Road trips can be great fun but taking a break can make them even better – especially for the youngest members of the family. A little fresh air and some adventure provide the perfect antidote for road-weary travelers.
Check out these stops – sure to appeal to the kid in everyone – along Missouri's most travelled highways.
City Museum: It's more whimsical playground than traditional museum. Located in a 100-year-old warehouse in St. Louis, the 600,000-square-foot attraction is home to the world's largest jungle gym, a network of tunnels and secret passages, and a 10-story spiral slide – much of it created with salvaged materials. The rooftop features a 1940s Ferris wheel and a school bus. Toddler Town offers climbing and sliding on a smaller scale for children 6 and younger.
Rock Bridge Memorial State Park: Take a detour seven miles south of I-70 in Columbia to immerse yourself in nature at one of Missouri's beautiful state parks. Trails guide you through the forest and past rock formations, bluffs and streams. The Devil's Icebox boardwalk travels over a 125-foot-long natural tunnel to a double sinkhole where you can view an underground stream.
Science City at Union Station: Located inside the historic Kansas City Union Station, the museum is filled with activities and special exhibits that bring science to life. The Arvin Gottlieb Planetarium, one of the largest and highest resolution planetariums in the Midwest, offers star tours and a variety of space-themed shows.
Meramec Caverns: Go underground and see why Missouri is known as the Cave State. Visitors have been exploring the caverns, located an hour west of St. Louis, since 1933. View colorful mineral formations, thousands of years old, during a guided tour of the seven-level cave.
Route 66 Rocker and Fanning 66 Outpost: Stop and see the world's second largest rocking chair – 42 feet tall – near Cuba. Then step inside the store where you'll find fudge and popcorn in dozens of flavors and Route 66 souvenirs.
Rutledge-Wilson Farm Park: The 207-acre park, located near Springfield, celebrates the area's rich agricultural heritage. Attractions include a visitor's center, animal barn, milking barn, farm-theme playground, Wilson's Creek and a one-mile paved trail.
Katy Depot and Railroad Heritage Museum: Tour the historic train depot in Sedalia that now sits on the Katy Trail, the country's longest rails to trails project in the country. Explore the trail on foot or rent a bike at the depot. Exhibits inside the depot include a train room designed for kids.
History Museum on the Square: History comes to life at this interactive museum in Springfield. See how Native Americans once lived in southwest Missouri, take a "trolley ride" through town and learn about the famous duel between Wild Bill Hickok and Davis Tutt that happened just outside the museum doors in 1865.
Branson Ferris Wheel: Get out from behind the steering wheel for a spin on the Branson Ferris Wheel. The ride will take you 150 feet into the air for an expansive view of the Ozark Mountains. After dark, the wheel glows with 16,000 LED bulbs for a spectacular light and music show.
Written by Liz Coleman