Famous for providing the inspiration and backdrop for the legendary ‘Adventures of Huckleberry Finn’ the state located in the Midwestern United States is a laid-back place filled with wide-open spaces, a famous sprawling mountain range, large plains, meandering rivers, and plenty of gorgeous hidden gems. If you’re looking to explore the best of the state, here are the best and most beautiful places to visit in Missouri…
1. Ozark Mountains and Lake of The Ozarks – the famously beautiful area and vacation spot in Missouri
Made famous by a popular Netflix series and a huge sprawling expanse covering Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma and the far southeastern corner of Kansas is a must-see (and stay!) beauty spot when exploring this state. The area is actually made up of three separate areas the Boston, Springfield, and Salem Plateaus, and is heavily forested.
It’s a tranquil place and a family vacation favorite and there are many great things to here including hiking, golfing, boating, camping, and exploring the many quirky little gems on offer. Don’t miss the beautiful Lake of the Ozarks, a reservoir created by impounding the Osage River and one of Missouri’s premier vacation destinations.
2. Blue Spring – the most beautiful natural spring to visit in Missouri
Located in Eminence Township, the spring is absolutely gorgeous and will entice you in right away. It has been around for more than four decades and is the type of attraction that you will never forget.
Surrounding the spring are trails that you can hike for roughly three miles, and they end right where the spring is, and both the trail and the spring are spectacular and eye-catching. Even if all you want to do is visit the spring and dip your toes in it, it is worth a trip to Eminence Township to be able to do so.
3. Wah’Kon-Tah Prairie – a stunning protected area to explore in Missouri
This is a gorgeous and unspoiled spot to explore in Missouri. It’s a huge 3,350-acre area and a large part is a conservation area owned by The Nature Conservancy of Missouri.
The aim of the trust is to restore native grasslands and protect the prairie ecosystem that did once cover a much larger part of Missouri. It’s a stunning and tranquil spot dotted with wildflowers, rare plants, and wildlife, and is well worth a visit with your camera especially during the Fall when the leaves change.
4. Big Cedar Lodge – America’s Premier Wilderness Resort surrounded by stunning Missouri landscapes
Big Cedar Lodge is located in Ridgedale on Table Rock Lake and is a beautiful vacation resort visited by tons of people each and every year. It sits in the heart of the Ozarks and therefore offers an incredible view regardless of where you are.
With mountains in the background and plenty of trees to enjoy, you will love Big Cedar Lodge, regardless of which season you choose to visit. Indeed, from the bright orange and red leaves in the Fall to the warm temperatures of the summer, you’ll fall in love with this place the very first time you go there.
5. Dogwood Canyon – a gorgeous nature preserve perfect for hiking, biking, and tram tours
With water, trees, and lots of stuff to do, this facility – located in Lampe – truly offers something for everyone. You can go horseback riding, bike riding, or even take a Segway tour if you want some unique fun. There’s a restaurant and a great view of some amazing waterfalls, so if you’re looking for a place that is fun and gorgeous at the same time, this is it.
Dogwood Canyon is very popular but not well-known to a lot of people, yet the facility is working hard to turn this around, which is why it offers both tourists and locals so much.
6. Elephant Rocks State Park – a unique state-owned geologic reserve and public recreation area
Located in Belleview, Elephant Rocks State Park has some gorgeous views and offers lots of hiking trails for those who love to hike or jog, picnic tables for anyone who wishes to relax for a while, and enjoy a nice picnic lunch, and much more.
But the highlight of the entire park is the set of rocks that are shaped just like elephants in a circus line. Yes, these are natural rocks that Mother Nature had a hand in making, and regardless of what you look for when you head out to a certain tourist attraction, the Elephant Rocks State Park is definitely one of the best places to visit in Missouri.
7. Missouri State Capitol and Governor’s Mansion, Jefferson City – the best things to do in Missouri for history fans
These are both impressive historic attractions to add to your Missouri itinerary. Located in the capital of Missouri Jefferson City, the State Capitol Building was completed in 1918 and covers a sprawling three acres in the downtown area. It’s a beautiful Neoclassical style Dome building and is also home to The Missouri State Museum where you can learn about the history of the state. Free guided tours are also offered year-round.
