The St. Louis Arch, known as the Gateway to the West, is probably Missouri’s greatest claim to fame. Located in the heart of St. Louis, the arch stands 630 feet tall and, from the top, affords visitors a bird’s-eye view of the St. Louis skyline. But visitors to the Show Me State will find even more fun after descending back down into the city of St. Louis.
For a taste of local history and flavor, try Laclede’s Landing. In 1820, one year before the state’s acceptance into the Union, the first Missouri legislature convened in a hotel on this very spot. Nowadays, Laclede’s is St. Louis’s only riverfront entertainment destination located directly on the Mississippi River. Its cobblestone streets are populated by more than 20 bars, restaurants and attractions.
Follow the Mississippi River north to visit Tom Sawyer’s cave in Hannibal, just 38 miles from Mark Twain’s hometown of Florida, Missouri. Then, head west to stop off at Legoland Discovery Center in Kansas City. The $15 million facility spans 30,000 square feet and features miniature mock-ups of some of Kansas City’s most beautiful skyline highlights.
Heading south, the northern Missouri plains fade into the distance as steep inclines, deep valleys and jagged cliffs appear on the horizon. Branson, nicknamed the Live Entertainment Capital of the World, is home to more than 100 live shows that draw tourists and locals alike. Tribute shows like the Johnny Cash Songbook bring the crowds, but the venue also hosts live performances by acts like George Jones and the Oak Ridge Boys.
Once the whole crew is whistling a tune, head for Big Cedar Lodge, just a short drive from Branson’s Music Row. This rustic, cabin-style resort rests on the shores of southern Missouri’s beautiful Table Rock Lake. The lodge offers watercraft rentals at the nearby marina, horseback riding at Dogwood Canyon Nature Park, and horseshoeing.
For a hearty meal alongside some solid entertainment, head over to the Buzzard Bar at Big Cedar Lodge, where Clay Self, the legendary Singin’ Cowboy, has been entertaining guests for nearly two decades.