Missouri is that unassuming state tucked away in America's Midwest. On its western edge, Kansas City is famous for barbecue, hosting the annual American Royal Barbecue, the world's largest competitive barbecue event. It's also home to Kansas City jazz, the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, and The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. On the Mississippi side, St Louis boasts the Gateway Arch and the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial. The Ozark Mountains, Branson's Nickelodeon Kids Fest, and many other attractions are on hand to fill any summer holiday with fun.
1. Fantastic Caverns
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Fantastic Caverns in Springfield, Missouri, offers visitors a unique chance to explore a cave in one-of-a-kind spelunking fashion. It is the only cave in North America that offers a completely ride-through tour, which is made possible via a Jeep-drawn tram. First discovered in 1862 by John Knox and his hunting dog, the cave wasn't explored until 5 years later by a group of twelve women associated with the Springfield Women's Athletic Club. Their names can be seen etched into a cave wall to this day. Visitors will find this cave to be a wondrous showcase of the state's underground phenomenon in the heart of the Ozarks. Things to Do in Springfield
4872 North Farm Road 125, Springfield, MO 65803, Phone: 417-833-2010
© Titanic Museum
The Titanic Museum in Branson, Missouri, first opened its doors in 2006. Its purpose was to share with patrons, as closely as possible, the experience that both passengers and crew endured on the Titanic's tragic maiden voyage. The museum itself is shaped like the Titanic, though smaller in size than the actual ship. Guests have the opportunity to see authentic artifacts, news coverage from that time period, and personal items from those who were aboard the ship. They can also touch a real growing iceberg or dip their hand in 28°F water for tactile experiences that bring the exhibit to life. The tour takes approximately 2 hours. Things to Do in Branson
3235 West 76 Country Boulevard, Branson, MO 65616, Phone: 800-381-7670
3.Branson Scenic Railway
© Branson Scenic Railway
The historic Branson Scenic Railway originates in Branson, Missouri, and winds through the beautiful Ozark Mountains on a round trip of approximately 40 miles. This vintage passenger train will take riders over trestles and through tunnels, traveling amid parts of the Missouri and Arkansas wilderness where wildlife is on full display. The three domed cars afford panoramic views that occupy most of the passengers' attention; however, guests will also want to tour the cars on their journey, as they have been restored and refurbished to match the same passenger experience of 50 years ago. The trip takes approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes.
206 East Main Street, Branson, MO 65616, Phone: 417-334-6110
© City Museum
Guests will discover the City Museum in the heart of St. Louis, Missouri. The one-time International Shoe Company building now houses a grand 600,000-square-foot playhouse museum. It is the brainchild of classically trained sculptor and world-renowned artist, Bob Cassilly, who with his team of artisans have built what can only be described as a funky funhouse and playground museum. The unique and eclectic displays of found items transformed into architectural marvels are completely interactive. Salvaged bridges, old chimneys, miles of tile, construction cranes, and two abandoned airplanes are all on display here. Visitors are encouraged to dress for a rough-and-tumble good time – with some rules. Things to Do in St. Louis
750 North 16th Street, St. Louis, MO 63103, Phone: 314-231-2489
5.Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis
© Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis
The Contemporary Art Museum (CAM) in St. Louis is a 27,000-square-foot building designed by the renowned American architect Brad Cloepfil. Celebrating the art of our time, the CAM offers a unique variety of changing exhibitions that provide thought-provoking elements contributing to the global cultural landscape. With more than 20 exhibitions each year, guests will see a full range of art, including paintings, sculptures, drawings, and performative, conceptual and interactive art. CAM also delivers art education through unique workshops for families, film screenings, and a monthly neighborhood art crawl. The family-friendly art museum can be found in the heart of downtown St. Louis.
