Restored vintage Phillips 66 Gas Station located at Red Oak II, near historic Route 66, Carthage, Missouri.

9 Unforgettable Small Towns to Visit in Missouri

Within the heartland of the United States, Missouri boasts a collection of charming small towns that beckon travelers with their unique blend of history, culture, and hospitality. Visitors to these small towns are in for a treat with vibrant local communities, delectable regional cuisine, and hidden gems that define the character of each town. 

From the historic streets of Sainte Genevieve to the picturesque beauty of Hermann, you will come across antique shops, local flavors at family-owned diners, or the festivities of seasonal celebrations. So, delve into the heart of the state and explore nine towns that stand out for their unforgettable allure in the heart of America's Midwest.

Ste Genevieve

Ste. Genevieve, Missouri: County Clerk building.

Ste. Genevieve, Missouri: County Clerk building.

With French colonial architecture adorning the charming streets exuberating the 1880s vibe, it is easy to see why Ste Genevieve has a National Historic Landmark District. You can admire the Poteaux Sur Solle-style Bolduc House Museum, a meticulously restored French Colonial home. Another must-visit is the 1818 Felix Valle House State Historic Site, offering a glimpse into early American life through "modern" American articles.

Those looking for interaction with nature can make their way to the 25-minute away Hawn State Park, which features hiking trails through lush forests and limestone canyons. Local flavors at the Audubon's Grill & Bar, serving up a fusion of French and American cuisine, are the best. The Inn St. Gemme Beauvais, a historic bed and breakfast established in 1848, provides an authentic ambiance for a cozy stay.


Boonville, Missouri: MKT Depot.

Boonville, Missouri: MKT Depot. By robertstinnett from Boonville, MO, USA - Boonville MO MKT Depot, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

The 19th-century air in Boonville beckons you beside the Missouri River. As the Katy Trail State Park, more than 200 miles, weaves through the town, visitors will find breathtaking river views and a perfect setting for cycling and hiking enthusiasts. Automobile lovers will have a fantastic time at the Mitchell Antique Motorcar Museum, a hidden gem showcasing vintage showrunners. 

History buffs will appreciate the Boonville Heritage Days festival, a lively celebration of the town's past since 1989. The Thespian Hall, the longest operating theater the west of Allegheny, is a cultural centerpiece hosting live performances on any fine evening. Afterward, indulge at Maggie's Bar & Grill, known for its signature burgers. Opt for the historic Hotel Frederick for accommodations, blending Victorian elegance with modern comfort in a 1905 structure.

Arrow Rock

Arrow Rock, Missouri: Bank building.

Arrow Rock, Missouri: Bank building. By pasa47 - Flickr, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

The quaint allure of Arrow Rock, a National Historic Landmark frozen in the 19th century, is hard to miss. Known for its association with the Santa Fe Trail, the town boasts the Arrow Rock State Historic Site, offering hiking trails and stunning vistas of the Missouri River. 

Those interested in history will love the town. The Dr. Sappington Museum unfolds the story of early medicine in the region, housed in a Federal-style mansion. The Lyceum Theatre, finding a place among "Missouri's oldest professional regional theater," stages captivating performances in an intimate setting. You can also walk through the historic district, where the J. Huston Tavern, the state's oldest operating restaurant, beckons with home-cooked delights. 


Hermann, Missouri: Train tracks along the Missouri River.

Hermann, Missouri: Train tracks along the Missouri River.

Hermann, amidst rolling vineyards, radiates German heritage and hospitality. Deutschheim State Historic Site makes for a good starting point, a living museum portraying German-American life right from its establishment in the 19th century. You will come across two original Pommer pianos, a house garden that is replicating a German kitchen garden, a workshop, and a souvenir store. 

A scenic drive along the Hermann Wine Trail will take you to boutique wineries like Adam Puchta Winery and six other renowned vineyards. You can also choose to explore Stone Hill Winery, Missouri's oldest, where you can sip wines in a cellar dating back to 1847. Accommodations at the Hermann Hill provide a luxurious retreat amid Norton Grape Vineyard. 


Carthage, Missouri: Carthage Courthouse with fall foliage in downtown.
Carthage, Missouri: Carthage Courthouse with fall foliage in downtown. Editorial credit: Rachael Martin /

The southwest Missouri town of Carthage is an artistic gem. Begin at the Precious Moments Chapel, a unique art gallery adorned with iconic teardrop-eyed characters. Stop by the Civil War Museum, which showcases artifacts and stories from the Battle of Carthage, including a wall-sized battle mural.

