In these times of stay at home orders, mask requirements and business closures, it is difficult to commit to a big vacation. However, getting out of the house and taking time to yourself to relax, is vital in our stress-filled environment. KC is located in the perfect spot for getaways with both Kansas and Missouri in short distances. Being from Missouri, I wanted to share some of my favorite getaways in the Show-Me State! Missouri has more to offer than one might think! My mother worked for Missouri State Parks for most of my life and she has taken us to just about every part of the state to see a state park and I find them to be a great way for you and your family to get out there and practice social distancing while also have a great time. I included my favorite state park on this list and some other spots in Missouri that I think is worth the drive!
1. Hermann, Missouri – Missouri Wine Country – 2hrs 45min.
Located in the middle of the state, Hermann is the cutest little German town to visit and give you that European vibe (well, as close as you can in the US). Bonus: Hermann is home to around 7 wineries, a distillery, a brewery and cute locally owned restaurants offering delicious German food. You can stay at one of the many Bed and Breakfasts to gain that adorable small town experience. One of the most popular times to visit is October as Hermann hosts Oktoberfest every weekend and it is CRAZY. If you want to stay in town, I would book now honestly. However, the Amtrak train goes right through Hermann so it is super convenient to just take the train! HIGHLY RECOMMEND. I grew up not far from here and have a great time with my high school friends or any of the friends that I have taken. One other perk is the trolley. You can pay $15 to ride the trolley for an entire day that will take you to the different wineries. Recommended wineries: OakGlenn, Hermannhof and Adam Puchta. Stone Hill offers a super tasty German cuisine in the restaurant for lunch! ALSO, one of the hidden gems of Hermann is the bakery downtown. You MUST go see them and get their amazing donuts.
2. Johnson's Shut-Ins – Missouri State Park – 5hrs 12min.
I have been going to Johnson's Shut-Ins since I was a kid and it is my all-time favorite state park. This is DEFINITELY a summer adventure for you and your family. It is a great place to camp. I personally get a log cabin. The best part is the shut-ins themselves! They are large rocks in the river that create small waterfalls. The waterfalls then make the rocks very smooth and easy to slide down. This is a great spot for kids and families. I will say that this is not a water park so do not expect lifeguards. You will need to accompany your children as they can easily fall on the rocks and water shoes are HIGHLY recommended. At the bottom of the rocks, the water falls into a deep pool of water perfect for swimming. When my family and I make our way down there, we always take a trip over to Elephant Rocks State Park as well. A state park full of humongous rocks that provide beautiful views of southeast Missouri and are fun to climb on!
3. STL – Bigger City, Fun Times – 3hrs 45min.
St. Louis offers a lot of fun activities that can differ from KC. (KC will always be better, obviously). However, I want to point out a few places to hit if you are ever taking a short weekend trip away! City Museum is SO fun and great for adults to act like kids and kids to be kids. It is a museum that consists of all recyclable items. There is a huge jungle gym outside and a lot of fun things to climb on and explore inside. My first time here, I was in high school and I had a blast so it really is for any age. The St. Louis Zoo is one of the best in the entire country. It is my all-time favorite and is FREE to the public. That’s insane! They are always adding new exhibits that are so fun and the park is huge! This is almost an entire day’s worth of entertainment! My last recommendation may not be the most popular in KC, but a Cardinals game is always so fun! Busch Stadium is beautiful and Ballpark Village is a good time. I grew up a Cardinals fan (I know…. I am sorry! But I am faithful! I have let the Royals into my heart a little bit…. Unless they are playing the Cardinals.) You can also hit up a Blues game while you are in town to see the recent Stanley Cup champs play!
4. Springfield/Branson – Toothless Vegas – 2hrs 41min.
Another place that is near and dear to my heart. Springfield. I lived in Springfield, Missouri for 7 years while I completed my undergrad and graduate degrees. Most people that I know that visit this area, fall in love. Not to mention, that it is becoming quite trendy with all of the bars and restaurants that are popping up. This is a college town so there is always something new and fun to try! I am sure most of you have heard of Springfield for the sole purpose of the home of Bass Pro. The Bass Pro in Springfield is a village within itself. I would go just to say I went, if you haven’t been! They also FINALLY opened the Wonders of Wildlife exhibit. If you ever lived in Springfield, this was a long time coming!! Branson is just a short 35-45 min. drive from Springfield and is very fun. It is the perfect Missouri getaway for families as it has just about every cheesy, touristy thing you could imagine. I once learned that it was nicknamed the “Toothless Vegas.” So funny. You can hit up The Landing for some shopping or Silver Dollar City to experience one of the top theme parks in the country!
5. Lake of the Ozarks – Tourist Trap of the Midwest – 2hrs 31min.
If you have lived here long, you have definitely heard of the Lake of the Ozarks. It is one of the biggest lakes in the country—and one of the craziest. If you are looking for a good time on a boat or at a lake bar, look no further. The Lake of the Ozarks has a ton of resorts and so many things to do. If you are heading there with the family, there are plenty of shows to see, go-karts to ride or rounds of putt-putt to play. Not to mention, getting out on the water! John and I had our bachelor/bachelorette weekend here. We rented a couple of boats and a house and it was absolutely amazing. Some of my favorite bars to hit are Shady Gators and Coconuts. But honestly, I am perfectly content being out on the water as long as possible with a bottle of champagne... or two.
It’s time to starting planning your Missouri weekend getaway!