6 Most Underrated Towns in Missouri

A visit to one of these six underrated Missouri towns guarantees to have you uncovering some unexpectedly delightful locations that you may not have heard of before. Whether it is basking in the natural wonder of the state parks, the wine regions, the charming river towns, or historically preserved buildings, Missouri has something for everybody.

St. James

Maramec Spring Park is one of the beautiful spots to be found in Missouri.
Maramec Spring Park is one of the most beautiful spots in Missouri. Image credit Emily Heart via Shutterstock

St. James, Missouri is a small city in Phelps County, which is best known for its award-winning wines, as well as the immaculate landscape. There are several well-known wineries in town that attract a steady flow of tourists on a regular basis, such as the award-winning St. James Winery, which has a large selection of regional grape varieties and seasonal wines. The wine culture as well as the natural beauty of the surrounding area make St. James a great alternative place to visit in the state of Missouri.

Maramec Spring Park is another favorite among visitors to the region. The spring itself is the fifth largest in Missouri. Surrounded by 1,860 acres of forest, you can go fishing, hiking, camping, and more while visiting the grounds.

Bonne Terre

Bonne Terre mines
Bonne Terre mines. Image credit robertstinnett via Creative Commons

Bonne Terre is a great stop in Missouri for those who love a natural adventure. You will find this under-the-radar town in St. Francois County, about an hour’s drive south of St. Louis. You can explore the largest man-made cave in the world at the Bonne Terre Mines, which has five levels of terrain to cover. Created in 1860 as a deep-earth lead mine, the caverns were one of the world’s first and they operated until 1962.

Today, people explore the insides and learn about what life was like for miners in those days. The first two levels are for guided walking tours, while other parts of the cave are underwater. However, the lower levels are still open for brave swimmers. The mine is the largest freshwater scuba center in the world.

Hermann

Herman, Missouri
Herman, Missouri. Image credit Cherriescreations via Shutterstock

Hermann, Missouri is another underrated state gem where you can find something a little different from other places in the region. The town is on the south banks of the Missouri River, in an area known for its winemaking. Here, the celebration of German culture is a huge part of the town’s identity. There is an annual Oktoberfest held in the town as well as an annual Wurst Fest.

The culinary scene is also thriving, complimenting the craft beer breweries that have been flourishing along with the winemaking. There are also several interesting museums and historic sights to check out while in the area, offering a glimpse into the lives of settlers back in the early days of America. Some of the buildings are still standing from the 1850s when winemaking first began in the region. In addition, outdoor lovers will enjoy picturesque hiking and recreational activities in the city parks and campgrounds.

Boonville

Historic railroad Katy Bridge over Missouri River at Boonville
Historic railroad Katy Bridge over Missouri River at Boonville. Image credit marekuliasz via Shutterstock

Boonville, Missouri is a picturesque town between Kansas City and St. Louis, and it is the site of one of the first land battles of the American Civil War. The history here has been well preserved, making it an interesting location for those interested in the remnants of earlier times.

Today, over 400 historic properties still exist there, establishing it as a worthy visit for history enthusiasts, with plenty of unique landmarks and buildings to observe. There are walking tours, car museums, and historic societies where you can learn all about the past days of this old railroad town. There is also a lively cultural and arts scene, and a plethora of natural beauty due to its proximity to the Missouri River and the Katy Trail State Park.

Cape Girardeau

Cape Girardeau is a City on the Mississippi River and border between Missouri and Kentucky
Cape Girardeau, on the Mississippi River. Image credit Jacob Boomsma via Shutterstock

Cape Girardeau, Missouri is a quaint town located on the Mississippi River. Known as a city with a small-town feel, it is also a university town with around 10,000 students attending Southeast Missouri State University. This underrated Missouri location has tons of nightlife and culture due to its sizable population and notable student body. The arts and performance community is on frequent display, and there is a community art walk hosted by the local artisans in the neighborhood every month, inviting spectators and potential buyers to immerse themselves in art. Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center allows access to some of the most beautiful natural scenery with wildlife viewing areas and even a freshwater aquarium. The city also has an additional variety of 25 parks to bike, hike, and play sports in.

Columbia

Columbia, Missouri, USA downtown city skyline at twilight
Columbia, Missouri, downtown city skyline at twilight. Image credit Sean Pavone via Shutterstock

A visit to Columbia, Missouri grants the opportunity to visit the Devil’s Icebox, which is one of the longest caves in the state. You can find it just outside of the town of Columbia, making it the perfect hidden gem for recreation lovers. The 6.5-mile-long cave is in the Rock Bridge Memorial State Park and includes a 125-foot-long natural tunnel. The area is full of sinkholes, and caves that you can explore while walking downstream, but the upstream path is closed off for bat preservation. In the summer months, endangered gray bats use the caves as a roosting site. There are tons of hiking and biking trails to traverse, and some people even brave the terrain on horseback. Once finished exploring the caves, the town of Columbia itself is a cute visit as well. It is a university town with an eclectic collection of restaurants, shops, boutiques, and a friendly, welcoming community. Columbia is a must if you are visiting the region.

These underrated towns in Missouri will let you uncover some of the unexpectedly fantastic locations in this unassuming region of the Midwest. Enjoy the fantastic natural beauty, local beer, and wine, as well as the hometown vibe that many of these quaint destinations radiate.

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