Travel two hours northwest of St. Louis along U.S. Highway 61 to discover the area made famous by author Mark Twain: Hannibal, MO. Along the banks of the Mississippi, you'll find caves to explore, riverboats to ride, and museums, including Twain's boyhood home. To truly capitalize on the experience, consider reading "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" or "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" before or after your trip as many of the places depicted in the books can be seen in Hannibal.
Mark Twain Cave and Cameron Cave, 300 Cave Hollow Road, Hannibal, MO, 573-221-1656
Mark Twain Riverboat, Center Street Landing, Hannibal, MO, 573-221-3222
Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum, 120 N. Main, Hannibal, MO, 573-221-9010
For more on Hannibal, visit the Hannibal Convention and Visitors Bureau website.
Land of Lincoln
An hour-and-a-half northeast of St. Louis lies another city made famous by one of its residents. Travel to the home of America's 16th president in Springfield, Illinois, to tour Abraham Lincoln's home, and to explore the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. For more about the land, life, art and people of Illinois, visit the Illinois State Museum. Before leaving town, check out one of the Midwest's most unique musical performances at The Rees Carillon, a 12-story tower, containing 67 bronze bells. A "carillonneur" performs free concerts (see the complete schedule).
Lincoln Home National Historic Site, 426 S. Seventh St., Springfield, IL, 217-492-4241
Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, 212 N. Sixth St., Springfield, IL, 217-558-8844
Illinois State Museum, 502 S. Spring St., Springfield, IL, 217-782-7386
The Rees Carillon, Chatham Road and W. Fayette Ave., Springfield, IL, 217-546-3853
Whether you're an alum, or just a University of Missouri Tiger fan, a trip to Columbia is always fun. Just two hours west of St. Louis along Interstate 70, Columbia, Missouri, offers sporting events, great parks and funky dining options. In the late summer and early fall, check out a Mizzou football game, or in the winter and spring, catch some college hoops. Stop by Rock Bridge Memorial State Park to peer into Devil's Icebox, and in the warm months bring your bathing suit and take a dip at Stephens Lake Park. No trip is complete without a stop at Shakespeare's Pizza, right on the edge of the university campus.
University of Missouri Athletics
Rock Bridge Memorial State Park, 5901 South Highway 163, Columbia, MO, 573-449-7402
Stephens Lake Park, 2001 E. Broadway, Columbia, MO
Shakespeare's Pizza, several locations throughout Columbia
Johnson Shut-Ins State Park
Enjoy Mother Nature's water park along the Black River. Just two hours south of St. Louis, you can make Johnson Shut-Ins State Park your home base to explore the nearly pristine waterway. The park offers campsites and a limited number of cabins (make your reservations online well in advance of your trip). Take the Shut-Ins Trail to explore the park's namesake, a section of the East Fork of the Black River that courses through and around large erosion-resistant boulders. Floating is available on the Black River through several area outfitters. No trip to Johnson Shut-Ins is complete without a pit stop at Elephant Rocks State Park. Take the park's Braille Trail to see the giant granite "elephant rocks" that kids love to scramble up and over.
Johnson Shut-Ins State Park, 148 Taum Sauk Trail, Lesterville, MO, 573-546-2450
Elephant Rocks State Park, 7406 Missouri Highway 21, Belleview, MO, 573-546-3454
Lake of the Ozarks
Prepare to get wet at Lake of the Ozarks, a three-hour drive southwest of St. Louis. Bring your boat or rent a boat and find the perfect cove for swimming and relaxing, or have some water fun on the shore at Big Surf Water Park. Dry off with a race around the track at Gran Rally Karts, browse the more than 100 stores at Osage Beach Premium Outlets or explore the castle ruins at Ha Ha Tonka State Park.
Big Surf Water Park, 954 State Road Y, Linn Creek, MO, 73-346-6111
Ha Ha Tonka State Park, 1491 State Rd. D, Camdenton, MO, 573-346-2986
Gran Rally Karts, 5730 Osage Beach Parkway, Osage Beach, MO, 573-348-2012
Osage Beach Premium Outlets, 4540 Osage Beach Parkway, Osage Beach, MO, 573-348-2065
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