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Missouri’s nickname is “The Show-Me State.” While this has always been attributed to the strong character of its residents, it’s conveniently accurate in describing the fact that the state is packed full of fabulous fun. A trip to Missouri will certainly show you a ton of fun things that you might not have expected!
Bordered to the east by the Mississippi River, crossed by the Missouri River, and full of forests and lakes in between, Missouri is a great destination for nature, marvelous scenery, and country charm.
Its natural beauty is complemented by a rich history, including that of famed author Mark Twain, a major base point for US Westward Expansion, and the development of important cities like Saint Louis and Kansas City.
Missouri is a great destination for most travelers and can be made a stop on a greater Midwest road trip or a destination of its own. The people are warm and welcoming, there are plenty of great hotels and vacation rentals, and the food, such as barbecue and pizza, is excellent.
We’ve put together the following list of cool places to visit all around this diverse state. Read on to see some of the top things to do in Missouri for any type of traveler.
Titanic Museum Attraction is a walk-through, fully immersive experience that takes you back in time to 1912 and the ill-fated voyage of the RMS Titanic. Experience firsthand what it was like to live and breathe on one of history's most incredible ships.
Have you ever visited St Louis? If not, then the 75-Minute City Trolley Tour is a great way to get to know this lively city. You'll see all of the most popular sights and local favorites that St Louis has to offer, with commentary from a professional tour guide. Travel in comfort in trolleys with padded seats and large windows. Stay comfortable whatever the season thanks to air-conditioning and heating.
The Kansas City Aquarium is a fun place for the whole family. Here, you can walk through a living coral reef tunnel and get up close to dozens of ocean creatures, such as sharks, starfish, sea turtles and dolphins. You can also play in their interactive touch pools and make your own sea creature at doodle reef.
- Things to do in Missouri & Places to Visit
- 1. Gateway Arch National Park
- 2. Silver Dollar City
- 3. Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum, Huckleberry Finn House, and Becky Thatcher House
- 4. National World War I Museum & Memorial
- 5. Saint Louis Art Museum
- 6. The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
- 7. Lake of the Ozarks
- 8. City Museum
- 9. Missouri State Museum
- 10. Missouri Botanical Garden
- 11. Powell Gardens
- 12. Meramec State Park
- 13. Missouri History Museum
- 14. Hermann Wine Trail
- 15. Dogwood Canyon Nature Park
- 16. Saint Louis Zoo
- 17. Elephant Rocks State Park
- 18. Ha Ha Tonka State Park
- 19. Mark Twain National Forest
- 20. Missouri State Penitentiary & Museum
- 21. Saint Louis Science Center
- 22. National Museum of Transportation
- 23. Hollywood Wax Museum
- 24. Titanic Museum
- 25. Pony Express National Museum
- Is Missouri worth visiting?
- What is Missouri known for?
- Are there things to do in Missouri with kids?
- Most significant landmark – Gateway Arch
- Best park – Meramec State Park
- Free activity – Saint Louis Zoo
- Activity for kids – Silver Dollar City
- Activity for adults – Lake of the Ozarks
- Best food – Sweet Smoke BBQ
- Best nightlife – The Pepper Lounge
- Place to stay – Hyatt Regency Saint Louis at the Arch
Things to do in Missouri & Places to Visit
If you’re wondering what to do in Missouri, know that this is a big state with attractions spread all throughout. Consider renting a car or driving your own to visit different parts of Missouri, or planning individual stays in different regions. Let’s take a look at some travelers’ favorites.
1. Gateway Arch National Park
Address: 11 N 4th St #1810, St. Louis, MO 63102
It’s only right to start with one of the most recognizable symbols of Saint Louis and Missouri: the iconic Gateway Arch. Located in the smallest national park in the United States, the area is also known as the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, as this was the starting point of the Lewis and Clark Expedition that expanded the United States westward.
This is the tallest arch in the world and the tallest accessible building in Missouri. Below it, under the ground, there is a large visitor center housing the Museum of Western Expansion, where visitors can learn all about this fascinating time period in American history. Then, you can take the tram to the top of the arch for panoramic views of the Mississippi River and miles beyond.
Undoubtedly, this is one of the most popular Missouri things to do. You can take a downtown St. Louis walking tour or trolley tour to be guided around this experience. There are also professional Gateway Arch photoshoots available for those who want great pictures for their memories.
