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

7 Of The Most Hospitable Small Towns In Missouri

Missouri, the United States’ 21st-largest and 19th-most populous state in the Midwestern region is renowned for its varied topography and a distinct culture that perfectly amalgamates the elements of both the Midwest and Southern US. Although the larger metropolises like Jefferson City, Branson, Kansas City, and St. Louis featuring the iconic Gateway Arch captivate residents and tourists alike, it is the uncountable small towns peppered throughout this breathtaking terrain that proudly showcase the true heart and soul of the Show Me State. Vacationers will surely have an unforgettable experience on their next trip to these hospitable Missouri towns.

Arrow Rock

A scene from Arrow Rock, Missouri.
A scene from Arrow Rock, Missouri. Image credit: pasa47 via Wikimedia Commons.

A teeny village in Missouri’s Saline County, Arrow Rock is located at the top of a flint-bearing limestone bluff providing unparalleled views of the Missouri River. Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1963 owing to its connection with Westward Expansion, the entire village is encompassed by the 260-acre Arrow Rock Historic District.

The Arrow Rock State Historic Site, the restored house of eminent frontier artist George Caleb Bingham, Arrow Rock Lyceum Theatre, the circa 1834 Huston Tavern, etc., are the town’s remarkable attractions. Every October, the Arrow Rock Heritage Craft Festival held in the town features a collection of 19th-century crafts such as cooking apple butter, knitting, blacksmithing, basket weaving, and gunsmithing.


City of Boonville Visitor Center sign, with historic train depot in background.
City of Boonville Visitor Center sign, with historic train depot in background. Image credit: Editorial credit: APN Photography / Shutterstock.com.

Boonville, named after the American pioneer Daniel Boone and a nearby salt lick managed by Boone’s sons, occupies the heart of Missouri immediately off Interstate 70 Highway, almost halfway between St. Louis and Kansas City. Placed atop the wooded bluffs overlooking the Missouri River, this picture-perfect town was the location of one of the American Civil War’s foremost land skirmishes. Having over 400 well-kept landmark properties, amazing parks, and a vibrant arts & cultural scene, Boonville enchants holidayers of all ages.

Some of Boonville’s notable places of interest include the Katy Trail State Park, Hail Ridge Golf Course, Lyric Theater (Thespian Hall), Isle of Capri Casino Hotel, Warm Springs Ranch, New Visitors Center & River, Rails & Trails Museum, Harley Park, and Katy Railroad Bridge. Annual events such as Boonville Heritage Days, Big Muddy Folk Festival, Missouri River Festival of the Arts, Halloween parade, Festival of the Leaves, and Festival of The Lights are hosted by the town.  


Entrance to an amusement park in Hannibal, Missouri.
Entrance to an amusement park in Hannibal, Missouri. Editorial credit: Sabrina Janelle Gordon / Shutterstock.com.

Extending into both Marion and Ralls counties of northeastern Missouri, Hannibal is situated right beside the Mississippi River, about 100 miles northwest of St. Louis. This pleasant waterfront community is celebrated for being the boyhood home of Samuel Langhorne Clemens (aka Mark Twain). Travelers can discover the natural splendor of this chief town of the Hannibal Micropolitan Statistical Area by embarking on a Mark Twain Riverboat tour down the Mississippi River.

The Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum, Mark Twain Cave & Cameron Cave, Mark Twain Memorial Lighthouse, Cave Hollow West Winery, Planters Barn Theater, Hannibal History Museum, Jim’s Journey: The Huck Finn Freedom Center, Lover’s Leap, and Garth Woodside Mansion are Hannibal’s prominent attractions. The Riverview Park, Huckleberry Park, and Sodalis Nature Preserve offer nature lovers ample opportunities to unwind amidst the greens. Yearly celebrations like Brew Skies Music Festival, Big River Steampunk Festival, Chocolate Extravaganza, National Tom Sawyer Days, Twain on Main, and Loafer’s Car Club Show are held in Downtown Hannibal.


Restored vintage Phillips 66 Gas Station in Carthage, Missouri.
Restored vintage Phillips 66 Gas Station in Carthage, Missouri. Image credit: Editorial credit: Nick Fox / Shutterstock.com.

Affectionately called “America’s Maple Leaf City,” this seat of government of Jasper County is located to the south of the 129-mile-long Spring River along the U.S. Highway 71, approximately 12 miles from Joplin and 17 miles from Neosho. Famed as the site of the Battle of Carthage during the American Civil War, the settlement was destroyed in September 1864 by the pro-Confederate guerillas. Nevertheless, the abutting limestone quarries and lead mines contributed greatly to the rapid development of the town.

