Considering its unofficial nickname is the “Show Me State,” it’s fitting that Missouri is home to so many must-see American destinations. From one of the tallest man-made monuments in the world to some of the most beautiful and diverse natural landscapes in the country, a visit to Missouri is a feast for the eyes (and, if you like beer and barbecue, a feast of another kind as well). By the time you finish reading this list, you’ll practically be begging: “Show me! Show me!”
The Gateway Arch
You’ve seen it in photos, movies, and TV shows, but nothing beats the awe-inspiring experience of visiting St. Louis’ world-famous monument in person. A memorial to the pioneers who propelled America’s westward expansion, the 630-foot “Gateway to the West” is the tallest arch in the world, the tallest man-made monument in the western hemisphere, and the tallest accessible building in the state. Yes, that’s right, you can go inside! Twin trams in the arch’s legs shuttle visitors to the top every ten minutes, allowing them to enjoy a stunning view of St. Louis and surrounding areas. On a clear day, you can easily see up to 30 miles away!
KC Barbecue Tours
Foodies may fight over who makes the best barbecue, but native Missourians know the truth: Kansas City can’t be beat. Not convinced? Try some for yourself! Since the 1920s, the city has been a barbecue paradise, serving up heaping plates of slow-cooked, spice-rubbed, sauce-slathered goodness. With over 100 barbecue restaurants within city limits, it can be hard to know where to begin. Luckily, KC Barbecue Tours is the perfect option for hungry tourists. Guides take guests on a four-hour excursion sampling dishes from some of the city’s best restaurants, including the historic innovators that put Kansas City on the map. But be warned, four hours may not be enough. This barbecue is so good it might have you eyeing Kansas City homes for sale.
The Budweiser Brewery Experience
Feeling a little parched after scarfing down all that barbecue? How about washing it down with one of the most popular beers in America? Debuting in 1876, Budweiser has made Anheuser-Busch the largest brewing company in the country, and it all started at the St. Louis brewery that still serves as the organization’s headquarters to this day. Now a U.S. National Historic Landmark, thirsty visitors can order a tasty beverage at the Biergarten, see the famous Budweiser Clydesdales in their stables, follow the entire beer-making process from hops ‘n’ barley to golden lager, and even get a hands-on lesson in brewing 101.
Ha Ha Tonka State Park
Comprising 3,700 acres of majestic Missouri forest along the Lake of the Ozarks, Ha Ha Tonka (said to mean “smiling waters”) is a treasure trove of scenic overlooks, natural bridges, sheer bluffs, caves, sinkholes, and springs. Over 15 miles of trails and boardwalks wind through the park’s breathtaking sights, with ample opportunities for hiking, camping, picnicking, boating, and swimming. Most incredible of all is Ha Ha Tonka’s most unique feature: the ruins of a turn-of-the-century European-style castle! The legacy of a wealthy Kansas City businessman, the castle was largely destroyed by a fire in 1942. What remains now are towering stone walls, arches, and stairways that make every visit to Ha Ha Tonka feel like stepping into a fairy tale.