Considering a trip to Missouri this year? Here are some of the most beautiful places to visit in Missouri. These captivating sights and destinations are sure to astound you.
As you embark on the journey to uncover the most beautiful places in Missouri, prepare yourself for a wonderful surprise. Missouri nicknamed the “Show-Me State,” has plenty to show indeed. Its beauty unfolds in all four corners, from the rolling hills of the Ozarks to the bustling city streets of Kansas City and St. Louis. If you’re wondering where to go in Missouri, get ready to be spoiled for choice.
An adventure in Missouri isn’t just about the destination – it’s about the journey too. Imagine yourself driving down scenic routes, lined with verdant forests and picturesque farmlands, on your way to some of the best places in Missouri. Take time to witness the changing hues of the sky at sunrise and sunset. This transforms the state into an artist’s canvas.
Are you a history enthusiast, an outdoor adventurer, or a city explorer? Whatever your travel preferences, the most scenic places in Missouri are waiting to be discovered. Each city, each natural wonder, and every unique place to visit in Missouri has a story to tell. Enrich your understanding of this diverse state.
By visiting Missouri, you’re signing up for a trip full of remarkable contrasts. The state beautifully blends the old with the new, rural with urban, and tranquility with vivacious life. We’ve curated a list of the must-see in Missouri to help you plan a memorable trip. So, fasten your seat belts and start your virtual journey of exploring the beautiful places of Missouri.
The Most Beautiful Places to Visit in Missouri
Ready to explore all the most beautiful spots in Missouri? As highlighted, this Midwest gem has something for everyone. Continue reading to unveil the stunning scenery in Missouri.
Are you in search of picturesque cityscapes and rich cultural attractions? Or do you desire a tranquil retreat in nature? Regardless of your preferences, Missouri is ready to meet your needs. Here are all the top locations in MO you should be aware of:
1. Lake of the Ozarks
Tucked away in the heartland of Missouri, the Lake of the Ozarks is more than just a summer getaway. It’s one of the most beautiful places in Missouri and a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, offering activities year-round. Stretching over 92 miles, the serpentine lake is an absolute paradise for boating, fishing, and waterskiing.
Picture yourself cruising down the waters, the wind gently tussling your hair as you marvel at the magnificent bluffs that hug the shoreline. The Ozark hills rise around the lake, cloaked in verdant greenery during summer and awash with fiery hues in autumn. This makes it one of the prettiest places in Missouri.
Apart from aquatic adventures, the lake’s surroundings beckon explorers with excellent hiking trails. Visit the Ha Ha Tonka State Park and prepare to be captivated by its natural beauty and historic ruins. The Ozark Caverns, with their fascinating formations, offer another reason for the Lake of the Ozarks to be high on your list of Missouri’s beautiful places.
The lake area also embraces the nightlife, with a plethora of lakeside restaurants, bars, and music venues. It’s truly a place that never sleeps, echoing Missouri’s vibrant spirit.
Nestled in the heart of the Ozark Mountains, Branson is where entertainment meets natural beauty. It’s no wonder, then, that it has a spot as one of the best places in Missouri. Renowned for its vibrant live music scene, it’s often compared to Las Vegas, albeit with a distinct country flair.
Branson’s fame extends beyond its dazzling theatres, though. It’s home to three pristine lakes – Table Rock, Taneycomo, and Bull Shoals, each offering unique recreational opportunities. If you’re a fan of fishing, boating, or simply relishing beautiful sunsets, these are the places to visit in Missouri.
Nature lovers will appreciate the awe-inspiring beauty of Dogwood Canyon Nature Park. It has tree-lined paths, trout-filled streams, and impressive waterfalls. The picturesque scenery makes it one of the most pretty places in Missouri. This makes it special during spring when dogwood trees bloom in all their glory.
Thrill-seekers can get their adrenaline pumping at Silver Dollar City, a renowned 1880s-themed amusement park. Here, the past and the present collide, offering exciting rides, artisanal craft demonstrations, and historical exhibits.