3750 Washington Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63108, Phone: 314-535-4660
6.George Washington Carver National Monument
© NPS Photo
George Washington Carver National Monument is a 210-acre park situated 2 miles west of Diamond, Missouri. It is the first national monument dedicated to a black American and non-president, and bears great significance to the history of Missouri as well as to that of the United States. This park offers guided tours on a ¾-mile nature trail where guests will see the 1881 Moses Carver house, a pre-Civil War cemetery where Carver family members a buried, a museum, and an interactive exhibit. The trail also takes guests across streams, through woodlands, and along a tallgrass prairie restoration area. Art and education programs teach about the famous scientist, educator, and humanitarian.
5646 Carver Road, Diamond, MO 64840, Phone: 417-325-4151
7.Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum
© Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum
The Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum in Independence, Missouri, is home to many historical collections from Truman's presidency. It houses two permanent exhibitions: The first being Truman: The Presidential Years, and the second being Harry S. Truman: His Life and Times. The museum also hosts temporary exhibitions like the 2017 Saving the White House: Truman's Extreme Makeover, which gives guests the chance to follow the story of the controversial $5.7 million, 1,222-day renovation of the White House. Museum visitors will also see two decision theaters, new interactive elements, and letters exchanged between Harry and Bess Truman over the years.
500 West US Highway 24, Independence, MO 64050, Phone: 816-268-8200
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8.Jefferson National Expansion Memorial
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The Jefferson National Expansion Memorial is located at the heart of St. Louis, Missouri. The memorial, nestled up to the Mississippi River, is near the starting point of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Patrons will find cultural history collections that include artifacts representing five major categories: St. Louis History, the Gateway Arch, the Old Courthouse, Westward Expansion, and the museum archives. Visitors will also have the opportunity to learn about the lives of Thomas Jefferson, Virginia Minor, the Lewis and Clark Journey of Discovery, and African-American Life in St. Louis, 1804–1865. The Jefferson National Expansion Memorial is a part of the National Park Service.
11 North 4th Street, St. Louis, MO 63102, Phone: 314-655-1600
9.Things to Do in Missouri: Kansas City Zoo
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The Kansas City Zoo in Swope Park boasts 202 acres of wildlife exhibits. Visitors will have the opportunity to learn about many different species of wildlife through zookeeper chats, some of which include topics such as penguins, gorillas, polar bears, elephants, lions, rhinos, tigers, and cheetahs. Guests will also experience the zoo's animal shows like Wings of Wonder (bird show) and Sea Lion Splash. They offer other attractions in the form of zoo rides, such as the African Sky Safari, Endangered Species Carousel, Zebra Tram, Boat Ride, and Train Ride. This Kansas City attraction is fun for the whole family.
6800 Zoo Drive, Kansas City, MO 64132, Phone: 816-595-1234
10.Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum
© Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum
The Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum is dedicated to the fascinating life of Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known by his pen name, Mark Twain. Located in Hannibal, Missouri, visitors will have the opportunity to peer into the life of one of America's most famous novelists of literary realism. Twain is best known for his novels, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and its sequel, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Here, guests will have the chance to see the home Mark Twain grew up in, the Tom & Huck Statue, the Huckleberry Finn House, the Becky Thatcher House, the interpretive center, and the museum gallery.
120 North Main Street, Hannibal, MO 63401, Phone: 573-221-9010
11.Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum
© Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum
Located on the campus of Washington University in St. Louis, in the university's Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts, visitors will have the opportunity to explore the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, one of the oldest teaching museums in the country. The permanent collection of contemporary art represents a period from the turn of the 20th century to today. Temporary exhibitions at the museum have included The Modern Meal: Sustenance through Ritual. Visitors will also see pieces from renowned artists like Max Beckmann, Henri Matisse, Jackson Pollock, Thomas Eakins, Theo van Doesburg, Willem de Kooning, Charles Ferdinand Wimar, and William Hogarth. The building was designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Fumihiko Maki.
