Day Trips From St Louis, Missouri
Day trips are always great when you want to explore nearby. St. Louis is a wonderful city to live in and to visit. There are also many great destinations that are only a short drive away, perfect when you only have a day to explore.
Whether you’re into history, culture or the outdoors, here are our recommendations for the 15 best day trips from St. Louis.
1. Springfield, Illinois
Learn all about President Abraham Lincoln on a day trip from St.Louis to Springfield, Missouri. Located less than 100 miles from St. Louis, the capital of Illinois is also the birthplace of the 16th President. As a result, many of the top attractions in the city relate to Lincoln.
Don’t miss the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. See Lincoln’s adult homestead preserved at the Lincoln Home National Historic Site. Other popular Springfield attractions include the Old State Capitol Building, the current State Capitol, the Governor’s Mansion and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Dana-Thomas House.
Before leaving town, be sure to try a Horseshoe Sandwich, and open-face sandwich with hamburger patties, french fries and cheese sauce.
2. Hermann, Missouri
Located about 80 miles west, Hermann is one of the best day trips from St. Louis for wine lovers. The town is located in the heart of Missouri wine country. There’s a 20-mile wine trail that features seven different wineries.
Spend the morning or afternoon at such popular wineries as Stone Hill or Hermanhoff. There’s even a wine trolley that will take you around so you don’t have to worry about driving.
Afterwards, spend some time exploring the area’s German heritage at the Deutschheim State Historic Park. Take a tour to learn about the lives of German immigrants in the mid 1800s and how they started winemaking in the region.
Before you leave, browse the shops and restaurants in town. There are also opportunities to enjoy the outdoors at the Katy Trail State Park.
3. Jefferson City
Visit Missouri’s capitol on a day trip to Jefferson City. Located around 120 miles from St. Louis, there’s a lot of historical attractions. Definitely take a tour of the beautiful State Capitol Building and the Missouri Governor’s Mansion.
Another interesting tour is of the decommissioned Missouri State Penitentiary. Other notable sites include the Jefferson Landing State Historic Site and the Jefferson City National Cemetery. Find more history at the Missouri State Museum.
Visit the Runge Nature Center to learn about the flora and fauna of Missouri. Browse for art at the Capital Arts Gallery or catch a show at the Miller Performing Arts Center. The city is home to many quaint boutiques and antique shops.
Before leaving town, get a scoop or two at Central Dairy Ice Cream.
Located only 25 miles away, Eureka is one of the best day trips from St. Louis for families and thrill seekers. It’s home to Six Flags St. Louis, a popular amusement park. In addition to thrill rides, family-friendly rides and kiddie rides, you can also find water rides and water attractions at Hurricane Harbor water park.
Six Flags also offers games, shows and other live entertainment for the whole family. Besides Six Flags, Eureka is also home to Route 66 State Park, where you can find the former town of Times Beach.
Go hiking or fishing at the Myron and Sonya Glassberg Family Conservation Area. Or come face to face with endangered wolves at the Endangered Wolf Center.
Missouri is the cave state and you can explore Meramec Caverns on a day trip from St. Louis. The caves are located in the town of Sullivan, around 65 miles southwest. Explore the cave and learn about its rich history on a guided tour.
Infamous outlaw Jesse James was believed to have used these caves as a hideout. The caves are also believed to have been a stop on the Underground Railroad. See the locations where several movies were filmed.
Take a look at the river that flows underground. Above ground, additional attractions include gem mining, wax museum, adventure trail, riverboat cruise and ziplining. The town also offers a wide range of shopping, dining and entertainment options.
6. St. Charles
Spend a day in one of the oldest towns in Missouri. Located 25 miles northwest of St. Louis, St. Charles was founded in 1769. It was once the capital of the state and you can still tour the First Missouri State Capitol.
The preserved Shrine of St. Rose Philippine Duchesne is also worth a visit. In addition, its South Main Street district is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Not only will you see beautiful old buildings, the area is home to more than 100 shops, boutiques, cafes and restaurants.
St. Charles is also where Lewis & Clark left for their expedition. Learn more at the Lewis & Clark Boat House & Museum. You can see life size replicas of the boats they used, as well as other artifacts. End your day trip with some wine tasting at a local winery.
7. Bonne Terre
Located around 60 miles south, Bonne Terre is one of the best day trips from St. Louis for scuba divers. Bonne Terre is home to the largest freshwater diving resort in the world.
Bonne Terre Mine was originally built in 1860 as part of a lead mine network. The mine closed down in the 1960s, but is now open for public tours. There are five underground levels. Walking tours cover the first two levels.
On the bottom three levels of the mine, there’s a 17-mile long lake that’s great for scuba diving. The visibility here is up to 100 feet and divers can explore tunnels and underground rooms. Boat tours available for those who do not dive. Bonne Terre is also home to the Space Museum.