Whether it’s fun-filled family vacation or a serene retreat you seek, Branson offers an irresistible blend of attractions, cementing its status as a beautiful place in Missouri.
3. Gateway Arch National Park, St. Louis
Standing tall at 630 feet, the gleaming Gateway Arch in St. Louis is a symbol of Missouri and a monument to the country’s westward expansion. This iconic structure, the tallest man-made monument in the U.S., offers a views of the cityscape. It earns its place among the most beautiful places in Missouri.
But there’s more to the Gateway Arch National Park than the arch itself. The beautifully landscaped grounds provide an urban oasis, perfect for picnics, leisurely walks, or simply soaking up the sunshine.
Visit the Museum at the Gateway Arch, located beneath the Arch. This is where exhibits chronicle the story of the city and the Arch’s construction. The Old Courthouse, an important site for its role in the Dred Scott case, shows the Civil Rights Movement’s history.
Your visit won’t be complete without experiencing the thrilling tram ride to the top of the Arch. From there, you can gaze upon the mighty Mississippi River and the city of St. Louis below you.
Whether you’re a history buff, an architecture enthusiast, or a lover of stunning vistas, the Gateway Arch National Park is one of the must-sees in Missouri.
4. Mark Twain National Forest
Spanning over 1.5 million acres across the Missouri Ozarks, the Mark Twain National Forest is a treasure trove of natural beauty. It’s the heart of the state’s wild, filled with dense woodlands, crystal-clear rivers, and mystical caves. This wilderness undoubtedly ranks high among the most beautiful places in Missouri.
This sprawling forest offers endless possibilities for outdoor enthusiasts. Explore over 750 miles of trails perfect for hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, and even off-road vehicle use. Wander beneath the towering pines, through fields of wildflowers, or along scenic riverbanks.
Water sports enthusiasts will be drawn to the forest’s 350 miles of perennial streams, perfect for canoeing, kayaking, and fishing. The crystalline waters of the Current and Jacks Fork Rivers make up the Ozark National Scenic Riverways. This si the first national park area to protect a river system.
For an underground adventure, don’t miss out on visiting some of the state’s most intriguing caves within the forest boundaries. Round Spring Caverns offers guided tours, taking visitors through an alien landscape of stunning formations.
With its abundance of flora and fauna, the Mark Twain National Forest is an oasis of tranquility and one of the most scenic places in Missouri.
5. Kansas City
Don’t let the name confuse you – Kansas City is very much in Missouri, and it’s one of the most beautiful cities in Missouri to visit. Known for its jazz music, scrumptious barbecues, and a vibrant arts scene, Kansas City offers a mix of urban sophistication and Midwestern charm.
Start your tour with the Country Club Plaza, the city’s premier shopping and dining district. It’s notable for its Spanish-style architecture, adorned with colorful tiles and numerous fountains. Speaking of fountains, Kansas City boasts more than Rome – hence its nickname, “City of Fountains”.
Art lovers will enjoy the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, housing comprehensive collections from around the world. Meanwhile, the Crossroads Arts District, known for its First Fridays, features a wealth of galleries, boutiques, and food trucks.
Kansas City’s charm isn’t confined to its city limits. Just outside the city, you’ll find the Powell Gardens, Missouri’s botanical garden, offering 970 acres of stunning landscapes. Its features include a butterfly conservatory, a wildflower meadow, and themed gardens – a true beautiful place in Missouri.
With its dynamic vibe and diverse attractions, Kansas City is unquestionably a must-see in Missouri.
6. Roaring River State Park
A gem in the heart of the Ozark Mountains, the Roaring River State Park is a paradise for nature lovers and outdoor adventurers. Known for its premier trout fishing, scenic hiking trails, and the breathtaking Roaring River Spring, it’s one of the most beautiful places in Missouri.