1 Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO 63130, Phone: 314-935-4523
12.Missouri Botanical Garden
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Informally known as Shaw's Garden after its founder and philanthropist Henry Shaw, Missouri Botanical Garden is located in St. Louis. With 79 acres of incomparable horticultural design, the botanical garden has a little something for everyone. Guests will see beautiful displays like the English Woodland Garden, Ottoman Garden, Chinese Garden, and Victorian District. The Climatron conservatory boasts a wondrous tropical rainforest. The Japanese Garden stretches across 14 acres and is one of the largest strolling Japanese gardens in North America. Some signature events to watch out for are the Orchid Show, Japanese Festival, Gardenland Express, and the Whitaker Music Festival.
4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63110, Phone: 314-577-5100
13.Missouri History Museum
© Missouri History Museum
Founded in 1866 and operated by the Missouri Historical Society, the Missouri History Museum is located in the Forest Park neighborhood of St. Louis. Visitors will have the opportunity to view many unique exhibitions here, like Civil Rights: The African American Freedom Struggle in St. Louis, World War I: Missouri and the Great War, Seeking St. Louis, The 1904 World's Fair: Looking Back at Looking Forward, and the History Clubhouse. The museum also offers a wide array of activities, including workshops, tours, lectures, music, films, theatre, and community events. After stimulating the mind, stimulate the stomach at Bixby's, the museum restaurant on the second floor.
5700 Lindell Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63112, Phone: 314-746-4599
14.Things to Do in Missouri: Museum of Transportation
© Museum of Transportation
This 42-acre National Museum of Transportation is located in the city of Kirkwood. While here, patrons will see rail and transit collections from the 1800s and 1900s, which have been transformed into more than 190 exhibits. Some of what they'll see include freight cars, interurban and city transit, passenger cars, rail motive power, and rail maintenance and test cars. There is a collection of rare and classic autos and trucks, like the 1901 St. Louis Motor Carriage Co. Automobile, Bobby Darin's "Dream Car", a Chrysler turbine car, and 1959 Ford gas turbine tractor. The museum also features other exhibits like the Douglas aircraft C-47A and the HT Potts towboat.
3015 Barrett Station Road, St. Louis, MO 63122, Phone: 314-965-6212
15.The Gateway Arch
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The Gateway Arch in downtown St. Louis is the nation's tallest monument. The curved 630-foot-tall monument pays tribute to Thomas Jefferson's vision of St. Louis as the gateway to Western Expansion. The awe-inspiring catenary arch was designed by renowned architect Eero Saarinen, and was built over 20 months between February 1964 and October 1965. Sixteen tram cars holding five passengers each, making 4-minute trips to the top. Once at the top, visitors can stay on the observation deck as long as they like; 16 windows overlook St. Louis and 16 windows on the opposite side overlook the Mississippi River.
11 North 4th Street, St. Louis, MO 63102, Phone: 877-982-1410
16.Things to Do in Missouri: National Blues Museum
© National Blues Museum
The National Blues Museum is located in downtown St. Louis and is dedicated to exploring the musical history and influence of the blues. The origin of blues music resides in the Deep South and has been the foundation of nearly all American popular music over the last century. Around 15,000 square feet of the 23,000-square-foot space are dedicated to highly interactive technology, artifact-driven exhibits, special event space, and a theater. This museum offers visitors the chance to explore the various regional styles of the blues as well as learn about the musicians who created it. The museum often hosts public programs, including lectures, films, and live musical performances.