Do not miss the 1895-constructed Historic Phelps House, a Victorian masterpiece offering insight into Carthage's architectural heritage. You can try El Charro, a family-owned Mexican restaurant with authentic cuisine, and then find your way to the iconic Red Oak II, an outdoor museum preserving Route 66's heyday. The Boots Court Motel, a Route 66 classic, offers a nostalgic stay. 


Weston, Missouri: Downtown Main Street in Weston.
Weston, Missouri: Downtown Main Street in Weston. Editorial credit: Matt Fowler KC /

In the rolling hills of northwest Missouri, Weston exudes small-town charm with a distinct flavor. The over 1,000-acre Weston Bend State Park, where 1.5 miles of hiking trails wind through picturesque landscapes, boasting panoramic views of the Missouri River Valley and Fort Leavenworth, is at the top of the list. A trip down Main Street, lined with 19th-century buildings housing eclectic shops, notably the McCormick On Main- the distilling company store, is a must.

The Weston Brewing Company, housed in a historic 1800s limestone building, offers not just craft brews but also a fascinating underground brewery tour showcasing Prohibition-era history. Do not forget to relish a meal at O'Malley's Pub, a local favorite for its Irish-inspired cuisine.


Hannibal, Missouri: Colorful downtown buildings on a sunny morning.
Hannibal, Missouri: Colorful downtown buildings on a sunny morning. Editorial credit: Sabrina Janelle Gordon /

Hannibal calls out the literary legacy of Mark Twain. It is an excellent idea to visit the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum, where you can explore the house that inspired "Tom Sawyer" and "Huckleberry Finn." You can also cruise the river on the Mark Twain Riverboat, a scenic journey that evokes the spirit of Tom and Huck.

Furthermore, The Hannibal History Museum delves into the town's rich past, from river trade to Civil War events. You also consider strolling along the 5 acres of Lover's Leap, a bluff with panoramic river views. When hunger strikes, grab a bite at LaBinnah Bistro, known for its eclectic menu.


Fulton, Missouri: Kappa Alpha Order fraternity house on the campus of Westminster College.
Fulton, Missouri: Kappa Alpha Order fraternity house on the campus of Westminster College. Editorial credit: Nagel Photography /

Fulton pays homage to one of the 20th century's defining moments. You can dive into the details at the National Churchill Museum, housed in a reconstructed church from London, presenting Winston Churchill's famous Iron Curtain speech on the "Breakthrough" sculpture. 

A trip to the Westminster College campus, home to the vast Blue Jay Field and the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury, is also worth it. The scenic grounds of the Serenity Valley Winery, surrounded by lush vineyards, are a beautiful place for a picnic with family or trying out wines. For a delightful meal, reserve a table at Beks, a local favorite known for its farm-to-table fare. Stay at the Loganberry Inn, a Victorian-style bed and breakfast offering a tranquil escape. 


Kimmswick, Missouri: Street view of 2nd Street featuring historic buildings and signs to various attractions.

Kimmswick, Missouri: Street view of 2nd Street featuring historic buildings and signs to various attractions. By Paul Sableman - Kimmswick, MO, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

Stepping into Kimmswick is like entering a storybook village frozen in time. It will become a reality on the grounds of the 1867-built Anheuser Estate, an elegant mansion offering guided tours through its rich history spread on 23 acres. Kimmswick's historic district is where quaint shops like the Blue Owl Restaurant & Bakery, known for its award-winning Levee High Apple Pie, offer a taste of local craftsmanship and cuisine. Kimmswick is renowned for its annual Apple Butter Festival, a celebration of small-town charm with crafts, music, and, of course, delicious apple butter in fall. You can check out the quaint The Greenhouse Inn for a cozy retreat.

A Journey Through Missouri's Unforgettable Towns

In the heart of Missouri, these nine small towns unfold as chapters in a captivating story, each contributing a unique melody to the symphony of the Show-Me State. From colonial time capsules to riverside retreats and literary legacies, each town invites travelers to immerse themselves in the rich tapestry of Missouri's history and charm. Whether exploring the vineyards of Hermann, the Victorian elegance of Carthage, or the literary legacy of Hannibal, it will be a unique and unforgettable vacation experience.

  1. Home
  2. Places
  3. Cities
  4. 9 Unforgettable Small Towns to Visit in Missouri

More in Places