Missouri is often the Midwest state that is overlooked, but it is a fascinating place to visit and it has a number of impressive destinations. You’ll find incredible wilderness, man made engineering marvels, vibrant cities and quaint small towns. Named after the mighty river that runs through the state, the ‘Show Me State’ is sure to leave a lasting impression. But you’ll learn so much in Missouri, too! We’ve covered 13 educational things to do in Missouri!
13 Educational Things to Do in Missouri
The Saint Louis Zoo houses an incredible assortment of animals and it’s completely FREE. The large and natural enclosures ensure that the lions, tigers, and bears who call this zoo home are comfortable and well taken care of. In fact, this zoo is renowned for its animal care and wildlife conservation efforts. Check out the sloths, penguins and many other creatures who scurry around this impressive zoo. Head to the Caribbean Cove where you can touch an assortment of stingrays.
1 Day Ticket (Age 12-64) – $79
2 Day Tickets (Age 12-64) – $99
3 Day Tickets (Age 12-64) – $109
One of the most popular attractions in Branson is the amusement park, Silver Dollar City. This 61 acre park that opened in 1960, transports you back to the bygone era of cogwheels, steam trains, blacksmiths and vintage cabins. Enjoy a wide variety of rides for the whole family including a 13 acre waterpark. If you’re looking for something a little different check out the candle-making shop or watch them make taffy or fudge. Watch a musical or stay in the amenity filled campground that offers cabins, RVs, and tent camping all in one convenient location.
As the largest state park in Missouri, Lake of the Ozarks State Park is about 17,000 acres of outdoor fun. It provides easy access to both the lush Ozark Mountains and the beautiful Lake of the Ozarks. You’ll find iconic hiking on trails like the Trail Of Four Winds, a 13 mile hike that gives you beautiful views of the lake. Or check out the Aquatic Trail, a 10 mile interpretive trail that gives boaters the information they need about the lake.
This intriguing monument celebrates the United States westward expansion, the 19th-century movement of settlers into the American West. Moving westward began with the Louisiana Purchase and was fueled by the Gold Rush, the Oregon Trail and the belief in ‘manifest destiny.’ The stainless steel arch is a bit of an engineering marvel as it rises 630 ft. into the air and spans 630 ft. from leg to leg. Visiting the arch is free, but consider paying the $10 to $13 to ride to the top of the arch for some incredible views of the city.
Going into the free museum makes the Gateway Arch one of our favorite educational things to do in Missouri!
The Nelson-Atkins Museum Of Art in Kansas City sits on grounds that are a work of art themselves. Between the landscaping, walking trails and outdoor sculptures you’ll be mesmerized before entering the museum. The museum opened in 1933, and houses one of the most impressive collections of Asian art in the world. It also features a world class collection of European and Impressionist pieces. Admission to the main building is free, but tours by docents need to be purchased before arrival.
Adults (18+) – $12
Seniors (60+) – $10
Children (6-17) – $6
Under 5 – Free
Samual Clemens, pen name Mark Twain, moved to Missouri around 1843 and lived in this two story home from the ages of 7 to 18. The home has been open for tours since 1912, but has been restored and furnished in 1800s time period decor. The adjoining museum contains interesting Twain memorabilia including first editions of his most famous works. It also features photographs, original manuscripts and the desk where Twain penned The Adventures Of Tom Sawyer.
This is THE perfect educational field trip after you’ve read some of Twain’s greatest hits.
Enjoy nearly 1,300 acres of things to do in downtown St. Louis at Forest Park. The park offers everything from a zoo, to summer concert series and a golf course. Walk or jog along the many trails in the park or boat on its waterways. Forest Park has been open since 1876 and hosted the World’s Fair in 1904. You can visit the St. Louis Zoo, Saint Louis Art Museum, the Missouri History Museum and the St. Louis Science Center all on the grounds of Forest Park.
Adults – $23
Seniors (65+) – $19
Youth (6-18) – $15
Under 6 – Free
Military – $19
In 1919 all 5 Supreme Allied Commanders from World War I gathered in Kansas City, Missouri to dedicate the Liberty Memorial. It was the only time that all 5 Supreme Commanders were in the same place because the monument not only memorialized the lives lost in battle but also it symbolized an act of gratitude for the liberty that was so hard fought for during the epic battles of the Great War. The museum reopened to the public in 2006 and was designated as a National Historical Landmark. It is dedicated to remembering, understanding and interpreting the Great War and its enduring impact on the world.
Springfield Missouri emerged as the birthplace of Route 66 in the 1920s when the government decided to mandate the construction of this famous national highway. On the east side of Park Central, the heart of the downtown area, you’ll find a placard with the official designation from 1992. Route 66 also known as the Mother Road and Main Street America this iconic route runs from Chicago to Los Angeles. If you’re interested in visiting the birthplace of this famous route you can “get your kicks on Route 66” right in Springfield.
One of our favorite family vacations was a trip down Route 66! There’s so much to see and do along the way, that you can’t help but learn.
Adults – $30
Children (3-12) – $19.50
Veteran/Active Duty (Must Show ID) – $15.50
Under 3 – $2
The Branson Scenic Railway has been in business since 1905 and will instantly transport you to a bygone era. The 40 mile ride on this train, from the early 1900s, will take you through foothills, tunnels, bridges and over trestles around the beautiful and scenic Ozarks. It’s as simple as hopping aboard the railways vintage trains and taking in the view on this 2 hour excursion. If you choose to ride in the evening your ride can be completed with dinner on the train
This state park delivers on beautiful Ozark scenery and offers an interesting look at the area’s ruined past. Ha Ha Tonka State Park is over 3,000 acres of outdoor attractions, a place where popular activities include backpacking, hiking and exploring stunning geological features. You can also boat, swim and fish here thanks to easy water access. If you’re lucky you’ll find the hidden gem of the park, the ruined remains of an early 20th century castle. The mansion turned hotel burned to the ground in the 1940s and today the ruins are one of the most popular attractions in Ha Ha Tonka.
The huge elephant shaped granite boulders are the star of the show at Elephant Rocks State Park in Belleview. The park got its name thanks to these 1.5 billion year old granite boulders that stand end to end, much like elephants in a circus line. This park is unique because of the mile long interpretive trail known as the Braille Trail. The first trail is Missouri specifically designed to help the visually impaired enjoy nature.
If you’re looking for a historical attraction in Missouri then Wilson’s Creek is a must visit. The battlefield is the perfect stop for anyone who wants to learn more about Missouri’s role in the Civil War. The battlefield encompasses 1,920 acres and was the site of 2 major battles fought in August of 1861. To explore the park at your own pace, take the 5 mile self guided tour with plenty of interpretive stops. Make sure to hike some of the 7 miles of trails to get a more indepth look at Bloody Hill and the Edwards Cabin.