Some of the best hotels in Saint Louis have views of the arch, and staying in the surrounding area is a great choice. Consider the Hyatt Regency Saint Louis at the Arch for your stay in the city, as it has exceptional rooms at fair prices. It’s also just a few blocks from some of the premier nightlife in Missouri, like The Pepper Lounge downtown.
See Related: National Parks to Visit in November
2. Silver Dollar City
Address: 399 Silver Dollar City Pkwy, Branson, MO 65616
One of the amusement parks in Missouri is Silver Dollar City, located in the family vacation capital of the state, Branson. This fun park will transport you back to the 1800s with its frontier theme.
In fact, the history of this theme park is very appropriate, giving everything a bit more authenticity. It is built on the remains of an 1880s mining town that supported mining in Marvel Cave below it. The cave was quickly depleted of its resources, and the town was no more, so the family who owned the land turned it into Silver Dollar City!
Besides still being able to access Marvel Cave, visitors are in for a ton of wooden rollercoasters, a steam train ride, a “flooded mine” float-through ride, and much more. There are also demonstrations of old country life, shops, and more to complement the theme.
The park is closed every January and February but otherwise a favorite for visitors to Branson. Families headed here might prefer to stay in a local-style cabin vacation rental for extra space and amenities like a hot tub.
3. Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum, Huckleberry Finn House, and Becky Thatcher House
Address: 120 N Main St, Hannibal, MO 63401
Whether you’re a reader or not, everyone knows Mark Twain (or at least, should do). This famous American author from the 19th Century grew up in the small Mississippi River town of Hannibal, which is north of Saint Louis and contains multiple historic attractions surrounding his work and life.
The museum complex is somewhat centered around the Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum, where he actually grew up and is today a National Historic Landmark. It displays artifacts from his life and the town from his time period – bringing some life to the story of Tom Sawyer, whose story was set in a fictional town based on Hannibal!
Next door, you can find the Huckleberry Finn House, a part of the museum that was constructed as detailed in the famous story and delves into Hannibal’s history with slavery. The Becky Thatcher House, across the street, was home to the author’s real-life inspiration for the character.
A ticket to the museum complex will get you access to all of these and even more. Hannibal is generally Mark Twain-themed and a must-do for any American literature enthusiast. There isn’t an abundance of hotels in the city, but there are a few basic accommodations that are clean and comfortable, like the Quality Inn & Suites Hannibal.
See Related: Museums in the US You Need to Visit
4. National World War I Museum & Memorial
Address: 2 Memorial Dr, Kansas City, MO 64108
Next, we’re headed to western Missouri, where you can find the National World War I Museum & Memorial in its second city of Kansas City. This is an interesting stop for history buffs and veterans, and it is the only public museum in the country dedicated to World War I.
The massive, Egyptian-style building was advocated for by the people of Kansas City almost immediately following the end of The Great War, as they felt compelled to show respect for the veterans and those killed in the fighting. It opened in just a few short years with a ceremony attended by a rare gathering of all five Allied commanders, plus U.S. President Calvin Coolidge.
Visitors come here to learn about this scary time in history and pay respects to those who participated in it. The main gallery displays real artillery cannons, tanks, other weapons, and even aircraft from the war, as well as recreations and photographs. Special exhibits are always rotating through as well.
Kansas City is another major destination in Missouri, and as you’ll see, there are plenty more attractions here. To spend a few days in the city, consider the Hotel Indigo – Kansas City, a brand that I always appreciate for its locally-inspired properties.
5. Saint Louis Art Museum
Address: 1 Fine Arts Dr, St. Louis, MO 63110
One of the best art museums on the Mississippi’s west bank is the Saint Louis Art Museum. It’s located in the beautiful Forest Park, which hosts several of the city’s other attractions, and it’s totally free to visit!
The museum’s collection is extensive, with well over 30,000 pieces. They are categorized into nine different areas, some of which include American, Ancient and Egyptian, Modern and Contemporary, European to 1800, and Asian, among others. Some of the art titans of recent history, including Picasso, Monet, Gaugin, and Van Gogh, are represented in the collection.
There are many temporary and visiting exhibitions in the Saint Louis Art Museum throughout the year in a wide range of themes, ranging from Japanese Prints to Greek Island Embroideries. Be sure to check out the SLAM’s website to see what’s happening during your visit to Saint Louis.
