Overlooking downtown Hannibal, Missouri.

Missouri's Best Small Towns for a Weekend Escape

Known as the Show Me State, Missouri has much to show visitors during a weekend escape. Missouri boasts several charming small towns that offer a unique blend of rich history, vibrant arts, outdoor adventures, and serene nature views. From the German heritage of Hermann to the live entertainment of Branson and the literary roots visitors can explore in Hannibal, Missouri has some of the best small towns for a weekend escape. Whether savoring world-famous towering pies in Kimmswick or discovering the pioneering past in Booneville, these Missouri small towns offer an unforgettable weekend getaway for all visitors.


Downtown Hermann, Missouri
Downtown Hermann, Missouri. Editorial credit: Logan Bush / Shutterstock.com.

Nestled in the Missouri River Valley, Hermann offers a charming escape for a relaxing weekend escape. Steeped in German heritage, Hermann offers a perfect blend of history, culture, and outdoor adventure. Visitors can learn more about the town's past at the Deutschheim State Historic Site, a testament to German architecture and lifestyle. Art enthusiasts enjoy the vibrant First Friday Art Walk from May through October, where local galleries showcase works by local artists. For wine lovers and history buffs alike the Hermann Wine Trail offers tastings and a look at the town’s family-owned wineries. One stop along the Wine Trail is Stone Hill Winery, the oldest operating winery in Missouri, established in 1847.

For those wanting to connect with nature, Hermann has several places to explore. Anglers can cast a line and soak in the serenity at Riverfront Park, while outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy the sunshine and scenery at Hermann City Park. The Katy Trail State Park, a scenic pathway winding through the town, offers cyclists and hikers beautiful views along the Missouri River. After exploring all that Hermann has to offer, stay at Hermann Hill. This luxurious dog-friendly bed and breakfast has a spa, whirlpool tubs, and stunning vineyard views.


A beautiful stone church in Branson, Missouri.
A beautiful stone church in Branson, Missouri.

Branson is a popular spot for those who enjoy live entertainment, thrilling theme parks, and breathtaking natural beauty. Nestled amidst the Ozark Mountains, Branson provides families and adventure seekers alike with a fun-filled weekend getaway. Explore the town’s vibrant music scene with live shows at the Andy Williams Performing Arts Center or the Grand Country Music Hall. Visitors also enjoy the summer events at Branson Landing, a scenic lakeside mall with several shopping options and delicious restaurants. Discover the wonders of the natural world at the Dinosaur Museum or enjoy the fascinating exhibits at the Hollywood Wax Museum and Ripley's Believe It or Not!

Nature enthusiasts will find a relaxing retreat at Table Rock State Park, where hiking, camping, and boating adventures await. Cast a line and soak up the serenity at Table Rock Lake, or unwind on the sandy shores of Moonshine Beach. For those looking for a dose of adrenaline, a trip to Silver Dollar City is a must. This family-friendly theme park features record-breaking roller coasters, exhilarating water rides, and exciting entertainment. After a day of exploration, unwind at Branson Shores Resort, offering beautiful lake views, spacious lodging options, and many family-friendly activities.


Railroad Katy Bridge at Boonville over Missouri River
Railroad Katy Bridge at Boonville over the Missouri River.

Located along the banks of the Missouri River, Boonville offers a tranquil escape and rich history to explore during a weekend retreat. Named after legendary frontiersman Daniel Boone, history buffs enjoy exploring the River, Rails and Trails Museum, housed in the historic depot district and showcasing the town's pioneering past. Visitors can also explore the unique shops and restaurants lining the historic downtown area or unwind with a stroll through Rolling Hills Park.

Outdoor enthusiasts can hike or cycle along the Katy Trail State Park, offering breathtaking views of the Missouri River. For those seeking a taste of local culture, Boonville's annual festivals are a must. In the summer, the Missouri River Festival of the Arts showcases local arts and crafts, while the Heritage Days Festival celebrates the town’s history with a parade, live entertainment, a quilt show, and more. After discovering the charming town, stay at the historic Hotel Frederick, a bed and breakfast located at the doorstep of the Katy Trail.


An adventure park on the Mississippi River in Hannibal, Missouri
An adventure park on the Mississippi River in Hannibal, Missouri.

Situated along the mighty Mississippi River, Hannibal, Missouri, is an idyllic destination for a weekend retreat. Steeped in history as the birthplace of author Mark Twain, the town offers a serene escape for those seeking a blend of culture and natural beauty. Visitors can take a journey into the past by touring the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum. Nearby is the Hannibal Arts Council Gallery, where Hannibal's vibrant cultural scene comes alive with exhibits by local artists.

