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 and The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. On the Mississippi side, St Louis boasts the Gateway Arch, the World Chess Hall of Fame, and the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial.
The Ozark Mountains and many other attractions are on hand to fill any summer holiday with fun.
1. Fantastic Caverns
2. Titanic Museum, Missouri
3. Branson Scenic Railway, Missouri
4. World Chess Hall of Fame, Missouri
5. Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, Missouri
6. George Washington Carver National Monument, Missouri
7. Defiance Ridge Vineyard, Missouri
8. Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, Missouri
9. Kansas City Zoo, Missouri
10. Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum
11. Things to Do in Missouri: Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum
12. Romantic Things to Do in Missouri: Missouri Botanical Garden
13. Missouri History Museum
14. Things to Do in Missouri: Museum of Transportation
15. Things to See: The Gateway Arch
16. National Blues Museum
17. Things to Do in Missouri: Negro Leagues Baseball Museum
18. Things to Do: Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
19. Pulitzer Arts Foundation, Missouri
20. MO Things to Do: Saint Louis Art Museum
21. MO Things to Do: Saint Louis Science Center
22. Things to Do in Missouri: Saint Louis Zoo
23. Things to Do in Missouri: Science City at Union Station
24. MO Things to Do: Anheuser-Busch Brewery
25. Innsbrook Resort, Missouri
The top attractions to visit in Missouri near me today according to local experts:
- 1. Fantastic Caverns
- 2. Titanic Museum, Missouri
- 3. Branson Scenic Railway, Missouri
- 4. World Chess Hall of Fame, Missouri
- 5. Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, Missouri
- 6. George Washington Carver National Monument, Missouri
- 7. Defiance Ridge Vineyard, Missouri
- 8. Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, Missouri
- 9. Kansas City Zoo, Missouri
- 10. Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum
- 11. Things to Do in Missouri: Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum
- 12. Romantic Things to Do in Missouri: Missouri Botanical Garden
- 13. Missouri History Museum
- 14. Things to Do in Missouri: Museum of Transportation
- 15. Things to See: The Gateway Arch
- 16. National Blues Museum
- 17. Things to Do in Missouri: Negro Leagues Baseball Museum
- 18. Things to Do: Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
- 19. Pulitzer Arts Foundation, Missouri
- 20. MO Things to Do: Saint Louis Art Museum
- 21. MO Things to Do: Saint Louis Science Center
- 22. Things to Do in Missouri: Saint Louis Zoo
- 23. Things to Do in Missouri: Science City at Union Station
- 24. MO Things to Do: Anheuser-Busch Brewery
- 25. Innsbrook Resort, Missouri
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
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
Attraction Spotlight: George Washington Carver National Monument
Located near Diamond, Missouri, the George Washington Carver National Monument was the first unit of the National Park Service dedicated to an African American and the first national monument dedicated to a non-presidential figure, honoring leading 20th-century inventor, botanist, and environmentalist George Washington Carver. Though his exact date and year of birth are unknown, George Washington Carver was born as a plantation slave in Diamond Grove, Missouri between 1861 and 1865.
Within the first week of his life, he was kidnapped by raiders from Kentucky along with his mother and sister, though he alone was recovered by efforts from his master, Moses Carver. Following the abolition of slavery during the American Civil War, George and his older brother James were raised as part of Moses’ family, with Moses and his wife Susan encouraging both boys to pursue intellectual interests. After being rejected from application at Highland University in Kansas, Carver became the first African-American student of the Iowa State Agricultural College, earning a master’s degree in botany and operating an experiment station focused on plant mycology and pathology, which brought him national recognition.
Throughout his career, Carver taught as an instructor in the agriculture department of the Tuskegee Institute, creating a mobile learning program inside a “Jesup wagon,” named after financial backer Morris Ketchum Jesup. He popularized a number of widely adapted farming rotation techniques, including the planting of sweet potatoes and legumes as a means of revitalizing overfarmed cotton fields, which earned him the nickname “The Plant Doctor.” A farmer’s bulletin on the farming of peanuts gained him widespread national acclaim, earning him celebrity status as a public speaker on both agriculture and racial issues. As the result of his extensive work, Carver became the leading African-American public figure of his time, earning him the nickname “Black Leonardo” in a 1941 Time magazine feature. Following Carver’s death in 1943, $30,000 of funds were dedicated toward the development of a national monument in his honor, encompassing a number of preserved sites connected to his boyhood home, by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Permanent Exhibits and Attractions
Today, the George Washington Carver National Monument spans 240 acres near present-day Diamond, Missouri, including the preserved 1881 Moses Carver House and surrounding fields where Carver spent his childhood. A Visitor Center serves as an entrance to the monument, which contains a small museum with interactive exhibits on Carver’s life and scientific advancements, as well as a bookstore and a theater presenting a short orientation film. An observation deck also allows for views of the area’s rolling hills and expansive prairie woodlands.