8. Columbia, Missouri
Located in central Missouri, Columbia is a fun and progressive university town. It’s home to three different universities. Don’t miss the stunning architecture on the University of Missouri campus.
Many buildings have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Museum of Art and Archaeology is also worth a stop. Afterwards, head to the vibrant Ninth Street area to browse the shops and cafes. Or head to the North Village Arts District to check out the many galleries there.
If you’re into the outdoors, there are plenty of gardens, trails and parks. A great option is the Rock Bridge Memorial State Park. In addition to nice trails, there are several caves you can explore as well.
9. Ste. Genevieve
Step back in time on a day trip from St. Louis to Ste. Genevieve. Located around 60 miles south of St. Louis, the town is home to the oldest European settlement in the region.
Founded in 1735, you can find the largest collection of French Colonial-style buildings in the country. More than 150 buildings have been preserved and act as living history museums that you can tour.
There are options for outdoor lovers as well, such as Hawn State Park and Pickle Springs Natural Park. You can also find several great wineries nearby as well, such as Chaumette Vineyards and Winery and Cave Vineyards.
Located just over 100 miles away, Hannibal is one of the best day trips from St. Louis for Mark Twain fans. This quaint river town is the boyhood home of the famous author. See what inspired his books.
You can visit Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum, dedicated to his early life. Explore the caves featured in his books at the Mark Twain Cave Complex. For a full experience, take a riverboat cruise down the Mississippi River before you leave.
You can also take an old fashioned trolley to sightsee around the city. Don’t miss the 30-room Rockcliffe Mansion. It’s one of the best examples of architecture from the Gilded Age. Karlock’s Kars and Pop Culture Museum and the Hannibal History Museum are also worth visiting.
11. Johnson’s Shut-Ins
Enjoy a day at a natural water park at Johnson’s Shut-Ins. The park is located along the East Fork Black River, less than 100 miles from St. Louis. Millions of years ago, cooling volcanic rock formed a series of natural rock slides, waterfalls, rapids and chutes.
It’s a great destination to cool off in the summer. Slide down the chutes, or swim in the deep pools. You can also hike, rock climb and ride horses in the park. There’s also a visitors center and a general store on-site.
Nearby Taum Sauk Mountain State Park is home to the highest point and the tallest waterfall in Missouri.
12. The Great River Road
The Great River Road offers a day trip that is just as much about the journey as the destination. Designated a National Scenic Byway, it’s a collection of regional roads that follow the route of the Mississippi River.
The Great River Road starts in the north in Minnesota and ends where the river ends in Louisiana. You can follow the road for as long a stretch as you like. There are many interesting sites along the way you can pull off at.
In and near Missouri, highlights along the road include the Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum, Pere Marquette State Park, Gateway Arch National Park, the Mastodon State Historic Park, Trail of Tears State Park, and the Cape Girardeau Conservation Campus Nature Center.
13. Alton, IL
Located just 15 miles north, Alton is one of the easiest day trips from St. Louis. It sits where three major rivers (Mississippi, Missouri and Illinois) meet, and spending some time on and around the rivers is a must here.
Take a ferry or river cruise. Then learn more at the Great Rivers Museum. Interesting attractions include the site of the Lincoln-Douglas Debate and the Alton Giant. There are several pretty gardens for nature lovers.
Try the Nan Elliott Memorial Rose Garden or the Oriental Garden. Browse antiques in the Antiques District. Or try your luck at Argosy Casino. Before leaving town, check out the Fast Eddie’s Bon Air, a legendary roadhouse with great food and atmosphere.
14. Washington, Missouri
Located around 50 miles away from St. Louis, Washington is a gateway to wine country. A picturesque and charming town, the downtown area offers many shops, studios, and restaurants.
Check out the Washington Historical Society Museum and Missouri Photojournalism Hall of Fame. Self-guided walking tours of the town are a great way to explore. Don’t miss the historic home of John B. Busch, part of the Anheuser-Busch Brewing Company.
And of course, don’t leave without trying some of the award-winning wines the region is known for. Popular options include Augusta Winery and Beer Garden, Blumenhof Vineyards & Winery and Lake Creek Winery.
15. Lake of the Ozarks
Have a fun day on the lake at Lake of the Ozarks, located around 180 miles from St. Louis. Enjoy all sorts of water activities on and in the lake. There are also several water parks and arcades in the area.
Hike more than 30 miles of trails around the lake. Some of these trails offer stunning panoramic views of the lake. Explore the ruins of a castle at Ha Ha Tonka State Park.
There are several impressive caves you can explore, including Stark Caverns and Bridal Cave. And if you just want to relax, there are many resorts and waterfront restaurants and bars around the lake where you can soak up the holiday vibe.
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