Road Trip Across America: Missouri

The Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri. Photo: James Hodge

Embarking on a road trip across America is an exciting adventure that allows travelers to explore the diverse landscapes and cultures of this vast country. One particular state that stands out for its unique and engaging experiences is Missouri. Located in the heart of the Midwest, Missouri boasts a rich history, striking natural beauty and vibrant cities that are worth exploring. Join us as we hit the open road to discover what this fascinating state has to offer.

Our first stop was one of the most iconic landmarks in St. Louis: the Gateway Arch. This stunning stainless steel monument stands tall as a symbol of the city’s role as the “Gateway to the West.” We piled into the 5-seat tram and took a ride to the top of the arch. The cramped confines of the tram were mildly claustrophobia-inducing, but the breathtaking views of the city and the Mississippi River more than made up for any discomfort.

The Gateway Arch tram entrance. Photo: James Hodge

Next, we made our way to Grant’s Farm. This historic location, named after Ulysses S. Grant, the 18th President of the United States, offers a variety of attractions and activities for all ages. Anheuser-Busch now owns the farm, and we were thrilled to have the opportunity to see the Budweiser Clydesdales up close. Visitors can take guided tours that provide insights into their history and training.

Ulysses S. Grant’s cabin. Photo: James Hodge

In addition to animal encounters and historical attractions, Grant’s Farm features family-friendly activities such as carousel rides and petting areas where children can interact with farm animals. Our kids loved having the chance to feed the baby goats.

Kids feeding kids at Grant’s Farm. Photo: James Hodge

Another must-visit attraction, especially if your group includes children, is the “weirdly wonderful” City Museum. This eclectic museum features an array of repurposed architectural elements, tunnels, slides (including a massive 28-foot spiral that descends 10 stories!) and climbing structures that provide endless fun for both children and adults. Little ones will really enjoy the countless places to swing across, slide down, climb up and crawl under.

Everything is climbable at City Museum. Photo: James Hodge

For nature enthusiasts, the St. Louis Zoo is not to be missed. This world-class zoo houses thousands of animals from around the globe and provides educational opportunities for all ages. From lions and tigers to penguins and giraffes, there’s something for everyone at this renowned zoo. Best of all, parking is inexpensive and zoo admission is free!

St. Louis Zoo. Photo: James Hodge

Busch Stadium is a remarkable destination for sports enthusiasts and baseball fans alike. As the home of the St. Louis Cardinals, this retro-style stadium offers an unforgettable experience for visitors. The ballpark possesses state-of-the-art facilities, comfortable seating options and excellent sight lines from every angle. In addition to watching a game, Busch Stadium offers various attractions that enhance your overall experience. The Budweiser Terrace provides a lively social atmosphere with food and drink options while enjoying panoramic views of downtown St. Louis.

Busch Stadium, as seen from the top of the Gateway Arch. Photo: James Hodge

Union Station is another popular attraction in St. Louis that combines history with entertainment. Once one of America’s busiest train stations, Union Station now serves as a hub for dining, shopping and entertainment experiences such as escape rooms and live performances. Stick around after dark to fully enjoy the Fire and Light Show that dazzles with flames, water and vibrant LED displays at the top of every hour.

Union Station’s “lake”. Photo: James Hodge

If you’re looking for some family-friendly fun, consider visiting Branson – often referred to as the “Live Entertainment Capital of the World.” This vibrant city offers an array of shows ranging from music performances to comedy acts that are sure to keep everyone entertained.

Our trek through the “Show-Me” state continued on to Silver Dollar City. Nestled in the Ozark Mountains near Branson, this theme park offers thrilling rides, live entertainment and an immersive experience that transports visitors back in time to an 1880s Ozark Mountain village. Silver Dollar City has some of the most jaw-dropping roller coasters in the country, and based on the few I mustered the courage to ride, I definitely agree.

Silver Dollar City’s “Wildfire” rollercoaster. Photo: Yelp

While making our way towards Branson, we were enticed by numerous roadside billboards to visit the offbeat and charming town called Uranus. This unique and quirky destination is found along the famous Route 66, making it a convenient stopover for travelers of the legendary highway. Named after the planet Uranus, the town has fully embraced its celestial namesake. A wide range of attractions and businesses take full advantage of the playful innuendo associated with the name. From the Uranus Fudge Factory and General Store to the Uranus Axehole, there is no shortage of memorable and tongue-in-cheek experiences to be had.

“Welcome to Uranus!” Photo: James Hodge

While in the area, take the opportunity to soak in the awe-inspiring scenery. You’ll find hiking trails and opportunities for water activities such as kayaking or fishing on pristine lakes. Additionally, exploring the caves of Meramec Caverns or Mark Twain Cave can be both educational and exhilarating experiences. One things that stuck out to us in our travels through this region was how incredibly green and lush the landscape was, even in the middle of a particularly hot summer.

Traveling through the Ozarks.

Missouri is also known for its delicious and diverse food scene, with barbecue being one of its most celebrated culinary traditions. The state takes pride in its mouthwatering barbecue, which draws inspiration from various regional styles. Missouri offers a range of tantalizing flavors and techniques that delight locals and visitors alike. No road trip through this state is complete without at least one stop at a Missouri barbecue joint. We highly recommend Pappy’s Smokehouse, a popular spot that specializes in pork that’s slow-cooked and topped with a sweet, tomato-based sauce.

Ribs and burnt ends at Pappy’s Smokehouse. Photo: Yelp

In Missouri, you can enjoy more than just barbecue – there’s a whole range of culinary delights to try. Indulge in hearty comfort foods like fried chicken and biscuits, savor fresh seafood dishes along the Mississippi River, or satisfy your sweet tooth with gooey butter cake or homemade pies bursting with seasonal fruits.

Whether you’re interested in history, culture or simply enjoying family-friendly activities, visiting Missouri offers an array of options that will cater to all interests.