7 Best Small Towns in Missouri

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Looking up as people ride the Wave Carousel in Branson, Missouri.

Are you planning a trip through Missouri? Have you thought about exploring the best small towns in Missouri during your travels? They have a lot to offer. Vacationing like a local in a small town is easy as you quickly become acclimated to your surroundings and the best spots.

Keep reading to learn how to explore the best small towns in Missouri like a local and get the most out of your stay. We overview some of the must-see attractions and why we recommend a visit. 

Pack your bags, and let’s dive in.

Missouri’s Small Towns Are Worth a Visit

Get ready for wineries, beautiful hiking trails, unique bed and breakfasts, and more in the best small towns in Missouri. We found seven worth a visit on your next road trip through the state.

Or, fly in and get comfortable for a weekend stay in any of these places. You’ll find hospitality and charm with unique local attractions.

Friends enjoying a picnic lunch in a town park in Missouri.

7 Must-See Small Towns In Missouri

These seven stops give you a look at history, southern food, and beautiful landscapes. So grab a pen and your trip planner as we explore what these places offer.

1. Ste. Genevieve

About the Town: Ste. Genevieve lies 55 miles south of St. Louis on the Missouri and Indiana border. It’s the oldest European settlement in Missouri, and today it has a population of just under 5,000. 

Must-See Attractions: Stop by the Ste. Genevieve Welcome Center to get information on places of historical significance around town. For example, the Bolduc House is a National Historic Landmark that you can tour, with the LeMeilleur House next door. Also, visit Baetje Farms for wine and fresh goat cheese. 

Exterior of the Centre for French Colonial Life at the Louise Bolduc House in Ste. Gevenvieve – a  small town in Missouri.
The Centre for French Colonial Life at the Louis Bolduc House in Ste. Genevieve.
Photo courtesy of the Missouri Division of Tourism

Why You Should Visit: Ste. Genevieve is a popular place for foodies and historians. Nature lovers will also enjoy a visit. The Ste. Genevieve Levee Wildlife Refuge is a great place for hiking and bird watching.

2. Rocheport

About the Town: Rocheport, Missouri, is the definition of small. The town is only 210 acres. But you’ll find it to be a peaceful getaway. It’s a two-hour drive from Kansas City or St. Louis, making it the perfect destination to base yourself on day trips to the cities.

Must-See Attractions: Rocheport is on the Katy Trail, a 237-mile “rails-to-trail” across most of the state. It follows the Lewis and Clark path up the Missouri River. Hikers, runners, and bikers love the mostly flat path.

Why You Should Visit: Rocheport has quaint bed-and-breakfasts to stay in called the School House Bed & Breakfast. You can enjoy a quiet retreat in one of the best small towns in Missouri by staying in this unique old schoolhouse.

Sunset over the Missouri River at the Les Bourgeois Vineyard captures a beautiful moment in a small Missouri town.
Les Bourgeois Vineyards on the Missouri River in Rocheport, Missouri.
Photo courtesy of the Missouri Division of Tourism

Treat yourself to a B&B with one-of-a-kind decor, beautiful grounds, and fantastic food. And throughout the day, you can visit Rocheport’s dining establishments and shops and do some wine tasting at The Blufftop at Les Bourgeois Vineyards.

3. Branson

About the Town: Branson is in the Ozarks. Its famous 76 Country Boulevard has theaters with many forms of live entertainment. This small town, set amid beautiful hills and waterways, has many things to do.

Must-See Attractions: Branson has enough attractions to keep you busy for days. If you enjoy amusement parks, check out Silver Dollar City. It also has the famous Time Traveler rollercoaster that goes 50 mph up ten stories and then makes a 90-degree vertical drop. Head over to Shepherd of the Hills Adventure Park for some adventurous zip-lining.

Sunset paints the sky peach over Table Rock Lake in Missouri.
Dusk over Table Rock Lake in Branson, Missouri

Why You Should Visit: Branson, Missouri, is a fun, family-friendly town. It’s the only place in the state where you can attend the Dolly Parton Stampede dinner show. While you eat, watch trick riders put on a show with 32 horses.

Branson is worth the visit, from entertainment in town to outdoor adventures like fishing, camping, hiking, and water sports.

