Have you ever visited the amazing state of Missouri? If not, it’s high time you did. This beautiful state is chock-full of great things to see and do, including outdoor activities, museums, historic sites, and a whole lot more. Whether you prefer checking out cool architecture, learning new things, or seeing bizarre roadside attractions that you won’t soon forget, you’re sure to find something fun to fill your time during your Missouri getaway.
The only problem? Deciding which things you should do during your visit. This is where a Missouri bucket list comes into play. A bucket list can help you narrow down your options, ensuring you see the things that are most important to you during your trip to the Show-Me State.
What is a Bucket List?
If you’re not sure what a bucket list is, you’re not alone. Therefore, we are going to take a minute to touch on the subject so everyone is on the same page before we go any further.
Essentially, a bucket list is a collection of things you’d like to accomplish before you die. This might include people to meet, places to visit, experiences to have, or even foods to try. In some cases, people keep all of their bucket list items on a single list. We prefer to keep multiple travel bucket lists for all the places we hope to visit someday. This helps us stay organized, and makes planning future trips a breeze.
In this article we are going to share our Missouri bucket list with you. Hopefully this travel list gives you some bucket list ideas so you can create an awesome list of your own for when you visit the Show-Me State.
— Bucket List Vacations: Missouri’s National Parks —
Some of our favorite Missouri bucket list items are the national parks sites found here. From national monuments to historic trails, there is an NPS site for everyone in this state, and we recommend checking out as many as possible. Be sure to add a few of these to your Missouri bucket list.
#1. Gateway Arch National Park
A memorial to Thomas Jefferson’s role in opening the West, Gateway Arch National Park is the perfect place to learn about westward expansion. Discover how St. Louis helped pioneers and explorers as they headed west, and learn what this expansion meant for the country.
#2. George Washington Carver National Monument
As a young child, George Washington Carver was known as the “plant doctor.” This determined young man tended his garden in secret while also helping run a 19th-century farm. As an adult, his observations and studies paid off when he became a renowned agricultural scientist.
#3. Harry S. Truman National Historic Site
Harry S. Truman was an interesting man who definitely deserves to be learned about. Discover more about the life and work of this determined man at the Harry S. Truman National Historic Site.
#4. Ozark National Scenic Riverways
The first NPS site established to protect a river area, the Ozark National Scenic Riverways is an absolutely beautiful place. Float with the current, go for a swim, or cast a fishing line. Whatever you decide to do, be sure to take some time to appreciate the natural beauty of the place.
#5. Ste. Genevieve National Historical Park
Ste. Genevieve was the first permanent European settlement in the state of Missouri. It was established by 1750 by early French Canadian settlers who were drawn to the area by rich agricultural land. After a flood in 1785, the town relocated to higher ground just a few miles away and still stands there today.
#6. Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site
Known to most as a heroic Civil War general and the 18th president of the United States, Ulysses S. Grant was a fascinating man. Learn more about him, his work, and his family at this NPS site.
#7. Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield
The first major battle fought west of the Mississippi River during the Civil War, Wilson’s Creek Battle resulted in a costly southern victory. This NPS site commemorates and interprets the battle, giving visitors a way to learn about and connect with the past.
#8. National Historic Trails
Of course, there are also the many national historic trails that weave their way around the state. Each of these is special and well worth seeing, especially if you can get to a visitor center.
- Trail of Tears National Historic Trail
- Pony Express National Historic Trail
- Oregon National Historic Trail
- Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail
- California National Historic Trail
— More Missouri Bucket List Experiences —
Of course, national park sites aren’t the only attractions that deserve to be on your Missouri bucket list. The museums, restaurants, attractions, and other options listed below are 100% bucket list worthy. Check them out to see which ones need to be on your travel list.
#9. Go Underground at Fantastic Caverns
Caves are scattered all over the state of Missouri, and a good number of them can be toured. One of our favorite cave tours in the state is the one that takes you into Fantastic Caverns. This cave is located in Springfield, MO and offers a completely ride-through tour, meaning absolutely anyone can enjoy the amazing features found deep underground.
#10. See the Walt Disney Hometown Museum
Are you a Disney fan? If so, you’re going to love the Walt Disney Hometown Museum in Marceline, MO. This little town is where Walt grew up, and the museum tells visitors all about his childhood, as well as his adult life and work. It is an interesting and fun place to learn about the creator of our beloved Mickey Mouse.
#11. Step Back in Time at the Titanic Museum
The story of the Titanic is a fascinating one, to say the least. Imagining yourself in the shoes of those aboard this ship is terrifying, but also incredibly intriguing, which is what makes this immersive museum one of the best history museums we’ve ever visited. This is a must-see for history buffs, but is fun even if you aren’t a big history nerd.
#12. Seek Out the Joplin Spooklight
Those who enjoy a good scare are sure to love the Joplin Spooklight. This light is rumored to appear between 10 and midnight most nights. It moves around down the road, sometimes zooming quickly, sometimes bobbing in place, but never getting any closer. Nobody knows where the light comes from, but there are plenty of spooky theories out there.
#13. Ride the Branson Scenic Railway
Hop aboard the Branson Scenic Railway for a beautiful and exciting ride through the Ozark Mountains that the whole family is sure to love. If you can, visit during the fall when the leaves are changing colors; this makes for an especially beautiful landscape that you likely won’t be able to get enough of.
#14. Check Out the Jefferson Barracks Telephone Museum
A weird yet oddly interesting place, the Jefferson Barracks Telephone Museum is a must-see for anyone who loves old technology. This museum follows the timeline of the telephone and has a huge number of antique and vintage telephones on display. Additionally, there are interactive exhibits, making this fun for everyone.