The Governor’s Mansion is another great historic attraction. Built in 1871, the three-story brick mansion is a fine example of Renaissance Revival Architecture and offers tours where guests will have the opportunity to step back in time and learn about the state’s history. When in the city make sure you also visit some of Jefferson City’s attractions including the Carnahan Memorial Garden, Missouri State Penitentiary Museum, and the Missouri State Penitentiary.
8. Prairie State Park – a gorgeous public recreation area home to nearly 4,000 acres of grasslands and woodlands
Located at NW 150th Lane in Mindenmines, it is the largest remaining tallgrass prairie in the state. It is the perfect combination of lush green grass that blooms most of the year and tons of gorgeous wildflowers during the summer months.
Picture a beautiful field filled with lavender wildflowers and healthy green grass dotted with buffalo, birds, deer, and snakes and you’ll understand what makes this state park so special. If you’re visiting Missouri, this is one place you definitely want to visit thanks to its natural beauty and colorful landscape.
9. Gateway Arch, St. Louis – the state’s iconic Gateway Arch
This St. Louis icon promises not to disappoint, and it is definitely one of the most recognizable and beautiful spots in Missouri. If you are anywhere near St. Louis, as a matter of fact, you owe it to yourself to explore this iconic landmark.
You can also visit the museum and take a cruise on the waters surrounding the Arch for an even better look at it. If you want to see something truly unique and fascinating, make sure you visit the Arch at nighttime so you can see how it lights up the sky and makes the entire area look stunning.
10. Ha Ha Tonka State Park – one of Missouri’s main highlights and a great place to take a scenic vacation
This is a beautiful park filled with gorgeous protected scenery which spreads across over 3,700 acres and is located on the Niangua arm of the Lake of the Ozarks. It’s filled with unique and stunning scenery such as caves, lakes, sinkholes, caves, a large natural bridge, towering bluffs, and Missouri’s twelfth largest spring.
There are many excellent hiking trails (including some paved walkways) here as well as a special-use camping site and flora and fauna such as prairie grasses and wildflowers and valley woodlands. One of the famous landmarks to explore in the park is the ruins of the Ha Ha Tonka castle which was built in 1905 by businessman Robert McClure Snyde. Even though it was badly burned in a fire it’s still a striking and photogenic sight which stands on a 250-foot bluff.
If you want to take a vacation here the park offers cabins, a campsite and an RV Park as well.
11. Grand Falls – a beautiful location to explore in Joplin
Grand Falls, located in Joplin, is one of Missouri’s many incredible waterfalls. In fact, it has the distinction of being the largest continuously flowing natural waterfall in the state. It is absolutely breathtaking, and while you’re surrounded by these incredible waterfalls, you can enjoy a picnic on the shore or even take a dip in the cool water.
Most people in Missouri consider this the most beautiful waterfall in the state, and once you visit it just one time, you’ll understand what all of the fuss is about
12. Jacob L Loose Park, Kansas City – a must-see scenic attraction if you’re visiting Kansas City
Kanas City is an increasingly cool place to visit in Missouri known for its fountains, great shopping and its jazz heritage. There are many awesome things to do in Kansas City but one of the prettiest attractions is the Jacob L Loose Park, a major tourist site and the third largest park in Kansas City, Missouri.
Home to a lovely lake with a central fountain, a shelter house, and Civil War markers as well as recreational highlights including tennis courts, a water park, picnic areas, and a Rose Garden. It’s located at 51st Street and Wornall Road and once you have explored here take time to visit some of the other attractions in the city including the beautiful Union Station, The Vine District, Arabia Steamboat Museum, and its many excellent Craft Beer Breweries.
13. Clifty Creek Natural Bridge – a stunning natural beauty spot to visit in Missouri
There’s no doubt that natural bridges are a sight to behold, and the Clifty Creek natural bridge in Dixon is no exception. This bridge is 40 feet long and is found at the end of the 2.5-mile Clifty Creek Natural Area Trail.
Offering breathtaking views and scenery, the bridge is definitely something you’ll want to see when you’re visiting this town that sits almost smack-dab in the middle of the state. Mother Nature provides us with some pretty amazing natural phenomena, and this is one you won’t want to miss.