See Related: Top Most Beautiful Cities in the World to Visit
6. The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
Address: 4525 Oak St, Kansas City, MO 64111
If you want to hit the other major art museum of Missouri, look no further than the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City. This museum’s collection has been described as “encyclopedic,” covering nearly every continent, culture, and time period to produce art.
There is a great selection of American and European paintings and sculptures and an especially large selection of Asian pieces from Japan and China. Other unique items housed here include Native American artifacts and African works. There’s also a massive sculpture garden outside, which includes several giant shuttlecocks (as in badminton).
The museum is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and best of all, admission is totally free. Visitors do, however, need to reserve their free tickets online, and dates open up three weeks in advance. The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art is a stop on this segway tour of Kansas City if you want to combine a visit with a more extensive day in the city.
7. Lake of the Ozarks
Thanks to the hit Netflix series, the Lake of the Ozarks is on the map of Missouri attractions more than ever. This massive, curvy reservoir in the Ozark Mountains of central Missouri is a result of damming the Osage River and has been a regional vacation destination for many years.
There is endless outdoor fun available in and around the Lake of the Ozarks. Boating, kayaking, and fishing are some of the all-time favorites, with even more interesting things like sailing and eFoiling experiences available as well. Swimming and relaxing on the “beaches” is a great way to cool off from the Missouri summer heat.
On land, you can find hiking trails, horseback riding, and even a network of caverns in Lake of the Ozarks State Park, where there is also an abundance of campgrounds. Other activities in this mountainous area include zipline tours, off-road adventures in UTVs, and several golf courses.
The Lake of the Ozarks is full of hotels and vacation rentals, especially in and around the town of Osage Beach. There’s even a Margaritaville Lake Resort with multiple pools and its own dock. If your group is larger and you don’t want to stay at one of the many lakeside hotels, there are plenty of larger condos and cottages, like this lakefront 3-bedroom vacation rental.
See Related: Most Beautiful & Best Vacations in the US
8. City Museum
Address: 750 N 16th St, St. Louis, MO 63103
City Museum is a must-see Saint Louis attraction that’s a bit complicated to explain (I’ll do my best) but one of its most fun things to see. This former warehouse and factory in downtown is now full of “artifacts” arranged into a playground-museum complex.
The founders, Bob and Gail Cassilly, along with their crew of artisans, take junk that cities leave behind and repurpose it into their space. This junk consists of industrial equipment, building materials, entire structures and vehicles, and even more. It may be left as-is and moved in as a display, or it may be modified or dismantled to become something new.
There are nearly 30,000 artifacts in the space, including an old Ferris Wheel and a school bus on the roof, man-made caves with sculptures and an organ inside, and slides to get you everywhere in between. There’s also the world’s largest pencil in the museum’s Skateless Park, as well as a collection of thousands of items found in outhouses around the world.
Needless to say, this unusual museum is incredibly intriguing and very entertaining to explore. Save some time and purchase a City Museum admission ticket in advance.
9. Missouri State Museum
Address: 201 W Capitol Ave, Jefferson City, MO 65101
Many visitors are surprised to learn that Missouri’s capital is not Saint Louis or Kansas City but the smaller central town of Jefferson City. Here, a top attraction is the Missouri State Museum within the State Capitol Building.
This museum is a great place to learn the history of The Show-Me State, with thousands of artifacts from its cultural and historical past. This includes a massive collection of Civil War battle flags and World War I artifacts. The site in front of the Lohman Building was where steamboats traveling the Missouri River between Saint Louis and Kansas City would dock in the earliest days of the state.
Museum staff also offers a tour of the State Capitol Building for those interested. The museum is within walking distance of downtown Jefferson City’s best restaurants, including Sweet Smoke BBQ, where you can get some of Missouri’s famous barbecue!
See Related: Things to Do in Rolla, Missouri
10. Missouri Botanical Garden
Address: 4344 Shaw Blvd, St. Louis, MO 63110
One of the most tranquil escapes in the city of Saint Louis is the Missouri Botanical Garden, set on nearly 80 acres in the west of the city. The gardens sit on the former land of philanthropist Henry Shaw, a 19th-century local businessman who was an avid botanist, and its alternative name is Shaw’s Garden.
The Missouri Botanical Garden has extensive outdoor walking trails along streams and lakes, through forests and exotic plants, and past historic buildings and monuments. There’s a Rose Garden, an English Woodland Garden, and a Bavarian Garden. An especially popular spot is the Japanese Garden, with its waterfall and koi pond, with fish food available.
