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Carthage, Missouri

Welcome to Missouri

The Show Me State has much to show travelers, from the big-city fun of St. Louis and Kansas City to the beautiful landscapes of the Ozark Mountains. Although it’s considered to be the official “Gateway to the West,” visitors might find themselves wanting to linger a little longer in the Heartland.

Rugged rock bluff looms over a calm clear pond in the Ozarks

An autumn panorama at Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park.

Treasured Waterways

With each splash of the paddle or flick of the fishing pole, Missouri’s clear waterways reveal themselves to be the state’s greatest natural treasures. Summertime float trips down a river are a favorite, with the Ozark National Scenic Riverways region an especially scenic choice. Though trout aren’t native to the state, you might find yourself landing a lunker at one of the three state parks with trout hatcheries: Bennett Spring, Roaring River and Montauk. The big waters of Table Rock Lake and Lake of the Ozarks are top choices for fishing and watersports. For hunting, head to the 1.4 million acres protected in the Mark Twain National Forest, which abounds with wildlife, including deer, turkey and waterfowl.

The graceful St. Louis Arch reflected on the vast Mississippi

Journey into the Past

The gleaming steel façade of St. Louis’ Gateway Arch gracefully rises 630 feet into the air. This iconic landmark represents the state’s role in the westward expansion, when it was the place from which pioneers started their journeys into unknown territories. Learn about this period and more with a visit to the Gateway Arch Museum and Visitor Center at the base of the arch, and then take the journey to the top for epic views of the historic city below.

Family Fun

Across the State Nestled amid the rolling green hills of St. Louis’ historic Forest Park are a world-class zoo, art museum and science center—all of which are free and fabulous. Nearby, the City Museum (which is more of an indoor/outdoor playground with a quirky flair) offers an inimitable adventure for kids of all ages. Southwest Missouri pulsates with a country twang, thanks to the entertainment mecca known as Branson. After getting its start with live country music shows, today the city offers so much more. Enjoy the crafts and thrill rides of Silver Dollar City, golf with panoramic lake views at Top of the Rock or relax on Table Rock Lake. Boasting more than 100 barbecue restaurants and a distinctive style, Kansas City is the place to go for finger-licking good ribs. Check out the Union Station, Country Club Plaza and the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art while in town.

Missouri Rocks

Nearby, check out the goliath boulders of Elephant Rocks State Park, and then visit the state’s highest point with a climb up Taum Sauk Mountain. Katy Trail State Park is a rail-to-trail conversion (one of the longest in the country, at nearly 240 miles). Bike from one side of the state to the other, or find a short section to explore.

Spectacular State Parks

Missouri boasts ample outdoor space. Almost 100 state parks and historic sites offer the opportunity to explore diverse sceneries and outdoor recreation. Visit southeast Missouri’s St. Francois Mountains for phenomenal choices offering swimming holes, hiking trails and lush landscapes. Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park is considered “Mother Nature’s waterpark,” thanks to the unique geologic formations that create chutes, basins and waterfalls in a section of the East Fork Black River.

Show-Me Cities

There may be a bit of a rivalry between Missouri’s two largest cities, located directly opposite each other on the state’s western and eastern borders. Holding the title of the state’s largest city, Kansas City, and its sprawling suburbs, spread west into neighboring Kansas. Once a cow town, KC is now a rising tech center in the Midwest.