Jefferson City Missouri.

8 Most Beautiful Cities in Missouri

The state gets its name from the Missouri River after the indigenous Missouri Indians. With many nicknames including "Mother of the West" and "Cave State," and its more popular nickname "Show Me State," the state is home to an abundance of natural beauty. There are many breathtaking cities in Missouri, famous for their landmarks and inventions such as iced tea at the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904.

Be it the majestic Missouri and Mississippi rivers, captivating caverns, scenic Ozark mountains, stunning state parks, and historic landmarks, the state of Missouri in the United States is a good blend of beauty, adventure, and entertainment. Missouri cities are perfect for adventures of all kinds, admiring nature, vacationing, hiking, and exploring history.


Missouri River near Parkville
Missouri River near Parkville.

This Platte County city along the banks of the Missouri River lies at the western end of the state and falls under the Kansas City Metropolitan Area. The historic town has antique shops, art galleries, and vibrant hues downtown with captivating architecture. It also has the popular Park University and the National Golf Club, with two golf courses. The limestone carved bluffs, wooded panoramic view, and the river all add to the city’s beauty.

After buying the city in 1838, Colonel George S. Park, a philanthropist, land speculator, entrepreneur, veteran of the Texas War of Independence, and the first settler at Parkville built his home on the shoreline above the river. He was instrumental in developing the city.

Besides the Parkville Nature Sanctuary, Platte Landing Park, and English Landing Park for trails and nature exploration, other fabulous spots include Heartland Center with adventurous activities like horse riding, high ropes challenge, swimming, and archery. S.D. Strong Distilling, the world’s sole distillery located in a cave, and Farm House Collection which sells exquisite gifts are two other must-visit sights.

Kansas City

The Scout overlooking downtown Kansas City
The Scout overlooking downtown Kansas City.

Kansas City (KC or KCMO) is the central city of the Kansas City Metropolitan Area, set on the western boundary of Missouri. It is also the largest city in Missouri by population. Known for its jazz vibe, hometown history, art, barbeque (BBQ), shopping, and the fact that it has more boulevards than Paris and more fountains than any city except for Rome, it is also referred to as the “City of Fountains.”

John McCoy was instrumental in building the city. “Westport Landing” along the Missouri river connected to “Westport Settlement” by road were both founded by McCoy. The two helped in developing the city. The Town Company set up in 1838 with McCoy and several others helped people buy properties along the waterfront. This fueled the origin of the Town of Kansas in 1850. The Kansas or Kaw in its name honors the Kansa Indians. Missouri state called it the City of Kansas in 1853 but by 1889 it became Kansas City.

The city has lots to offer visitors with 134 miles of trails and bikeways, the Kansas City Murals, 103 playgrounds, 220 parks, 29 lakes, and 119 monuments. For art and history lovers, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art displays Asian and Native American art galleries, the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art exhibits modern forms of art and historical museums such as Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and the National World War I Museum. Those who love nature and animals must explore Kansas City Zoo, Sea Life Kansas City, or parks like Loose Park. Foodies must try Kansas City Barbeque at Arthur Bryant’s, the city’s oldest BBQ place, or savor delicacies from the Bluestem restaurant for a ten-course meal. Before leaving the city shop at The Country Club Plaza and The West Bottoms.

Jefferson City

Reflection of the Missouri State Capital Building in Jefferson City, Missouri
Jefferson City Missouri.

Named after the nation’s third president Thomas Jefferson, this beautiful city belonging to Cole County is in the heart of the state, and is the capital of Missouri. Being a beautiful city, it has many significant landmarks like the Missouri State Capitol and incredible nature to explore. After its incorporation, the city had a few buildings, about 31 families, one hotel, and a general store. Daniel Morgan Boone planned the city’s setup, followed by its incorporation in 1825.

There are numerous attractions, and you can begin with a downtown tour to marvel at the architectural magnificence of the buildings and structures and their serene surroundings. A visit to the Missouri State Capitol is a must as you will appreciate the structure as a memorial to its people, and how it stands against the skyline. The Lewis and Clark Monument is another poignant structure in honor of the famous explorers, this landmark also has waterfalls and greenery around it. Visit the 1871 Governor's Mansion to see how it still stands as a historical masterpiece of its time; the city’s founding family still resides in the mansion. Missouri State Penitentiary Museum, Museum of Missouri Military History, and Missouri State Museum are other places for those who enjoy history. While outdoor lovers will appreciate Binder State Park which is the city’s largest park, Runge Conservation Nature Center, and Carnahan Memorial Garden.


A classic v8 Hemi powered muscle car with the hood open.
Florissant, Missouri. Image credit RellMade via Shutterstock

Being one of the older cities in Missouri, this St. Louis County city lies in east-central Missouri in the Greater St. Louis area. It is also popular for having a huge community of retirees because the city is picturesque and peaceful, unlike other noisy and chaotic big cities. The scenic and historic city is adjacent to the Missouri River and located about 17 miles away from downtown St. Louis. The Spanish settlers inhabited the city around 1762 while the French came in around 1785. The city got its name in 1939 as "Fleurissant" meaning flowering in French replacing the old Spanish name St. Ferdinand.

If you visit the city, you will fall in love with its serenity, natural beauty, and charming historic structures. The Casa Alvarez, listed as one of the oldest houses in St. Louis County and also on the National Register of Historic Places, is a classic illustration of Missouri French architecture. The city’s highlight, the Historic Old Town area with its vintage charm is characteristic of the Spanish colonization and is a great delight to explore. The city has about 20 parks with 400 acres of parkland providing recreational activities. The city also houses an old US fighter jet and an old 1850s log cabin.


Gasconade County Courthouse in Hermann Missouri, riverfront view
Gasconade County Courthouse in Hermann Missouri.

