7 Missouri Charming Small Towns for Your Summer Vacation

7 Missouri Charming Small Towns for Your Summer Vacation
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Missouri is a beautiful state that is home to Kansas City, the “Live Music Show Capital of the World,” as well as famous sites like the Gateway Arch and many state parks that are great for hiking, camping, and many other outdoor activities. Missouri is in the middle of the United States. It borders Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Oklahoma, all of which are popular vacation spots.

Summer is the perfect time to explore new destinations and create unforgettable memories. Choosing the best summer vacation spots can make all the difference in ensuring a fantastic experience. Missouri, known as the “Show-Me State,” offers a diverse range of picturesque small towns that are perfect for a relaxing and enjoyable summer vacation.

These charming towns provide an escape from the hustle and bustle of big cities, allowing you to connect with nature, history, and local culture. In this article, we will introduce you to seven charming small towns in Missouri that will elevate your summer vacation plans. From historic landmarks to breathtaking landscapes, these destinations offer something for everyone. So, let’s dive into the charm and allure of Missouri’s best summer vacation spots.


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Nestled along the banks of the Missouri River, Parkville is a quaint small town known for its charming downtown, picturesque parks, and vibrant arts scene. With its rich history, beautiful landscapes, and warm, welcoming atmosphere, Parkville is an ideal summer town for a relaxing and rejuvenating vacation.

Parkville Nature Sanctuary: This 115-acre nature reserve offers numerous hiking trails through forests, wetlands, and wildlife habitats. Visitors can enjoy birdwatching, photography, or simply a peaceful walk surrounded by nature.

Historic Downtown Parkville: Take a leisurely stroll through the historic downtown area, with its beautifully preserved buildings, local shops, and unique dining experiences. Don’t forget to stop by the Parkville Farmer’s Market for fresh produce and handcrafted goods.

English Landing Park is a wonderful place for picnics, fishing, or just taking in the beautiful Missouri River vistas. A disc golf course, a playground, and a number of walking trails are also included in the park.

National Golf Club of Kansas City: Golf enthusiasts will appreciate this 18-hole championship course, offering a challenging and enjoyable golf experience amidst the beautiful Missouri landscape.

Parkville Cruise Nights: During summer months, Parkville hosts a classic car show on the first Saturday of each month. Visitors can admire a variety of vintage vehicles while enjoying live music and local food vendors.

Parkville’s proximity to Kansas City allows for convenient access to big-city amenities while still offering the charm and tranquility of a small town. The town’s rich history, scenic riverfront location, and vibrant arts and culture scene make it a must-visit summer vacation spot in Missouri.


Hannibal, situated along the banks of the Mississippi River, is a delightful small town steeped in history and literary heritage. Known as the boyhood home of the renowned American author Mark Twain, Hannibal offers a fascinating glimpse into the past while providing a wide range of activities and attractions for an unforgettable summer vacation.

Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum: This must-visit attraction allows you to explore the childhood home of Mark Twain, along with several other historical buildings. The museum showcases Twain’s life and literary works, offering a fascinating experience for visitors of all ages.

Hannibal Riverfront: Enjoy a relaxing walk along the scenic riverfront, where you can admire the stunning views of the Mississippi River, visit the marina, or indulge in a delicious meal at one of the many riverside restaurants.

Mark Twain Riverboat: Embark on a memorable river cruise aboard a historic paddlewheel boat, offering picturesque views of the river and the surrounding area. Choose between sightseeing cruises and dinner cruises, complete with live entertainment.

Hannibal Trolley Tours: Discover Hannibal’s rich history and famous landmarks on a guided trolley tour. This informative and entertaining ride is an excellent way to get acquainted with the town’s charm and character.

Rockcliffe Mansion: Explore this beautifully restored turn-of-the-century mansion, which once hosted Mark Twain himself. Guided tours provide a captivating insight into the opulent lifestyle of the early 1900s.

Hannibal’s deep connection to Mark Twain and its historic charm make it a truly unique summer vacation destination. The town offers numerous opportunities to immerse yourself in the world of Twain’s beloved characters, such as Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. Beyond its literary allure, Hannibal boasts a vibrant cultural scene, picturesque landscapes, and a warm, welcoming atmosphere that will make your summer vacation truly unforgettable.


Historic Downtown Blackwater: Stroll through the beautifully preserved downtown area, where you’ll find an array of antique shops, art galleries, and quaint eateries. The charming streetscape and historic architecture transport visitors back to a simpler time.

Blackwater Depot Museum: Discover Blackwater’s fascinating history at this small museum, which showcases artifacts and exhibits detailing the town’s early days as a bustling railroad hub.

