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

8 Serene Towns In Missouri For A Weekend Retreat

Missouri, a charming landlocked state in the American Midwest, captivates vacationers with its diverse topography and typical culture that beautifully blends the elements of the Midwest as well as the American South. Whenever one thinks of visiting Missouri, the first places that invariably come to mind are the large urban metropolises like Springfield, Kansas City, Columbia, the state capital - Jefferson City, and St. Louis with its iconic 630-foot-tall Gateway Arch. However, these bustling cities are not only what Missouri has to offer.

The innumerable, serene small towns peppered all over this incredible terrain showcase the best of the Show Me State and are ideal locales to escape for a relaxing weekend.


American Eagle docked at Hannibal, Missouri
American Eagle docked at Hannibal, Missouri. Editorial credit: Photos BrianScantlebury /

Stretching into both Marion and Ralls counties in the northeastern part of the state, Hannibal is a pleasant waterfront community along the western shores of the Mississippi River, exactly 100 miles north of St. Louis. This chief community of the Hannibal Micropolitan Statistical Area is esteemed for being the native home of Mark Twain, one of the world’s greatest literary icons, where holidayers can soak in the town’s natural beauty by undertaking a Mark Twain Riverboat tour.

Retire for the night in homey hotels like Best Western On The River and Sleep Inn & Suites; after surveying some of Hannibal’s famous points of interest like The Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum, Mark Twain Memorial Lighthouse, Planters Barn Theater, Jim’s Journey: The Huck Finn Freedom Center, Garth Woodside Mansion, Mark Twain Cave & Cameron Cave, Hannibal History Museum, Lover’s Leap, and Cave Hollow West Winery. Outdoor enthusiasts can avail abundant recreation opportunities at Sodalis Nature Preserve, Riverview Park, and Huckleberry Park. Downtown Hannibal is a venue for yearly festivals like National Tom Sawyer Days, Loafer’s Car Club Show, Brew Skies Music Festival, and Chocolate Extravaganza.


A barge on the heavily traveled Mississippi River in Kimmswick, Missouri.
A barge on the heavily traveled Mississippi River in Kimmswick, Missouri. Editorial credit: Logan Bush /

This tranquil Jefferson County town, platted in 1859 by Theodore Kimm, is situated approx. 22 miles south of St. Louis along the shores of the Mississippi River. Vacationers visiting Kimmswick should walk down the brick-lined streets of the Kimmswick Historic District and witness the 18th and 19th-century structures constructed in Bungalow/American Craftsman architectural style. Gaze in wonder at the well-known Windsor Harbor Road Bridge and peruse the wide variety of antique shops, clothing boutiques, artisan stores, eateries serving mouthwatering Midwestern meals, and hotels like The Greenhouse Inn in the town’s revitalized downtown. In addition, participate in various festivals like the Kimmswick Christmas Parade & Open House, Kimmswick Car Show, Strawberry Festival, Witches Night Out, and Apple Butter Festival hosted every year.


Aerial view of Hermann, Missouri
Aerial view of Hermann, Missouri.

Hermann, located close to the heart of Missouri Rhineland and on the Missouri River’s south in Gasconade County, serves as the commercial hub of the Hermann AVA. Named after Hermann der Cherusker - a Germanic leader and founded by the German Settlement Society of Philadelphia in 1837, the town is best known for its lively German culture, rich viticulture traditions, stunning greenery, and vintage charm. Traverse the Hermann Wine Trail and taste local spirits from family-owned wineries like Stone Hill Winery, Hermannhof Winery, Adam Puchta Winery, etc. A handful of distilleries and microbreweries in the town use local grains for making beer, whiskey, rye, bourbon, and gin.

Stop by the Historic Hermann Museum, Deutschheim State Historic Site, and Hermann Farm Museum to learn more about the town’s past. The 240-mile-long Katy Trail that makes its way through mid-Missouri farm fields caters to adventure seekers all four seasons. Find time to partake in yearly celebrations like FreedomFest, Oktoberfest, and Witches & Wine Festival, and unwind after a hectic day of explorations at Hermann Crown Suites or The Inn at Hermannhof.

Ste. Genevieve

Historical buildings in Ste. Genevieve, Missouri
Historical buildings in Ste. Genevieve, Missouri.

Ste. Genevieve County’s seat of government, this picture-perfect town forms a part of eastern Missouri’s Ste. Genevieve Township is along the western shores of the Mississippi River, close to the state border with Illinois. Established about 2 miles south of its present-day location by French Canadian settlers and migrants from Illinois Country on the Mississippi River’s eastern side, Ste. Genevieve is the oldest permanent European settlement in the state to the west of the Mississippi River. Called in reverence to the patron saint of Paris, the town has wonderfully retained its exclusive French allure, primarily due to the careful preservation of its old French Colonial-style properties.