Along the one-mile Carver Trail, visitors may explore the woodlands and streams of the area along a self-guided loop, along with several historic sites connected to Carver’s life. The Carver Cemetery contains the grave sites of Moses and Susan Carver, though George himself is buried at a site at Tuskegee University. The park’s Boy Carver Statue, commissioned in 1960 by sculptor Robert Amendola, sits near a bridge in one of the park’s natural areas, and a pond on the former Moses property, Williams Pond, dates back to the 1930s and is named for Moses Carver’s niece, Sarah Jane Williams, featuring several meditative plaques elaborating on Carver family history.
While the Visitor Center is entirely wheelchair-accessible, visitors with accessibility concerns should inquire with park rangers about their individual needs before embarking on the Carver Trail. Service animals are also welcome throughout the entire facility. Visitors are encouraged to stay on established trails while on the Carver Trail and discouraged from swimming, wading, fishing, or climbing on cemetery headstones. As the park is a natural preserve area, visitors are also cautioned to be on the lookout for poison ivy, ticks, and other natural hazards, and may not remove plants or wildlife from the park.
Ongoing Programs and Education
Guided tours of the monument are offered daily throughout the morning and afternoon, lasting approximately one hour and 15 minutes and including tours of the historic Moses Carver house. A variety of educational programming and demonstrations are also offered for young visitors, including hands-on reenactments of traditional farm activities such as old-fashioned laundering with lye soap and a scrub board. A natural dyes program offers art experiences with traditional mediums, and nature programming educates about the nearby plant and wildlife ecosystems that influenced Carver’s scientific findings. A Junior Rangers summer program also offers the opportunity to earn participation badges and certificates in exchange for completion of park activities.
5646 Carver Rd, Diamond, MO 64840, Phone: 417-325-4151
Attraction Spotlight: Riverbluff Cave
Located near Springfield, Missouri, Riverbluff Cave is a paleontological site that is operated as a private scientific research site. Though the cave is not open to the public, an online photo archive documents researchers’ findings within the cave, and the nearby Riverbluff Cave Museum offers a variety of fossils and exhibits related to the cave’s natural wildlife.
Riverbluff Cave is approximately 830,000 years old, making it the oldest fossil cave site within the United States. The cave, which is located within the Missouri Ozarks’ Springfield Plateau karst landscape, is approximately 2,000 feet long and contains fossils from the Pleistocene era dating back as far as 1.8 million years ago. The cave was discovered by accident in the modern era on September 11, 2001 during county-supervised blasting for the development of a new road near Springfield, Missouri. Prior to its discovery, there is no evidence that the cave had ever been accessed by humans. In order to protect its unique geological ecosystem and features, the cave’s entrance was covered to enclose the site following its discovery, and an airtight passageway entrance system was implemented in 2002 to create a safe entryway for researchers to access the site.
Today, Riverbluff Cave is operated as a paleontological site overseen by the Missouri Institute of Natural Science. Exploration and fossil collection is overseen by Springfield-Greene County Parks naturalist Matt Forir and Missouri Institute of Natural Science director Lisa McCann. Though the cave is not open to the public, it is the second cave in the world to be digitally wired for virtual touring, and an archive of photography of the cave’s fossils and formations are showcased on the cave’s website.
The 830,000-year-old cave is the United States’ oldest fossil cave site, showcasing a wide variety of Pleistocene-era fossils and geological formations. The cave measures approximately 2,000 feet long from its entrance to its furthest room, with a large, elaborately-decorated main room encompassing its first 200 feet. Notable geological formations within the room include a calcite river, a snow cone formation, bacon-like formations, and a calcite structure known as the cave’s “Christmas Tree.” Unlike many commercial show caves within the Mississippi region, the cave’s speleothems and other formations remain in their original state today and have not been touched or altered for more than 55,000 years.
The cave’s fossils and ecosystem are indicative of Missouri’s climate within the interglacial Pleistocene era, which spanned from approximately 1.8 million years ago to 11,000 years ago at the end of the last Ice Age. During that time, the Missouri region was home to a number of animals that are typically characteristic of lower latitudes, including the peccary, a member of the artiodactyl family Tayassuidae, which also contains well-known pig and boar species. Bones of flat-headed and long-nosed pecarries have been found in caves within Missouri, Kentucky, and Texas. A passage within the cave contains the largest known tract of peccary tracks found anywhere in the world. A large number of short-faced bear fossils have also been found within the cave, along with specimens of snakes, reptiles, and giant turtles common to the area during the Pleistocene. The cave is home to a millipede specimen dating back as far as 50,000 years ago, the only documented fossilized millipede from the Pleistocene era. A number of fossils belonging to cooler-climate animals are also showcased, including American lions and mammoths.
Riverbluff Cave Museum
Though the cave is not open to the public due to the delicate nature of its contents, the Missouri Institute of Science operates the nearby Riverbluff Cave Museum, which showcases a variety of fossils and minerals excavated from the cave. The nonprofit museum is operated as an educational endeavor to showcase findings from the cave and educate visitors on the Missouri region’s geological and biological history. The museum is divided into two exhibit sections, with one section exclusively dedicated to showcasing fossil findings from the cave, including giant short-faced bear fossils, peccary footprints, and mammoth bones. A reproduction of the cave’s giant short-faced bear scratches is presented, along with a display of fossilized dung and a comparative display of fossil skulls.