615 Washington Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63101, Phone: 314-925-0016
17.Negro Leagues Baseball Museum
© Negro Leagues Baseball Museum
The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum was founded in 1990 and is dedicated to preserving the history of African-American Baseball. Located in Kansas City, the 10,000-square-foot museum shares its space with the American Jazz Museum. When African-Americans began playing baseball in the late 1800s, they started off playing on college, military, and company teams, eventually making their way into professional baseball. Bud Fowler and Moses Fleetwood Walker were among the pioneers at that time. The museum offers guests the chance to explore what it was like throughout the history of the league through baseball artifacts, hundreds of photographs, multi-media computer stations, and film exhibits. Things to Do in Kansas City
1616 East 18th Street, Kansas City, MO 64108, Phone: 816-221-1920
18.Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
© Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
This neoclassically designed museum boasts beautiful pieces of artwork from all over the world. Located in Kansas City, the museum has over 35,000 works of art and welcomes about 500,000 visitors per year. Guests will find ancient artworks here, such as Egyptian and Near Eastern, Greek, Roman, and early Christian exhibits. Visitors will also find a large collection of Native American artwork that includes basketry, quill and beadwork, paintings, sculptures, and textiles. That's not all; additionally, the museum presents African, Chinese, American, European, Japanese, and South and Southeastern Asian collections. The Rozzelle Court Restaurant, styled after 15th-century Italian courtyards, is a relaxing place to grab something to eat at the museum.
4525 Oak Street, Kansas City, MO 64111, Phone: 816-751-1278
19.Pulitzer Arts Foundation
© Pulitzer Arts Foundation
The Pulitzer Arts Foundation in St. Louis was designed by the internationally renowned Japanese architect Tadao Ando. It first opened to the public in 2001. The foundation's art exhibits are always changing, as it is a non-collecting institution with only three permanent art installations, which were commissioned by the Pulitzers. They are Ellsworth Kelly's Blue Black, Richard Serra's Joe, and Scott Burton's Rock Settee. The foundation offers a wide variety of exhibitions like Buddhist art, Old Masters, and modern contemporary artists Ann Hamilton and Dan Flavin. The foundation offers an impressive roster with leaders in fields like art, design, architecture, urban planning, science, and technology.
3716 Washington Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63108, Phone: 314-754-1850
20. Things to Do in Missouri: Saint Louis Art Museum
© Saint Louis Art Museum
The Saint Louis Art Museum is located in St. Louis's Forest Park. The museum, built in 1904, was designed by architect Cass Gilbert, who got his inspiration for the design from the Baths of Caracalla in Rome, Italy. With over 33,000 works of art, guests can expect to see work from these collections: African-American, African, American, Ancient American, Ancient, Pacific Islands, Asian, contemporary, decorative and design, European, Islamic, modern, Native American, photographs, prints, drawings, sculpture, and textile arts. Patrons will also see exhibitions like The Hats of Stephen Jones, In the Realm of Trees, and Lost in Space by Shimon Attie.
1 Fine Arts Drive, St. Louis, MO 63110, Phone: 314-721-0072
21. Saint Louis Science Center
© Saint Louis Science Center
The Saint Louis Science Center is located in the southeastern corner of Forest Park and was founded 1963. The site offers a three-story Science Center connected by a skybridge to a three-story Planetarium. The center offers a variety of scheduled activities like Simulated Space Missions, Family Med School, Flight Academy, Science at Sunset, Date Night under the Stars, and Camp-Ins. Visitors will also find exhibits and attractions such as The Discovery of King Tut, Mission: Mars, Human Adventure, and the Life Science Lab. Also available to visitors is the Omnimax Theatre with movies like Born to be Wild, Extreme Weather, Dream Big: Engineering our World, and Mummies: Secrets of the Pharaohs.
5050 Oakland Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63110, Phone: 314-289-4400
22.Saint Louis Zoo
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Recognized as a leader in conservation, education, and animal management, the Saint Louis Zoo in Forest Park is a must-visit attraction when in Missouri. Widely considered America's top free attraction, the zoo stretches over 90 acres of property, has approximately 14,840 wild animals, and is home to around 603 different species. While here, guests will see animals that include cheetahs, grizzly bears, jaguars, lions, polar bears, snow leopards, slender-tailed meerkats, monkeys, apes, elephants, Caribbean flamingos, bald eagles, owls, and penguins. Visitors will also want to check out the zoo's safari tours, keeper chats, sea lion feedings, and penguin feedings.
