Do you ever hear about all the trips your family and friends are taking in the summer and feel discouraged? Our list of 5 affordable Missouri staycations may be able to help with that.
Whether you have a bundle of kids or just not a lot of money left at the end of the day for a vacation, we get the feeling. You’d like the chance to be a little spontaneous and enjoy even just a day away.
We love staycations because they make it easy for us to commit just a short amount of time to family and adventure. And, because there are hardly any travel costs, they can be quite affordable. All you need is a car full of gas and a little bit of imagination.
Check out these 5 affordable Missouri staycations - full day trip itineraries included - to help spark your next adventure:
1. A Day in St. Louis
St. Louis is perhaps the most well-known city in Missouri. There are dozens of things to do, many of which are free or budget-friendly. Here’s a sample day trip itinerary you and your family could take to visit St. Louis, Missouri:
Start at the St. Louis Zoo
With free admission and dozens of animal exhibits, you can easily spend a full morning at St. Louis Zoo, one of the city’s top attractions. The St. Louis Zoo has a history dating back more than 100 years, all the way to the 1904 World’s Fair, and its popularity has only increased with time.
In addition to its free admission, you can check out the events hosted by the St. Louis Zoo for even more to do with your family.
Lunch at Seoul Taco
If Korean-Mexican fusion sounds a little too funky for you, you aren’t alone. But, if you’re in the mood for a little adventure, then this is the spot for you. Seoul Taco started in Missouri and now has a couple locations in the Midwest. If you decide to go, you’ve gotta try the spicy pork quesadilla. Talk about delicious.
See the Gateway Arch
It’s not a trip to St. Louis without this iconic photo-op. You can also head underneath the Gateway Arch and check out the Gateway Arch Museum, which is free of charge. You’ll learn all about the architectural contest that resulted in the Arch and how it was built. If you’d like to spend a little extra, you can take a tram ride to the top (not recommended if you’re claustrophobic or afraid of heights).
Visit City Museum
City Museum is a fully-interactive space for children and adults. It’s a favorite for both tourists and locals, and we highly recommend you give it a go!
Money saving tip: Tickets are $2 cheaper after 5pm.
Approx. trip cost per person: $27
2. A Day in Kansas City
On the other side of the state, Kansas City boasts a smaller-but-still-city feel, much like Nashville, Tennessee or Portland, Oregon. We’ve created this itinerary so it’s easy to navigate and all in the same area of town:
Have Coffee and Pastries at Messenger Coffee + Ibis Bakery
Messenger Coffee is three-story roastery and cafe with a great rooftop seating area. With Ibis Bakery in-house, all of the pastries are fresh and delicious. Note that it is a little pricier here, and if you aren’t careful, you could easily spend more than $10 a person on breakfast (we don’t think we’d have any regrets).
Want a fun picture? Step in the alley behind Messenger Coffee, where you’ll find one of Kansas City’s many murals:
Ride the KC Streetcar to River Market
Messenger Coffee is located in the Power and Light district, which has a stop along the free Kansas City Streetcar. You can ride this in two directions: either to River Market, or to Union Station. With this itinerary, we’re going to the former.
Explore City Market
City Market boasts an eclectic mix of farmer’s market stands and local eateries. You can find goods from Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and just about everywhere in between. It’s fun just to wander through the stands. It does become quite crowded on the weekends, which is something to keep in mind.
Lunch at Pigwich
If you’re a fan of good barbeque at under $10 a person, Pigwich is the place to go. However, just about any of the eateries at City Market would be fun to try. From Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine to Italian and American cafes, there’s something for everyone.
Visit the Arabia Steamboat Museum
The Steamboat Arabia sank in 1856 and was recovered over 130 years later. Today, its cargo is on display at this Kansas City museum, where you can see it all - including the world’s oldest jar of pickles.
Approx. trip cost per child: $15
Approx. trip cost per adult: $35
3. A Day in Columbia, MO
Home to Mizzou and several other colleges, Columbia fluctuates between packed when school’s in session and serene during summer months.
