Missouri is a beautiful midwestern state, boasting endless hidden gems, from roadside attractions to scenic views and activities. Eight states border Missouri: Iowa to the north, Illinois, Kentucky, and Tennessee to the east, Arkansas to the south and Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska to the west.
Explore the enchantment of the parks scattered across the state, check out the numerous historic places and famous faces, and don't miss the scrumptious food spots. But if you want to escape the hustle and bustle of city life, consider checking out the small towns. Looking for an escape? Learn about the top seven most charming river towns in Missouri so you can plan your next adventure.
Arrow Rock sits along the Missouri River, two and a half hours from St. Louis and one and a half hours from Kansas City. The restoration of Huston Tavern in 1923 marked the beginning of the town's focus on preserving history, landing Arrow Rock on the list of National Historic Landmarks.
The river town is also home to Arrow Rock State Park, which houses a plethora of sites. You'll find unique historical spots like George Caleb Bingham’s house, the 1834 J. Huston Tavern, and a one-room jail. Enjoy a little entertainment at the Arrow Rock Lyceum Theater or the Vintage Hill Farm, and enjoy a comfortable stay at one of the many hotels and inns that boast an 1860s atmosphere.
Situated in wine country, Defiance is the perfect destination for a wedding, girl's trip, or romantic getaway. The Missouri River runs through the town, ideal for hiking, canoeing, and camping in the beautiful outdoors.
If you are on the hunt for picturesque vineyards, consider the beautiful Chandler Hill Vineyards or Sugar Creek Winery. On top of the spectacular views, you'll find award-winning wines, music, and food at each spot. For a taste of the town's history, visit the Historic Daniel Boone Home at Lindenwood Park. If you are up for a little adventure, rent a bicycle and find your way around the town, or head out on one of the Missouri River excursions, traveling along the Lewis and Clark path.
New Haven is a captivating town, home to a thriving culture and diverse opportunities for adventure. Enjoy the Levee River Walk on the Missouri River, taking in the views of the water and beauty of the area. Don't forget to pay a visit to one of the many art galleries or displays. You'll also find interactive, unique spots like the Astral Glass Studio and Gallery.
Pinckney Bend Distillery and Robller Vineyard are popular spots for enjoying a brew or two. Afterwards, make your way to one of the many events, like the film festivals and balloon races. The John Colter Memorial is another interesting stop, which commemorates the legacy of a member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
Rocheport sits along the Missouri River at the western edge of Boone County. It is home of the Rocheport Historic District, which displays many historical buildings, some of which date back to the 1830s. You can also explore the town's history in the historical museum, where you'll find features such as the Lewis and Clark exhibit.
The town is home to the tranquil, scenic Katy Trail State Park, as well as an award-winning winery, ideal for a weekend of hiking and indulging in a few wine tastings. There are endless bed and breakfasts, as well as shops, restaurants, and galleries, all nestled amongst the rolling hills and valleys. You'll also find plenty of canoe and bike rentals, perfect for spending a weekend outdoors and exploring the area.
One of the most underrated towns in Missouri, Cape Girardeau sits along the Missouri River, boasting unique landmarks, such as the Fort D. Historic Site and the Trail of Tears. A 3,415-acre State Park, the Trail of Tears is in memory of the Cherokee Indians. The West Park Mall is a great place to shop until you drop, while Melaina’s Magical Playground is the ideal spot for a family visit.
With around 10,000 students attending Southeast Missouri State University, the town offers an exciting nightlife, not to mention a busy arts and culture scene. There is even a monthly community art walk, hosted by local artisans, perfect if you're looking for something new to hang in your home and commemorate the trip.
America's first wine region recognized by the federal government, Augusta boasts some of the best wineries. The Augusta Winery, Balducci Vineyards, and Montelle Winery are some of the best spots. The town sits atop a hill overlooking the Missouri River Valley, offering beautiful views alongside tasteful wine.
There are over 20 vintage cars and trucks scattered throughout the town, perfect for anyone with an interest in old cars or looking for a unique photo op. You'll also find plenty of coffee shops, restaurants, boutiques, bed and breakfasts, and more, ideal for a relaxing weekend getaway. Filled to the brim with charm and beautiful views, Augusta is a great spot for events such as weddings and celebrations.
New Madrid is one of the town's that makes up the Missouri Bootheel and it sits beside the Mississippi River. The town is well known for hosting the strongest earthquakes in recorded history, with two December 16, 1811 earthquakes reaching a magnitude of 8+ on the Richter scale.
New Madrid was also a site of the Civil War, home to a rich history that visitors can learn about in the New Madrid Historical Museum. After learning about the town itself, be sure to pay a visit to the flowing waters of the Mississippi, whether you head out on a canoe trip, enjoy the soundscape, or keep an eye out for wildlife.
Enjoy the River Views
Missouri is famous for the beautiful Kansas City, home to an exciting jazz history, but the small river towns are definitely worth a visit. Canoe along the waters, take photos of all the beautiful views, and don't forget to soak up the rich small town charm. Learn unique historic details about each spot along the way, enjoying every minute of slow, comfortable, and relaxed life each town has to offer.