Missouri has plenty of urban environments to explore, but the smaller towns are the best way to connect with the scenic grassy plains and Ozark forests of the Missouri countryside. Within the towns themselves, you'll find comforting small-town charm, excellent restaurants and shops, as well as plenty of things to do which the whole family can enjoy. 

    From the rich arts and culture of Parkville to the scenic trails of Rocheport, here are the must-visit small towns in Missouri you don't want to miss. 



    Explore essential history from this westward expansion town

    Parkville is a relatively quiet town in Missouri, yet its history is anything but. It was an important town for westward expansion in the 19th century, and you can explore much of that yourself in local museums and historic buildings. 

    Apart from history, you'll find delicious restaurants that mostly offer American fare and cafe treats. Don't forget to check out the local shops as well, including boutiques offering vintage clothing and handmade crafts and antiques that show off the local culture.


    photo by Americasroof (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified



    Enjoy a Southern small-town charm

    Boonville is home to undeniable Southern, small-town charm, so expect a friendly greeting whether you enter a store, a restaurant, or just pass by someone on the street. You’ll find many fascinating historical landmarks, one of which is the Mitchell Antique Motorcar Museum, dedicated to rare and valuable antique vehicles and memorabilia. The Old Jail and Hanging Barn is the longest-running jail in Missouri – it once housed the brother of outlaw Jesse James. 

    If you enjoy the outdoors, the Katy Trail State Park and Warm Springs Ranch are both by Boonville, both offering extensive hiking and biking trails that meander through rugged wilderness. The Katy Trail spans 240 miles, making it the longest recreational rail-trail in the USA.


    photo by Paul Sableman (CC BY 2.0) modified


    Ste. Genevieve

    Explore numerous historical sites and aged architecture

    In Ste. Genevieve, you won't have to look far for historical sites. Some of its most famous landmarks are the Bolduc House Museum and the Felix Valle House State Historic Site.

    This town is the oldest permanent European settlement in Missouri, as it was founded by French Canadians centuries ago. Because of this, you'll find an unmistakable French flair in the local culture. This is most prominently displayed in Ste. Genevieve's wineries and vineyards, as well as the local architecture and decor of several public buildings and inns.


    photo by Andrew Balet (CC BY 3.0) modified



    Take it easy or venture along one of the bike trails

    While Rocheport began as a modest trading post, it has since grown into a lovely town that's perfect for taking it easy. You can head to one of the nearby vineyards for a tasting, then hit up a local spa to take the edge off with a massage. 

    If you're looking for a more active adventure, Rocheport is one of the best destinations in Missouri for cyclists. The town is located along the 240-mile-long Katy Trail, which lets you bike mostly along the northern bank of the Missouri River.


    photo by Paul Sableman (CC BY 2.0) modified



    Explore one of the most iconic moments of the American Civil War

    Fulton is unique amongst small towns in Missouri, thanks to its fascinating history and local pride. It managed to hold its ground during the American Civil War, thanks largely to a clever trick. Locals managed to simulate powerful artillery positions that forced invaders to negotiate a truce, but in reality, the residents were just moving large logs around close to campfires. 

    You can learn all about it in the local museum, Kingdom of Callaway Historical, which commemorates the town's achievement. You can also explore historic buildings that house modest shops and restaurants.



    Visit the hometown of Mark Twain

    Hannibal gained fame years ago as the homeplace of renowned American author Mark Twain. The town also served as the setting for many of his books, like Tom Sawyer. You can learn all about this in greater detail by visiting the Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum, which has been open for more than a century. 

    Hannibal is located right alongside the Mississippi River, so boating is particularly popular in spring and summer. If you're feeling brave, you can take on one of the town's ghost tours.


    photo by Coalfather (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified



    Visit the oldest distillery west of the Mississippi

    Weston is most famous for its local distillery, which happens to be the oldest one west of the Mississippi River. You can stop by for a tour and tasting, but that's just the beginning, as you'll also find several other breweries and wineries around town. 

    If you're more interested in outdoor adventures, you'll find plenty to do at Weston Bend State Park, thanks to its vibrant scenery and extensive walking paths. Don't forget to stop by Country Peddler for some shopping after exploring the town's offerings. 


    photo by 25or6to4 (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified



    Explore Missouri's wine country

    Hermann is the centre of Missouri's wine country, contributing about a third of the state's annual wine sales. You can embark on the Hermann Wine Trail, where you can stop by several family-owned wineries along its 20-mile route. You'll even find several festivals celebrating wine in Hermann, like Maifest and Oktoberfest. 

    Given that Hermann was founded by German immigrants in the 19th century, it should be no surprise that many of the town's restaurants specialise in sausage. 


    photo by Davekeiser (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified



    Enjoy a charming town and endless maple trees

    Carthage is a lovely small town in Jasper County of Missouri that's named after the ancient city in Tunis. It has hundreds of vibrant maple trees, earning the nickname 'America's Maple Leaf City'. You can explore several historic sites and museums to learn more about local history and the town's involvement in the American Civil War. 

    Visit Carthage in October to take part in the Maple Leaf Festival – expect lots of local food and drinks, live musical performances, and fun activities for the whole family.


    photo by Gorup de Besanez (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified


    Arrow Rock

    It's officially on the National Register of Historic Places

    Arrow Rock is a modest town that's historically significant enough for the entire town to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This is due to the important role it played in westward expansion. You can visit several landmarks, including portions of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail and the Santa Fe National Historic Trail. 

    Many of the buildings date back to the 19th century, while the ones that don't tend to sport similar architectural styles. The town of Arrow Rock is almost 100 miles east of Kansas City. 


    photo by Paul Sableman (CC BY 2.0) modified

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