Anglers from all over are drawn to the park’s crystal clear river, stocked daily during the season. Whether you’re an experienced fisherman or a first-timer, the thrill of catching your own rainbow trout is unmatched.
Hiking enthusiasts will find seven different trails ranging from easy to challenging. The trails meander through various landscapes, including woodlands, glades, springs, and even an old settlers’ homestead. It’s not just about the destination; the journey itself is a visual treat in this pretty place in Missouri.
Don’t forget to explore the park’s Nature Center, featuring exhibits on the area’s natural history, and the Ozark Chinquapin Nature Center, which offers interpretive programs about the park’s unique features.
Whether you’re camping under the stars, engaging in a riveting fishing expedition, or exploring the rugged Ozark terrain, a visit to Roaring River State Park is a must-see in Missouri.
7. Elephant Rocks State Park
If you’re seeking an extraordinary natural spectacle, Elephant Rocks State Park should be high on your list of beautiful places in Missouri. Named after the colossal elephant-like granite boulders, this unique park captivates visitors with its unusual landscape and fascinating geological history.
The one-mile Braille Trail, designed especially for people with visual and physical disabilities, loops around the park’s main attractions. Along the way, you’ll encounter giant rounded boulders, some of them reaching a height of 27 feet, resembling a herd of elephants.
Carvings on some rocks reveal the names of nineteenth-century miners who worked in the area, providing a glimpse into the park’s past. A short detour off the trail takes you to the remnants of an old quarry, a testament to the area’s rich mining heritage.
Kids and adults alike will enjoy clambering on the rocks and exploring the various nooks and crannies. Don’t forget to climb atop “Dumbo,” the largest boulder, and soak in the beautiful views of the surrounding woods.
Imbued with a sense of wonder and a touch of history, Elephant Rocks State Park is a truly unique place to visit in Missouri.
8. Ha Ha Tonka State Park
Immersed in natural beauty and intriguing history, the Ha Ha Tonka State Park near Camdenton is an absolute treat for explorers. With its castle ruins, stunning lake views, sinkholes, caves, and diverse natural habitats, it’s one of the most beautiful places in Missouri.
The park’s star attraction is the Ha Ha Tonka Castle, a majestic mansion built in the early 20th century and gutted by fire in 1942. The ruins, perched on a bluff, offer panoramic views of the Lake of the Ozarks and the surrounding landscapes, creating a picture-perfect setting.
The park’s rugged geology is showcased in its natural bridges, springs, and sinkholes, some of the largest in the state. Hike the park’s 15 miles of trails, each offering a unique perspective of its beauty. You’ll traverse scenic lakeside paths, blufftop woodlands, and shady glades, encountering fascinating rock formations along the way.
The Spring Trail leads to one of Missouri’s largest springs, an awe-inspiring sight, especially after heavy rains when it gushes with life. The park is also home to several caves, including the Whitney Cave, named after the park’s former owner.
Combining history, geology, and spectacular scenery, Ha Ha Tonka State Park is a beautiful place in Missouri that has something for everyone.
9. Forest Park, St. Louis
Sprawling across 1,300 acres, Forest Park in St. Louis is one of the largest urban parks in the United States. Home to some of the city’s prime attractions, it’s an indispensable stop on any tour of the best places in Missouri.
You’ll be spoiled for choice with the number of free, world-class attractions in the park. These include the St. Louis Art Museum, with its vast collection of artworks spanning five millennia; the Missouri History Museum, documenting the city’s past; and the St. Louis Zoo, featuring over 600 species of animals.
Recreational opportunities abound in Forest Park. This includes everything from boating on the Grand Basin to golfing on one of the park’s two golf courses. Or, simply going for a stroll or bike ride on the park’s scenic trails.
In summer, catch a performance at The Muny, the country’s largest outdoor theater. Or, enjoy the beauty of the Jewel Box, a magnificent Art Deco-style greenhouse filled with tropical flora.
With its blend of cultural institutions, recreational activities, and beautiful landscapes, Forest Park is truly one of the prettiest places in Missouri.
10. Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park
Nestled in the St. Francois Mountains, Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park is a geological wonder and a premier destination for outdoor recreation. This makes it one of the most beautiful places in Missouri.
The park’s namesake shut-ins are a series of natural pools, chutes, and waterfalls carved into the bedrock by the relentless force of the East Fork Black River. These “shut-ins” create a natural waterpark, perfect for a refreshing dip on a hot summer day.
Hikers will appreciate the park’s scenic trails, which traverse a variety of habitats. The Scour Trail takes you to the site of a historic reservoir break, showcasing nature’s power and resilience.
Wildlife watchers can look out for creatures such as white-tailed deer, turkey, and a variety of birds. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a bobcat or black bear!
For an extended stay, the park offers campsites and cabins for rent. There’s also a visitor center with interactive exhibits about the park’s natural features.
With its unique geology and rich biodiversity, Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park is indeed a beautiful place in Missouri that’s perfect for nature lovers.
11. Blue Spring: Missouri’s hidden gem
Tucked away in the heart of the Ozarks lies one of Missouri’s most stunning natural wonders: Blue Spring. Often referred to as the “Gem of the Ozarks,” its mesmerizing deep-blue waters captivate the souls of all who gaze upon it.
As one of the largest springs in the state, Blue Spring pumps out an astonishing 90 million gallons of water daily. The depth of its azure waters reaches an impressive 310 feet, creating a surreal contrast against the lush green forests that surround it. The clarity of the water is so pristine that on a calm day, it feels like peering into the depths of another world.
But the allure of Blue Spring isn’t just in its appearance. The spring holds rich historical and cultural significance. Native American artifacts dating back thousands of years have been discovered in the area, bearing testimony to the generations that revered this natural wonder.
Visitors to Blue Spring can embark on a serene trail, which offers breathtaking vistas of the spring and culminates in an observation deck. It truly provides the perfect vantage point. Canoeing and kayaking nearby on the Current River also offer unique perspectives of this Missouri treasure.
In a state filled with natural beauty, Blue Spring stands out as a must-visit spot in Missouri. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, a photographer, or someone seeking solace in the outdoors, Blue Spring will leave a lasting imprint long after your visit.
12. Dogwood Canyon Nature Park
Nestled in the southern part of the Show-Me State, Dogwood Canyon Nature Park is a true testament to Missouri’s untamed beauty. Spanning 10,000 acres of pristine Ozark landscapes, this park is more than just a getaway. It’s also an immersive journey through nature’s finest tapestries.
At every turn, cascading waterfalls greet visitors, each more enchanting than the last. Limestone bluffs tower overhead, bearing witness to millennia of nature’s artistry. And amid it all, the crystal-clear streams meander gracefully, teeming with rainbow trout, creating an angler’s paradise.
The park’s name is no accident. Come spring, the canyon is adorned with the delicate blossoms of dogwood trees, painting a scene right out of a fairy tale. And for the wildlife enthusiasts? From majestic elk to playful otters, the park offers a rare glimpse into the vibrant lives of Ozark inhabitants.
Trails, both paved and unpaved, beckon hikers and bikers alike, ensuring a journey tailored to every adventurer’s preference. Horseback rides, wildlife tram tours, and even private jeep tours are available for those looking to explore deeper.
For a taste of Missouri that’s both raw and refined, untouched yet accessible, Dogwood Canyon Nature Park is the destination. It’s not just about witnessing beauty; it’s about experiencing the very soul of the Ozarks. If you’re plotting your next nature escape, make sure Dogwood Canyon is at the top of your list. After all, true beauty awaits where nature remains unspoiled.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Visiting the Beautiful Places in Missouri
Want to enhance your understanding of the most picturesque locales in Missouri? Here are some common inquiries I often receive about the top attractions and activities in Missouri.
What are the best places to visit in Missouri?