#15. Play at City Museum
City Museum is actually less a museum and more a gigantic art piece that fills an entire warehouse, and which visitors are encouraged to climb on and explore. There are tunnels, giant slides, secret passages that lead to other rooms, and more. Make sure you come prepared to have an absolute blast, because that’s what is going to happen.
#16. Admire the Precious Moments Chapel
The Precious Moments Chapel is a place that all fans of Precious Moments should see at least once. The whole place is decorated with the tear-drop eyed children of the Precious Moments line, and tours of the chapel are conducted on a daily basis.
#17. Scramble to the Top of the Elephant Rocks
The rocks in Elephant Rock State Park are tons of fun to see and even more fun to climb on. These boulders are lined up in such a way that they almost perfectly resemble a line of elephants marching along, trunk-to-tail. It’s one of those things you’ll definitely want to take a photo of!
#18. Learn at the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum
How much do you know about President Truman? If you’re like most people, the answer is not much. Therefore, we highly recommend heading to the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum to learn more about the life and times of this man. You might be surprised what you learn.
#19. Walk the HaHa Tonka Castle Ruins
Robert Snyder set out to build a mansion modeled after a castle to retire in. Unfortunately, he died before his project could be completed, but his son picked up where he left off and had the castle completed. Today, the ruins of this castle are a part of the Ha Ha Tonka State Park and are tons of fun to explore.
#20. Visit Mark Twain’s Boyhood Home
Most of us have read at least one book by famed author Mark Twain. When you visit his boyhood home, you might just feel like you’ve jumped right into the pages of one of his books. See how the man grew up to have a better understanding of his writings and get a nice little peek into the past.
#21. Take In the Vacuum Cleaner Museum and Factory Outlet
Want another weird option to add to your list? The Vacuum Cleaner Museum and Factory Outlet is a pretty strange place. Here you can see all kinds of old vacuums, as well as some vacuums that were once owned by celebrities. You’ll also learn about the history of this appliance and can even see where vacuum cleaners are made.
#22. Stroll the Missouri Botanical Garden
A stroll around the Missouri Botanical Garden is the perfect break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Here you will be surrounded by a huge number of local and foreign plants as you wander the well manicured grounds. Be sure to stop and smell the flowers as you reflect and refocus in this beautiful place.
#23. Spend Some Time at Leila’s Hair Museum
Okay, so this place is absolutely disgusting, but it’s also pretty darn fascinating. Leila’s Hair Museum is home to an enormous collection of hair. There is hair made into art pieces, hair from celebrities, and even the hair of royalty on display here. Stop in and see what kinds of hair you can find.
#24. Discover the National Blues Museum
Blues music plays a huge role in the culture of the state of Missouri. Learn all about the history of this art form, as well as the way it has influenced both our past and our present at this well-presented and interesting museum. Make sure to attend a live performance as well.
#25. Take Your Family to the Saint Louis Zoo
What if I told you one of the best zoos in the country is also 100% free? That is exactly what the Saint Louis Zoo is, and we definitely recommend checking it out when you’re in the area. Wander the well-kept pathways, play on the fun playgrounds, and see the amazing animals including penguins, big cats, and great apes.
#26. Explore Union Station
A beautiful historic building, Union Station has always been a bustling place. Though train travel is not as popular now, this building is still just as busy as ever. Here you’ll find a restaurant that uses model trains to serve your meal, a fantastic science center, and an amazing model train display that kids absolutely adore.
#27. Chow Down on Some Kansas City Barbecue
Nothing says Kansas City like a heaping plate of delicious, Kansas City-style barbecue. In fact, we’d even go so far as to say you haven’t fully experienced this city without trying some of their brisket, pulled pork, ribs, or their famous burnt ends.
We recommend going to Joe’s Kansas City BBQ to get your grub, but practically anywhere you go will be delicious. Just be prepared to wait in line!
#28. Climb the Taum Sauk Mountain
Missouri may not be the most mountainous place in the country, but it does have some climbs. One of our favorites is the Taum Sauk Mountain. The top of this mountain is the highest point in the state, and hiking to the top is an excellent activity if you’re looking for something outdoorsy to do.
#29. Hike the Ozark Trail
Another great place to hike is the Ozark Trail. While this trail is very long, and we definitely don’t recommend trying to hike the whole thing, choosing one spot and following the trail for a ways will allow you to fully experience the beauty of the Ozark Mountains, which we feel are among the prettiest things in Missouri.
#30. Try Fitz’s Root Beer
No matter where you decide to hike, finishing it off with a Fitz’s Root Beer is always recommended. Whether you choose to head to the actual Fitz’s restaurant for some food to go along with your drink or grab a bottle from the grocery store, you’re sure to enjoy the refreshing taste of this local favorite.
#31. Take a Dip at Johnson Shut-Ins State Park
Missouri summers are hot. Therefore, it makes perfect sense that people adore heading to Johnson Shut-Ins State Park during the hot months. This park has some of the most refreshing swimming in the state, and is well worth a visit for an escape into nature.
#32. Find the “World’s Largest” Things
Some of the more silly attractions in Missouri include several “world’s largest” items. Look for the largest fork, the former largest rocking chair, the largest goose, the biggest ball of twine (or one of them, anyway), and the former largest pecan while in this state, and make sure you take pictures of each!
Clearly, Missouri is a fantastic place to visit and has plenty of awesome ways to fill both your time and your Missouri bucket list. That said, you will need to find places to stay in all the spots you plan to visit. This is where a Missouri RV rental comes into play.
By choosing to stay in an RV, you can rest your head in comfort no matter where in the state you roam, and you won’t find yourself unpacking and repacking the suitcases everytime you move. Seems like a no-brainer to us!