In the center, visitors find the Climatron – a massive, futuristic-looking greenhouse housing tropical species that are a bit too sensitive for the varying climates of Missouri. This is also a great place to warm up when exploring in the winter months!
The Missouri Botanical Garden is closed on Mondays, and while there is a small admission fee, parking is free. Be sure to stop by the gardens if you are in town during the holiday season when it lights up in the evenings for a special light walk-thru program.
11. Powell Gardens
Address: 1609 NW US Hwy 50, Kingsville, MO 64061
If botanical gardens are your thing, be sure to make a stop at Powell Gardens, the botanical garden of Kansas City. Its nearly 1,000 acres are actually located a bit outside the city in the town of Kingsville, but it is definitely worth the drive for those who have a car.
Visitors are amazed at the sheer size and the diversity of these gardens, as they are home to around 6,000 species and 225,000 plants. Everything centers around the Visitor Center and its surrounding gardens, which include the Hummingbird Garden, the Conifer Garden, the Dogwood Walk, and many others. Needless to say, there is a ton of beautiful plant life to be seen in this area and plenty of places to find tranquility.
But there is much more, too, with a number of other “landscapes” maintained throughout. There’s a Children’s Garden, where kids can learn about plants and play, a Fountain Garden, where a central water feature performs for visitors and even cools them off in the summertime; and a local favorite, the Heartland Harvest Garden, full of edible fruits and vegetables that supply the on-site restaurant.
See Related: Things to Do in St. Charles, Missouri
12. Meramec State Park
Address: 115 Meramec Park Drive, Sullivan, MO 63080
In my opinion, Meramec State Park is one of the best things to see in Missouri, even if it’s not the most well-known. This large nature preserve sits on the Meramec River about an hour southwest of Saint Louis, making it an easy day trip for those staying in the city.
There is so much to do in the nearly 6,900 acres of forests and cliffs of this park, centered around the river. A local favorite is “floating” down the river – visitors can rent a canoe, buy drinks and snacks, and enjoy a guided float downstream led by a ranger, admiring the wildlife, cliffs, caves, and springs along the way. There’s also fishing and swimming available on the river.
Visitors will find plenty of fun on the land as well, namely hiking and exploring. In fact, one of the best things to do here is to explore the fantastic caverns found throughout, as there are more than 40 caves under the earth here. Fisher Cave is the most famous, with its narrow passages into massive rooms filled with stalagmites, and guided tours from park staff are offered.
13. Missouri History Museum
Address: 5700 Lindell Blvd, St. Louis, MO 63112
Visitors who remember their American history classes know that Missouri played an important part in the building of the United States, including being the starting point of the Lewis and Clark Expedition and the place of celebration of the Louisiana Purchase, for example. This rich past is displayed at the Missouri History Museum, another of the cool places to visit in Saint Louis’ Forest Park.
Exhibitions are wide-ranging in items from around the country, but especially on those from Missouri and Saint Louis. There’s a large statue and memorial of President Thomas Jefferson, who was not from Missouri but played one of the most important roles in its existence – facilitating the Louisiana Purchase and expanding the US to include the state.
Museum visitors will learn all about that history and see a large exhibit on the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, also known as the Saint Louis World Fair of 1904, held right here in Forest Park. The great celebration included entertainment, food and drinks, shopping, and general fun to celebrate the expansion.
There is also an extensive collection of items from the Lewis and Clark Expedition, as well as a full-size replica of the Spirit of St. Louis, the iconic plane used by Charles Lindbergh to make the first non-stop transatlantic flight. It’s an easy decision to take a stroll through the museum, as it is another one of the completely free Missouri attractions – and a terrific one to boot.
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14. Hermann Wine Trail
Address: 150A Market St, Hermann, MO 65041
The land along the Missouri River is both naturally beautiful and fertile for grape production, creating the perfect conditions for Missouri’s very own wine country, known as the Hermann Wine Trail. This small town, about an hour and a half from Saint Louis, is home to seven family-owned wineries that have become locally famous.
While you won’t find the tram tour and high-end shopping that you would in Napa Valley, visitors fall in love with the small-town hospitality and charm of the Hermann Wine Trail. Each winery along the 20-mile route offers a tasting room, and some offer special events of their own throughout the year, such as German Wine Dinners and Balloon Festivals.
