Road Trip Tips: Stretch Your Legs in the Show-Me State

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Graham Cave State Park
Branson Landing

Over the river and through the woods – and down long stretches of highway. If you’re planning a road trip across Missouri, make the journey more enjoyable with a stop or two along the way to stretch your legs and explore the Show-Me State.

Here are some perfect spots for short walks along Missouri’s most traveled routes:

Interstate 70

Gateway Arch National Park: Sure, you can see it from the highway as you drive through St. Louis, but experience the Gateway Arch in a different way by exploring the area on foot. The grounds surrounding the iconic structure have been totally revamped and are now a national park. A network of walking trails provide spectacular views of the monument that soars 630 feet into the sky.

Graham Cave State Park: Walk through history at Graham Cave, located near Danville. Exhibits along the trail to the cave detail the natural and cultural significance of the site and the people that occupied the cave 8,000 to 10,000 years ago.

Capen Park: Make in a stop in Columbia and venture out on the half-mile nature trail in Capen Park. You might see rock climbers scaling the park’s towering bluffs. The park connects to the Grindstone Nature Area and the 4.25 mile Hinkson Creek Trail.

Truman Historic Walking Trail: Follow in the footsteps of Missouri’s only president, Harry S Truman, who regularly walked throughout his beloved hometown of Independence. The Truman Historic Walking Trail features some the most important places in Truman’s life, including the Truman Home and the Truman Library and Museum.

Interstate 44

Wildcat Park: Follow more than three miles of paved and natural trails that wind through the Wildcat Glades Conservation and Audubon Area to explore chert glades, rocky bluffs and Shoal Creek. Five outdoor learning stations provide information about the area’s diverse and endangered plant and aquatic life. Nearby, Grand Fallsis the largest, continuously flowing natural waterfall in Missouri.

Springfield Conservation Nature Center: A short distance off I-44, the 80-acre Springfield Conservation Nature Center offers three miles of walking trails through the woods and along the shore of Lake Springfield. 

Route 66 State Park: Much of Interstate 44 runs along historic Route 66, one of the most famous highways in the country. Near Eureka, Route 66 State Park includes a small section of the Mother Road and exhibits detailing the significance of the route. The park has several hiking trails, including one that runs alongside the Meramec River.

Highway 65

Chillicothe: Take a walking tour of Chillicothe where historic downtown buildings are adorned with 25 hand-painted murals. The artwork depicts the region’s history, including the town’s claim to fame – the first place in the world to package and sell commercially sliced bread.

Bothwell Lodge: Explore Bothwell Lodge State Historic Site on the half-mile Stoney Ridge Trail. Sitting atop a 120-foot bluff near Sedalia, the early 20thcentury, 31-room lodge was built over two wild caves that provided natural “air conditioning” during the summer.

Branson Landing: The waterfront boardwalk at Branson Landing takes you 1.5 miles along the cool, clear waters of Lake Taneycomo. Stop and watch the water, fire, light and music show featured daily in the town square area.

Written by Liz Coleman