1 Government Drive, St. Louis, MO 63110, Phone: 314-781-0900
23.Science City at Union Station
© Science City at Union Station
Science City at Union Station is located in Kansas City and features over 120 hands-on displays, the Arvin Gottlieb Planetarium, and the City Extreme Screen theatre. Observe tools and methods of paleontology at the Dinolab and Digsite, where guests will find Lyle the Camarasurus – a real fossil. Other great attractions patrons will find here are the Demo Area, Force & Motion, Genetics: Unlock the Code, Giant Lever, KC Rail Experience, Maze Park, Nature Center, Science on a Sphere, Sky Bike, Spark!Lab, and The Science of Energy. Science City is a magical place where family, kids, and even adults will find new things to explore on every visit.
30 West Pershing Road, Kansas City, MO 64108, Phone: 816-460-2020
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The Anheuser-Busch "Budweiser" Brewery is located in the Soulard neighborhood of St. Louis. Since inception in 1852, they have prided themselves on brewing the finest beer, while maintaining tradition, one batch at a time. This site is the oldest and largest of their breweries, chosen because of its proximity to the Mississippi River. Originally, the area offered many natural cave formations the brewery used to store beer before artificial refrigeration. While here, guests can enjoy tours like the Complimentary Tour, Beermaster Tour, Beer Museum Tour, and the Day Fresh Tour. After a tour, guests can head to The Biergarten for a fresh ice-cold Budweiser and a bite to eat.
1200 Lynch Street, St. Louis, MO 63118, Phone: 314-577-2626
© Innsbrook Resort
Innsbrook Resort is a beautiful vacation home community that sprawls across an astounding 7,500 acres of land, located just 45 minutes west of St. Louis. The resort has an event center, restaurant, and 18-hole championship golf course as well as recreational and residential properties. Guests will have plenty of activities to choose from, like horseback riding, hiking magnificent nature trails, playing a round of golf, and canoeing or sailing on one of its 100-plus lakes. This resort offers individuals, couples, and families the opportunity to escape the hustle and bustle of city life while on vacation, while connecting more intimately with Missouri's nature.
1 Aspen Lake Drive, Innsbrook, MO 63390, Phone: 636-928-3366
25 Best Things to Do in Missouri
- Fantastic Caverns, Photo: Courtesy of macropixel - Fotolia.com
- Titanic Museum, Photo: Titanic Museum
- Branson Scenic Railway, Photo: Branson Scenic Railway
- City Museum, Photo: City Museum
- Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, Photo: Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis
- George Washington Carver National Monument, Photo: NPS Photo
- Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum, Photo: Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum
- Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, Photo: Courtesy of Adam - Fotolia.com
- Things to Do in Missouri: Kansas City Zoo, Photo: Courtesy of Rusty Dodson - Fotolia.com
- Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum, Photo: Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum
- Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Photo: Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum
- Missouri Botanical Garden, Photo: Courtesy of Dmitry V. Petrenko - Fotolia.com
- Missouri History Museum, Photo: Missouri History Museum
- Things to Do in Missouri: Museum of Transportation, Photo: Museum of Transportation
- The Gateway Arch, Photo: Courtesy of andreykr - Fotolia.com
- Things to Do in Missouri: National Blues Museum, Photo: National Blues Museum
- Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, Photo: Negro Leagues Baseball Museum
- Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Photo: Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
- Pulitzer Arts Foundation, Photo: Pulitzer Arts Foundation
- Things to Do in Missouri: Saint Louis Art Museum, Photo: Saint Louis Art Museum
- Saint Louis Science Center, Photo: Saint Louis Science Center
- Saint Louis Zoo, Photo: Courtesy of Alfred - Fotolia.com
- Science City at Union Station, Photo: Science City at Union Station
- Anheuser-Busch Brewery, Photo: Courtesy of master_c - Fotolia.com
- Innsbrook Resort, Photo: Innsbrook Resort
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of rudi1976 - Fotolia.com