*Content Updated July 2020
As a company born and bred right here in Missouri, since 1869 to be exact, we may be a little impartial to the Show-Me-State's charm and character, but we truly believe this is the best place to live and explore. Why? Because it has something for everyone! Plus, you get to experience all four seasons, on any given day (or hour) of the year. What other state does a complete seasonal 360 at the drop of a hat? We like to think Missouri is good at keeping its inhabitants on their toes, and that makes for a pretty interesting place to be.
From the breathtaking Ozark mountain views, to the sprawling river-fronts, you just can't beat this Midwestern gem's one-of-a-kind beauty. Whether you're new in town or have lived here forever, if you haven't checked out these Missouri destinations, you're missing out.
1. Dogwood Canyon Nature Park - Lampe, MO
In the mood for the nature walk of a lifetime? Dogwood Canyon certainly has it. Boasting over 10,000 acres of unbridled nature, Dogwood Canyon Nature Park is a breathtaking experience for everyone from serious hikers, to the average family looking for a fun day out. Miles of trails lead you through the park’s lush forest, home to wildlife such as bison, elk, and Texas longhorn cattle that will spark your children’s curiosity; and waterfalls sure to make fantastic photographs. And while a fun-filled day of hiking and taking in the natural world is free, you can unlock even more activities for as little as ten dollars. Have you ever wanted to go horseback riding? Does your child want to learn how to fish from trained professionals? Dogwood has you covered for both of these exciting activities, and many more. The park even features a chapel space, so you can say ‘I do’ with the ones you love while surrounded by natural beauty. Dogwood Canyon Nature Park is certainly worth a visit if you’re ever near Lampe.
2. Johnson’s Shut-Ins - Middle Brook, MO
If you want to experience Missouri nature at its finest, look no further than Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park. A natural and geological quarter stone, Johnson’s Shut-Ins is home to 17 different natural terrestrial communities as well as 850 species of plants (40 percent of the plant species found in Missouri). The park also houses the Goggins Mountain Wild Area, which helps make up the largest tract of wilderness in the State. The park’s iconic shut-ins are sure to wow you, along with the sight of chutes and waterfalls also hosted in the area. For serious hikers, large sections of the park are unpaved and untamed, making them perfect for experienced campers and nature-lovers to enjoy and explore. But the park is more than just a stunning view or a day out. It protects and hosts an environmentally critical Ozark fen. The fen is a place for sensitive wetland species such as arrowhead, queen of the prairie, and devil crayfish to live. Not only does Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park provide you with once-in-a-lifetime natural views, but it helps protect the wild of Missouri, making it a must-see destination.
3. The Kozy/Dew Drop Inn - Bloomsdale, MO
Family owned and operated businesses can be a great way to get quality service with a personal touch, something both of these quaint Bloomsdale eateries provide. Whether you’ve been driving all night and need somewhere to refuel with good coffee and a hot breakfast, or you’re in need of a place to spend time with your friends over top-of-the-line meat and drinks, these inns have you covered. Both restaurants have the presentation to back up their meals, being united under the roof of a restored flour mill. An added bonus? You and your crew can indulge in a round of life-size Checkers, Jenga, and bocce ball in the restaurant's courtyard, surrounded by relaxing seating areas and a fire pit. Comfort food lovers can find few places to better spend their time than the unique Kozy/Dew Drop Inn. For more about the history behind this Missouri destination, check out Rural Missouri Magazine's interview with the owners.
4. Rockcliffe Mansion - Hannibal, MO
Overlooking Mark Twain's Hannibal Missouri and the Mississippi River, Rockcliffe Mansion is a must-see for lovers of history and architecture alike. Guided tours can take you through the more than thirty rooms the Victorian era mansion has to offer, letting you take a look straight into the 19th century at your own pace. And if you can’t get enough of this incredible property and its cliffside views, have no fear. Rooms are available for overnight stays in what will be a truly memorable B&B experience. However, the house is rumored to have more than a few ghosts roaming its gilded halls, but the mystery is part of the experience. Rockcliffe Mansion is 14,000 square feet of Missouri history and intrigue. History buffs, architect lovers, and ghost hunters can all find something at one of Missouri’s most opulent portals into the past.
5. Devil’s Icebox - Columbia, MO
Don’t let the name keep you from seeing this interesting piece of Missouri - Devil’s Icebox and the rest of Rock Bridge Memorial State Park are anything but evil. A walk through lush Missouri forests in Columbia isn’t complete without visiting this interesting cave, which stays 56 degrees all year long. Not only can you enjoy state flora and fauna, but you can let nature teach your kids, and maybe even you, about the strange way this cave makes perfect sense in the natural world. But there’s more than just educational value to be had, there’s plenty of natural beauty to take in. Even if your pictures turn out dark, you get to experience the dark beauty of nature first hand, without having to worry about getting too hot while doing it.
6. Red Oak ll - Carthage, MO
Wanting to fully immerse yourself in a different time? Look no further than the authentic ‘ghost town’ created by artist, Lowell Davis. Drive just off of Route 66 and you can find yourself transported to a small 1930s town, with just about everything you’d expect. With some buildings moved from the original Red Oak, this recreation features everything from a schoolhouse to a jail and town hall. While all the buildings in Red Oak ll are privately owned, many spaces are used to house stores and museum-type exhibits, along with residential homes. History buffs can certainly get behind this life-sized love letter to the 30's, but anyone can agree that visiting Red Oak ll is a departure from normality in the best way possible, not to mention the stories you can tell your friends about being in a real ghost town.
7. Mississippi River Walk - New Madrid, MO
Just at the top of Missouri’s bootheel, you’ll find a powerhouse of small-town charm in New Madrid's Mississippi River Walk. This destination lives up to its name in every way, providing a breathtaking view of the Mississippi on an equally picturesque observation deck. If the prime destination for taking sunset photos isn’t enough for you, there’s a whole town to explore as well. Within walking distance of the gorgeous riverside complex (where you can actually sit on the infamous New Madrid Fault Line) is the New Madrid Historical Museum, with the quaint downtown district and much more. Mississippi River Walk is the premier destination for anyone looking to take in the majesty of the Mississippi and provides the perfect place to unwind and watch a spectacular waterside sunset.
Want more Missouri? Make sure to follow us on social media!
This post was written by CFM Guest-Blogger, Avory Nail. A Sophomore at Lexington High School here in Missouri, Avory is actively involved in Speech and Theatre, Choir, and several extra-curricular activities. Avory is passionate about reading, writing, and photography and hopes to pursue a career in Marketing one day.