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.
Accomodation: Where to stay in Saint 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.
Accomodation: Where to stay in Branson
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.
Accomodation: Where to stay in Hannibal
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.
Accomodation: Where to stay in Independence
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.
Accomodation: Where to stay in Kansas City
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.
Accomodation: Where to stay in Jefferson City
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
When it comes to historical attractions in Missouri, Wilson's Creek National Battlefield is a must-see.
It’s one of six national parks in the state and perfect for history buffs or anyone who wants to learn more about the region's role in the Civil War.
The 1,920-acre battlefield is the site of the second major battle of the Civil War, fought on August 10, 1861.
Take the five-mile self-guided tour road, with eight interpretive stops, to explore the battlefield at your own pace.
Hop out of the car to walk trails to various battle sites, including Bloody Hill, the Historic John Ray House (a one-time Confederate field hospital) and the Edwards Cabin.
In total, the site offers seven miles of hiking and horseback riding trails. Stop by the visitor center to see more than 250 artifacts and photographs that tell the story of the Civil War in the west.
Accomodation: Where to stay in Republic
Address: 6424 W Farm Rd 182, Republic, MO 65738
Looking for outdoorsy things to do in Missouri? Head to Lake of the Ozarks, an extensive reservoir that offers unlimited water sports and alfresco fun.
The lake has been deemed one of the best recreational lakes in the country for its world-class boating, golfing, swimming, fishing and hiking.
Explore Lake of the Ozarks State Park, a 17,441-acre playground south of Osage Beach with 85 miles of shoreline, two public beaches, a boat-launching area, hiking, horseback riding and more.
At Ha Ha Tonka State Park on the Niangua Arm of the lake, you’ll find more hiking, picnic areas and even cave systems.
Fishing is one of the lake’s biggest draws, with everything in the water from largemouth bass to walleye.
If you’re a boater, you’ll always be welcome at one of the nine public access ramps – or you can rent a speedboat, pontoon, fishing boat or personal watercraft from one of the many outfitters in the area.
Accomodation: Where to stay in Osage Beach
Address: Osage Beach, Missouri
In honor of the men and women who served in World War I, Kansas City leaders formed the Liberty Memorial Association, ultimately leading to the creation of the National World War I Museum and Memorial.
One of the more sobering – yet insightful and exciting – sights to see in Missouri, the world-class museum features the permanent exhibition, "The World War, 1914-1919," with original artifacts, videos, recreated trenches and more.
See a French-made Renault FT-17 tank and walk through one of the recreated trenches, with actual objects in place.
Temporary exhibits tell curated stories of the war, complementing the museum's archives of more than 330,000 objects and documents.
Both permanent and limited-run exhibits aim to take a comprehensive look at the war, from the first shots fired in 1914 to the peace attempts of 1919.
Address: 2 Memorial Dr, Kansas City, MO 64108
Add Ha Ha Tonka State Park to your list of places to see in Missouri.
It’s a wonderland of sinkholes, caves, steep bluff, a spring, a huge natural bridge – and the ruins of a stone turn-of-the 20th-century castle.
Wander about 15 miles of trail and boardwalk networks through wooded areas and rocky blades to picnic areas and the historic castle.
Explore the empty shell of the grand mansion from its perch atop a 250-foot cliff. From here, you can see down onto the Lake of the Ozarks and Ha Ha Tonka Spring.
Enjoy the tranquillity of the forest, with its tall oaks and savannas of prairie grasses and wildflowers.
Accomodation: Where to stay in Camdenton
Address: 1491 Missouri D, Camdenton, MO 65020
This Missouri attraction is underground, so join a guide and venture into the deep wonderland for which Missouri is called "The Cave State."
Onandaga Cave State Park is a National Natural Landmark with underground streams and caverns full of stalagmites and stalactites that will take your breath away!
Missouri's karst topography was formed through millions of years of limestone and dolomite bedrock deposits, volcanic activity and erosion.
Onondaga Cave itself is known for its abundance of speleothems – fancy words for those stalactites and stalagmites, flowstones, rimstone dams, cave coral and more that you’ll see when you venture inside.
