Upon entering Missouri via the city of St. Louis, the arch you see rising before it acts as a symbolic gateway of sorts for the American West. As such, the personality of folks here takes on a friendly, yet pragmatic air, as they warmly welcome visitors to this off-the-beaten track American state, but take a sceptical tone towards braggarts and those that make grandiose claims on various subjects.
This unique attitude has led to it being known as the “Show Me State”, and while the sights in this state will engage, entertain and enlighten you, the honest and friendly people that call this place home will define your stay here.
From delicious BBQ and big city sights in St. Louis and Kansas City, to the highlands of the Ozarks and the birthplace of one of the most important generals in US military history, there is much to see here. While you may have not heard of Missouri before, you’ll come away from this place with a reinforced appreciation of the American Heartland.
What To Do – Culture & History
Chances are you’ll either begin your tour of Missouri in St. Louis in the east, or Kansas City in the west. If you’re rolling into Missouri from the American Rockies, one of the biggest cultural assets in the state can be found in KC, as the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art contains a broad collection of Asian art, and its architectural design has won it accolades from publications such as TIME magazine.
Apart from those highlights, its sculpture gardens (that includes an offbeat series of giant shuttlecocks among the serious ones), fine European paintings and photography are all worthwhile aspects that make checking out this gallery worth your time.
A significant highlight that any serious history buff must see before departing KC is the Liberty Memorial. Largely composed of a spire of limestone and a granite base, this monument pays tribute to all the lives lost by American soldiers in the First World War.
The base of the spire is home to a museum containing artifacts from that brutal conflict, theatres where productions bring the trials of that time to life, and a cafe where you can get some caffeinated refreshment before carrying on with your day after such a sombre exploration of this vitally important place.
On the other side of Missouri, the most atmospheric churches in the Midwest (and one of the best in America) can be found at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis. Their biggest claim to fame here is a set of murals in the churches’ interior that is the largest of its kind in the entire Western Hemisphere. Also of interest are burial crypts beneath the building, and a sculpture out front that was commissioned in a bid to promote racial harmony.
During one of the most difficult periods of American history, the Union needed a hero to help lead the soldiers of America to defeat the secessionist Confederacy. Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site honors the Union’s most prominent general during the American Civil War, as well as his brief presidency that began in the wake of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.
Today, in addition to the exhibits that you will encounter on those topics, a series of farm animals can be encountered here, as well as exotic animals like elephants, kangaroos, and camels, making it a great place for families.
What To Do – Modern & Natural Attractions
If you enter Missouri by way of St. Louis, the Gateway Arch, a giant metal monument in the form of a bow will greet your eyes upon arrival here. It is the largest monument in the Western Hemisphere, and the world’s tallest arch, which is reason enough to visit, but add the fact that you can ascend to the top of the inside of the arch via an internal tram, and you have an attraction that is truly world class.
Those looking for thrills on their holiday in Missouri should visit the town of Branson, which is home to a variety of amusement options. Silver Dollar City offers plenty of exciting coasters for adrenaline addicts, while those looking to cool down on a punishingly hot day in the Midwest will love the thrilling water slides of White Water Branson.
The Titanic Museum, cheesy as it looks, gives attendees a perspective on what it was like to be a passenger on that boat when it sank in 1912, while the Showboat Branson Belle is an excellent place to have dinner on picturesque Table Rock Lake as the sun sinks towards the horizon.
Ever wanted to experience a cave, but not a fan of creeping through tight spaces in the dark? Fantastic Caverns will prove to be a tame introduction to subterranean environments for those not wanting to get themselves dirty in less friendly caves, as this is the only one of its kind that allows you to roll through on a powered tram.
Observe and touch massive stalagmites from the comfort of your own seat, and get introduced to the world beneath ours, all in a place that stays a consistent 15 degrees Celsius (60 degrees Fahrenheit) year round.
Those that want to get outside during their time in Missouri can get the most from it by visiting the Lake of the Ozarks. Created by the construction of the Bagnell Dam in the 1930’s, the Lake of the Ozarks is the reservoir behind this hydroelectric facility, which is used extensively by locals as a place to relax from the stresses of everyday life in this corner of America.
Love to let your hair down? Rent a boat and head for Party Cove, where Missourians live it up throughout the summer on the water. For others, two created beaches, trails, and a cavern provide ways to relax and get active during your time in this state.