Santa and Mrs Claus wave from a horse drawn carriage in the Christmas and Holiday parade in Saint Charles, Missouri. Image credit RozenskiP via Shutterstock

These Towns in Missouri Come Alive in Winter

A place you might not think to visit in winter is Missouri. However, the state is worth a visit in the colder months. The small towns in Missouri possess a particular charm in winter. Hannibal, for example, shows off the charm of the Mississippi River, with old-fashioned holiday festivities to enjoy. There's no better place to enjoy stunning views of Missouri's Ozark Mountains than the town of Branson. And if you are looking for old-fashioned, small-town charm, St Charles is the Missouri town to explore.

Whether you enjoy outdoor activities in the chilly weather, walks in historic downtowns, or holiday festivities, there is a town or city in Missouri for you. These Missouri small towns and cities show off the magical side of the Winter season.


Abandoned Skelly gas station, on the outskirts of Hannibal, Missouri in winter
Abandoned Skelly gas station on the outskirts of Hannibal, Missouri, in winter. Image credit melissamn via Shutterstock

Winter is one of the best times to visit Missouri's charming town, Hannibal. The town is on the scenic Mississippi River in Marion and Ralls counties. During winter, the streets of Hannibal are quieter, making it the perfect time to visit popular spots such as the Mark Twain Museum and Gallery. This way, you won't have to elbow your way through the crowds to look at some of Mark Twain's letters. To learn more about Mark Twain's connection to Hannibal, visit the Interpretive Center in town where you can watch the riveting Ken Burns documentary on Mark Twain.

During the holiday season, check out Mark Twain's boyhood home. The house hosts a Victorian Christmas Festival. The fest runs on certain days in the holiday season and features everything from a festival of trees, old-fashioned horse-drawn carriage rides, and beautifully decorated windows. If you visit Hannibal in January, be sure to get a bowl of chili from the Chili Cookoff. The Cookoff happens annually every January. There's no better way to warm up from the cold than with a nice warm cup of soup!


Overlooking downtown Herman, Missouri.
Downtown Herman, Missouri.

Another great town to visit in winter is Hermann. Tucked away in the Missouri River Valley, the quaint Missouri town transforms into a winter wonderland during the holidays. If you enjoy a good hike, put on layers and walk to the Grand Bluffs Conservation Area. Here, you can enjoy a beautiful view of the Missouri bluffs of dolomite rocks and floodplain. While the trees will be bare in the winter, this will give an even better view of the bluffs.

After your hike, take a break from the cold and warm up at one of Hermann's cozy cafes. The town has plenty of local coffee shops, such as Espresso Liane, with specialty lattes and tasty pastries. Hermann is also known for its art scene. The Black Canvas Gallery and Studio is a local fine art gallery where visitors can see contemporary and fine art exhibits.


Wooden dock with leaves on the Missouri River in Washington Missouri
Wooden dock on the Missouri River in Washington, Missouri.

East of Hermann, Washington, Missouri's historic appeal comes alive in winter. The red brick downtown buildings, rolling hills of the wine country, and Missouri River are the stunning backdrop for the small town. Some of Washington's earliest settlers were German immigrants, and the downtown dates back to the 1830s. The Farmhouse at the Kohmueller Farmstead celebrates this heritage.

Beyond history, the riverfront is the town's most striking feature. You can explore the riverfront on the 5-mile Rotary-Riverfront Trail. The trail takes visitors downtown and to the east and west, giving scenic views of the Missouri River.

During the holiday season, Washington also has an annual Olde Fashioned Christmas. The event is a day-long and takes place at the end of November. Visitors can enjoy roasting marshmallows, face painting, cookie decorating, and photos with reindeer.


Masonic Temple in cute Warrensburg, Missouri
Masonic Temple in Warrensburg, Missouri.

Warrensburg is a hidden gem of Missouri towns when it comes to winter activities. Shopaholics will love walking downtown, with snow-dusted streets and brick buildings that look particularly charming. There are many funky gift shops, antique shops, and galleries. Some of the best shops to explore are the antique shop Those Were The Days and the Treasured Blessings giftshop.

Warrensburg also has a rich history. The Johnson County Historical Society Museum Complex is a great place to learn more about the history of Warrensburg. The complex is a research library and Museum preserving the history of Johnson County. In December, Warrensburg comes alive with holiday activities, including a parade and the Dickens' Christmas festival, which is one of the best Christmas festivals in Missouri.


Table Rock Lake, Branson, Missouri
Table Rock Lake, Branson, Missouri.

Sitting in the Ozark Mountains, Branson is the perfect mountain town to enjoy a quiet, scenic winter. The town is near Table Rock State Park, home to trails and historic sites. There are nearly half a dozen trails to enjoy in the park. In the wintertime, there are fewer tourists, so there are more opportunities to enjoy the trails crowd-free.

When you have enough of the chilly air, explore everything Branson offers indoors. Branson has unique indoor attractions, such as the Big Air Trampoline Park and the Titanic Museum. During the Holidays, the mountain town comes alive with festivities. There are local light displays such as the Trail of Lights hosted by Shepherd of the Hills and an annual Hot Winter Fun Big Show. The show happens every year in February and is a tradition dating back more than 25 years.

St Charles

A warm Sunday afternoon in historic downtown St. Charles, Missouri
The historic downtown St. Charles, Missouri. Image credit briantium via Shutterstock

One of Missouri's most enchanting towns is St Charles, established in 1769. When you see St Charles's historic architecture, you will feel like you are stepping back in time to when it was the first capital of the state from 1821 to 1826. Downtown is full of specialty stores, antique shops, and lovely parks, great for exploring in any season, even in winter. To explore the town's history, take a Historic Main Street Tour of the downtown. The Main Street is brick, which adds charm to the downtown, along with the must-visit Frenchtown neighborhood.

During the holidays, there is the Christmas Traditions Attractions. Victorian carolers, roasted chestnuts, and the aroma of pine greenery fill the downtown.


Carthage, Missouri, The Carthage Courthouse, with fall foliage downtown, is one of the best small towns in Missouri. This is one of the most photographed buildings in Missouri.
 The Carthage Courthouse, in late fall, Carthage, Missouri. Image credit Rachael Martin via Shutterstock.

Established in 1842, Carthage is a historic and charming Missouri town in all seasons. During the Civil War, the town burned to the ground and was later completely reconstructed. To view some of this history, there is a historic home driving tour you can take, the perfect opportunity to explore the town's scenery in the chilly weather. Other historic attractions in the town include the Precious Moments Chapel and Gardens, the Civil War Ranch, and the Battle of Carthage Civil War Museum.

The town's Downtown Historic District looks particularly stunning in winter, with snow-dusted streets and many Revival-style buildings. One of the most impressive is the Jasper County Courthouse. For the holidays, Carthage puts on festivities for the town to enjoy. There is an ice rink, Winter Wonderland, and Santa within the Village.

While the small towns in Missouri might not have caught your attention before, hopefully, they have now. From visiting the historic main street in St Charles to enjoying quaint gift shops in Warrensburg, Missouri, there is something for everyone, even in Winter. If you are planning a winter vacation this year, check out one of these small towns. Missouri's charm is sure to make for an unforgettable winter trip!

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