Missouri – Travel guide at Wikivoyage (2024)

Missouri is a state in the American Midwest. In addition to a network of state parks, Missouri is home to Gateway Arch National Park in St. Louis and the Ozark National Scenic Riverways. A much-visited show cave is Meramec Caverns in Stanton. Missouri is home to two of the Midwest's larger citires: Kansas City and St. Louis.



St. Louis Area (St. Louis and St. Charles)
The second largest metro area of Missouri, and home to the Gateway Arch
Kansas City Area (Kansas City, Independence and Lee's Summit)
Largest metro area in Missouri
Central Missouri (Jefferson City and Columbia)
The capital area region and the home of the largest university in Missouri. Jefferson City was once named the "Most Beautiful Small City in America"
Northeast Missouri
Hannibal was the hometown of Mark Twain, who set two of his novels here, and it hosts a Mark Twain museum
Northwest Missouri
Includes St. Joseph, Arrow Rock, and Weston — small town America
Southwest Missouri
Includes the Ozark Mountains, a popular camping area
Southeast Missouri
Includes several national forests which offer outdoor activities, and its rivers offer canoeing and kayaking excursions



  • 1 Jefferson City – state capital
  • 2 Branson – dinner shows, concerts, and lots of tour buses
  • 3 Columbia – college town (home to the University of Missouri)
  • 4 Hannibal – boyhood home of Mark Twain and "The Unsinkable" Molley Brown
  • 5 Kansas City – largest city; blues and BBQ await
  • 6 St. Joseph – where the Wild West began
  • 7 St. Louis – "Gateway to the West", home to the Arch
  • 8 Sedalia – Scott Joplin's kingdom
  • 9 Springfield – "Queen City" of the Ozarks

Other destinations


  • 1 Lake of the Ozarks
  • 2 Ozarks
  • – Between May 1804 and September 1806, 32 men, one woman, and a baby traveled from the plains of the Midwest to the shores of the Pacific Ocean. They called themselves the Corps of Discovery.
  • 3 Ozark National Scenic Riverways – Missouri's only national park consists of the Current and Jacks Fork Rivers. This is the best area in the state for an international backpacker. The park has numerous places to camp. There are many canoe and float trip operators that will provide transportation to and from the river for a reasonable price. While canoeing or floating down the rivers, there are many caves that one can explore, but be careful as bats and the occasional poisionous snake call these home. If you decide to swim in the rivers, be careful and wear some kind of shoe that will stay securely on your feet. The river is full of rocks that are very painful to the feet and the current of the rivers could sweep the shoes right off your feet. It is still a great place to go swimming, especially the Current River. The water on a 6 foot man only rises about neck high in most places and it is spring fed and very cold even on the hottest day. Note: Be prepared if you have an emergency on the river as your cell phone will not work on the river or near it. There are pay phones at some stores along the river. Bring everything you think you may need. Hospitals are scarce and a good drive to get to in this area.
  • 4 Montauk State Park – Located approx. 20 miles (30 km) from either Salem or Licking. The top end of the Current River (not within the boundaries of the national park). Contains a fish hatchery where you can feed the trout being raised there. Also has a lodge, general store, a full service diner-style restaurant, camping and cabins for rent.
  • 5 Mark Twain National Forest – found in various parts of the state from the southwest to the east. Features many campgrounds, hiking trails, and lakes. Some sites of note: Council Bluffs; on Highway DD about 3 miles (5 km) north of Hwy 32 in Iron County. Features a full campground, beach swimming, boat rentals and concessions. Loggers Lake; approx. 10 miles (15 km) from highway 72 in Bunker, follow signs as this place is not on any kind of paved road. Features everything mentioned above except concessions.



Missouri is traditionally considered to be of the South, as-well as the Midwest. The name is pronounced "mizz-UR-ee" or "mizz-UR-uh", although the latter is very seldom heard outside of Missouri.

The United States acquired Missouri as part of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Missouri was admitted as a slave state as part of the Missouri Compromise of 1820. The history of slavery in Missouri began in 1720, predating its establishment as a state. During the American Civil War, Missouri was a hotly contested border state populated by both Union and Confederate sympathizers. It sent armies, generals, and supplies to both sides, maintained dual governments, and endured a bloody neighbor-against-neighbor intrastate war within the larger national war. This both-sidedness is the historical reason for the mixture of regional cultures.

