You might be wondering how Utah and Missouri are connected. How are we going to draw the line between Utah and Missouri? We aren’t. Instead of using a pattern to highlight the different states. We are going to share them in true random form. That’ll keep you guessing, right?
Missouri was technically the second state I ever called home. I lived in two separate cities, on opposite sides of the state, during two different summers.
It wasn’t a lot of time to live there, but enough to feel like a bit of a local. And enough to share my favorite places for family friendly activities.
Missouri is nicknamed the “Show Me” state, and there are lots of great places Missouri can show off.
Missouri was made a state in 1821, as the 24th state. Currently the population is around 6.1 million.
You would think the capital city is St. Louis, but it’s actually Jefferson City (in the middle of the state).
Missouri ties with Tennessee as the most neighborly state in the union with 8 bordering states.
This is going to be a bit harder to share just 3 highlights. So instead I’ll share the top 3 cities to visit, and a couple of great destinations in each city.
1. St. Louis
There are enough destinations in downtown St. Louis to keep a family entertained for over a week. The main sites to see include the Jefferson Expansion Memorial or Gateway Arch, The St. Louis Zoo, and the Science Center.
The Gateway Arch is an enormous arch dedicated to the expansion of the western states. You take a unique elevator ride to the top of the arch where you can see for miles. It does cost a bit to take the elevator ride, but it is worth it, unless you are extremely claustrophobic. Adults are $10, Children (3-16) are $5, and if you have a national park pass, it’s $7 for the elevator ride. There are a few other attractions in the base of the arch, but I haven’t participated in those.
To make up for the cost of the Gateway Arch, go visit the St. Louis Zoo. This zoo is seriously, the best zoo I’ve ever been to (it even beats the National Zoo in D.C.). Admission to the whole zoo is free, but you will pay for some of their special attractions and events. We paid for the Sea Lion Show. It is totally worth it! A great show, and only $4 per person (ages 3+). They also have a train ride throughout the park, a carousel, and some other fun activities. This is a must see for any family vacation in St. Louis. Check out their website for more information about all the activities they have going on.
The Science Center is another wonderful FREE attraction in downtown St. Louis. They have a ton of hands on activities for kids of all ages, and some great learning experiences. The actual demonstrations and events change from time to time so look at their website to see what is currently happening. We spent several days during the summer visiting this museum.
A couple of honorable mentions in downtown include:
City Museum. This was one of the coolest playgrounds I’ve ever been to. It’s inside an old shoe factory so there is plenty of space and lots to do! You can spend an entire day playing around and discovering. It is $12 per person for ages 3+. Even though I said it’s a playground, it is a playground for all ages. We went with a group of adults and had an absolutely fantastic time! Check out their site for more information and to get hyped for your visit.
Six Flags. I’ve never been to any Six Flags, and we didn’t visit this one because I was pregnant at the time we lived in St. Louis. If your family is into the thrill-seeking roller coaster rides, schedule at least a day for a visit here.
2. Kansas City
I’ve spent a couple of days in Kansas City, and it wasn’t even close to enough time. I also didn’t take any pictures while we were there. So instead of limiting the highlights to my knowledge, I’m going to direct you to their websites and their recommendations.
The Plaza is the only place I have visited. It is absolutely beautiful! Tons of fountains, great gardens and parks, and a shop for everyone’s desires.
Schlitterbahn water park. The website for this park looks fantastic! Thrill seeking meets water with the tallest water slide. There are great spots for all ages. The only ticket information I could find was for season passes.
Kansas City Zoo sounds like another fantastic way to spend the day in Kansas City as a family. Ticket prices are $13.50 for adults, $10.50 for children.
We lived in Springfield, Missouri for a summer. There was as much to do in and around Springfield/Branson as there was in St. Louis.
Not too far up the road from Springfield is the Wild Animal Safari. This is not a typical zoo. You actually drive through the free reign zoo and can get up close and personal with many of the animals. Watch out for the ostriches and the camels. The camels tried to eat our wind guards on our car, and the ostriches like to bite. They have a zedonk in the park (or they did) which is a cross between a zebra and a donkey. Such a cool animal!
You can buy animal feed at the reception area and if you are brave enough, roll down your window and let the animals eat out of your hand. I just tossed the feed close to the car, but usually kept my windows up!
It is a bit pricey to visit, 18.95/adult, 15.95/child, or 63.95 for the “family” package, 2 adults, 2 children. Ages 2 and under are free. If you don’t want to drive your own car through the park, you can take a tour bus.
Branson, Missouri is only about 35-40 minutes from Springfield. There are a ton of family friendly shows in Branson. There is a great shopping area, and a “Duck” tour. The Duck tour is part bus ride part water tour. The tour vehicle actually drives on land, and is a boat in the water. The kids love it and if you time it right, you can watch the shopping area fountain/fire show from the water. It was a great experience. Check out more information about the Branson Landing Shopping Center, and get discounts for shows through the Branson Tourism Center website.
In Springfield, Missouri, there is a drive-thru cave called Fantastic Caverns. You jump on a jeep pulled train and ride thru the cave. There is some pretty amazing history about this cave. It was a speakeasy during prohibition. The original opening was so small a rabbit had to wriggle through it. I won’t give away the rest of the story, but this cave trip is definitely worth the price, $23.50 for adults, $15.50 for children (6-12), or if you have a group of 20 or more, you can get discounted tickets. Try calling the Branson Tourism Center to see if they have discount tickets available.
One city of honorable mention goes to Hannibal, MO. It’s a couple hours North of St. Louis, along the Mississippi River. This city was the hometown of Samuel Clemens, aka, Mark Twain. Spend a day pretending to be Huck Finn, climb the tree where Tom Sawyer watched his own funeral. Learn about Mark Twain’s inspirations and life. They offer riverboat tours and have restored homes from the time period. The Hannibal tourism website can offer more information about discounts, restaurants, and activities.
Well, that’s Missouri in a nutshell. Not a very small nutshell, but there’s just so much to do! What areas have you visited in Missouri? What activities are you going to plan for your next trip? Share your traveling pictures with us using #usabytpe.
Check back next week for another great state highlight!
In case you missed last week’s highlight, Utah: