Fit Some Learning into Your Family Fun

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educational museum , Museums , museum exhibits , museums , family activities , Family Fun , Mark Twain , Point of Interest
Wisdom, Even When School is Out
Author: H&L Partners
When school’s out for spring break (and summer vacation), kids can learn a thing or two about Missouri. Whether it’s a lesson in architecture or traveling to the past, the Show-Me State puts its own spin on the traditional history lesson.

Every getaway needs a little bit of history on the agenda. Jefferson City, winner of the 2013 Rand McNally Award for “Most Beautiful Small Town in America,” is filled with history. The Missouri Capitol sits atop a bluff, facing the Missouri River. It showcases architectural wonders such as 40-foot-high columns, a 30-foot-wide staircase and 18-foot-high bronze doors; it is one of the prettiest capitols in the United States. Thomas Hart Benton murals adorn the walls of the House Lounge. The Missouri State Museum – located inside the Capitol – houses approximately 50,000 artifacts from Missouri’s cultural and natural history. The museum occupies two halls: the History Hall and the Resources Hall. The building is open year-round; guided 45-minute tours are offered for free.  

For a little outdoor exploration, the National Frontier Trails Museum in Independence serves as the interpretive site for five national historic trails which took settlers westward into the wilderness: the Lewis and Clark Trail; Santa Fe Trail; Oregon Trail; California Trail; and the Mormon Trail. Become part of the journey as you read the diaries and journals. Discover the unique story of how the Mormons searched for religious freedom. Take a ride in a covered wagon.

The Pony Express transformed the future of the United State when men on horseback crossed 2,000 miles of wilderness, from Missouri to California, to deliver the mail. Discover the history and legend at the Pony Express National Museum in St. Joseph. A 60-foot diorama shows the rugged terrain these riders had to endure on their way to Sacramento. State-of-the-art exhibits demonstrate all aspects of the Pony Express and the lives of the riders.

Stop by the Scott Joplin House State Historic Site in St. Louis to hear the sounds of the ragtime music era. The flat, where Scott Joplin wrote “The Entertainer,” is furnished in early 1900s-style and lit by gaslight. A player piano gives visitors a taste of the period. While you’re in the area, check out the Grand Center, a thriving art and entertainment district. For a bite to eat (and drink), grab a table at many hot-spots, including: the Triumph Grill; The Bistro at Grand Center; and Vito’s. For some top-notch entertainment, sit in on a Broadway-level production at The Fabulous Fox Theatre.

On the campus of Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau, the Rosemary Berkel and Harry L. Crisp II Museum features three themed areas: archeology; history; fine art. Take a journey to the past in the archeology area, featuring artifacts donated by the Thomas Beckwith Collection. The fine art exhibit hosts traveling exhibits from notable artists such as Andy Warhol. While you are there, see an etching by Pablo Picasso.

Forty minutes northwest of Springfield sits the town of Ash Grove, where an 1837 log cabin was home to Col. Nathan Boone, the son of Daniel Boone. The Nathan Boone Homestead State Historic Site was a working home until the 1960s; it retains its charming décor and a walnut clapboard. Visit the graves of Nathan and his wife, Olive, as well as the graves of several slaves.

Ideas, inventors and innovators are showcased along Missouri Highway 36: The Way of American Genius (Northeast). Read the blog post, Highway 36 Serves Up Innovation to discover the iconic stories behind Walt Disney, JC Penney and Mark Twain. Contact the Hannibal Convention and Visitor Bureau to pick up the Highway 36 audio CD to accompany you on your tour.

While in Hannibal, tour the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum to learn about Mark Twain’s life in Hannibal. The self-guided tour takes you to six historically significant buildings and two interactive museums featuring Norman Rockwell paintings. On Route 79, 2.5 miles south of the museum, explore a labyrinth-style cave at the Mark Twain Cave Complex. Guided, one-hour tours (not wheelchair accessible) travel the crisscrossing passageways in the cave’s year-round 52-degree temperature.

An hour southwest of Hannibal, on Route 19, you encounter the town of Mexico. The Audrain County Historical Society Museum calls the 11-acre Robert S. Green Park home. Within the park, three museums are waiting to be explored: Graceland, the home of Ulysses S. Grant during the early days of the Civil War; The American Saddlebred Horse Museum, the oldest of its kind in the nation; and the original Prairie View Christian Church, which was relocated to the park.

Sections of the actual Berlin Wall make up the Breakthrough Sculpture, located on the campus of Westminster College in Fulton. The sculpture shares the spotlight with the National Churchill Museum, which commemorates Winston Churchill’s life and times; his memorable “Iron Curtain” speech was given on the campus in March 1946. Through the museum’s interactive exhibits
, spend some time exploring the legacy of Sir Winston Churchill and follow him through Britain in the film, “Churchill’s Finest Hour.”


 National Frontier Trails Museum - Independence
Independence was the major "jumping-off" point for the American West. This is an interpretive museum, ...

 Pony Express National Museum
On April 3, 1860, a lone rider, the first of his kind, left Pikes Peak Stables in St. Joseph, marking ...

 Scott Joplin House State Historic Site
Tour the modest flat where Scott Joplin wrote his famous ragtime classics The Entertainer, Easy Winners ...

 Grand Center – St. Louis
Grand Center is an arts and entertainment district; home to more than 1,500 cultural events annually; ...

 Rosemary Berkel and Harry L. Crisp II Museum
The museum features the Crossroads Gallery, which includes exhibits and interactive kiosks highlighting ...

 Nathan Boone Homestead State Historic Site
This 1837 log house was the home of Col. Nathan Boone, son of Daniel Boone. He was a military officer ...

 Missouri Highway 36 - The Way of American Genius (Northeast)
Discover some of America's great ideas, inventions and innovators along Missouri Highway 36. A trip ...

 Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum
Discover how a young boy growing up in the small village of Hannibal became one of the world's most ...

 Mark Twain Cave Complex
This is the cave author Mark Twain described in five of his books. The cave was first shown in 1886. ...

 Audrain County Historical Society Museum
The Audrain County Historical Society Museum is located within the 11-acre Robert S. Green Park. There, ...

 Berlin Wall "Breakthrough" Sculpture
On November 9, 1990, one year after the fall of the Berlin Wall, United States President Ronald Reagan ...

 National Churchill Museum
In 1946, at Westminster College in Fulton, Winston Churchill delivered one of the most significant speeches ...