According to William Least Heat-Moon in Blue Highways, St. Louis is the last Eastern city and Kansas City is the first Western city.

Missouri is known as the "Show Me State" – meaning one should back up talk with proof. The slogan is not an official one, but it does appear on the license plates. It is an endearing statement that people from Missouri say, "I'm from Missouri, you have to Show Me!".

Travelers may not have heard much of Missouri, but rest assured that a welcome awaits all. Tourism is a trickle compared to the western or easternmost states, and this is reflected in the treatment of tourists and travelers: strike up a conversation with any Missourian in line at the store, a museum, or a cafe and if you smile and tell them you're "not from around here" you'll have a fount of information all for you.

Tourist information




With varying regions occurring across the state of Missouri, various different accents and dialects can be heard within its borders. The accents of northern Missouri are often recognized as Midwestern, while those in the southern part of the state are of a Southern drawl. In the Ozarks, the dialect is considered to be rooted in Appalachian English, due to the ancestry of many Missourians.

English is the official language of state business in Missouri by law.

A few town pronunciations:

  • Rolla (Raw-Luh)
  • Japan (Jay-Pan)
  • Hayti (Hay-Tie)
  • Nevada (Nuh-VAY-Duh)
  • New Madrid (New MAD-rid)
  • Versailles (Ver-SALES)

A local dialect of French, known as "Missouri French" (or, colloquially, "Paw-Paw French"), used to be commonly spoken throughout the state. Sadly, this dialect of French is moribund, with the only remaining speakers being a handful of elderly people living in isolated mining towns.

Also rarely heard nowadays is at least a Low German dialect in Cole Camp, although there are local efforts to preserve it.

Get in


By plane


Kansas City and St. Louis are served by many major airlines, with international flights from the Caribbean, Canada, Mexico and a transatlantic flight from Frankfurt, Germany to St. Louis. Springfield, Columbia, Cape Girardeau and Joplin also have airports that provide passenger service. A cab ride from the Kansas City airport to downtown is very expensive, costing $35-40. There are numerous public buses providing minimal stop service that will take you there for much less. Inquire about schedules before you arrive, it will save you a lot of money. From the St. Louis airport you can take Metrolink trains into downtown for $3.75 and it includes 1 transfer. The metrolink stops at many popular destinations such as the Delmar Loop, Forrest Park (zoo), Union Station shopping center, Busch Stadium, The Gateway Arch, Lacledes Landing, and the Casino Queen which is in Illinois. This is a very economical way to get around.

By train


Amtrak service is provided to St. Louis and Kansas City from Chicago. Also trains provide service to St. Louis from San Antonio Texas via Dallas and Arkansas, and to Kansas city from Los Angeles. St. Louis has an intermodal station for train and bus passengers, which is easily accessible to public transportation.

By bus


Greyhound and Jefferson Lines bus also serve Missouri and provide regular service to and from many destinations. Jefferson Lines serves Kansas City from Fort Smith, Arkansas, Dallas, Oklahoma City, Omaha, Minneapolis, Fargo, and Winnepeg, Manitoba. Greyhound will bring you in from just about everywhere else. St. Louis is also served by Burlington Trailways from Iowa. Megabus serves Kansas City, Columbia, and St. Louis from Chicago; St. Louis is also served from Bloomington-Normal and Memphis.

By foot


  • The American Discovery Trail connects Missouri with Kansas, Illinois, and both coasts.

Get around


Numerous interstates and highways cross the state.