Traveler’s Tip: We’ve already planned your itinerary for the perfect day in Branson, MO.

4. Hermann

About the Town: Hermann is a small town on the Missouri River with just over 2,000 residents. And it’s drenched in beautiful hills with green foliage and trees. The town, founded in 1837, carries on a vintage charm.

Must-See Attractions: Wining and dining are among the most popular things to do in Hermann. You can embark on a tour of 13 wineries and distilleries spread across the region. Each has unique offerings and country charm.

Additionally, eating out in Hermann also offers a fun experience. For example, you can dine in a historic building in the Concert Hall and Barrel Tavern.

Hermann, Missouri is a small town but the Missouri River Runner stops here.
Missouri River Runner Amtrack in Hermann, Missouri.
Photo courtesy of the Missouri Division of Tourism

Why You Should Visit: Visiting the town of Hermann gives you a glimpse into the past. You can stay at vintage bed and breakfasts like Abigail’s Grape Leaf. Being in Missouri wine country makes the town a perfect destination for a romantic getaway, girl’s trip, or weekend stopover.  

5. Boonville

About the Town: Boonville is another small town on our list on the Missouri River. It’s halfway between Kansas City and St. Louis, and it’s just a 14 min drive from Rocheport. In this historic town, Union forces defeated the Missouri State Guard during the Civil War.

Must-See Attractions: History buffs love Boonville for its historical buildings and landmarks dating back to the 1800s. The Old Cooper County Jail is among the many places you can visit.

After you’ve seen some of the historical sites, head out to Warm Springs Ranch, where you can observe the famous Budweiser Clydesdales breeding facility. They have about 100 horses at the beautiful farm and offer guided tours from April to October. 

The Historic New York Store Building in downtown Boonville, Missouri has a beautiful white facade with ornate decorations around the roofline and windows.
The Historic New York Store Building in Downtown Boonville, Missouri.
Publichall, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Why You Should Visit: You’ll find over 450 sites and structures on the National Registry of Historic Places in Boonville. Additionally, the visitor’s center provides a map for a walking tour. The Katy Trail also runs through the town for biking, running, and walking as a great way to explore the area. 

6. Parkville

About the Town: Parkville is a small town only 10 miles outside of Kansas City with a population of a little over 5,500. It offers antique shops and art galleries in the historic downtown and overlooks the Missouri River.  

Must-See Attractions: When planning a trip to this small town in Missouri, check their calendar of events. From festivals to farmer’s markets, Parkville often has something fun going on in the community.

Shop at places like Cool Vintage Watches on Main Street. Or you can browse an art gallery such as the Cathy Kline Fine Art Gallery, which features original pieces from artists in the region.

Why You Should Visit: Parkville is a perfect choice for a quiet stay, yet it’s close to Kansas City. Reserve a room at the Main Street Inn bed and breakfast, and you’ll feel right at home. You can also explore the town and surrounding area without the hustle and bustle of a larger city.

7. Rolla

About the Town: Rolla is one of the best small towns in Missouri on our list. It has a population of just under 20,000. It’s 100 miles southwest of St. Louis and is known for being the home of the Missouri University of Science and Technology.

Must-See Attractions: Rolla is a great place to explore the Mark Twain National Forest. Additionally, you can hike, fish, bird and wildlife watch, camp, and more. After a hike, head over the Fugitive Beach to cool off and enjoy the waterslides. 

Mark Twain National Forest covers 1.5 million acres of land in Missouri.

Why You Should Visit: Visit Rolla for outdoor adventures. The town can serve as your base for adventuring in Missouri nature.

And if you’re just passing through, you also have many shops and dining options. For example, the Rolla Antique Mall is a popular spot for collectors.

Take a Tour of Small Town Missouri

Small towns are a great way to know a state and region. Remember to be flexible with your planning; you never know what you might find.

We highly recommend asking locals where you can find the best dining and entertainment. They typically point you to some gems that might make it into your memory book.

Are you ready to tour one of the best small towns in Missouri? We hope you get to one or more on our list. And if you do, we would love to hear about your experience. Drop us a comment below to share your favorite part. 

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