For outdoor enthusiasts, Hannibal boasts several recreational opportunities. Take a leisurely riverboat tour along the Mississippi River, or enjoy a tranquil stroll through the town's parks, such as Riverview Park and Huckleberry Park. For outdoor adventures, Steyermark Woods Conservation Area offers scenic mountain biking, hiking, and wildlife viewing. After a day of exploration, unwind at the charming Garth Woodside Mansion Bed and Breakfast, an upscale lodging option in a historic 1871 mansion.


Adair County Courthouse (Missouri) in Kirksville, Missouri.
Adair County Courthouse (Missouri) in Kirksville, Missouri. Image credit: Kbh3rd, via Wikimedia Commons.

For those looking for a peaceful weekend retreat, Kirksville is a great Missouri small town to visit. Kirksville, a vibrant small town in northeast Missouri, is known for its abundant outdoor activities, history, and art community. In the quaint downtown area, the Adair County Historical Society Museum provides a fascinating look into the region’s history, showcasing artifacts and exhibits from different eras. Located nearby in the heart of Kirksville is the Kirksville Arts Association Gallery. Art enthusiasts can explore local art exhibits or attend workshops and events at the gallery.

Kirksville is also a great spot to explore the great outdoors during a weekend getaway. Thousand Hills State Park is a highlight for nature lovers, offering serene hiking trails, boating, and even views of Native American petroglyphs that are more than 1,500 years old. The park also boasts relaxing fishing opportunities, along with boating and swimming, on Forest Lake. For those who want to be immersed in nature, stay at the park’s campground or in one of seven cabins with breathtaking views of the lake.


A scene from Kimmswick, Missouri
A scene from Kimmswick, Missouri. Image credit: Paul Sableman via Wikimedia Commons.

Kimmswick is a quaint and historic town near the Mississippi River, known for its unique festivals and charming shops, making it a delightful weekend retreat. The Blue Owl Restaurant and Bakery is a must-visit dining spot, famous for its towering Levee High Caramel Apple Pecan Pie. Also located downtown is the Kimmswick Historical Society Museum, providing a unique glimpse into the town's history. More history can be explored at the Anheuser Estate, built in 1867. Once home to the famed Anheuser family, founders of the Anheuser Brewing Company, the estate includes a museum that provides a look into the family's history and legacy.

A visit to Kimmswick wouldn't be complete without a stroll across the Windsor Harbor Road Bridge. Built in 1874, it holds the distinction of being the oldest wrought iron span bridge in Missouri. For a comfortable stay in town, the Greenhouse Inn provides a cozy cottage in a previous greenhouse. After a day of indulging in pie, history, and stunning river views, relax at the Greenhouse Inn, a former greenhouse that has been transformed into a cozy cottage.


Entrance to Huzzah Valley Resort campground in Steelville, Missouri.
Entrance to Huzzah Valley Resort campground in Steelville, Missouri.

Nestled in the Ozark foothills is the riverside town of Steelville, known for its outdoor adventurers and relaxation activities. Unofficially known as "the floating capital of Missouri," water enthusiasts enjoy floating or kayaking down the sparkling Meramec River, while anglers cast a line for bass in the river at Birds Nest Beach Park. More outdoor adventures await with a stroll along the paved walkways of Steelville City Park and the biking trails of the Steelville Bike Park. For those looking for tranquility, Hoppe Spring Park awaits, offering a scenic view of the town's namesake spring and a walking trail through Steelville's historic district. During a weekend visit, be sure to catch a show at the Meramec Music Theatre, which hosts a variety of musical acts throughout the year.

For a memorable lodging experience, stay at the Wildwood Springs Lodge. Built in 1922, this historic property blends rustic charm with modern comforts, including a camp fire pit, luxurious outdoor swimming pool, and several hiking trails.

Missouri’s Small Town Getaways

Each of these seven small towns in Missouri provide history and culture to explore, along with natural beauty to discover, making them perfect destinations for a weekend escape. Whether enjoying views of the mighty Mississippi River in Kimmswick or enjoying local Midwest art in Kirksville, these are the best small towns in Missouri for a weekend getaway. For those looking to float down the Meramec River in Steelville or explore the boyhood home of author Mark Twain in Hannibal, these Missouri towns have something for everyone.

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