is one of Missouri's most charming historic towns, named as one of the Dozen Distinctive Destinations by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The city is home to the United States' largest collection of French Colonial-style buildings, which were constructed following the city's founding in 1735. More than 150 of the city's historic buildings were constructed prior to the 19th century and are preserved today as living history museums, showcasing splendid French Creole Colonial architecture and unique elements like vertical wood post construction. Visitors can dine at local favorite restaurants like Sirro's Restaurant, Stella and Me, and the Old Brick House or stay overnight at lovely historic bed and breakfast facilities housed within National Historic Landmark buildings.
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Washington is a picturesque town in the heart of Missouri's wine country, located less than an hour outside of St. Louis' city center. The city, which was originally founded in 1839, is home to a plethora of historic homes and businesses throughout its downtown district, which can be explored as part of self-guided walking tours offered by the Washington Historical Society. Visitors can view the preserved former home of local brewing magnate John B. Busch, connected to the renowned Anheuser-Busch brewing legacy, or peruse art exhibits at the city's converted 1923 railroad depot building. Award-winning wineries can be explored throughout the region, including the delightful Augusta Winery and Beer Garden, which offers tastings and tours throughout the week.
21 Best Weekend Getaways and Day Trips from St. Louis
- The Fugitive Beach, Photo: liderina/stock.adobe.com
- Katy Trail State Park, Photo: MarekPhotoDesign.com/stock.adobe.com
- Kirkwood, Photo: Syda Productions/stock.adobe.com
- The Great River Road, Photo: Patchara/stock.adobe.com
- Springfield, Photo: pabrady63/stock.adobe.com
- Chesterfield, Photo: Johan Larson/stock.adobe.com
- Clayton, Photo: Sachs500/stock.adobe.com
- Finger Lakes State Park, Photo: Rock and Wasp/stock.adobe.com
- Ha Ha Tonka State Park, Photo: Sharon Day/stock.adobe.com
- Johnson’s Shut-Ins, Photo: Sharon Day/stock.adobe.com
- Hermann, Photo: MarekPhotoDesign.com/stock.adobe.com
- Meramec Caverns, Photo: forcdan/stock.adobe.com
- Bonne Terre Mine, Photo: Sved Oliver/stock.adobe.com
- St. Charles, Photo: Melanie/stock.adobe.com
- Florissant, Photo: leungchopan/stock.adobe.com
- The Ozark National Scenic Riverways, Photo: sschremp/stock.adobe.com
- Columbia, Photo: Henryk Sadura/stock.adobe.com
- Hannibal, Photo: R. P. Jennings/stock.adobe.com
- Jefferson City, Photo: pabrady63/stock.adobe.com
- Ste. Genevieve, Photo: scottevers7/stock.adobe.com
- Washington, Photo: Paylessimages/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: pabrady63/stock.adobe.com