As the county seat of Gasconade County, and located in east-central Missouri, Hermann is famous for its wineries with its wine production amounting to one-third of the state’s wine. The city gets its name from a German leader "Hermann der Cherusker" who defeated the Romans in the 9th CE in the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest. The German Settlement Society of Philadelphia was instrumental in building the city in 1837, brought about by Gottfried Duden, a German emigrant writer. The Philadelphia Germans wanted to have their own community in a new city to prevent their countrymen from assimilating into American society.

Besides its wineries, many of which are functional from the 1800s, the city is popular for its fests like the harvest festivals, Wurstfest, Maifest, and Oktoberfest as well as brick architecture buildings. As Missouri’s sausage-making capital, the city has many sausage-making places. While in the city, visit the Hermann Farm, the Historic Hermann Museum, Hermann's Attic Antique Mall, and Deutschheim State Historic Site for facts on German-American history. The city has over 150 historic structures on the Historic Register. Whether you choose to pursue wine trails on a bike or foot, ride the Katy Trail, or visit the local shops, you will not regret a single moment spent here.


Antique John Deere tractor in front of yard along Manchester Road, Missouri
Manchester, Missouri.

Lying about 25 miles west of St. Louis, and 22 miles away from Missouri’s oldest city Florissant, Manchester is over 200 years old and shows off its past and promising future. The small town feel is characteristic of late 19th-century buildings and the Manchester City Hall that features in the National Register of Historic Places. With a bit of a suburban feel, it is one of the best cities to live in, with most people owning their homes. The city is most known for its parks which often host community events and are perfect for a getaway on lazy summer afternoons. 

The city was first incorporated in 1950 as a village, and in 1959 same was re-established as a fourth-class city. At first, it was about two square miles but following annexations, it increased to five square miles. In 1997 the city had about 3,309 residents, and today it stands at an estimated 19,000.

The must-visit historical sites include the Manchester United Methodist Church and the popular landmark, the Manchester City Hall in the Lyceum building. Also, the nation’s tallest, 630-foot tall Gateway Arch Monument in St. Louis is 20 miles away from Manchester. Other major attractions of the city include parks like the Amp Up Action Park, Queeny Park, Simpson Park, Breakout Games for some mystery solving, Top Notch Axe Throwing Ballwin for some fun and excitement, and Sweetology to satisfy sweet cravings.


Sunset with downtown Springfield Missouri skyline
Downtown Springfield, Missouri.

Springfield is the third-largest city in southwest Missouri and is the county seat of Greene County. It is the principal city in the Springfield metropolitan area that also covers the counties of Christian, Polk, Webster, and Dallas. The city has reputed colleges and universities and is a center for education and medical care. As the "Queen City of the Ozarks," it stands like a queen with its luxurious groves of stately fruit trees. The city is also known as "The 417" because that is its area code, and it is "The birthplace of route 66" because the idea of the more scenic, shorter Chicago to Los Angeles route came up in Springfield.

The Campbell brothers from Tennessee, John, and Madison helped to build the city of Springfield. Around 1830, while camping near a spring, John came up with the idea of building a farm around it, so he carved his name on an ash tree in the area, and soon the land was his. Today, the area stands as Founder’s Park. The Campbells gave land for building a town, and with new settlers buying land from the Campbells, Greene County formed. In 1835 about 500 people called Springfield home, and the town took its name, Springfield, in 1838.

Springfield has many attractions, from caves, hiking, shopping, arts, and entertainment, to parks and trails like the Ozark trails, and wildlife museums. The Wonders of Wildlife Museum & Aquarium, voted America’s best aquarium, Dickerson Park Zoo, a self-guided walking tour, Missouri’s well-known Fantastic Caverns, Smallin’ Civil War Cave, and the stunning Pythian Castle are must-visit sights. The city also hosts annual events, day trips, concerts, and live music and theatre.


Stone church at top of the rock in Branson Missouri
Stone church at top of the rock in Branson Missouri.

Southwest Missouri is stunning and Branson, a Taney County city is no exception, this Ozark town in the heart of its mountains, is about 40 miles south of Springfield. It is Missouri’s most prized locale because of its entertainment, scenic Ozark mountain views, historic downtown, Branson Tri-Lakes, wineries, and more. Tourists flock to this beautiful town because it is a perfect package of beauty and entertainment, and a pure blend of history, nature, and modernity.

The city gets its name from its postmaster and general store operator, Reuben Branson, an integral part of the community in the 1880s. At first, set to be an industrial center in the Ozarks for logs and lumber the town today is famous as an entertainment spot with flocks of tourists contributing to its success and fame.

While in the area, take the free trolley downtown for the 1880s vibe, travel via the Branson Scenic Railway for some spectacular sights, or explore the Branson Landing stretch for shopping, dining, and more. Art and history enthusiasts can explore places like the Ralph Foster Museum and The College of the Ozarks, Titanic Museum, Ancient Ozarks Natural History Museum, Sight & Sound Theatres, and Hollywood Wax Museum. Other fantastic spots include the Silver Dollar City, Promised Land Zoo, White Water Branson, Marvel Cave, Talking Rocks Cavern, The Butterfly Palace and Rainforest Adventure, Ripley’s Believe It or Not, and Ripley’s Super Fun Zone.

The state of Missouri boasts a strong agricultural significance, fascination with barbeque, and St. Louis’ classic Gateway Arch as a monument. The lesser-known facts about the state are that its state folk dance is the square dance, its state musical instrument is the fiddle, and its official state tree is the Flowering Dogwood. Be it the more populated cities such as Kansas City, and Springfield, or the lesser populated cities like Parville, and Hermann each contributes to the uniqueness of Missouri as a state.

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