It’s no surprise that a destination nicknamed the “Show-Me State” has a lot to offer its visitors. The attractions in Missouri are on point, from fantastic live shows to family-friendly theme parks to nationally recognized museums.
From the Gateway Arch in St. Louis to the forests, rivers and caverns of the Ozark Mountains, you won’t have to look far for fun things to do in Missouri.
There are wide-open spaces to call your own and get away from the hustle and bustle of the city – but if that’s what you crave, St. Louis and Kansas City will delight you with their top-notch attractions and dining scenes.
Sail on an old-timey paddleboat steamer, visit one of the few free zoos in the country, visit a significant Civil War battlefield, fish for rainbow trout and go deep underground to discover the state’s impressive cave system.
It’ll be hard to choose just one favorite from your memorable Missouri vacation.
Below are some of the top tourist attractions in Missouri that you must visit.
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This iconic American landmark and top Missouri tourist attraction make steel and concrete look graceful and elegant.
The Gateway Arch – designed by Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen – towers 63 stories over St. Louis to celebrate the westward expansion of the United States.
Today, guests can learn about the arch at the museum, tracing the story of Native Americans, explorers and pioneers whose pioneering spirit led to America's growth – the exhibits span from 1764 to 1965.
Then ride 630 feet into the air via tram ride. Each ride lasts about 45-60 minutes. Enjoy the view while you’re up there – it’s possible to see up to 30 miles in all directions on a clear day.
After your trip to the top, consider taking a cruise on a 19th-century paddle-wheel riverboat (the Becky Thatcher or the Tom Sawyer, offering the fantastic views of the arch and downtown St. Louis.
Address: 100 Washington Ave, St. Louis, MO 63102
With 12,000-plus animals to visit – representing 500 species – the Saint Louis Zoo is a favorite thing to do in Missouri for animal-loving families.
The zoo is renowned for its animal care and management practices, wildlife conservation efforts and research and educational programs. And, it’s free!
You can meet Huckleberry and Finley, the grizzly bear siblings, as well as polar bear Kali.
At Penguin and Puffin Coast, giggle along with these adorable oceanic birds. Walk through an underwater tunnel directly into the seal and sea lion habitat and watch them swim and dive around you.
To learn more about the species you’re seeing, head to the Living World education and discovery center, with documentaries about wildlife, evolution and conservation efforts.
Address: 1 Government Dr, St. Louis, MO 63110
Also Read: 30 Best Zoos in the US
Celebrate America’s spirit of adventure – and your thirst for an adrenaline rush – at Silver Dollar City, an internationally acclaimed Missouri attraction that’s fun for the whole family.
This 1880s-style theme park boasts 40 rides and attractions, live entertainment, 18 restaurants, 60 shops and more than 100 resident artisans who show off America's heritage crafts.
Ride the Frisco Silver Dollar Line Steam Train to get the lay of the land.
Looking to cool off in the heat of the summer? Head to the park's water area, with 13 acres of water rides, slides and waves, a huge wave pool, a lazy river and a splash area just for the littlest kids.
Finish off the day with a dinner cruise and live show as you sail across Table Rock Lake on the Showboat Branson Belle.
Address: 399 Silver Dollar City Pkwy, Branson, MO 65616
Revered as one of the greatest American authors ever, Mark Twain’s home is a living museum in Missouri, giving tourists an intimate view of the life of Twain, where he wrote his most famous book: "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer".
The home is filled with tons of original memorabilia, all original furniture, and plenty of accompanying information to read more about his life.
It is also worth mentioning Mark Twain Cave, located in Hannibal Missouri. This is the very cave that was referenced in five of his books.
Coincidentally, this cave also served as a hiding place for the notorious robber and fugitive Jesse James.
Address: 120 N Main St, Hannibal, MO 63401
Located in St. Louis, Forest Park is the perfect place for those who love natural beauty and the outdoors.
Covering more than thirteen hundred acres, there are both indoor and outdoor attractions and activities that you can look forward to here.
Some of these include the hugely popular Saint Louis Zoo, Turtle Park, the Forest Park Golf Course, the Saint Louis Science Center, and some stunning lakes and water features.