In the later years, the town’s numerous buildings including the Romanesque Revival style Jasper County Courthouse have been constructed using the native gray marble. The Precious Moments Park & Chapel, 66 Drive-In Theatre, Battle of Carthage State Historic Site, Boots Court Motel, and Phelps Country Estate are noteworthy places of interest in Carthage.


A winery in Hermann, Missouri.
A winery in Hermann, Missouri. Image credit: Ted Engler via Flickr.com.

Gasconade County’s seat, Hermann is situated close to the center of the Missouri Rhineland at the heart of the state’s Wine Country to the south of the Missouri River. Established in 1837 by the German Settlement Society of Philadelphia and christened in honor of the Germanic leader Hermann der Cherusker, the town is acclaimed for its amazing green scenery, rich viticulture traditions, vintage charm, and thriving German culture. When in town, traverse the Hermann Wine Trail and stop by the family-owned wineries to sample the wines and spirits.

Hermann also has many microbreweries and distilleries that use local grains for making beer, bourbon, whiskey, gin, and rye. At the Deutschheim State Historic Site, Historic Hermann Museum, and Hermann Farm Museum, tourists can gain knowledge about the town’s bygone days, while the neighboring Katy Trail State Park caters to outdoor fanatics with its pretty 240-mile-long Katy Trail which winds through the mid-Missouri farm fields and along the river bluffs. Also, participate in the town’s many yearly events like the Hermann Antique Show, FreedomFest, Missouri Bourbon Festival, Oktoberfest, Christmastime in Hermann, Wurstfest, Witches & Wine Festival, and Hermann Blue Oval Rally.


The Mississippi River in Kimmswick, Missouri.
The Mississippi River in Kimmswick, Missouri. Editorial credit: Logan Bush / Shutterstock.com.

Founded in 1859 by a prosperous German dry goods merchant named Theodore Kimm, this friendly Jefferson County town is located along the shores of the Mississippi River roughly 22 miles south of St. Louis. Sightseers visiting Kimmswick must take a stroll along the brick-paved streets in the Kimmswick Historic District and explore the town’s well-maintained 18th and 19th-century structures constructed in American Craftsman architectural style.

Check out the National Register-listed Windsor Harbor Road Bridge and survey the uncountable locally-owned artisan shops, clothing boutiques, antique stores, and restaurants like Blue Owl Restaurant & Bakery serving tasty Midwestern cuisines in Kimmswick’s revitalized downtown. Several festivals such as the Strawberry Festival, Apple Butter Festival, Kimmswick Car Show, Witches Night Out, and Kimmswick Christmas Parade & Open House are hosted by the town annually.

Ste. Genevieve

The County Clerk building in Ste. Genevieve, Missouri.
The County Clerk building in Ste. Genevieve, Missouri. Image credit: 

The administrative center of eastern Missouri’s Sainte Genevieve County, Ste. Genevieve is situated along the Mississippi River’s western banks in Ste. Genevieve Township, near the state boundary with Illinois. Established around 1740 by migrants from Illinois Country to the east of the Mississippi River and French Canadians, about 2 miles south of its current location, Ste. Genevieve is Missouri’s oldest permanent European settlement to the west of the Mississippi River. Dubbed in honor of the patron saint of Paris, Ste. Genevieve has held on to its unique French character and much of the exclusive historical allure is mainly due to the meticulous preservation of the ancient French Colonial-style buildings.

Heritage lovers get to observe some of the primeval structures such as the Louis Bolduc House, La Maison de Guibourd, Felix Valle House State Historic Site, Beauvais-Amoureaux House, Old Louisiana Academy, and Bequette-Ribault House. Additionally, Ste. Genevieve has a plethora of specialty shops, bed & breakfasts, antique stores, hotels, and excellent eateries. Outdoor enthusiasts should tour the adjacent Hawn State Park and Pickle Springs Natural Area, whereas revelers from worldwide are drawn to the town’s annual fests like Jour de Fete in August and the French Heritage Festival in June.

From the state’s oldest town Ste. Genevieve to Carthage – “America’s Maple Leaf City,” each of the pretty small towns in the Show Me State entices vacationers from all over the globe with its spectacular surroundings, rich heritage, abundant Midwestern hospitality, award-winning restaurants providing delectable cuisines, and colorful celebrations. So, if you are on the lookout for gorgeous locales to spend a short weekend trip or your next long vacation, these hospitable Missouri towns should be on the top of your lists.

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