Much of the excitement and lore of Missouri centers on the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. As part of the Louisiana Purchase, the state represented a starting point for travelers making major westward migration.
St. Louis is a bustling city on the Mississippi River. Appreciate the city’s diverse attractions, from the majestic Cathedral Basilica to the more earthly factory tour of the Anheuser-Busch brewery. Along the way visit the St. Louis Zoo and the kid-centered City Museum or relax in Forest Park.
The showpiece of St. Louis is the Gateway Arch. Ride the tram to the top height of 630 feet (192 meters). On clear days, you’ll see for 30 miles (48 kilometers) in any direction. The arch represents the role St. Louis played over 200 years ago as a gateway for pioneers traveling westward in the Louisiana Territory. Take a riverboat cruise to see daytime or evening views of the city’s modern skyline. Travel to the mouth of the Missouri River to investigate the workings of the locks and dam.
Visit the small northern town of Hannibal to see the Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum and appreciate how the nearby Mississippi River inspired the adventures of the author’s well-known fictional characters, Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. Several blocks away, tour the Hannibal History Museum, with an exhibit about another local resident, the “unsinkable” Molly Brown, who survived the sinking of the Titanic.
In the southern part of the state, Branson has evolved as a major center for live music and wholesome family fun. At the more than 50 theaters you can find music from ABBA to Dolly Parton to fantastic tenors, along with comedy and magic.
Not far away are Missouri’s Ozark Mountains, fantastic for hiking and fishing. Get a guide and go spelunking or cave exploring. Marvel Cave lives up to its name, especially on a tour led by a guide in period costume carrying a lantern for light. Visit the Silver Dollar City theme park to access the cave.