Missouri is packed with beautiful places to visit. Some of the best include the vibrant city of St. Louis, the charming small town of Hannibal, the stunning Ozark National Scenic Riverways, the enchanting Meramec Caverns, the peaceful Lake of the Ozarks, and the historic Forest Park.
What are some unique places to visit in Missouri?
Missouri offers a variety of unique attractions. The Elephant Rocks State Park is known for its massive, elephant-like boulders. Not far away, the Ha Ha Tonka State Park features intriguing castle ruins. Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park is a natural waterpark formed by the East Fork Black River.
What are the most beautiful cities in Missouri?
St. Louis and Kansas City are arguably the most beautiful cities in Missouri. It offers a mix of urban landscapes, historic architecture, and scenic parks. The small towns of Hermann, with its German heritage and wineries, and Weston, with its historic district, are also quite charming.
Where should I go in Missouri for nature?
The Ozark National Scenic Riverways, Mark Twain National Forest, Lake of the Ozarks, and the Roaring River State Park are excellent choices for nature lovers visiting Missouri. These locations offer opportunities for hiking, fishing, boating, and wildlife viewing.
What are the must-see places in Missouri?
The Gateway Arch in St. Louis is a must-see, as are the Meramec Caverns. Forest Park, home to numerous museums and the St. Louis Zoo, is another must-visit destination. For literary enthusiasts, a visit to Mark Twain’s Boyhood Home in Hannibal is a must.
What is the most scenic area of Missouri?
The Ozark National Scenic Riverways, encompassing parts of the Current and Jacks Fork Rivers, is often hailed as the most scenic area in Missouri. This region is known for its clear, spring-fed waterways, rugged bluffs, and diverse flora and fauna.
What is the most visited site in Missouri?
The most visited site in Missouri is the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. This iconic monument, the world’s tallest arch, offers incredible views of the city and the Mississippi River and is a symbol of the city’s role in westward expansion.
What is the most photographed place in Missouri?
The Gateway Arch in St. Louis is the most photographed place in Missouri. As the tallest man-made monument in the Western Hemisphere and a symbol of westward expansion in the United States, it draws millions of visitors annually. Its iconic, gleaming stainless steel structure can be captured from countless angles. This reflects the changing moods of the sky and the surrounding cityscape.
Whether viewed from ground level, from a riverboat on the Mississippi, or from the top looking out, the Gateway Arch offers a myriad of photogenic opportunities, making it a favorite for both professional photographers and tourists alike.
What’s the prettiest city in Missouri?
Missouri boasts several picturesque cities, each with its own unique charm and appeal. However, many consider Branson to be among the prettiest. Set against the backdrop of the Ozark Mountains, Branson is known for its natural beauty, sparkling lakes, and scenic landscapes.
The city offers a mix of entertainment. This includes everything from world-class shows and attractions to serene nature trails and water activities on Table Rock Lake. The historic downtown area, the Branson Landing with its fountain show, and the Ozark Mountain High Road are just a few of the visual treats awaiting visitors. Whether it’s the fall foliage, the shimmering waters, or the twinkling lights during the holiday season, Branson consistently captivates with its picturesque settings.
Final Thoughts on Visiting Beautiful Places in Missouri
In the heartland of America, Missouri is an underappreciated gem offering a captivating blend of urban energy, historical intrigue, and nature’s finest. From its bustling cities adorned with architectural marvels to the serene landscapes of its state parks, the Show-Me State showcases a myriad of spectacles at every turn.
Whether you’re immersing yourself in the rich cultural fabric of St. Louis or Kansas City, embarking on an outdoor adventure in the Ozarks, or exploring the sublime beauty of Elephant Rocks State Park, there’s never a dull moment when you’re visiting Missouri.
Each corner of this beautiful state has a story to tell, a scene to admire, or an experience to relish. So pack your bags and set your sights on these most beautiful places in Missouri. Discover the heart of America, and let the Show-Me State show you its wonder.