The Iron Horse Hotel and Restaurant is a nicely restored old building where you can have a great meal or stay the night.

The building was built in 1887 as a bank. It is now a small hotel and restaurant with a unique mix of history and modern comfort.

Arrow Rock State Historic Site: Just a short drive from Blackwater, this historic site features a well-preserved village with numerous historic buildings, including the 1834 Old Courthouse and the 1839 Arrow Rock Tavern. Guided tours are available to learn about the area’s rich history.

Blackwater River: People who like nature can fish, canoe, or just enjoy the peaceful riverside views along the Blackwater River. The river is also home to many different kinds of birds, which makes it a favorite place to watch birds.

Blackwater is a great Missouri summer vacation spot with its charming historic downtown, rich cultural legacy, and quiet natural beauty. Visitors seeking a peaceful, small-town getaway will enjoy the town’s friendly people and distinctive attractions and activities.


Carthage is a charming small town in southwest Missouri. It has a long past and a lively, friendly community. Carthage is known for its beautiful architecture and well-kept historic area. It is a fun and relaxing place to spend a summer vacation. The town’s unique beauty and beautiful surroundings make it a great place to go to relax and see new things.

Carthage Historic District: Stroll through the charming streets of the historic district, where you’ll find beautifully renovated Victorian homes, cute shops, and interesting museums. Carthage’s beautiful buildings will be remembered for a long time.

Battle of Carthage State Historic Site is a good place to learn about the town’s past during the Civil War. It remembers the first important battle of the Missouri conflict. The spot has displays that explain what’s going on, walking paths, and a quiet place to think.

Visit the peaceful and beautiful Precious Moments Chapel and Gardens, which is where the famous Precious Moments figures are kept. The church has beautiful murals, intricate stained-glass windows, and well-kept gardens that make it a peaceful place to relax.

Route 66 Drive-In Theater: Take a trip back in time at a real drive-in movie theater along famous Route 66. Enjoy a movie outside under the stars while sitting in your car with other movie fans.

Explore the elegant Victorian house that is now the Phelps House Museum. It shows how people lived in the late 1800s. On guided trips, you can learn about the history, architecture, and interesting stories that make this house so special.

Carthage is an interesting place to spend a summer vacation in Missouri because of its long past, beautiful architecture, and friendly people. The town has a lot of unique things to see and do for history buffs, nature lovers, and people who just want to rest in a cute, small-town setting. Carthage’s picturesque scenery and unforgettable charm promise an exceptional summer vacation experience.


Hermann is a charming small town in Missouri, perfect for a summer vacation. Established in the 1830s, Hermann is known for its rich German heritage, beautiful vineyards, and picturesque scenery along the Missouri River. Here are some must-visit attractions and activities to consider when planning your summer vacation in Hermann, Missouri:

Wineries and Vineyards: Hermann is located in the heart of Missouri’s wine country, and visiting local wineries is a must. Some popular options include Stone Hill Winery, Hermannhof Winery, and Adam Puchta Winery. Enjoy wine tastings, tours, and scenic views at these historic establishments.

Historic Downtown Hermann: Take a stroll through Hermann’s historic downtown, which features well-preserved 19th-century architecture, charming shops, art galleries, and restaurants. Be sure to visit the Deutschheim State Historic Site, which offers insight into the town’s German roots.

Katy Trail State Park: This 240-mile long recreational rail trail runs through Hermann, offering opportunities for hiking, biking, and wildlife viewing along the Missouri River. Rent a bike and explore the trail for a scenic adventure.

Riverboat Cruises: Enjoy a relaxing riverboat cruise on the Missouri River, taking in the beautiful landscapes and wildlife. The Spirit of Hermann offers a variety of cruises, including sightseeing tours and sunset dinner cruises.

Gasconade County Historical Society Museum: Learn about the local history of Hermann and Gasconade County at this informative museum, which features exhibits on Native American history, early settlers, and the local wine industry.

Annual Events: Hermann is known for its lively events and festivals. Plan your vacation around one of these events, such as the Hermann Wine & Jazz Festival, Maifest, Oktoberfest, or the Hermann Wine Trail.

Outdoor Activities: The area surrounding Hermann offers plenty of outdoor recreational opportunities, including fishing, canoeing, and kayaking on the Missouri River or Gasconade River.

With its quaint atmosphere, rich history, and beautiful natural surroundings, Hermann, Missouri, is a delightful destination for a summer vacation.