There is something here for people of all ages, making it one of the perfect places in Missouri to bring your family for a fun and exciting day out.
Address: 5595 Grand Dr, St. Louis, MO 63112
One of the most historically significant places to visit in Missouri, the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum preserves the paper, books and other historical items related to former President Harry S. Truman.
It is one of the top tourist attractions in the Kansas City region and makes a fantastic stop on your vacation in America's heartland.
Within the library and museum, you can learn about President Truman's time in office, his dealings with Europe, the origins of the Cold War and some of the president's most difficult decisions, from using the atomic bomb to recognizing Israel.
Get a glimpse at two Truman offices, one of which he used at the library between 1957 and 1966. President Truman and his immediate family are buried in the museum's courtyard.
Address: 500 W US Hwy 24, Independence, MO 64050
If you’re seeking excellent art and inspiring themes, the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art is one of the best places to go in Missouri.
Discover 34,500 pieces, from artifacts from ancient Chinese tombs to Caravaggio’s Saint John the Baptist in the Wilderness.
The collection encompasses African, American, Ancient, Asian, Contemporary, European and Native American art, as well as photography exhibits and an impressive sculpture park.
Two restaurants are on-site: the bustling, buffet-style Rozzelle Court Restaurant and the sleek Café (don’t miss their incredible desserts).
Before you leave, be sure to visit the Museum Store for its extensive selection of art- and design-centric books, décor and gifts.
Address: 4525 Oak St, Kansas City, MO 64111
Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Kansas City
Branson's grand Titanic Museum will take you through the most magnificent, ill-fated ship of all time.
As you enter the museum, you will be given a boarding pass so that you feel like "passengers" going on board the ship.
You will get to experience what it was like to walk the hallways, parlors, cabins and the grand staircase while surrounded by over 400 artifacts collected directly from the ship and its passengers.
Learn more about the ill-fated crew at the Titanic Memorial Room then make sure to visit the Titanic Store to shop for unique souvenir items.
A visit to the Titanic Museum is undoubtedly one of the coolest things to do in Missouri.
Address: 3235 W 76 Country Blvd, Branson, MO 65616
We couldn’t just pick one attraction in this beautiful city, Jefferson City is a lively and interesting setting.
The official state capitol has plenty of museums, theaters, and galleries to keep you busy.
It has some very noteworthy historic artifacts and famous buildings surrounding the state capitol building.
Other popular attractions include the Governor's Mansion, a stunning feat of architecture filled with exquisite interiors; the Missouri State Penitentiary, a somber and important part of Missouri history; and the Missouri State Museum itself, where you can find many natural and historic collections.
Don’t forget to check out The Lewis & Clark Monument at the Lewis & Clark Trailhead Plaza, you’ll find it just outside the state capitol, it’s a one-of-a-kind sculpture that is admired for its beauty.
Address: Jefferson City, MO
Among the more family-friendly of Missouri attractions, Worlds of Fun guarantees giggles all day long.
Six different park areas, set across hundreds of acres, each offer thrill rides and entertainment: Africa, Americana, Europa, Orient, Scandinavia and Planet Snoopy.
Brave kids and adults can tackle Cyclone Sam’s and the Bamboozler or the unforgettable splash ride, Fury of the Nile.
Tamer family members will love driving antique cars along a track or taking a ride on the Worlds of Fun steam train.
Cool off at Ocean of Fun, where you’ll find the world’s longest mat racing waterslides, a huge wave pool and a splash area for little kids. And who doesn’t love Snoopy? Check out the whole PEANUTSTM gang at Planet Snoopy with 21 kid rides.
Address: 4545 Worlds of Fun Ave, Kansas City, MO 64161
Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Kansas City
While the famous Arch comes to mind when we talk about the best Missouri attractions, there are numerous historical and cultural things to do in the state.
Because it is so easily accessible from practically anywhere in the country, Missouri continues to bring thousands of tourists, to see both natural and historic attractions.
It’s hard not to get excited about such a dense collection of American history and legacy. This list should help you plan your dream vacation to Missouri.