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Planning a big family getaway? Sometimes the struggle of juggling everyone’s wants and needs for a trip can be a little challenging. Luckily, Missouri is filled with destinations that cater to travelers of all ages – from the greatest grandparents to tiniest toddlers.
Theme parks might seem like they’re more suited to a younger crowd, and that might be the case in some places, but Silver Dollar City has something for every member of the family. Adventure-seekers will flock to the thrilling roller coasters while laid-back types will enjoy perusing the numerous shops and watching expert craftsmen display their talents.
Branson is also known for live entertainment. Whether your group’s tastes lean toward country music, 80s hits, comedy shows or acrobatic performances, you’ll find the perfect fit in one of the city’s many theaters. And the variety doesn’t end there. Museums in Branson range from the Titanic Museum Attraction to Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium.
Want to do a bit of shopping? Branson Landing has more than 100 specialty stores to explore. Best of all? The boardwalk has regular water, fire, light and music shows that will keep everyone entertained..
Table Rock Lake is the place to go for outdoor fun, including fishing, swimming and hiking. Dedicated lake lovers can even stay on the water by renting a houseboat. Shaded decks are the perfect place to sit and enjoy the views without having to jump in … but you can do that, too!
You don’t have to be a reader – or even old enough to read – to have a fantastic time in Mark Twain’s hometown.
A natural place to start is Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum. It’s filled with stories and interactive exhibits that bring Twain’s stories and experiences to life. Located nearby is Jim’s Journey: The Huck Finn Freedom Center, a museum that details the history of African Americans in Hannibal. It also stands as a memorial to Jim, one of the main characters of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. History buffs and architecture aficionados will appreciate touring Rockcliffe Mansion, a magnificent Gilded Age home complete with most of its original furnishings.
Mark Twain Cave Complex has a rich history as a playground for local children in the 1800s and as a hideout for famous outlaw Jesse James. Today, visitors can explore the smooth, level, though narrow, passages with a guide. Once you emerge from the cool depths of the cave, hop on the Mark Twain Riverboat for an hour-long sightseeing cruise with narration about the river’s history and legends.
Load up your bikes (or rent some from a local shop) and hit the trail for an active adventure on the nation’s longest rails-to-trails conversion. The Katy Trail spans 240 miles and features spectacular views, quaint bed-and-breakfast inns, campgrounds, restaurants and wineries.
With the recent addition of the Tuesdays on the Trail program, a trip on the Katy Trail has become more accessible to seniors and individuals with disabilities. On certain dates, a tram will provide a ride along portions of the trail. The tram is free, but space is limited, so reserve your spot early.
Everyone has their favorite water activity: fishing, boating, swimming or kicking back and savoring the view. The serpentine-shaped Lake of the Ozarks can accommodate each preference. Plan a relaxed fishing trip or casual boating on the Niangua Arm of the lake. Head to the Gravois Arm for popular watering holes and nightlife activities.
Looking for an off-the-water excursion? Golf legends Tom Weiskopf and Arnold Palmer designed Old Kinderhook Golf Course and Osage National Golf Resort, respectively. The beauty of the Ozarks is on full display while you perfect your swing. Kids will love the daring ropes course at Malted Monkey while adults will enjoy the boozy milkshakes served up at the bar.
The two biggest cities in the Show-Me State have tons of family-friendly attractions. If you’re searching for a great day trip destination, it’s hard to beat Forest Park in St. Louis and Union Station in Kansas City.
Forest Park is an ideal spot for all of the classic park activities, like picnicking, bicycling, bird watching, fishing, sports … you get the idea. It’s also so much more. Missouri History Museum, Saint Louis Art Museum, Saint Louis Science Center and James S. McDonnell Planetarium, and Saint Louis Zoo are all located within the park – and they’re free! Large groups can split up and do their own thing at this budget-friendly locale. Union Station Kansas City is a historic train station that opened to the public in 1914. It now holds an award-winning science center, planetarium, movie theatre, model train gallery and a live performance venue. World-class touring exhibitions are also hosted there each year. Take The Link, a covered, pedestrian walkway that crosses above the road, to the Crown Center Complex where you’ll find Sea Life Kansas City Aquarium, LEGOLAND Discovery Center and plenty of shopping options.