  • Interstate 70 connects St. Louis and Kansas City via Columbia.
  • Interstate 55 runs from St. Louis along the Mississippi River south towards Memphis. It serves the cities of Cape Girardeau, Sikeston, and Hayti in the bootheel region.
  • Interstate 44 runs from St. Louis to Springfield, Joplin, and on into Oklahoma. Most of the route parallels Historic Route 66. It also serves the cities of St. Clair, Sullivan, Rolla, Waynesville/St. Robert/Fort Leonard Wood, and Lebanon.
  • Interstate 35 runs from Kansas City to the northeast towards Des Moines and to the southwest towards the Kansas suburbs of the Kansas City Metropolitan Area and later on into Wichita, Kansas. The section of the route from the Cameron interchange, with US 36, to the NE corner of the Interstate 435 loop is part of the Chicago-Kansas City Expressway and is co-signed as State Route 110.
  • Interstate 29 runs from Kansas City to the northwest towards Omaha/Council Bluffs. The route begins in Downtown Kansas City and parallels US Highway 71 to the north.
  • Interstate 57 runs a short 20 miles (30 km) and serves Sikeston and Charleston, then onward to Chicago.
  • Interstate 64 runs through the St. Louis metro area and ends at I-70.
  • Interstate 72/ US 36 runs through the northern part of the state from Hannibal to St. Joeseph
  • US Highway 50 runs east-west through the middle of the state. Cities along include: Lee's Summit, Warrensburg, Knob Noster, Sedalia, Jefferson City, and St. Louis. The portion from Sedalia to Lee's Summit is all freeway. There is new freeway being built West of Jefferson City.
  • US Highway 71 runs north-along the western part of the state from Iowa to Arkansas, and connects Kansas City and Joplin on a 4 lane expressway.
  • US Highway 60 runs along the southern portion of the state running from Kentucky to Oklahoma. Between Sikeston and Springfield, all but 60 miles (100 km) is divided highway. West of Springfield, a short connector route (Missouri Highway 360) connects the road with Interstate 44.
  • US Highway 61 north of the St. Louis area (wentzville) is a four lane highway that is called Avenue of the Saints. It is a combination of highways linked together that will take you to St. Paul Minnesota. Most of this route is open expressway, except for Hannibal. It serves Troy, Bowling Green, and Hannibal.

Other notable well traveled highways include:

  • US 36 is an expressway running east and west from St. Joseph to Hannibal. The portion of the highway from the Cameron interchange with Interstate 35, eastward to Hannibal, is part of the Chicago-Kansas City Expressway. It is co-signed State Route 110, to match the Illinois section of the CKC route. Main cities on the route include St. Joseph, Cameron, Chillicothe, Brookfield, Macon, Monroe City.
  • US 54 which will take you from I-70 to Jefferson City via an expressway and to the Lake of the Ozarks tourist destination via a four lane highway from there. This is the fastest way to get to these popular destinations from the east (St. Louis, Chicago, Indianapolis).
  • US 63 is being upgraded in many sections. It cuts pretty much through the middle of the state, north to south. It has a considerable amount of freeway. It serves Kirksville, Macon, Columbia, Jefferson City (all of the aforementioned are on an expressway) Rolla, Houston, Cabool, and West Plains.
  • US 67 will take you from St. Louis to Poplar Bluff and then onward to Little Rock. This is expressway from Fredericktown to Interstate 55, just south of St. Louis.
  • US 65 serves as an expressway from Interstate 44 at Springfield to Branson.
  • MO 7 and 13 provide expressway service from Kansas city to Springfield via Us 71 at Harrisonville.

By train


There is twice daily Amtrak service from St. Louis to Kansas City. Stops include Kirkwood, Washington, Hermann, Jeferson City, Sedalia, Warrensburg, Lee's Summit, and Independence. These trains are tax subsidized with state funds and fares are reasonable. The on-time performance of these trains has improved greatly with the building of new sidings as this line has heavy freight traffic. Amtrak operates 2 other lines.

By bus


Greyhound runs Interstate 44 from St. Louis to Joplin with stops at Rolla, Fort Leonard Wood/St. Robert, Lebanon, Springfield, and Joplin. They run Interstate 70 from St. Louis to Kansas City, stopping in Columbia and Boonville along with other intermediate stops. Both of these lines stop at the St. Louis airport going either way. They also run Interstate 55 south of St. Louis stopping in Cape Girardeau and Sikeston. Jefferson Lines runs from Kansas City to Joplin and Kansas City to points north. Please check schedules as not all buses stop at all intermediate destinations. Bus travel can be expensive within the state with a ticket from St. Louis to Rolla running $31-37 for the 1½ hour trip.

Information on transit can be found here.

By thumb


Along with Oklahoma, Oregon, and Texas, Missouri is one of the few U.S. states that allow foot traffic on all toll-free Interstate highways (except within the city limits of Kansas City and St. Louis). This makes hitchhiking relatively easy.





Hiking, horseback riding, and floating (canoeing or kayaking) are popular outdoor recreational activities. Missouri has an abundance of public parks, protected nature areas, and waterways, as well as an extensive network of hiking trails, that cover the state. Hunting and fishing is extremely common across the state.