14. Cape Girardeau – one of the best towns to add to your Missouri itinerary
This city perched on the western bank of the Mississippi River has been named as one of the prettiest towns in the state of Missouri and is worth a visit if you’re traveling around the state. The city is located in Cape Girardeau and Scott Counties in the U.S. state of Missouri and has over 250 bars of history. Head for the historic Old Town for the most charming part and here you’ll also find a great collection of restaurants, boutique shops, and historic landmarks.
Other things to do in Cape Girardeau include the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail, the Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center, the Missouri Wall of Fame, the many Antique Shops, and also the nearby Bollinger Mill State Historic Site which is home to one of the only few covered bridges in the state and is an especially stunning place to visit in the Fall.
15. Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park – is one of the most popular attractions in Missouri
Funny name, beautiful place to visit. This state park is located in Little Brook and if there’s one thing you can say about it, it’s that there is a lot of water surrounding the area. In fact, you’ll see lots of large rocks and swimming holes, so if you go there any time during the summer months, you’ll want to wear your swimsuit.
You can hike, view waterfalls, have a picnic, and go exploring through some of the most beautiful terrain you can imagine. If you’re looking for a great family-oriented activity, look no further because this is it, and it will create a lifetime of memories as well.
16. Meramec Caverns – the largest commercial cave in the state of Missouri
Meramec Caverns is located in Sullivan and is nothing short of breath-taking. This natural wonder is certainly a beauty and you have your choice between a short half-hour tour or one that is a little longer. When you come up above ground, you can enjoy activities such as ziplining and a great climbing wall, so if you want to, you can make a day out of a visit to these caverns.
A perfect family-oriented activity, a trip to Meramec Caverns is one adventure you will never forget – a great way to spend a fun-filled day.
17. Table Rock Lake – one of the most beautiful lakes to visit in Missouri
Located in Branson, Table Rock Lake is one of the most beautiful places in Missouri because of its gorgeous water and scrumptious views. Although there are no areas considered official beaches, you can still swim there in several different locations, as well as go kayaking, canoeing, and boating.
In fact, it is such a versatile lake that you can take your family and spend the entire day there and never get bored. For people who love beautiful sunsets and lots of water-based activities, you simply can’t beat Table Rock Lake.
18. Meramec River and State Park – for tranquil and picturesque place to take a vacation in Missouri
Perfect for rafting, canoeing, or simply relaxing on the shore, Meramec River is absolutely stunning place to explore and offers sand, lots of green trees, and of course, a lot of water to give you a way to spend the day vegging out and refreshing yourself so that you can prepare yourself for whatever comes next in your life.
The state park is also a one-of-a-kind experience that allows you to enjoy all of the beauty that most state parks offer, so if you’re looking for the perfect way to spend the day with family or friends, this place should definitely be a consideration.
19. Powell Gardens – one of the best places to explore in Missouri
Powell Gardens is located in Kingsville/Kansas City and consists of seven themed gardens, tons of beautiful wildflowers to look at, and unique sections such as the Fountain Garden, the Heartland Harvest Garden, and the Perennial Garden, among others. If you love flowers, natural grasses, and lots of color, you’ll love Powell Gardens.
It is a great place for flower-lovers and nature-lovers alike, and just one trip there will help you understand why this is one of Kansas City’s most popular tourist attractions, especially if you’re a nature lover!
20. Taum Sauk Mountain – is the highest natural point in the state and a scenic place to visit in the Fall
If you love mountains, this is the one you want to look for the next time you visit Missouri. These mountains are at the highest elevations in the entire state and offer views like you’ve never seen before.
From unique rock formations to the majesty of the different nearby forests, you’ll never get tired of hiking to the top of these mountains and looking out at the scenery and the fantastic panoramic views. If you’re anywhere near Highway CC in Ironton, you owe it to yourself to stop by the Taum Sauk Mountain and spend some time there relaxing.
21. Florissant, Missouri – a charming town which calls itself ‘the beautiful city’
The town of Florissant calls itself “the beautiful city,” and with good reason. Located 25 miles from downtown St. Louis, Florissant is the perfect respite from the big city.
It’s lovely but offers much more than that, with its numerous city parks, beautiful and well-kept older buildings and their special charm, a log cabin that dates back to the 1850s, a U.S. fighter jet, and lots of unspoiled land that does a great job of reminding you that you can relax because you are no longer in the middle of the hustle and bustle of the city. If you want to get away from it all and enjoy some beauty of this wonderful state and calmness, this is the place to head to.
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