The most popular way to experience the trail is to visit during one of its six annual Wine & Food Pairing Events, in which all seven wineries participate. On the third weekend of every February, they host the Chocolate Wine Trail, during which wines are paired with delectable chocolate creations. The second Saturday of December brings the Say Cheese Wine Trail, where wines are paired with cheese-inspired dishes, and the event coincides with the local European-style Christmas market!
The accommodation options in Hermann don’t include big brand-name hotels, but visitors love the local inns and bed-and-breakfasts. The Hermann Crown Suites is the perfect local place to get some rest after a day of drinking on the wine trail.
15. Dogwood Canyon Nature Park
Address: 2038 State Hwy 86, Lampe, MO 65681
Complementing all of the family fun available around Table Rock Lake and the Branson area is Dogwood Canyon Nature Park. This massive, 10,000-acre natural playground in southwest Missouri is actually owned and maintained by the founder and CEO of Bass Pro Shops.
His mission with the land is to preserve the natural landscapes of the bluffs, cliffs, creeks, forests, and even historic buildings within them. Visitors are welcome to wander around by hiking, biking, horseback riding, fishing, and more. This allows a unique look back in history to the earliest settlers of Missouri and what the land would have looked like to them and even earlier to the natives before.
One of the most popular activities is their Wildlife Tram Tours, on which visitors are towed by a 4×4 around the park’s most beautiful landscapes. It includes a waterfall crossing and a stop at a beautiful blue-green water hole that hosts some of the largest trout in the area. You’ll also be on the lookout for the park’s largest full-time resident animals.
If you want to try horseback riding, there’s a resident fleet available for the trails as well. No license is needed for fishing the lakes and streams of Dogwood Canyon Nature Park.
See Related: Best Family Vacations on a Budget
16. Saint Louis Zoo
Address: 1 Government Dr, St. Louis, MO 63110
One of the best free things to do in Missouri by far is the Saint Louis Zoo, one of the leading zoos in the nation. This animal conservation facility began with the purchase of a giant, walk-thru bird cage left over from the 1904 Saint Louis World Fair and has developed so much that it’s recently been rated as one of the best zoos in the United States.
With more than 14,000 animals of 500 species, you could easily spend an entire day at the Saint Louis Zoo. Animals from all over the world are represented, but being in Saint Louis, visitors may be especially interested to see the North American exhibit with the animals of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. This is a great way to see what’s under the water, including crayfish, channel catfish, bluegill, gar, and the American bullfrog.
Other continents’ exhibits include even more exotic animals, like capybaras, hippos, cheetahs, polar bears, and much more. You can take the Emerson Zooline Railroad for a short tour throughout the whole park for a small additional fee.
The hours of the zoo change seasonally, so be sure to check their website for the latest details. Furthermore, while admission to the park is free, certain events and exhibits incur a small charge, usually no more than a few dollars.
17. Elephant Rocks State Park
Address: 7390, 7406 MO-21, Belleview, MO 63623
Elephant Rocks State Park is a nature preserve of more than 100 acres in the rural southeastern part of Missouri. Its name comes from the unique pink boulders lined up in a row that almost makes them look like a circus elephant train, and it is a spectacular place to explore.
There are several trails in and around the granite boulders, including the Braille Trail, which winds through the main area through the rocks and is specifically set up for people with visual and physical disabilities. It is a great way to see the massive geologic formations and has an extension further to an old railroad engine house from the site’s past as a quarry.
Some of the old quarry sites are available for exploration as well, where granite was extracted for use on the streets of Saint Louis. Some of the miners from the 1800s even carved their names into the remaining rock, and the carvings still remain today.
Elephant Rocks State Park is just a 1.5-hour drive from Saint Louis and less than 3 hours from the Lake of the Ozarks, making it a great day trip while staying in one of these places. Combine it with the Mark Twain National Forest, just 20 minutes away, for the perfect day in the Missouri countryside.
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18. Ha Ha Tonka State Park
Address: 1491 Missouri D, Camdenton, MO 65020
Another of the state parks that visitors to Missouri love is Ha Ha Tonka State Park, in the southernmost part of the Lake of the Ozarks. There are trails, springs, lake views, and even the ruins of a castle in this beautiful area.
The park sits on karst topography, which means that over time, layers of the ground have disintegrated and left behind caves. Exploring these caverns is one of the most popular activities in the park, along with its sinkholes and natural bridges created by similar natural processes.
There are plenty of hiking trails throughout, ranging from easy to difficult. One of the most popular that’s usually doable for any hiker goes to the Ha Ha Tonka Spring, a surreal, blue-green pond full of plant and animal life. Another goes to the Ha Ha Tonka Castle ruins, built in the early 20th Century to resemble the European castles of the 16th Century.
