Readers of Rural Missouri magazine inspired this Trip Idea, through voting in the annual Best of Rural Missouri contest. Here's a look at some of the top vote-getters in various dining and sightseeing categories. You can see the full story by searching the April 2016 edition at RuralMissouri.org.
Chosen by Rural Missouri readers as Missouri's best Day Trip destination, Lake of the Ozarks was lauded as the Best Recreational Lake in the U.S. by readers of USA Today/10 Best in 2015. With more than 1,100 miles of shoreline and an abundance of recreational activities, the Lake of the Ozarks offers fun for all ages.
1000 Bagnell Dam Blvd., Lake Ozark MO 65049, 800-386-5253
Hours: Individual business hours vary.
In September 2008, the Guinness Book of World Records awarded Dan and Carolyn Sanazaro's 42-foot, 1-inch steel rocker the designation "World's Largest Rocking Chair" which it held until 2015, when a larger chair was completed in a neighboring state. It's still a sight to behold - and Rural Missouri readers' favorite Roadside Attraction - and is situated along Route 66 (Route ZZ) outside of Cuba.
5957 Route ZZ, Cuba MO 65453, 573-885-1474
Hours: Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sat., 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
The remains of a huge, circa 1905 European style stone castle add an air of mystery to this Missouri State Park. Situated atop towering bluffs, the views of the Lake of the Ozarks are majestic. More than 15 miles of winding trails take you past caves, a spring, sink-holes, a natural bridge and down to the lake.
1491 Route D, Camdenton MO 65020, 573-346-2986
Hours: Grounds and Visitor Center: April-Oct.: daily, 7 a.m.-sunset ~ Nov.-March: 8 a.m.-sunset.
One of Missouri's most beautiful show caves, Bridal Cave has been the spot of more than 3,000 weddings, which is perhaps one of the reasons it was selected as the state's best cave by readers of Rural Missouri.
526 Bridal Cave Road, Camdenton MO 65020, 573-346-2676
Hours: Open at 9 a.m.; closing time varies by month.
Catalpa is a small, fine-dining restaurant in a little red brick house in Arrow Rock, a village of 56 people on the Missouri River at the very beginning of the Santa Fe Trail. It is open Friday and Saturday evenings, February thru December, by reservation only. 2016 marked the fourth time in five years that Catalpa was selected as Rural Missouri readers' favorite restaurant.
550 High St., Arrow Rock MO 65320, 660-837-3324
Hours: Open Friday and Saturday evenings, by reservation.
Lauded by Rural Missouri readers as having the state's best fried chicken, Heart of Nashville, since opening in 2014, has served a popular Music City Hot Chicken dish that's resonated with fans.
8285 Route J, New Bloomfield MO 65063, 844-733-6274
Hours: Tue.-Sat. 5 p.m.-10 p.m.; Sun. 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
Find out why the Kansas City strip is a must-try! This Rolla eatery was voted the top steakhouse in Missouri by Rural Missouri readers in 2016. Lunches are served Tuesday thorugh Saturday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Reservations are accepted until 5 p.m. for that evening's seating and are first-come, first served.
12200 Dillon Outer Drive, Rolla MO 65401, 573-364-1220
Hours: Tue.-Thu., 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
World famous Lambert's Cafe is the home of the "Throwed Rolls" and has been a mainstay in Rural Missouri voters' minds for years. Generous portions, interesting decor and a fun atmosphere make this restaurant - and its sister location in Ozark, Mo. - the epitome of destination dining.
2305 E. Malone Ave., Sikeston MO 63801, 573-471-4261
Hours: Daily: 10:30 a.m.-9 p.m.
For the third time in three years, Rural Missouri readers selected this Cuba establishment as the state's top barbecue joint. All of Missouri Hick's meats are seasoned with a special rub and smoked for 12 hours.
913 E. Washington, Cuba MO 65453, 573-885-6791
Hours: Fri.-Sat., 11 a.m.-10 p.m. ~ Sun.-Thu., 11 a.m.-9 p.m.