Breakfast at Broadway Diner
Broadway Diner is the quintessential local restaurant experience. The diner is small, so expect to wait in line during popular hours. Try the pancakes or their famous “Stretch.”
Hike to Devil's Icebox
Aptly named because of its constant 56 degree temperature, Devil’s Icebox is a cave located in Rock Bridge Memorial State Park. The state park itself has gorgeous hiking trails, and you can take any one of them for an adventurous morning excursion. It’s good to know before you go that the stairs down to Devil’s Icebox are quite steep, and most of the trails will require a decent level of physical effort.
Lunch at Murry's
Well-known for their sugar-coated, fried green bell peppers (we’re not making that up), Murry’s is an eclectic restaurant with a broad menu and divine desserts.
Swim at Stephens Park Lake
From May 1 until September 30, free admission is available to the lake beach and spraygrounds at Stephens Lake Park. It’s a beautiful, well-kept park in the heart of Columbia, and it’s good to know that this swimming area is unguarded.
Cool Off with Bubble Tea
Head downtown to Bubblecup Tea Zone for a refreshing bubble tea after a long day outside. There are dozens of flavors to choose from!
Approx. trip cost per person: $25
4. A Day in Hannibal, MO
Home to Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, the life and fictional work of Mark Twain brought this town on the border of the Mississippi River on the map.
Coffee at Java Jive
Enjoy local roasts and a cozy atmosphere at Java Jive, one of Hannibal’s community staples. Locals rave about the iced mocha.
Visit the Hannibal Central Park Farmer's Market
Want a taste of the local life? Enjoy a Saturday morning browsing the Central Park Farmer’s Market filled with organic produce and handcrafted goods. Check out their full list of vendors for a better idea of the products you can find, and remember that the farmer’s market is only open from 8am until noon on Saturday mornings and 4 to 7pm on Tuesday evenings.
Lunch at Becky Thatcher's Diner
A local staple, and aptly named for one of the fictional characters that put Hannibal on the map, Becky Thatcher’s Diner serves homestyle, comfort-food cooking. New to the area? Try the burgers or pancakes - they’re favorites!
Walk through Historic Downtown Hannibal
Downtown Hannibal is a quaint spot with lots of local shops to check out. Spend as little or as much time as you like browsing the area.
See Mark Twain's Boyhood Home and Museum
To finish out the day, check out Mark Twain’s Boyhood Home and Museum, and learn all about the life and literature of one of America’s most loved novelists.
Approx. trip cost per child: $18
Approx. trip cost per adult: $27
5. A Day at the Lake of the Ozarks
Being one of the top destinations in Missouri, Lake of the Ozarks is also the most expensive staycation on this list.
Coffee at Brew Brothers Coffee
Located in Eldon, Missouri, just a few miles from the Lake, Brew Brothers Coffee was recently voted as one of the top coffee shops in Missouri. There’s something for coffee connoisseurs, tea-drinkers and smoothie lovers alike. Give their cold brew coffee a try!
Note: due to tornadoes that hit in May 2019, Brew Brothers Coffee experienced damaged and is temporarily closed. We love it so much, we still had to put it on the list! Check out their Facebook page for recent updates.
Horseback Ride through Lake of the Ozarks State Park
Looking for something a little different to do at the lake? Enjoy an hour-long trail ride through the Lake of the Ozarks State Park. There are some age restrictions on rides, so make sure everyone in your crew is old enough to go.
Swim at the Lake of the Ozarks State Park
After your horseback ride, enjoy swimming and the views at Lake of the Ozarks State Park. There’s also a playground nearby for the kids to enjoy.
Enjoy a Picnic Lunch
Nothing turns a day into an adventure like a picnic. Stuck on ideas? Try one of these recipes for inspiration.
Sweet Treat at the Ice Cream Factory
Another location in Eldon, Missouri, the Ice Cream Factory recently opened and makes many of its flavors in-house. The shop is usually packed - and for good reason! The ice cream is delicious and scoops are generous.
Approx. trip cost per person: $50
What about you - what’s your favorite Missouri staycation destination? Let us know in the comments below!
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