Above the surface, you can explore the Vilander Bluff Natural Area along the Meramec River, enjoying the gorgeous valley views from atop the tall dolomite bluffs.
You'll also find more than six miles of hiking trails, swimming, fishing, and canoeing within the area.
Address: 7556 Hwy H, Leasburg, MO 65535
One of the prettier vacation spots in Missouri, Meramec State Park offers something for everyone – hiking, caving, swimming, fishing, rafting, boating and more.
Start with a visit to the spectacular Fisher Cave. Naturalists will guide you through low, narrow passageways to huge caverns filled with calcite deposits, well-preserved bear claw marks, cave wildlife and more.
Some of the calcite columns are up to 30 feet tall.
During your stay, stop at the visitor center to learn more about the Meramec River, an essential source of aquatic life in Missouri, see the huge aquarium, view a collection of the river's rare and endangered mussels and study a life-size riverbank diorama.
A variety of classic Ozarks-style cabins can be found for rent, as well as modern motel rooms, watercraft rental outfitters and casual dining eateries.
Accomodation: Where to stay in Sullivan
Address: 115 Meramec Park Drive, Sullivan, MO 63080
Also Read: 25 Best State Parks in the United States
Combine a geology lesson with unabashed family fun at Talking Rocks Cavern.
Truman Powell first explored the cave, naming it Fairy Cave – it was later changed to Talking Rocks Cavern based on a quote from Powell's son Waldo.
He spent a significant amount of time studying the cave's mineral deposits and rocks and noted that these physical features "would tell him a story" of how the cave formed.
Today's guests are "edutained" on an hour-long tour of the cavern, a blend of education and entertainment in which guides impart information about the cave's discovery, history, mineral deposits and geologic structure.
Later, play a round of mini-golf on-site, pan for gemstones or hike the nature trail to the lookout tower.
Accomodation: Where to stay in Branson West
Address: 423 Fairy Cave Ln, Branson West, MO 65737
Go back into time at Roaring River State Park, another favorite Missouri attraction for its superb fishing, camping and hiking sites.
Within a deep and narrow valley in the southwest Ozark hills, the state park is home to more than 600 species of plants, many of which aren’t found anywhere else in the state.
Feed the fish in the Roaring River Spring pool or cast a line for the plentiful rainbow trout stocked here every year.
Spend some time in the woods, climbing Fire Tower Trail to the 2,075-acre Roaring River Hills Wild Area, with its unique Ozark chinquapin trees, or the Devil's Kitchen Trail to the rock shelter known as Devil's Kitchen.
Later, visit the Ozark Chinquapin Nature Center to learn more about the park's natural history or cool off in the park's public swimming pool.
Accomodation: Where to stay in Cassville
Address: 12716 Farm Road 2239, Cassville, MO 65625
For the oenophile looking for the best things to do in Missouri, look no further than the Hermann Wine Trail.
While guests are welcome to visit and explore any time of year, the town’s most famous events are the Chocolate Wine Trail in February, the Farmers’ Table Wine Trail in April, the Wild Bacon Wine Trail in May, the Berries & BarBQ Wine Trail in July, the Holiday Fare Wine Trail in November and the Say Cheese Wine Trail in December.
You’ll taste award-winning wine as you drink in beautiful views of Missouri Wine Country.
In between tastings, see what else Hermann has to offer, from world-class spas to biking rail trails to golfing.
Accomodation: Where to stay in Hermann
Address: 150A Market St, Hermann, MO 65041
One of the sportiest things to do in Missouri is to visit St. Louis' 46,000-seat, retro-style downtown ballpark, Busch Stadium.
Baseball fans probably already know that the Cardinals became the first team in nearly a century to win a World Series Championship in the first season of a new ballpark.
Sign up for one of the year-round tours that offer unique views of the Cardinals' home field.
See what the stadium looks like from the Radio Broadcast Booth, check out the World Series trophies, and sit in the Cardinals' dugout for that extra memorable experience.
While you’re here, check out the nearby Hall of Fame and Museum, where you can see stadium models, hold an authentic bat used by a Cardinals star and even call some of baseball's most memorable moments in the "The Broadcast Booth."
