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missouri mapFirst settled by the French in the 17th century, the U.S. acquired the Missouri territory with the Louisiana Purchase in 1802, later entering the Union as part of the Missouri Compromise of 1820.

With the coming of the Civil War, Missouri was a hotbed of contention and split allegiances between North and South, sometimes even within families. However, the state remained in the Union while supplying troops to both U.S. and Confederate armies.

The state was also the main depot for 19th century settlers making their way out west, with Independence, Missouri beginning the first leg of the Santa Fe Trail, and St. Joseph, Missouri serving as the jumping off point for the Pony Express.

Today, major tourist attractions in Missouri include the iconic Gateway Arch in St. Louis, spectacular musical variety shows featured in Branson, as well as the awe-inspiring natural beauty of the Missouri Ozarks.

Owing to its colorful past, Missouri is also a top draw for those looking for authentic Americana at such attractions as the Arabia Steamboat Museum in Kansas City, Mark Twain's boyhood home in Hannibal, the Harry S. Truman home and library in Independence, the Pony Express Museum and Jesse James Museum in St. Joseph.

missouri tourist attractions
Top Missouri tourist attractions include live entertainment and amusement park rides in Branson (left); trips up to the observation area of the Gateway Arch in St. Louis (middle); and the natural beauty of the Missouri Ozarks (right).

Kid Friendly Missouri

Zooline Railroad at
St. Louis Zoo

When touring with family, most travel experts agree: all the fun starts in Springfield!

For the number and variety of attractions for toddlers to teens, Springfield makes traveling with family fun and effortless, beginning with a tour of Fantastic Caverns, America's only ride-through cave. Or, head straight into town to the Discovery Center of Springfield where kids can dig for dinosaurs and explore the inner workings of a giant eyeball!

For loads of outdoor fun, also make your way to the charming Dickerson Park Zoo proving that big things come in small packages with exhibits perfectly scaled to kids and toddlers.

For teens and older kids, make your way to Pythian Castle offering up an interesting history, a spooky ghost tour, and special events throughout the year. More teen fun awaits at 1984 -- a very cool mix of fun and nostalgia with unlimited play of 80's video arcade games.

.In Kansas City, spend a day exploring Swope Park, the city's largest urban green space where kids get can get up close and personal with more than a thousand different animals at the Kansas City Zoo. Also, check out the Anita B. Gorman Discovery Center (a ten minute walk from the shopping center) featuring 8 acres of gardens, a play area, and educational exhibits.

Toddlers in tow? There's hands-on excitement aplenty at Kaleidoscope where kids can create their own arts and crafts projects at free workshops sponsored by Hallmark.

In St. Louis, take a walk on the wild side at the Saint Louis Zoo with a ride aboard the Zooline Railroad for a narrated tour, or spend a pleasant afternoon at the Missouri Botanical Garden where the children's garden (open April to October) offers kid-friendly attractions such as a water slide, a steamboat ride, and a mysterious limestone cave to explore.

DID YOU KNOW? Missouri Travel Fun Facts

Underground nuptials
at Bridal Cave

The Bridal Cave in Camdenton has hosted more than 2,000 weddings since it first opened in 1949, becoming the state's most popular underground venue to tie the knot.

• Missouri is the original home of the ice cream cone, Aunt Jemima pancake mix, iced tea, cotton candy, and and soft drinks Dr. Pepper and 7-Up.

• Open to visitors for touring, the Anheuser-Busch brewery in St. Louis is the largest beer producing plant in the nation.

• Besides beer, the state's rich German immigrant heritage is proudly on display at a variety of wine and wurst festivals in Hermann, MO throughout the year.

• Famous Missourians include writers Mark Twain, Maya Angelou, T.S. Elliot, and Tennessee Williams, actors Brad Pitt, Dick Van Dyke, and Jon Hamm, and singer Cheryl Crow.


also see -> Missouri Campgrounds | Christmas in Missouri | Missouri Outlet Malls

Missouri Lakes & Beaches
| Missouri Fall Foliage |
Kansas City Air Show


More about Missouri travel spots around the Web:


Welcome to Missouri - The official travel site with guides to where to go and what to do, restaurants & hotels, outdoor activities, event calendar, trip ideas, travel tips, maps & weather information.

Missouri Tourist Attractions - Check out USA Today's travel guides to places to see in and around Branson, St. Charles, St. Louis and more.

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