Missouri Travel Tips: The Best Of The State’s Barbecue, Sports, World-Class Art And Fine Dining

Missouri gets overlooked as a tourist destination but the world-class art museums, fantastic sports atmosphere, high-end dining, and stunning nature make this state a must-see. Here are our top tips

Kansas City Travel Tips

Kansas City actually straddles both Missouri and Kansas; and while plenty of locals reside in the latter, visitors will benefit most from planting themselves on the Missouri side—it’s where one will find the action.

Begin at the luxury Hotel Sorella, the Mediterranean-style hotel located on the Country Club Plaza. The area is dotted with charming fountains (the Kansas City metro area has over 200), and streets are lined with retail shops and restaurants so it’s a great starting place to explore this gorgeous city.

Kansas City is chock-full of culture—home to world-class museums like the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Modern Art and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, the city was the home of the first professional league for black players—formed in 1920.

Not surprisingly, KC is terrific for the sports aficionado—home to three professional teams: the Kansas City Royals baseball team, the Chiefs football team and Sporting Kansas City soccer team.

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Hit up happy hour at Bar Rosso at the Hotel Sorella in Kansas City

Along with sports goes barbecue, and KC does it very well. Arthur Bryant’s is beloved for their burnt ends, and one would be remiss not to stop at L.C.’s Bar-B-Q, too. For high-end dining, Bluestem—from husband and wife team Colby and Megan Garrelts—is a favorite in Westport and a James Beard Award recipient. And there’s Novel, the newcomer that earned a place in Bon Appétit’s 50 Best New Restaurants in America.

For drinks, take a spin around Boulevard Brewing for a casual tour and stay for generous samples or head to Amigoni Urban Winery, a new spin on vino in the West Bottoms neighborhood.

 St. Louis Sights

St. Louis, Missouri, may be known as the “Gateway to the West,” but the city is a Midwestern gem—full of big city-like attractions and all-American charm. It’s a baseball city, fueled by their love of the Cardinals. They’ve got two additional pro teams, both Rams football and Blues hockey, but fans in this city are die-hard for the diamond.

Non-sports fans, fret not; St. Louis is replete with museums, and one can easily spend an entire weekend touring the Griot Museum of Black History and Culture, Contemporary Art Museum of St. Louis, the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Missouri History Museum, and Saint Louis Art Museum.

Black Walnut Custard: Jonathan apple granita, black walnut crisps, and sage. No white sugar!
Indulge in black walnut custard with Jonathan apple granita, black walnut crisps, and sage from Niche restaurant

Dining options run the gamut from fine to no-frills. For the former, Niche hits the mark. And for something more casual, St. Louis has their own unique style of pizza that all visitors must try—a thin, square cut pizza, topped with Provel cheese. You can’t go far without finding the popular spot Imo’s to try this interesting and beloved style of pie. St. Louis’ “The Hill” neighborhood was established in the late 1800s, and now serves as one of the finest places for Italian cuisine.

Trattoria Marcella serves an incredible slice, and one shouldn’t leave the city without sampling a batch of toasted (which are actually deep-fried) raviolis—another one of the city’s specialties. Here, most locals will be washing them down with a simple Budweiser beer.

One can take the tour at the Anheuser-Busch Brewery seven days a week, where the brewery has been operating for more than 150 years. Along with a tasting, you’ll also get a peek at the world-famous Clydesdales horses.

Jefferson City

While not as bustling as the above cities, Jefferson City is worth a day trip. This charming town serves as the state capital of Missouri, and is named for Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States.

A visit to the Missouri State Capitol building is must, both for the historical context and the notable architectural features—quite similar to the nation’s capital.

Things To Do In Ridgedale, Mo

Get out of the cities and down into the beauty of the Ozark Mountains. A stay at Big Cedar Lodge should serve the purpose nicely. Private log cabins are thoughtfully furnished with rustic details like a crackling wood fireplace and deck overlooking the crystal blue waters of Table Rock Lake.

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Take a dip in the pool at Big Cedar Lodge

Founded by Johnny Morris, the owner of Bass Pro Shops, in 1987, Big Cedar Lodge has served as a “wilderness resort” in the Ozarks where one can retreat to nature in luxury. Just 10 minutes south of Branson, Missouri, the area draws sports fans—especially with the newly opened Top of the Rock, which includes a nine-hole Jack Nicklaus signature design par-three golf course. And the Arnold Palmer Driving Range is just about the most handsome practice facility, boasting 16 target greens, recessed lighting, and both synthetic and grass tees for an all-weather experience.

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Cosy up to the fire in this Big Cedar Lodge living room

The Tom Watson one-acre “Himalayan” putting green was inspired by the famed course in St. Andrews in Scotland and features putts up to 200-feet high. For those forgoing the green, spend the day at Cedar Creek Spa.

Inspired by nature (naturally), the 18,000-square foot luxury spa is an oasis that boasts a full-service salon; outdoor, open-air showers, and a sauna and steam room for pre- or post-treatment use. Here, all treatment rooms come equipped with cozy fireplaces, and use of the candlelit grotto and ice room is complimentary before or after treatments.

*Look for Morris’ first-ever sister property to open spring 2015 inside the famed Memphis Pyramid. Located within the new Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid, Big Cypress Lodge will offer rustic rooms inspired by vintage duck hunting camps and tree-house cabins.

For more information on a trip to Missouri, visit: http://www.visitmo.com.