(A note to our readers: Due to varying seasonal schedules, particularly during the winter months, you should independently verify hours of operation at restaurants and attractions.)
From how much you eat to how much sleep you get to how much you run around, a great vacation is all about pacing.
Fortunately, Missouri has attractions, dining and lodging options to suit a variety of styles and budgets - and energy levels. Need some help figuring out exactly what to do? Check out these ideas for putting together a great getaway in the Show-Me State.
Lake of the Ozarks Has Year-Round Fun
Start your day exploring the area's caves, including Jacob's Cave, Bridal Cave, Ozark Caverns and Fantasy World Caverns. After that, learn more about regional culture at any number of history museums, such as the Camden County Museum in Linn Creek, Martin Hotel and Stage Stop Museum in Versailles, Miller County Museum in Tuscumbia and the Morgan County Museum in Versailles.
Have a sit-down meal with a great view of the Lake of the Ozarks at Baxter's. Enjoy a perfectly-prepared steak at J. Bruner's.
Amazing lodging options abound in the Lake area; Camden on the Lake, The Lodge of Four Seasons, and Tan-Tar-A are among the resort offerings.
Activities Abound in Springfield
Missouri's third-largest city has the variety of attractions you expect from a large metropolitan area, coupled with a welcoming, small-town vibe and loads of places to explore and unwind.
People who enjoy sports of all types should visit the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame and the NRA National Sporting Arms Museum (inside Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World), while art and history lovers enjoy the Springfield Art Museum, the History Museum on the Square, and the Air and Military Museum of the Ozarks. Underground fun awaits at Fantastic Caverns, and those traveling with children won't want to miss Discovery Center of Springfield.
Try Farmers Gastropub, Bruno's Italian Restaurant and Cafe Cusco for your evening meals, then unwind in the relaxing atmosphere of popular stops such as Springfield Brewing Company and the tasting room at Mother's Brewery.
Whether you're looking for a hotel, bed and breakfast, or a little slice of Americana, Springfield has lodging options aplenty. Rest your head (and get a warm cookie) at the DoubleTree, enjoy the amenities at the Ramada Plaza Hotel and Oasis Convention Center, leave breakfast to someone else at the Mansion at Elfindale Bed and Breakfast, experience the heyday of The Mother Road at the Best Western Route 66 Rail Haven, and get a selfie at the popular Hotel Vandivort, a boutique hotel with a host of features the tech-savvy enjoy.
Explore the Past, Enjoy the Present in Cape Girardeau
Its position along the Mississippi River and its fascinating past make Cape Girardeau an ideal stop for history buffs, while its varied attractions - and college-town atmosphere - give it modern appeal for travelers.
Completed in 1854, the Common Pleas Courthouse has been a focal point for important happenings since prior to the Civil War; elsewhere around the city, check out the Cape River Heritage Museum (open mid-March thru mid-December), Fort D Historic Site, Old St. Vincent's Church, and the Rosemary Berkel and Harry L. Crisp II Museum. Kiddos along for the trip? Take them to the Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center, Discovery Playhouse and Lazy L. Safari Park.
Art lovers should visit the Arts Council of Southeast Missouri and stops such as the Edward Bernard Gallery.
For an evening of fun and relaxation, test your skills (and luck) at the Isle Casino, or simply unwind and relax at Broadway Biergarten. Then get a good night's sleep at one of the city's hotels, or stay downtown at the Broadway Loft or Neumeyer's Bed and Breakfast.
Hannibal Offers Fun on the Mississippi
One of Missouri's most prominent citizens, Mark Twain, grew up in the Mississippi River town of Hannibal, which celebrates its famous son at a variety of attractions.
Connect with Twain through various stages of his life as you explore the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum. Channel your inner Tom Sawyer with a tour of the Mark Twain Cave (or Cameron's Cave), then snap a photo from the top of Cardiff Hill or Lover's Leap, both of which provide scenic views of the city and river valley.
See locally created works at the Alliance Art Gallery, or chat with artisans while they're working at stops such as Ayers Pottery, Ava Goldworks and the Nancy Lee Kauffman Gallery.
Savor meals at LaBinnah Bistro (that's Hannibal spelled backward, by the way) and The Brick Oven, and then enjoy casual conversation with your traveling companions at Mark Twain Brewery. Extend your day into an overnight stay at one of Hannibal's hotels or cozy bed and breakfasts, such as Garth Woodside Mansion and Rockcliffe Mansion.
Ride into History in St. Joseph
St. Joseph has long been known as the starting point for two great chapters in American history: The Pony Express and your next getaway. Okay, your vacation probably won't make the history books, but you get the idea.
Start your trip at the Pony Express National Museum and then visit the Patee House Museum, which once served as the Pony Express headquarters. Another piece of St. Joseph's history is adjacent to the Patee House; the Jesse James Home is where the outlaw was shot and killed by a member of his own gang. More regional history awaits at the National Military Heritage Museum, while the Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art boasts an amazing collection of American art.
Dining choices are plentiful in St. Joseph, where popular stops include Boudreaux's Louisiana Seafood and Galvin's Dinner House, which has some of the best fried chicken this side of the Mississippi. For a unique dining experience, don't miss the J.C. Wyatt House; just be sure to make reservations at least 48 hours in advance.
If you're looking for a casual evening out, visit the St. Jo Frontier Casino, where table games and more than 500 slot machines add up to an evening of fun. Live music and great drink specials await at Cafe Acoustic.
After a long day, you'll need some sleep. St. Joseph has a long list of lodging choices, including two popular B&Bs, the Shakespeare Chateau Inn and Gardens, and the Whiskey Mansion Bed and Breakfast.
Remember to pace yourself on your Missouri getaway, but don't limit the amount of fun you have. Get out, explore and enjoy.