Ste. Genevieve

Ste. Genevieve, Missouri, is a charming and historic town perfect for a summer vacation. Founded in the early 1700s, it is the oldest European settlement in Missouri and offers a wealth of cultural, historical, and outdoor activities for visitors to enjoy. Here are some recommendations to make the most of your summer vacation in Ste. Genevieve:

Historic District: Take a stroll through the National Historic Landmark District, which features well-preserved French Colonial architecture, including vertical log houses, as well as charming shops and galleries. Guided tours are available at several historic homes, such as the Bolduc House, the Bequette-Ribault House, and the Guibourd-Valle House.

Sainte Genevieve Wineries: The area is home to several award-winning wineries that offer tastings, tours, and beautiful views of the surrounding countryside. Visit Chaumette Vineyards & Winery, Crown Valley Winery, or Sainte Genevieve Winery, among others, to sample local wines and enjoy the picturesque settings.

Hawn State Park: This scenic park offers a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking, birdwatching, and picnicking. Explore the park’s sandstone canyons, clear streams, and diverse plant and animal life on one of its many trails.

Felix Vallé House State Historic Site: This historic site features a beautifully restored 1818 Federal-style home that once belonged to a prominent local merchant. Take a guided tour to learn about the history of the area and the home’s original furnishings.

Ste. Genevieve Museum Learning Center: This museum offers a fascinating glimpse into the town’s rich history through a variety of exhibits and artifacts. Learn about the French and German settlers, the role of Ste. Genevieve in the American Revolution, and the impact of the Mississippi River on the community.

Downtown Trolley: Hop on the downtown trolley for a narrated tour of Ste. Genevieve’s historic sites and attractions. It’s a convenient and enjoyable way to explore the town.

Outdoor Recreation: Ste. Genevieve is surrounded by natural beauty, making it an excellent destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Enjoy fishing, boating, or swimming at nearby Lake Forest or Lake Timberline, or go golfing at the Ste. Genevieve Golf Club.

Annual Events: Plan your visit to coincide with one of the town’s annual events, such as the Ste. Genevieve County Fair, the Jour de Fête, or the French Heritage Festival, which celebrate the town’s unique history and culture.

With its rich history, beautiful architecture, and lovely natural surroundings, Ste. Genevieve, Missouri, is an ideal destination for a memorable summer vacation.

Van Buren

Van Buren, Missouri, is a small town located in the southeastern part of the state, but it offers some cool attractions for a summer vacation. While it might not be the largest or most bustling destination, it provides visitors with a range of outdoor activities and natural beauty to enjoy. Here are a few spots you can visit in and around Van Buren during your summer vacation:

Big Spring: One of the largest springs in the United States, Big Spring offers beautiful turquoise waters and picturesque surroundings. You can take a leisurely walk around the spring, have a picnic, or go fishing.

Ozark National Scenic Riverways: This protected area encompasses parts of the Current River and Jacks Fork River, offering stunning natural landscapes and plenty of outdoor activities. You can go canoeing, kayaking, fishing, or simply relax on the riverbanks.

Current River: The river provides excellent opportunities for floating, canoeing, and kayaking. Several outfitters in the area can help you plan your adventure and provide equipment rentals.

Blue Spring: A beautiful natural spring with crystal clear water, Blue Spring is perfect for a refreshing swim on a hot summer day. The spring is surrounded by lush greenery, making it a peaceful spot to relax and enjoy nature.

Mark Twain National Forest: This expansive forest offers numerous hiking and biking trails, as well as camping and picnic areas. You can explore the wilderness, spot wildlife, and enjoy the beautiful scenery.

Peck Ranch Conservation Area: This 23,000-acre area offers a chance to see Missouri’s wild elk herd, as well as deer, turkey, and other wildlife. There are also numerous hiking trails and beautiful vistas to enjoy.

While Van Buren might not be considered one of the coolest cities, it does offer a variety of outdoor activities and natural beauty that make it an excellent destination for a summer vacation.


Missouri’s charming small towns offer a treasure trove of experiences for those seeking a memorable summer vacation. From the picturesque riverfront in Parkville to the rich literary history of Hannibal, the architectural splendor of Carthage to the serene natural beauty of Blackwater, these destinations promise a unique and enchanting getaway. Each town boasts its own distinct character, attractions, and activities that cater to a variety of interests.

The importance of exploring Missouri’s summer vacation spots cannot be overstated, as they provide an opportunity to immerse oneself in the state’s rich history, vibrant culture, and stunning landscapes. Whether it’s discovering the German heritage in Hermann, the French colonial architecture in Ste. Genevieve, or the breathtaking Ozark National Scenic Riverways in Van Buren, these small towns create unforgettable experiences and lasting memories.

As you plan your summer vacation, consider the charm and allure of Missouri’s small towns. By venturing off the beaten path and embracing the unique experiences these destinations have to offer, you’re sure to create a summer vacation that will be fondly remembered for years to come.

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