Hollister, Missouri. Editorial credit: Rosemarie Mosteller / Shutterstock.com

6 Breathtaking Towns to Visit in Missouri

Missouri is situated in the Midwestern portion of the United States and is filled with diverse landscapes. These regions feature everything from flat plains to mountain peaks and truly accentuate the breathtaking towns dotted throughout the state. Each town has its unique charm and natural attractions, such as the Battle of Carthage Historic Site in Carthage or the Mark Twain Memorial Lighthouse in Hannibal, making these destinations perfect for travelers of any age! Add these six Missouri towns to your next vacation itinerary and take in some of the best sights in the Midwest.


The Carthage Courthouse with fall foliage downtown in one of the best small towns in Missouri. Editorial credit: Rachael Martin / Shutterstock.com
The Carthage Courthouse with fall foliage downtown in one of the best small towns in Missouri. Editorial credit: Rachael Martin / Shutterstock.com

Known as the town where the Battle of Carthage, one of the first portions of the Civil War, occurred, Carthage is a historic location with incredible views. Visiting Carthage provides an opportunity to get a glimpse into the past through the well-preserved architecture and historic landmarks, with the Battle of Carthage State Historic Site being one of the most prominent. This park is not only a key piece of the town’s history but also provides visitors with a peaceful area to enjoy, containing a field and a small spring. The Historic Phelps House is another iconic location in Carthage boasting beautiful Victorian-style architecture, which is used as an event center and site offering tours of the home.

In addition to its rich history, Carthage is also referred to as ‘America’s Maple Leaf City.’ This nickname highlights the town’s stunning foliage that lines the streets during autumn. Main Street in Carthage has rows of rich maple trees that change color through each season and create a backdrop for the Jasper County Courthouse. Some of the other attractions offering beautiful views include ​​The Precious Moments Chapel and Gardens, a chapel with painted murals, and the historic 66 Drive-In Theater, where you can grab a snack at the concession stand and watch a movie under the stars. No matter your hobbies or interests, Carthage has no shortage of fun things to do.


Hollister, MO. Editorial credit: Rosemarie Mosteller / Shutterstock.com
Hollister, Missouri. Editorial credit: Rosemarie Mosteller / Shutterstock.com

Located just outside the bustling city of Branson lies Hollister, a town with just under 5,000 people and a reputation for being home to one of the state’s most idyllic attractions: the Branson Scenic Overview. This location is sometimes called the 165 Scenic Overlook due to its place on Historic Highway 165 and offers a place where guests can experience some of the best views of Table Rock Dam and Lake Taneycomo. The overlook is just a ten-minute drive from the town’s main strip, making it a quick and easy trip during a vacation to Hollister. It’s also close to Buffalo Ridge Golf Course, providing stunning views of the Ozarks.

In addition to the outdoor attractions, Hollister’s close proximity to Branson means there are countless fun things to do, no matter your age or interests. Kendall’s Treasures is a well-loved flea market and antique shop with vendors selling eclectic goods, while Olivia's Heartland - Vintage Gift Market has handmade gifts and one-of-a-kind items you can only find in Hollister. Overall, this town has everything that makes it a must-visit location, from beautiful lakes to unique shopping opportunities.


Perryville, Missouri. In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perryville,_Missouri By Markkaempfer; modified by Kbh3rd - File:Perryville, Missouri County Court House 1.jpg, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=36810879
Perryville, Missouri. In Wikipedia. By Markkaempfer; modified by Kbh3rd - File:Perryville, Missouri County Court House 1.jpg, CC BY 3.0, Wikipedia

Perryville is a small town roughly 80 miles south of St. Louis, with a welcoming community and numerous historical places to visit. This town is the County Seat of Perryville County, and 8,555 people call this peaceful area home. There are several locations in Perryville with great views, but one that stands out is Missouri's National Veteran Museum. The museum pays respects to service members and strives to preserve the state's military history through monuments and creating a peaceful place to reflect. At the outdoor portion of the museum, The Wall is a black granite exhibit that mimics the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in D.C., and the Honor Flag Memorial is a 49-foot structure outside of the welcome center.