Address: 700 Clark Ave, St. Louis, MO 63102
With the largest successful steam engine ever built, the Union Pacific “Big Boy,” to a twin-engine 1943 Douglas Aircraft, to 1901 car built by the St. Louis Motor Carriage Co., the National Museum of Transportation is a top sightseeing attraction in Missouri.
In fact, the museum is thought to have the most extensive collection of transportation vehicles in the world, with more than 190 major exhibits.
Railroad enthusiasts can see the Boston & Providence Railroad Passenger Coach built in 1833 and a 6,600-hp, two-engine Union Pacific diesel.
Within the automobile collection, numbering approximately 200, you’ll find the only operational Chrysler turbine car on public display.
Walk the decks of an H.T. Pott tugboat, check out a 1957 Cushman Eagle Scooter and learn how the Pevely Dairy company once pulled their wagons with zebras.
Address: 2933 Barrett Station Rd, St. Louis, MO 63122
Historically speaking, the Missouri Botanical Garden is one of the oldest places to visit in Missouri.
The garden was founded in 1859 and is the country's oldest botanical garden that is in operation ever since.
A National Historic Landmark, the beautiful oasis within urban St. Louis boasts 79 acres of horticultural exhibits, including a 14-acre Japanese garden, a diverse orchid collection and Henry Shaw's original 1850 estate home.
Within the Japanese garden, you can wander through the serene landscape of waterfalls and carefully curated plantings.
Learn about its architectural design and climate-control technology in the Climatron, the first geodesic dome used as a greenhouse.
Let the children discover plants, nature and sustainability in the Children’s Garden.
Want more nature and botany? Visit the Garden’s sister properties outside the city: The Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House in Chesterfield and the Shaw Nature Reserve in Gray Summit.
Address: 4344 Shaw Blvd, St. Louis, MO 63110
Do you know what a tor is? Visit Elephant Rocks State Park, one of Missouri's most geologically intriguing places to visit, and you’ll find out.
This type of landform is a stack of weather granite rock slabs that sit upon a bedrock mass of the same rock – the tor at Elephant Rocks State Park are the finest examples of this geologic formation in the Midwest.
Check out the elephant-shaped boulders, which stand end to end like a train of circus elephants.
You can follow the Braille Trail, specially designed for those with visual and physical impairment, through the main area of rocks.
Look for “Dumbo,” at 27 feet tall, 34 feet long and 17 feet wide. If you’d like, follow the trail extension to the historic railroad engine house, leftover from the region's quarrying and railroad history.
Address: 7390, 7406 MO-21, Belleview, MO 63623
Also Read: 25 Best State Parks in the United States
One of the most photographed sites to visit in Missouri, the J.C. Nichols Memorial Fountain is a Kansas City icon.
Find the fountain at the south end of Mill Creek Park on the east side of Country Club Plaza.
The equestrian figures you’ll see were sculpted by Henri Gerber in 1910 and were part of Clarence Mackay’s mansion in Long Island.
Following fire and vandalism, the J.C. Nichols family, the city and private contributors, including a group of school children in the Kansas City area, brought the famous sculptures to Missouri.
They were then refurbished and placed in the fountain you see today. The horsemen you see in the fountain are thought to represent the mighty Mississippi, Volga, Seine and Rhine rivers.
Address: 47th Mill Creek Pkwy, Kansas City, MO 64111
A top outdoor vacation destination in Missouri, Dogwood Canyon Nature Park boasts 10,000 acres of forests and rivers.
It’s a ruggedly beautiful outdoor heaven in the Ozark Mountains to take your family hiking, biking, wildlife viewing, horseback riding and trout fishing.
Set off on horseback no matter what your skill level, discovering areas of the park that can’t be accessed by the tram or via walking and biking.
Ride through the park on an open-air tram, enjoying a two-hour narrated tour. You’ll cross the Arkansas border and enter the prairie fields, where you will encounter American Bison, Elk, and deer.
Accomodation: Where to stay in Lampe
Address: 2038 State Hwy 86, Lampe, MO 65681
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.