When in town, heritage buffs must tour the Louis Bolduc House, Bequette-Ribault House, Felix Valle House State Historic Site, Old Louisiana Academy, La Maison de Guibourd, and Beauvais-Amoureaux House. Furthermore, Ste. Genevieve has scores of specialty shops, award-winning diners, antique stores, and hotels like Main Street Inn Bed & Breakfast and Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham Sainte Genevieve. The nearby Pickle Springs Natural Area and Hawn State Park are must-visits for outdoorsy types, while merrymakers from all over the globe are drawn to annual fests such as the French Heritage Festival and Jour de Fete.

Arrow Rock

Entryway to Visitor Center, Arrow Rock State Historic Site, Arrow Rock, Missouri
Entryway to Visitor Center, Arrow Rock State Historic Site, Arrow Rock, Missouri. Image credit: JeromeG111 via

Arrow Rock, a small Saline County village, is situated above a flint-bearing limestone bluff that provides sweeping views of the Missouri River. Owing to the community’s link with Westward Expansion, the whole village has been designated a National Historic Landmark and is encompassed by the 260-acre Arrow Rock Historic District. The meticulously restored residence of George Caleb Bingham - an illustrious frontier artist, the Arrow Rock State Historic Site, Arrow Rock Lyceum Theatre, and Huston Tavern are some outstanding sites of interest. Vacationers can relax either at Flint Creek Inn or Arrow Rock Station Bed & Breakfast; and make plans to take part in the Arrow Rock Heritage Craft Festival held every October.


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

Dubbed “America’s Maple Leaf City,” this administrative center of southwestern Missouri’s Jasper County is located along U.S. Route 71 Highway south of the Spring River, about 12 miles from Joplin and 17 miles from Neosho. Esteemed as the site of the Battle of Carthage during the American Civil War, the entire settlement was burned down in September 1864 by the pro-Confederate guerrillas. Nevertheless, significant wealth contributed by the surrounding limestone quarries and lead mines helped Carthage to become one of the area’s most flourishing towns.

In the late 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, uncountable buildings, including the National Register-listed Jasper County Courthouse, were constructed using the local gray marble. Sightseers visiting Carthage must tour the well-known sites of interest like the Phelps Country Estate, Precious Moments Park & Chapel, Battle of Carthage Historic Site, 66 Drive-In Theatre, and rest at Boots Court Motel, Quality Inn & Suites by Choice Hotels, or Days Inn by Wyndham Carthage.


The visitor centre in Boonville, Missouri
The visitor centre in Boonville, Missouri. Editorial credit: APN Photography /

Cooper County’s seat, Boonville, situated atop the forested bluffs overlooking the mighty Missouri River, occupies the heart of the state just off Interstate 70 Highway, roughly midway between Kansas City and St. Louis. Named after the sons of American pioneer Daniel Boone who had established a salt lick close to the community, this pretty town served as the location of one of the first land skirmishes in the American Civil War.

Besides having more than 400 well-maintained landmark properties and a thriving arts & cultural scene, Boonville’s other noteworthy attractions include the Katy Trail State Park, Katy Railroad Bridge, New Visitors Center & River, Rails & Trails Museum, Hail Ridge Golf Course, Warm Springs Ranch, Lyric Theater (Thespian Hall), and Harley Park. Holidayers can enjoy their stay at any of the town’s famed accommodations like the Isle of Capri Casino Hotel, Holiday Inn Express Boonville, etc., and try to join the various yearly events such as Boonville Heritage Days, Missouri River Festival of the Arts, Festival of The Lights, Big Muddy Folk Festival, Festival of the Leaves, and Halloween parade.


Biking trails in Rocheport, Missouri
Biking trails in Rocheport, Missouri. Editorial credit: marekuliasz /

A part of the Columbia Metropolitan Statistical Area, this tiny river town is set on the western extremity of Boone County, on the craggy bluffs of the Missouri River. Originally established in 1825 as a trading post for settlers and Native Americans, Rocheport includes the National Register-listed Rocheport Historic District, featuring numerous notable structures dating back to the 1830s. Passing close to the core of this 201-resident town, the 240-mile-long Katy Trail lures around 56,000 travelers annually and allows tourists to travel through some of the most picturesque areas of the state. With quaint shops, premier wineries, galleries exhibiting fabulous artworks, top-tier eateries, and cozy bed & breakfasts like Amber House Bed & Breakfast, School House Bed & Breakfast, etc., Rocheport has much to offer. The Blufftop at Rocheport invites wine aficionados to taste quality wines produced at the Les Bourgeois Vineyards.

From Carthage - “America’s Maple Leaf City,” to Ste. Genevieve - Missouri’s oldest town, each small town in the country’s 21st largest and 19th most populous state has some exquisite sights for visitors. If you want to experience the breathtaking countryside, discover nationally renowned attractions, sample regional wines, hike natural trails, and be present at colorful annual celebrations, the small towns in the Mother of the West promise an enchanting weekend getaway.

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