The National Shrine of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal and Rosary Walk is another popular area in Perryville that dates back to 1818. This historic attraction sits on 55 acres and is an incredibly peaceful place where anyone is welcome to visit and take a relaxing stroll on The Rosary Walk. Vacationers can also stop into places like Red Rock Landing Conservation Area to see some frontage of the Mississippi River and five acres of ponds. Perryville also has the American Tractor Museum, conveniently located on North Main Street. This museum has exhibits that showcase tractors from throughout time that played a crucial part in the state’s agricultural history.


Hannibal, Missouri, United States. Editorial credit: Sabrina Janelle Gordon / Shutterstock.com
Hannibal, Missouri, United States. Editorial credit: Sabrina Janelle Gordon / Shutterstock.com

Travelers who enjoy visiting places with historical significance and a variety of outdoor attractions with alluring landscapes should consider planning a trip to Hannibal. Situated along the Mississippi River at the Illinois border, Hannibal is most widely known for being the town where famous author Mark Twain spent his childhood, and today, it remains a hub for tourism and culture. The best way to see this town and all of its incredible views is at the Mark Twain Memorial Lighthouse. Guests can climb the 244 steps up to the lighthouse to see panoramic views of the town, though it’s important to note visitors are not allowed inside the structure itself.

Lovers Leap is another must-visit spot in Hannibal. This bluff provides great opportunities for photography of the Mississippi River and the downtown area. The Lovers Leap Park has 5 acres of land and holds a historical marker guests can visit and sit under the covered picnic table. Riverview Park has wonderful foliage during autumn and offers hiking trails, several statues, and a shelter with picnic tables.


The historic Kimmswick market, built in 1877. Editorial credit: Logan Bush / Shutterstock.com
The historic Kimmswick market, built in 1877. Editorial credit: Logan Bush / Shutterstock.com

Kimmswick is a small town of just 134 people that’s located right in the heart of Missouri. It’s another town on the Mississippi River that boasts a friendly community, and the town’s historic section even helped it earn a spot on the “Top Small Towns in Missouri.” Kimmswick is a quaint area that makes it an excellent destination for travelers looking to slow down and browse through shops and restaurants with 19th-century charm. There are countless locations in the town that offer appealing views, including the Anheuser Estate. This historic estate dates back to 1867 and provides tours of the home and museum, opportunities for event hosting, and a dedicated park section.

The Windsor Harbor Road Bridge, found at the intersection of Front St. and Mill St., is another historic attraction from the River Des Peres in 1874. Though the bridge was replaced and relocated to Kimmswick in 1928, it holds a special place in the town’s history and remains the oldest wrought iron span in the state. The Mastodon State Historic Site is just a short drive away from Imperial and holds some of the town’s best outdoor views. The 431-acre park is a breathtaking archaeological and paleontological site with trails, an informative museum, and Missouri’s Kimmswick Bone Bed. Overall, this state site is a great place for the whole family to get outside and learn about the area’s history.

Cape Girardeau

Aerial Photo of Cape Girardeau, Missouri.
Aerial Photo of Cape Girardeau, Missouri.

One of the larger Missouri towns on our list, with a population of just over 40,000, that offers stunning views is Cape Girardeau. Sometimes referred to as “The City of Roses,” Cape Girardeau is situated southeast of St. Louis and roughly 170 miles north of Memphis, giving the town a convenient location for enjoying the hustle and bustle of nearby cities or the peaceful outdoor recreation areas. The town has an enchanting and historic downtown section that provides some of the best views of the Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge, a 4,000-foot cable-stayed bridge structure that stretches from Missouri over the Mississippi River to Illinois.

Those visiting Cape Girardeau can plan a trip to Trail of Tears State Park, which offers 3,415 acres of incredible scenery only found in Missouri. This park is one of the official sites of the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail that observes the Cherokee relocation in 1838. The Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center is an excellent place for the whole family to spend an afternoon and learn about the area’s natural resources. The family-friendly nature center has fun, hands-on exhibits for all ages, aquariums and outdoor wildlife exhibits, and even two miles of outdoor trails to explore.

Missouri has a wealth of small towns filled with natural beauty and sights you can only experience in the Midwest. There are historic sights in Carthage that date back to the Civil War, and the charming downtown streets of Kimmswick highlight just how many breathtaking scenes you can find throughout the state, though these are just a snapshot of the numerous towns you can visit. If you’re planning a trip to the “Show Me” state, these six small towns are sure to provide you with exciting memories and breathtaking views.

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