19. Mark Twain National Forest
Address: 401 Fairgrounds Rd, Rolla, MO 65401, United States
If you are looking for more places to enjoy the outdoors of Missouri, there isn’t exactly a shortage – in fact, the Mark Twain National Forest counts more than 1.5 million acres of mountaintop woodlands in the south of the state. It’s spread out across multiple areas, creating “islands” of the preserve throughout the vast area.
In the earth’s history, Missouri has never been submerged by an ocean or a glacier, creating some unique geology. And when the state was rapidly experiencing overlogging and deforestation in the late 1800s and early 1900s, President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved to designate large portions of it as National Forest Service land, and locals even began restoring the affected areas. Therefore, this is a great visit for any outdoor enthusiast who enjoys unique landscapes.
Due to the sheer size of the forest and its nine different tracts, there is a wide variety of things to do here. Hiking, biking, and even off-road trail driving on ATVs are, of course, very popular. There’s also a mile-long hike to Greer Spring, a wild place where water gushes out of the mountain surface at an incredible rate and creates a rushing aqua-blue pool and rapids.
In the tract of the forest just east of Branson, visitors can take a drive to the Glade Top Trail National Scenic Byway, which offers panoramic views across the Ozark range and even into Arkansas. There’s also a network of trails and picnic areas for those who don’t want to stay in the car.
20. Missouri State Penitentiary & Museum
Address: 115 Lafayette St, Jefferson City, MO 65101
Who doesn’t want to go to prison on their vacation? Actually, visiting the Missouri State Penitentiary and its museum is one of the most popular things to do in Jefferson City, and it’s actually very cool!
The prison was Missouri’s primary maximum security facility until 2004. It was also one of the country’s oldest, having opened in the 1830s to serve the newly-admitted state. In its nearly 200 years of operation, it gained the reputation of being “the bloodiest 47 acres in America” – and, as you can imagine, accumulated a ton of stories.
Today, visitors can tour the prison to get a unique view into both its earliest days and its very recent past. On historical tours, you learn all about the most notorious prisoners, visit the cells and common areas, hear the stories of successful escapes, and even hear from a former inmate about what life was like. There are also photography tours available in case you want a photo in the execution chamber.
One of the spookiest experiences available in Missouri is the penitentiary’s paranormal tours. Ghost tours will have you walking the most haunted halls with knowledgeable experts on their ghostly past, and there’s even an option to do it overnight… good luck.
21. Saint Louis Science Center
Address: 5050 Oakland Ave, St. Louis, MO 63110
Saint Louis is actually home to one of the largest science centers in the United States, and it’s among many of the best attractions in the city, being in Forest Park. It started as a planetarium but has grown to a complex of buildings making up more than 300,000 square feet, exhibiting all kinds of natural and engineering science exhibits. You can’t miss it from its unique modern shape, and the slightly creepy, Slenderman-esque “Looking Up” statue out front.
One of the landmark features of the Saint Louis Science Center is its OMNIMAX theater, where guests can watch educational films and sometimes new releases in extremely high-quality IMAX form. Other exhibits are dedicated to emerging technology, life, physical sciences, chemistry, and Earth science.
Due to the recent advancement of spaceflight technology and renewed public interest, visitors are incredibly excited to visit the Mission: Mars exhibit. It operates in partnership with NASA and is all about the technology that got us there and what we’ve found so far and what’s to come.
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22. National Museum of Transportation
Address: 2933 Barrett Station Rd, St. Louis, MO 63122
The National Museum of Transportation is a must-see for locomotive and railroad enthusiasts and anyone interested in big machines in general. This massive indoor-outdoor museum is on the southwestern outskirts of Saint Louis and is still connected to active rail lines, allowing for deliveries of new additions.
While there’s a big focus on trains, the museum is all about “planes, trains, and automobiles,” and even wells. It has been recognized as the world’s most extensive collection of vehicles, spannings over 150 years of American transportation history.
The collection includes the Union Pacific #4006, or “Big Boy,” the most prominent successful steam locomotive ever built. There are about 25 on-road vehicles, including Mustangs, Model T’s, and semi-trucks. A Missouri River towboat represents water transportation, and there are two military aircraft there as well.