In the museum’s general natural history exhibit, a large collection of minerals is showcased, with some displayed under ultraviolet light to create a glow effect and illuminate the specimens. Dioramas depict the soil layers of the Missouri region and the fossils contained within each. Fossils of area dinosaurs, ancient fish, and insects are showcased, including pieces of a triceratops skeleton. The museum offers a small gift shop area selling fossils, minerals, and souvenirs. Guided group tours and presentations for elementary and secondary school student groups may be arranged by appointment.
2327 W. Farm Road 190, Springfield, MO 65810, Phone: 417-883-0594
Attraction Spotlight: Joplin History and Mineral Museum Complex
Located in Joplin, Missouri, the Joplin History and Mineral Museum Complex contains two museums detailing the industrial and mining history of the Joplin region and the Tri-State Mining District. The Tri-State Mining District was a historic mining district in the United States Great Plains region that was formed following an 1870 discovery of zinc ore near the city of Galena, Kansas.
For the greater part of the next century, the district became one of the main zinc and lead ore mining regions in the world, producing more than 50 percent of the United States’ zinc mining products and 10 percent of its lead mining products. Major Superfund sites sprung up throughout the mid-to-late 19th and early 20th centuries in southeast Kansas, southwest Missouri, and northeast Oklahoma. Production within the Joplin-Granby region of southwest Missouri’s Jasper and Newton Counties began in the mid-19th century, and the city of Joplin was founded in 1873 as a mining boomtown. Though the region’s mining deposits were largely abandoned in the late 1960s and early 1970s, mining conditions within the region resulted in a number of federal, state, and local cleanup and reclamation projects to reduce acidic water conditions produced from the flooding of abandoned mines.
The Joplin History and Mineral Museum was originally the vision of Dorothea B. Hoover, an instrumental figure in the creation of the city’s Joplin Historical Society and its public Historical Museum facility. Hoover was the daughter of an early pioneer family and grew up during Joplin’s height as a mining boomtown. Following her education at Wellesley College and a professional career in Washington, D.C., Hoover returned to the Joplin area and became a major advocate for cultural and historic preservation within the region. Hoover’s vision was eventually recognized by a citizen group led by Tri-State Mineral Museum curator Everett Ritchie, who created the Joplin History and Mineral Museum facility in 1994.
Permanent Exhibits and Collections
Today, the Joplin History and Mineral Museum Complex is presented as a dual museum complex, showcasing two museums detailing the social and economic history of Joplin and the Tri-State Mining District. Original museum exhibits and mineral specimen displays created by Everett Ritchie in 1994 are still on display at the museum, along with a variety of exhibits related to the social and cultural history of the city of Joplin. As a public educational museum facility, the museum strives to connect community audiences with the region’s past and foster civic engagement to shape its future through its public programming.
Two distinct museum facilities are showcased at the complex, including the Everett J. Ritchie Tri-State Mineral Museum, which boasts one of the most notable mineral collections within the Tri-State Mining District region. The geology and geochemistry of the region is examined through a variety of exhibits, along with the mining methods and processes utilized by miners throughout the region’s 100-year operation period. An Evolution of Mining exhibit chronicles the timeline and development of the region from the mid-19th century to the mid-20th century and beyond, while a Prehistoric Finds exhibit showcases fossil finds and artifacts connected to the region’s geological development and prehistory. Several special mineral collections are on display, including a Glowing Rocks exhibit that showcases minerals under fluorescent lights. A Maps Collection displays historic preserved mining maps detailing areas throughout the region, while a Mineral in Product exhibit details the everyday uses of lead and zinc and the common products the minerals are used in.
At the Dorothea B. Hoover Historical Museum, the social and cultural history of the Joplin region are explored through a variety of exhibits utilizing collections obtained by the Joplin Historical Society. Major exhibit areas chronicle the development of notable businesses and industries in the area that grew as a result of the mining district’s success, such as the Empire District Electric Company exhibit. Famous Joplin residents such as Langston Hughes and Dennis Weaver are highlighted in the Famous Joplinites exhibit, while the area’s connection to national figures of note is explored in a Bonnie and Clyde exhibit and a Merle Evans Miniature Circus exhibit. A Joplin Sports Hall of Fame exhibit honors local and regional sports figures, while a Parkwood and Memorial High Schools Memorabilia exhibit preserves items connected to the city’s public high schools. Other major exhibits on display include a turn-of-the-century soda shop replica, a large historic cookie cutter collection, and a display of Belsnickle artistic creations by artist Linda Lindquist Baldwin.
Ongoing Programs and Events
A variety of annual public special events are hosted at the museum complex, including a three-day Spring Rock and Gem Show displaying a wide variety of rare and significant mineral and gemstone specimens. A Chatauqua weekend event also serves as a major museum fundraiser, offering a variety of public activities throughout a weekend in October. Activities presented as part of the fundraiser include a cocktail event, a downtown mural tour, and a historic walking tour.
504 S. Schifferdecker Avenue, Joplin, Missouri 64801, Phone: 417-623-1180