While there are numerous cheap things to do in Missouri, not everything might be worth your time so read below to get some great ideas for you and your family. With awe-inspiring nature retreats and picturesque state parks, this state has enough to ensure that the tourists enjoy their stay on a very light budget.
As a midwestern American state situated neatly between Kentucky and Kansas, Missouri is often underrated when it comes to tourism.
From historical locales of St. Louis to breweries and riverboat cruises, Missouri is filled with numerous interesting experiences to cater to different types of travelers entering its region. In fact, most of these things are free for the public or have a minimal entry fee making it a highly affordable region in which to vacation. So, read on to discover seven affordable things to do when visiting Missouri.
If you find our claims hard to believe, check out the below slides to find out the best inexpensive attractions in Missouri:
- 1 Top 7 Affordable Attractions & Cheap Things to Do in Missouri
- 1.1 The Gateway Arch: The Tallest Museum In The US
- 1.2 Liberty Memorial and National World War I Museum
- 1.3 Lake of the Ozarks: Water Sports, Picnic & View
- 1.4 State Parks and Gardens: Missouri’s Natural Experiences
- 1.5 City Sightseeing
- 1.6 Zoological Parks: St. Louis & Kansas City
- 1.7 Walks and Trails
- 2 Wrapping Up Affordable Trips & Cheap Things To Do In Missouri
Top 7 Affordable Attractions & Cheap Things to Do in Missouri
The Gateway Arch: The Tallest Museum In The US
Located in downtown St. Louis, the Gateway Arch is the tallest museum across the United States. This arches memorial is 630 feet in height and is designed as a tribute to President Thomas Jefferson’s vision of St. Louis. The former president perceived St. Louis as the gateway to Western expansion, hence the arch in the form of a memorial gateway.
The cattery arch was inaugurated in 1965 and has attracted numerous tourists to this city every year. Visitors can go to the top in tram cars and stay in the observation deck to view the beautiful city of St. Louis and the Mississippi River.
Liberty Memorial and National World War I Museum
The National World War I Museum is located within the Liberty memorial grounds. While the museum has an entry fee, the memorial is open to all visitors free of charge. The carefully manicured grounds and mesmerizing location make this place worth visiting if you are in Missouri.
The memorial is also considered as the best place to take in the beautiful view of the Kansas City skyline as the sun goes down and the city lights begin to turn illuminate. This makes the memorial one of the best cheap things to do in Missouri.
Lake of the Ozarks: Water Sports, Picnic & View
Lake of the Ozarks is literally the heart of Missouri. Situated in central Missouri, the lake forms a part of the famous Ozark mountains. It is actually a large reservoir watered by the Osage river as well as its tributaries.
The water sports and picturesque backdrop offers ample activities if you want to splurge but it is a perfect spot for packing a basket and having a picnic on a budget. The lake also borders the famous Ha Ha Tonka Park.
State Parks and Gardens: Missouri’s Natural Experiences
Missouri has more than 50 state parks and all of them have one common characteristic – they are all free for visitors. With absolutely no entry fees, a picnic in the garden is a perfect idea for a lovely spring or summer holiday. Some prominent parks in Missouri that are a ‘must-visit’ for outdoor lovers include:
Forest Park: Ponds, Wetlands, & Restored Prairie
Located in St. Louis, Forest Park is the most underrated of the group. This oft-forgotten jewel is actually larger than New York City’s Central Park. The park covers over a thousand acres and is a perfect location to escape the city’s crowds. Spotted with ponds, wetlands, and restored prairie, the park has numerous attractions including the Cascades and the World’s Fair Pavilion. If you are lucky, you may also catch a free concert on Art Hill.
Popularly known as Shaw’s Garden, the Missouri Botanical Gardens in St. Louis is named after its patron Henry Shaw. The famous Climatron attracts numerous tourists every year. The structure is essentially a simulated rainforest containing over 1200 species of different plants. The garden is also home to the largest traditional Japanese garden in continental North America.
Ha Ha Tonka State Park
Situated in the Lake of the Ozarks, the Ha Ha Tonka State Park is three times the size of the Forest Park, covering over three thousand acres. The phrase ‘Ha Ha Tonka’ translates into ‘smiling waters’ and is named after natural springs found here.
