How To: Road Trip in Missouri

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More than 33,000 miles of Missouri state highways wind through awe-inspiring scenery, towns brimming with history and quirky roadside attractions. Whether you’re looking for a quick weekend getaway or a weeklong odyssey, this guide will help you get started on your next road trip through the Show-Me State.

Two adults and a child sit on a picnic table with a scenic vista in the background.
Stopping to take in the views is a must on a Missouri road trip.

Why Road Trip in Missouri

Major interstates crisscross the state, making it easy for visitors to get where they want to go. A road trip in Missouri is also easy on your wallet, as gas prices in the state are some of the lowest in the country. On top of these benefits, the sheer number of things to do, see and experience is one of the best reasons to visit. You can have lunch at a scenic overlook, peruse an art museum, explore subterranean caverns and so much more — all in one day.

Map It Out

No matter where you’re going, it’s a good idea to plan out your route ahead of time. Even if you have a specific destination in mind, consider adding some interesting stops to your itinerary. Museums, galleries, restaurants, state parks and conservation areas are great places to stretch your legs and explore.

Download Some Tunes

Internet connection can be spotty in some of the rural areas of the state. If you like to listen to music or audiobooks, make sure to download them to your device before you hit the road.

Go on a Snack Run

Snacking is a time-honored road trip tradition. Here’s a guide on where you can pick up a variety of tasty Missouri-made snacks.

Don’t Hesitate to Change the Plan

It might sound counterintuitive, but you could find some amazing things to do by changing up your itinerary. Check out a small-town festival or follow a road sign to an unplanned stop. One of the best parts of exploring the Show-Me State is discovering something unique and unexpected.

Trip Ideas Around Missouri

A river and boat sit in the foreground, with a town on a gentle hill in the background.
Historic Hannibal sits on the bank of the Mississippi River.


Highway 79 runs north to south along the Mississippi River between Hannibal and St. Louis. In the fall, the route is awash with golds and reds, while in spring the entire valley becomes a lush, verdant green. Along the way, you’ll find small towns like Clarksville, “the eagle-viewing capital of the United States,” according to the World Bird Sanctuary. Every winter, hundreds of eagles migrate to the area where they feed on fish they pull from the river. In Louisiana, stop for a walk along the bank of the mighty Mississippi.

Three figures stand in a tableau — one figure is seated on a horse while a second assists. The third opens a wooden barn door.
Explore the history of the Pony Express in St. Joseph.


Interstate 29 stretches north from Kansas City to Rock Port. In between, you’ll find St. Joseph, a historic town filled with restaurants, museums and art galleries. The Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art opened in 1913 and is home to one of the region’s most comprehensive holdings of 19th-, 20th- and 21st-century works. Pay a visit to the Pony Express National Museum, which is a tribute to the legend and legacy of the famed route that started here. 

A bird’s-eye view of a lake surrounded by green trees and a prominent highway.
Lake of the Ozarks winds through central Missouri.


Highway 54 runs along the Lake of the Ozarks and connects family-fun opportunities in Osage Beach with outdoor adventure at Lake of the Ozarks State Park and Ha Ha Tonka State Park. Along the way, visit Ozarkland, a perennial favorite pit stop for fudge, candy and other road trip essentials.

A red mill overlooks a turquoise pond with green trees all around.
Alley Spring and Mill is a popular destination all year round.


Highway 19 cuts through Eminence, one of the best places to begin exploring the Mark Twain National Forest, the Ozark National Scenic Riverways, and a number of state parks and conservation areas. Alley Spring and Mill, located just outside of  Eminence, is one of the most photographed locations in the state. The historic red mill overlooks a dazzling turquoise blue spring.

A classic car sits in a wet parking lot reflecting the neon light of multiple signs.
Rain or shine, you can get a delicious burger from Red’s Giant Hamburg.


Historic Route 66 generally runs east-west through the entire state, and there are a number of things to explore along the way. In southwest Missouri, step back in time and grab a bite to eat in Springfield (the birthplace of Route 66) at Red’s Giant Hamburg — a diner that originally opened in 1947, but has been serving up burgers, fries and shakes in its current location since 2019. Farther west, you’ll find the Boots Court Motel in Carthage. Decked out in neon, the space first opened in 1939. The Boots Court Foundation is overseeing a full restoration of the motel, and rooms are now available.

If you hit the road, we’d love to have you share your adventures with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.