Missouri’s fascinating history and top-notch culture make it an ideal place for sightseeing. Throughout Missouri, unforgettable sights and experiences await. Ready, set, explore!
In Jefferson City, get an up-close look at one of the state's most vital institutions when you visit the Missouri Supreme Court Building, the perfect destination for history buffs and architecture aficionados alike. The Missouri Supreme Court welcomes guests Monday through Friday, when you can embark on a half-hour tour of the grand building, which was built using proceeds from the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair.
Also in Jefferson City, see another side of judicial history by taking the Missouri State Penitentiary Tour. The 1836 penitentiary, which was decommissioned in 2004, was already 100 years old when Alcatraz began taking inmates. Former guards lead the unforgettable tours, taking visitors through the control center, across the exercise yard; on the tour you enter cellblocks, the dungeons, and step into the gas chamber.
Board the 1800s Tom Sawyer Paddlewheeler for a sightseeing cruse on the Lake of the Ozarks. Hear fascinating facts and trivia on a narrated, 90-minute excursion which travels past the dam, down the main channel of the lake and into some interesting coves. Snacks, drinks, cocktails and beer are sold aboard. Trips depart from Bagnell Dam. Also, dinner cruises are offered. (All cruses are subject to weather restrictions.)
In St. Louis, the story of a famous local family comes to life at the Chatillon-DeMenil Mansion. Constructed in the mid-19th century by Western explorer Henri Chatillon and the DeMenil family, this beautiful mansion served as the home base for many adventures. Those who stayed in the house included a patent medicine maker, buffalo hunters, politicians, a poet, and a Creole-Sioux family. Original family heirlooms and antiques fill this exquisite home. The mansion holds the country’s largest permanent collection of 1904 World’s Fair memorabilia.
The Rockcliffe Mansion, in Hannibal, delights visitors with more than 13,500 square-feet of grandeur. This exquisite, private home, known as “one of America's castles,” welcomes guests for guided tours. You can treat yourself to a night of luxury by booking a bed and breakfast room in the Rockcliffe Mansion.
Looking for an authentic glimpse of yesteryear? Head to Macon, where you can tour Hay's Ten Mile Store. The store has changed very little since opening in 1904. See all of the original shelving, counters and advertisements. Hay's still functions as a working store, where you can purchase everything from antiques to farm supplies.
In Bethel (45 miles west of Hannibal), residents of the Historic Bethel German Colony preserve and cultivate their rich heritage. Doctor Wilhelm Keil founded the colony in 1844, where colonists lived at peace and in collaboration with one another, sharing crops, clothing, crafts and wages. Today, visitors tour the 1800s colony; visit museums and shops; and take part in a homemade meal at the Fest Hall. Life in Bethel moves at a relaxed pace, making it a great getaway.
The Felix Valle House State Historic Site, in Ste. Genevieve, provides a glimpse into the history of this picturesque French settlement. Three houses stand on the site: the 1818 Federal-style Felix Valle House; the 1819 Shaw House; and the 1792 vertical-log Amoureux House. Tours present the perfect opportunity to view some of the most impressive French colonial architecture in the United States. Ste. Genevieve was the first organized European settlement west of the Mississippi River.
In St. Joseph, the Jesse James Home explores the life and death of the infamous Wild West outlaw. Visitors view fascinating artifacts that tell the story of Jesse James, whose bank and train-robbing career ended in this house, April 3, 1882, when he was gunned-down by fellow gang member Robert Ford.
Do some outdoor sightseeing at the Clifty Creek Conservation Area, near Dixon. Thanks to the rugged terrain in this part of the state, much of this area has seen little change since settlement times. The trail to the Clifty Natural Bridge provides phenomenal hiking terrain; best suited for experienced hikers, this moderately difficult 2.5-mile loop takes you along a creek bed, over rock outcroppings, and across the natural bridge itself.
In Eureka, the four-legged residents of the Endangered Wolf Center welcome you to their internationally renowned facility. Scientists with Washington University's Tyson Research Center raise endangered wolves and prepare them for release back into the wild. The animals living there include highly endangered North American wolves and foxes, African wild dogs, and South American maned wolves, all of which dwell in natural habitats. One-hour and two-hour educational tours are offered throughout the week. Special programs include Scout Programs, Summer Camp, and Evening Events. Adult-only Wine & Cheese Wolf Howls are held the third Friday of every month.