Graduating from training at Fort Leonard Wood is a huge accomplishment, but the best part for the soldiers may well be their chance to get off post with their families for a while. Make the time memorable. Depending on the pass they receive, we have a few suggestions.
When you’ve been working hard and get a little time off, nothing beats a fun family float or fishing trip on the Gasconade River. Rent your choice of canoe, raft, kayak or tube at and take to the water for a four, six or 10-mile float. If you also need a place to stay, the Resort offers cottages, camping and RV sites.
Explore the life of the Cherokee Nation during the journey of 1838-39 along the one mile paved Trail of Tears Memorial & Interpretive Walking Trail. The park also offers trout fishing in the Roubidoux River (Missouri fishing license required) and an underwater cave that is open for scuba diving (clearance from the sheriff's department required).
Browse the unusual complex of military museums featuring a replica of a World War II camp, with barracks, chapel and mess hall, supply office, as well as building displays that discuss segregation in early military life and the German Prisoners that lived at Fort Leonard Wood during WWII.
The Complex includes the Army Engineer Museum, with maps and tools dating to the Revolutionary War; the Military Police Museum, housing items from U.S. frontier army-post life to the Iraq wars and the Chemical Corps Museum which documents the effects of chemical warfare, covering the last nine centuries. Displays are changed regularly.
Note: Photo ID, vehicle registration and proof of insurance required to enter the Fort Leonard Wood Military Installation.
Sample some local craft beer and wines and farm-to-table dishes at Public House Brewing, and stay on for live music and – if the timing is right – one of their special events. Seasonally, visit the Gardens at St. James for wood-fired pizza, beer, hard cider, wine and a variety of lawn games.
The 12 outdoor murals depict scenes from local and national history, including visits from Harry S. Truman, Amelia Earhart and Bette Davis. Every mural has a story.
A brochure is available at the I-44 Visitor Center (Exit 208) and at area businesses. A step-on narrated bus tour service is available.
The murals are located along the Route 66 Corridor with dining and shopping available.
Missouri's most popular lake destination features more than 1,100 miles of shoreline – that’s more shoreline than the coast of California. The Lake of the Ozarks offers access to public beaches, lakeside pools, great fishing and plenty of room for fun and recreation on the water.
If your soldier is game for one more – short – hike (this time without the weighty military pack), check out Clifty Creek. The trail runs 2.5 miles and is moderately difficult due to the 200-foot change in elevation, but the gorgeous natural rock arch is a great payoff for the effort.
If you don’t have time to get your kicks on Route 66, get a feel for the iconic Mother Road with a self-guided tour of this museum, featuring re-creations of a 1950s gas station and a classic diner, along with displays of antique cars, a collection of Route 66 books, magazines and videos.
Wet a line in pursuit of the elusive (and delicious) rainbow trout at the state’s third-largest spring. The state park offers a large variety of outdoor fun with a swimming pool, nature center, a fly-fishing school, float trips, picnicking and hiking trails.
Regarded as one of the top asphalt short track facilities in the country, I-44 Speedway is the only NASCAR track in the state of Missouri oval, as well as the only weekly asphalt oval within 300 miles. Come enjoy racing with all the amenities, including electronic timing and scoring system, aluminum grandstand seats with backs, party deck, up-graded sound system and lighting, concession area and souvenir shop.
Get away from it all – and we do mean ALL – at Paddy Creek Wilderness, made up of slightly more than 7,035 acres of hardwood forest, steep cliffs, streams, caves and rocky outcroppings. Explore 18 miles of trails, with elevation changes of 500 feet. Signs and trail marking are minimal; the use of a map and a compass is highly suggested. Group size is limited to 10 persons. Horses are allowed; motorized and mechanical transportation is not. Do not carry in your own firewood; glass containers of any kind, foam-type food and beverage coolers are prohibited by Missouri law near or on any waterway.
The Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium in Springfield is a don’t-miss! This all-new 1.5-million-gallon aquarium adventure showcases 35,000 live fish, mammals, reptiles and birds, and immersive wildlife galleries that bring visitors eye-to-eye with the greatest collection of record-setting game animals ever assembled. This is the perfect place for family fun.
Tour America’s Ride-Thru Cave by Jeep-drawn trams, experiencing the magnitude, the stillness and the splendor of Fantastic Caverns while preserving its natural features.
The unique tour follows the path of an ancient underground river. It’s ideal for the whole family without the long walks, stairs or steep climbs.
Situated among three colleges, Discover The District (50 not-so-square blocks downtown), a hip, active and artistic area. The District's friendly and energetic vibe is up early and stays late, with a lively mix of historic architecture, sidewalk cafes, retail shops, and restaurants. With 110 unique shops, 70 bars and restaurants, and nearly 45 live performances every week, you’ll find plenty of things to keep you busy.
Explore the history and grandeur of the state through the incredible Thomas Hart Benton murals and exhibits in the Missouri State Museum. Free guided 45-minute tours are given daily, or choose to wander on your own using the self-guided tour maps available at the tour desk on the first floor.
Come explore the place Time magazine once called the “bloodiest 47 acres in America.” It was one of the largest prisons in the United States, housing 4,900 inmates at its peak. Famous (or infamous) residents included boxer Sonny Liston, James Earl Ray (who escaped the prison and later assassinated Martin Luther King, Jr.) and gangster Pretty Boy Floyd.
History and Ghost tours are available March through November each year.
Wander through some of the prettiest scenery in Missouri and sample some of the best wine in the nation. Seven charming family-owned wineries are featured on the Hermann Wine Trail and are open year-round offering daily wine tastings. From quaint country farm settings to historic majestic wine cellars, you will experience our rich history and a variety of wine styles.
Head out to the wilderness in Missouri. America’s first congressionally designated national park for the preservation of a wild river system encompasses more than 80,000 acres around two of America’s clearest and most beautiful spring-fed rivers: the Current River and its major tributary, the Jacks Fork River. Camping, swimming, fishing, canoeing, exploring and just plain relaxing are the name of the game here. In addition to solitude, nature and world-class floating – keep an eye open for the resident wild horses.
Nothing but the best for the new graduates and their families: whether you prefer a rustic campsite, one of 62 full-service camping sites or a night in the park's iconic lodge, Echo Bluff State Park has you covered. Fill your days with floating, hiking, swimming, fishing or just relaxing in the shadow of the park's namesake, Echo Bluff.
Explore where the Little House books were written.
Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote her beloved Little House books while living at Rocky Ridge Farm, near Mansfield. Tour the farmhouse, which Laura and Almanzo built upon moving to Missouri in 1894; and the Rock House, which their daughter Rose had built for them in 1928.
The museum contains artifacts including Pa's fiddle, handwritten manuscripts of some Little House books, keepsakes of the Ingalls and Wilder families, and many other items familiar to "Little House" fans.