Hike the Ozark Trail, a 225 mile (360 km), long distance National Recreational Trail traveling primarily through the Mark Twain National Forest from the Eleven Point River to Onandaga State Park.

Canoe the Ozark National Scenic Riverways, America's first national park for rivers.

Canoe North Fork River or Spring River.

Explore Kansas City and Saint Louis. They are both very interesting cities.

Attend a First Friday art crawl in Kansas City's bohemian Crossroads Art District



Kansas City is known for its barbeque and it has many different places to choose from. Don't pass this up!!!

St. Louis has a neighborhood known as "The Hill". There are many authentic Italian restaurants to choose from. The Hill is south of Interstate 44 between Hampton Avenue and Kingshighway in St. Louis City.

For the rest of the state, expect your typical midwestern fare. Burgers, Steaks, Pork.



Missouri has some of the most permissive alcohol laws in the country. All types of alcohol are available virtually everywhere including grocery stores, gas stations and even drive up liquor stores are common as Missouri law does not permit dry towns or counties. Open container alcohol in plastic glasses is permitted in the Power and Light district of Kansas City. The Delmar Loop in St. Louis has many bars of many different types and live music is common, especially on the weekends. St. James is home to the St. James Winery. They offer free tours and samples. That area also has various other wineries and they are easily accessible from Interstate 44.

Be sure to visit the Anheuser Busch plant in south St. Louis, they offer tours and free samples. It is very easy to get to from Interstate 55.

Be sure to also visit the Boulevard Brewing Company plant near downtown Kansas City, they offer tours and free samples. This is a regional brewery with a more organic taste. It is easily accessible from Interstate 70.

If you are a beer connoisseur and prefer to get off the beaten path to the pastoral countryside, the Piney River Brewing Company is near the Big Piney River in Texas County. Its various brews are available on premise at their BARn, a real farm barn that has been converted into a brewpub, and their product is packaged exclusively in cans to allow for legal use while recreating on Missouri's lakes and rivers, where glass containers are prohibited

Stay safe


Missouri is generally a safe state. Typical safety precautions (such as avoiding seemingly empty urban areas) should be taken in cities.



If you are visiting the rivers in the Ozark National Scenic Riverways, Salem (population 5,000) is the city that most people have to travel through on the way to the rivers and they have 3 lodging facilities, including 1 major national chain. Lock your doors and take anything you don't want to have stolen from your car inside your room with you. This city has a very high theft rate, especially from automobiles parked in the hotel parking lots. Chances are your stuff will be missing if you leave it in your car overnight. Also lock your car tight and make sure that if you have an alarm it is turned on, as a few vehicles have been stolen in the early 2020s.

Severe weather


Missouri lies right in the center of the country's tornado alley, and regularly experiences tornadoes during the spring and summer months. During tornado season weather conditions can change and develop rapidly, so it is important to monitor the weather forecast while traveling in the state. See the tornado safety page for more information.

Go next


  • Kansas - Located to the west of Missouri, Kansas is generally considered the center of the country, at least in geographical terms, and is nicknamed "the Heart of America."
  • Nebraska - Missouri's northwestern neighbor has a rich agricultural heritage, offering visitors a glimpse into America's heartland.
  • Iowa - Rural Iowa lies along Missouri's northern border and provides the opportunity to explore America's agricultural heartland.
  • Illinois - Home of the Midwest's largest city, Chicago, Illinois is to the northeast of Missouri.
  • Kentucky - Missouri's neighbor to the southeast is known for its rolling hills, horses, and rural inhabitants, offering travelers a less-visited but tremendously beautiful destination.
  • Tennessee - Located to the southeast of Missouri, Tennessee offers natural wonders such as the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
  • Arkansas - Missouri's southern neighbor is "the Natural State", home to the Ozark Mountains in the northwest while the south and east of the state has flatter land and shows more of its agricultural heritage.
  • Oklahoma - The state's southwestern border is shared with Oklahoma, which has been a state since only 1907 and retains some of the pioneer spirit from its early days as a frontier, along with a lot of Native American history and culture.
This region travel guide to Missouri is an outline and may need more content. It has a template, but there is not enough information present. If there are Cities and Other destinations listed, they may not all be at usable status or there may not be a valid regional structure and a "Get in" section describing all of the typical ways to get here. Please plunge forward and help it grow!
Missouri – Travel guide at Wikivoyage (2024)
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