The park offers an ideal setting for hikers with its sinkholes and caves, castle, and naturally occurring bridges. You can also enjoy a host of water sports including fishing, swimming, and boating. This is one of the best swim holes in the US, if you want to know more about such places in other states, do check out our dedicated sampling.
Other than these, Waconda State Park offers excellent camping grounds and the Dogwood Canyon Nature Park is perfect for an adventure with kids. These ‘free-for-all’ nature spots are an excellent addition to any tourist’s list of ‘cheap things to do in Missouri.’
Missouri boasts of a varied city experience with numerous ventures that cater to different appetites and likings.
St. Louis: Iced Tea & Ice Cream Origin
Beyond the tourist attractions of St. Louis lies a lively city offering memorable experiences for sports, food, or music enthusiasts. Not many travelers are aware, but ice cream cones and iced teas originated here.
April, May, September, and October are some of the best months to visit St. Louis, however, you may encounter high rates due to the peak season rush. However, if you are looking for cheap things to do in Missouri, then there is no better place than St. Louis, even in the tourist season.
Kansas City: Boulevard Brewing Company
In the true spirit of the state, Kansas City offers a number of free attractions to give you holistic travel experience. Some of the popular attractions include the free 40-minute tour held every Wednesday at the Boulevard Brewing Company and the breathtaking fountains. Other free places of interest include Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead, City Market, Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Heritage Center, KC Streetcar rides.
Branson: Table Rock Lake & the Ozark Mountains
Like St. Louis and Kansas City, Branson, Missouri is home to some of the most interesting attractions including the Table Rock Lake and the Ozark mountains. For a small fee, tourists can learn more about the rich Ozark history at the Ralph Foster Museum located in the picturesque campus of the College of Ozarks. The Moon Shine beach is another one of the many cheap things to do in Missouri with kids. Located on the shores of Table Rock Lake, this beach is the perfect excuse to spend a lazy summer day swimming and enjoying a lovely sunset with your loved ones.
While cities are where all the fun happens, it can become difficult to find cheap hotel accommodation during holiday season. As a result, more and more tourists are vying for vacation rentals that allow them the flexibility to cook their own food and save instead of eating every meal at a restaurant.
Zoological Parks: St. Louis & Kansas City
St. Louis and Kansas City zoo are two famous zoological parks in this region, and both offer interesting exhibits. While there is no entry fee in the St. Louis zoo, Kansas City zoo requires an admission ticket per person.
Both zoos are home to wildlife exhibits spread over many acres of land and zookeeper chats offer visitors an interesting perspective on the life of various animals.
The zoos also run animal shows that are a delight to watch for children as well as adults. Apart from this, some attractions include safari ride, tram ride, boat ride, and a carousel. Overall, it is a perfect way to spend a day increasing your knowledge of nature. Just pack a picnic and have fun with your family while you remain within your budget.
Walks and Trails
Hermann Wine Trail
Hermann Wine Trail is named after the historic German community of Hermann who were German immigrants and have been making wine in Missouri since 1837. Today, winemaking has become a lifestyle of this region attracting numerous tourists every year. The biggest attraction is Winefest that is held annually.
The Grape and Wine program funded by the state is designed to promote tourism in this trade. Other popular attractions in this region include Stone Hill Winery, Chocolate Wine Trail, and Saw Cheese Wine Trail.
Katy Trail is 240 miles long and is situated within the Katy Trail State Park. The trail stretches along the old MKT (Missouri Kansas Texas) Railroad tracks as well as the Missouri River giving a unique experience to tourists, joggers, hikers, and cyclists. It is perfect for someone looking for a hiking or cycling holiday on a budget. Do not forget to bring your camera and capture some truly elegant moments of nature in its true element.
Wrapping Up Affordable Trips & Cheap Things To Do In Missouri
With so many cool and unusual things to do, Missouri must surely be on every budget traveler’s checklist. There are various ways to travel without spending a lot. Out of these, vacation rentals offer the maximum value for money for every visitor. These accommodations work as full-functioning homes or apartments that you can rent instead of staying at a hotel. You can cook your own meals, wash your laundry, and stay comfortably with a family or as many people as you can accommodate. Our platform, RentalTrader.com allow travelers to choose from various options making it an excellent way to find suitable accommodations that sit well within your budget.