23. Hollywood Wax Museum
Address: 3030 W 76 Country Blvd Unit A, Branson, MO 65616
If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to be up close and personal with your favorite celebrity, head over to the Hollywood Wax Museum in Branson to find out! Strike a pose with your favorite celebrity wax figure, walk the red carpet, and dress up using the museum’s costumes and props.
Once you’ve had enough hanging out with the stars, check out the other fun attractions at the Hollywood Wax Museum Entertainment Center. The Castle of Chaos will take you on a fun, family-friendly 5D adventure where you can use a laser blaster to shoot and compete for the highest score.
If you have a little bit more time, head over to the Shoot for the Stars mini golf course for 18 holes of fun. This Hollywood-themed course is full of silly stars and thrilling sights.
The Hollywood Wax Museum Entertainment center is open seven days a week, making for a fun thing to do no matter the weather. It’s located just a few minutes away from Marriott’s Willow Ridge Lodge, a fun and family-friendly hotel that features both an indoor and outdoor pool, a kid’s clubhouse, and cozy fire pit areas.
See Related: Best Unusual Museums in the US
24. Titanic Museum
Address: 3235 W 76 Country Blvd, Branson, MO 65616
Just a few blocks away from the Hollywood Wax Museum in Branson, you’ll find the Titanic Museum. This is the world’s largest permanent Titanic museum attraction, and you may have heard of its counterpart in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. This is an interactive experience that combines a museum with real artifacts from the Titanic with a one-of-a-kind experience as a “passenger.”
The museum is a replica of the Titanic ship, even down to a staircase made using the exact architectural plans from the ship. When you walk into the museum, you are given the boarding pass of an actual passenger or crew member. You can touch a piece of an iceberg, feel freezing cold water, and even shovel “coal” in the boiler room.
Close out your visit by sitting in a lifeboat and hearing the stories of passengers and crew members. As you leave, you will find out the fate of the passenger on your boarding pass. It’s a great way for the family to learn and experience one of the saddest moments of seafaring history. Save time by getting a skip-the-line ticket to the Titanic Museum in advance.
25. Pony Express National Museum
Address: 914 Penn St, St Joseph, MO 64503
Finally, we’ll head to the northwest corner of Missouri before wrapping it up, as the Pony Express National Museum is an important commemoration of an important piece of the state’s history. It’s located at the actual eastern terminus of the Pony Express, on the banks of the Missouri River in the small city of St. Joseph.
If you aren’t familiar, the Pony Express was an east-west mail route that used relays of horse-mounted carriers linking Missouri to the west coast between 1860 and 1861. Keep in mind that back then, there were no telephones or telegraph lines, and the service reduced the time it took to get a message from east to west to about 10 days – an incredible feat.
The timing wasn’t ideal, as a telegraph line was laid quickly, making the service financially unfeasible. However, the service was an important symbol of rugged American frontier life and capabilities. Today, the museum is all about the skilled riders, the route, and life in growing America during the 1800s.
Mark Twain fans might be particularly interested, as he once encountered a Pony Express rider, which is referenced in one of his books. This is an inexpensive and interesting stop on any visit to the St. Joseph area, which can be a day trip of less than an hour from Kansas City.
Is Missouri worth visiting?
There are a ton of wonderful places to visit in Missouri. History and museum enthusiasts will enjoy places like the Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum, the Saint Louis Art Museum, and the Saint Louis Science Center quite interesting. There’s also plenty of outdoor fun to be had at places like Ha Ha Tonka State Park and Elephant Rocks State Park, among others.
What is Missouri known for?
Missouri is known for its iconic Gateway Arch in St. Louis, the massive Lake of the Ozarks, and the vacation resort destination of Branson, among many other things. It’s also the home state of famed author Mark Twain and full of beautiful state parks.
Are there things to do in Missouri with kids?
There are many Missouri tourist attractions suitable for the whole family, including Silver Dollar City, the famous Saint Louis Zoo, and the National Museum of Transportation. Of course, kids of all ages can have plenty of fun during summers at the Lake of the Ozarks and Table Rock Lake, too.
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Woodrow is a travel writer who wants to do and see just about everything. He’s been to 40+ countries, all 50 US states plus Puerto Rico and the USVI, and is currently living in France and exploring Europe. Woodrow is an expert in travel hacking, finding bargain flights, and coined the term “upgrade engineering” referring to his talent to upgrade simple hotel room bookings into suite stays. Woodrow loves SCUBA diving, fishing, and all things aviation.