Missouri is one of America’s secret gems that you might think you don’t know much about, but as the state motto says, the “Show Me State,” will show you what it’s all about. This southern state is known for its southern hospitality, historic small towns, and bustling big cities, but there’s also much more to see in Missouri.
Because the state is mostly rural, with a few big cities, visitors to Missouri can enjoy the famous sites in St. Louis and Kansas City, as well as spectacular natural formations and scenery, all in one-trip. Missouri’s most famous attraction is the Gateway Arch in St. Louis.
Saint Louis Zoo
Saint Louis Zoo is recognized as a leading zoo in animal management, research, conservation, and education. The Zoo is located on 90 acres in beautiful Forest Park, and home to over 600 species of animals, many of them rare and endangered. Attractions at the zoo include the Zooline Railroad, Sea Lion Show, Children’s Zoo, Stingrays at Caribbean Cove, Conservation Carousel, 4D Theater, Safari Tours, Inspired by Nature at Peabody Hall, Animals Always Sculpture.
This colossal silver arc shooting through St. Louis’ sky is the city’s most famous landmark and one of America’s most well-known icons. The Gateway Arch is the focal point of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, which was built in honor of the Westward Expansion movement, which was completed in 1965. The arch stands at the site of St. Louis’ foundation where the city was first built in 1764. The arch is 630 feet tall and can be ascended by elevator and tram to the observation deck where stunning views of the St. Louis skyline surround you.
The brewery of America’s most well-known beers is located in St. Louis in the National Historic Landmark District. The building dates to 1852 and is known for its chandeliers with hops, ornate iron-work, and natural lighting, and today visitors can tour the building, see how beer is made and packaged, and sample free beer. Visitors can also see the famous Budweiser Clydesdales and watch the horses on their exercise field.
The Titanic Museum
This museum celebrating the notorious ship needs no introduction. The museum, located in Branson, is one of two Titanic-themed museums owned by John Josyln who headed an expedition to the Titanic in 1987 where it lays on the ocean floor. The museum is shaped and painted like the Titanic itself and holds 400 artifacts from the ship in 20 galleries. The entire experience from receiving entrances in the form of official boarding tickets of actual passengers at the entrance to the museum’s water anchorage is designed to give visitors the illusion of being aboard the actual fated ship and make any visit a thrilling experience.
American Jazz Museum
Kansas City’s American Jazz Museum is located in the historic district of the city in the same building as the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. The museum preserves the history of jazz music in America, featuring exhibits on famous musicians like Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, and Louis Armstrong. The museum also displays instruments and other artifacts from Jazz legends. A favorite section of the museum is the Blue Room, an operating jazz club and the Gem Theater, across the street from the museum which hosts large jazz concerts.
Top Things to Do in Missouri
Arabia Steamboat Museum
Like much of the south, the waterways of Missouri once held steamboats that today serve as a symbol of the region. The Steamboat Arabia Museum in Kansas City memorializes the famous side wheeler steamboat which sank in the Missouri River near Parkville in 1856. After its rediscovery in 1988 many artifacts from the ship are now housed in the museum. Like the similar Titanic Museum, the Arabia Museum mimics the actual ship in many ways with replicated floor plans, wooden decks, and a layout similar to the actual steamboat.
Silver Dollar City
Silver Dollar City is a theme park in the state of Missouri. The park has a 1880s-themed experience that fits Branson’s vision as a family-friendly vacation destination with down-home charm. Silver Dollar City’s operating season runs from mid-March until late December, with the park closed during the months of January and February. Silver Dollar City offers entertainment for everyone in the family, featuring more than thirty thrilling rides and attractions, quaint shops and even artisans that create and sell traditional crafts and goods.
Missouri Botanical Garden
The Missouri Botanical Garden is a botanical garden located in St. Louis, Missouri. Outdoor and indoor displays include the Climatron tropical rain forest; Kemper Center for Home Gardening; Japanese Garden; George Washington Carver Garden; historic Tower Grove House; and the seasonal Doris I. Schnuck Children’s Garden. It is a National Historic Landmark with 79 acres of gardens and historic structures.
Pony Express Museum
The history of this legendary transport system is document in the Pony Express Museum in Saint Joseph, Missouri. The museum is housed in Pikes Peak Stables where Pony Express riders left for their journey across the country. It is well-known as being one of the most educational museums in the country with detailed exhibits featuring a 7-part diorama, maps, artifacts, and more to document this American legend that was only in use from 1860 to 1861.
Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum
The home of Missouri’s most famous resident, Samuel Clemens, better known as Mark Twain is in Hannibal where Twain found inspiration for many of his most famous stories. The museum which opened to the public in 1912 is a National Historic Landmark. The house is one building out of nine that make up the entire Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum complex. The other buildings in the complex include an Interpretive Center, the Becky Thatcher House, Huck Finn House, J.M. Clemns, Justice of the Peace Office, Grant’s Drug Store, a stone WPA building which contains the gift shop, and a Museum Gallery.
Things to Do in Missouri
The Show Me State has a lot to show you. With both sophisticated city life and down-home southern hospitality, a visit to Missouri is what the American heartland is all about. Missouri is famous for its beautiful open spaces, fascinating culture and history, and some of America’s most unique and intriguing landmarks.