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Top 17 Hidden Gems To Visit in Missouri

  1. Ha Ha Tonka State Park: Situated in the picturesque Ozark Mountains, this scenic park offers breathtaking vistas, hiking trails, natural springs, sinkholes, and a serene lake. The park’s highlight is its distinctive feature, the ruins of a castle, constructed in the early 1900s and modeled after a European castle. Though never finished, visitors can explore the ruins and envision their grandeur.
  2. Katy Trail State Park: For a distinctive approach to exploring Missouri, one needs look no further than the Katy Trail, a 237-mile-long rails-to-trails park that spans the state. Perfect for hiking or biking, the trail takes visitors through some of Missouri’s most picturesque landscapes, including farmland, forests, and along the Missouri River. Along the way, visitors can stop at charming small towns, wineries, and historic sites.
  3. Onondaga Cave State Park: Concealed beneath the undulating hills of the Ozarks, Onondaga Cave State Park is a must-see destination for nature enthusiasts. The park features a stunning cave system with intricate formations, including stalactites, stalagmites, and flowstones, as well as a vast underground river. Visitors can take guided tours through the cave and marvel at its natural beauty.
  4. Elephant Rocks State Park: Located in the St. Francois Mountains, this one-of-a-kind park is home to a series of large, round boulders, known as elephant rocks, that formed from volcanic activity millions of years ago. Visitors can climb the rocks, explore the surrounding forests, and even spot some of the local wildlife.
  5. Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park: Named after the natural “shut-in” formation that creates a narrow, steep-walled canyon in the East Fork Black River, this park offers an unforgettable experience. The shut-ins are encircled by natural beauty, including waterfalls, rocky cliffs, and forested hills. Visitors can swim, hike, fish, or simply unwind while admiring the stunning scenery.
  6. Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum: If you are a literary enthusiast, you must visit this museum dedicated to the life and legacy of Mark Twain, one of America’s most celebrated authors. The museum is located in Hannibal, the town where Twain spent his childhood and which served as the inspiration for many of his works. Visitors can tour the house where Twain grew up and explore exhibits on his life and writings.
  7. Silver Dollar City: Situated in the heart of the Ozark Mountains, this theme park offers a unique blend of live entertainment, traditional crafts, and thrilling rides. Visitors can witness craftsmen at work, explore historic buildings, and enjoy roller coasters and other rides. The park also hosts a variety of festivals and events throughout the year.
  8. Grant’s Farm: This historic farm and wildlife preserve, located in St. Louis, was once owned by President Ulysses S. Grant and is now open to the public. Visitors can take a tram ride through the park and observe a variety of animals, including bison, deer, and elephants. The park also offers animal encounters, shows, and a range of other activities.
  9. Katy Roundhouse: Located in Sedalia, this historic roundhouse and museum is dedicated to the Missouri-Kansas-Texas (MKT) railroad. Visitors can explore exhibits on the railroad’s history, see historic locomotives and other equipment, and learn about the role the railroad played in Missouri’s development. The museum also hosts a variety of special events throughout the year.
  10. Meramec Caverns: These splendid caves have been a hit with tourists since way back in the 1800s. Take a guided tour and feast your eyes on the stunning mineral formations, underground lakes, and historical treasures. The caves even boast a juicy history, with whispers of the notorious outlaw Jesse James using them as a hideout. Who knows what other secrets lurk in those dark and twisty caverns?
  11. St. Louis Science Centre: This cracking museum is a hoot for young and old alike, offering interactive exhibits and programs covering everything from space exploration to environmental science and human health. There’s even a planetarium and OMNIMAX theatre to really blow your mind. You might even come out feeling like a certified rocket scientist.
  12. Jefferson City Jaycees Capital City Farmers Market: If you want fresh produce that’s locally grown, and crafts from some top-notch regional artisans, then head on down to this weekly market. There’s live music, too – and you never know, you might even pick up a bargain or two. It’s a farmers’ market extravaganza!
  13. Katy Depot & Museum: This beautifully restored train depot is now a museum that’ll transport you back in time to the days of the Missouri-Kansas-Texas (MKT) railway. You’ll learn all about the history of the railroad and its impact on the region, as well as what life was like for the hardworking railroad families. Choo choo!
  14. Laumeier Sculpture Park: This cracking outdoor park is an oasis for art and nature lovers alike. With over 60 sculptures to explore, including some massive and interactive ones, you’ll be in awe amidst the rolling hills, meadows, and forests. Just watch out for the occasional rogue artist!
  15. Lake of the Ozarks: This huge man-made lake is a mecca for all kinds of recreational activities. Whether you’re into boating, fishing, swimming, or water sports, you’ll have a whale of a time. Plus, with charming towns and lovely parks all around, it’s no wonder this place is a go-to for families and nature enthusiasts. Just be sure to pack your floaties!
  16. The Butterfly House & Science Centre: This one-of-a-kind museum is all about butterflies and other insects. Step into the indoor and outdoor exhibits and check out those fluttery little beauties in all their glory. You’ll also learn about their habitats, behavior, and importance in the ecosystem. Watch out for those pesky caterpillars!
  17. Jefferson City Missouri State Capitol: This splendid building has been the seat of Missouri’s state government since 1917. Take a guided tour and marvel at the grand interiors, from the awe-inspiring dome to the intricate murals and all the historic artifacts in between. The Capitol even has a museum that tells the tale of Missouri’s rich political history. Don’t forget to wear your fanciest hat!