Family Vacations in Missouri


Photo courtesy of the Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce A trained rider delights audiences at a Branson dinner theatre.

Missouri is as rich in vacation options as it is steeped in history. The state's famous Gateway Arch is not only a breathtaking American monument, but also houses a museum chock-full of information about our country's history of westward expansion. Likewise, Branson is not only billed as "The Live Music Show Capital of the World," but offers historic and fun live entertainment and 1950s-style music revues.

If you're seeking a fun and relaxing family vacation with options that every family member is sure to enjoy, look no further than Missouri. Check below for just a few of this state's family vacation options.

Branson

This city is billed as "The Live Music Show Capital of the World." With daily performances from all genres, music-lovers would be hard-pressed to find a city that offers a wider variety of concerts. And the fun doesn't end there! With rollicking dinner theatre shows, amusement parks, go-cart tracks, train rides, and festivals, Branson is a one-stop-shop for all your family vacation needs.

The Magic House

The Magic House in St. Louis is a mystical mansion jam-packed with educational activities disguised as fun. Kids can learn about science and technology in a whimsical atmosphere that provides them with hundreds of opportunities to poke, push, prod and play their way to knowledge about how their world works.

The Gateway Arch

This is one of America's tallest national monuments, towering high over the St. Louis skyline and offering a spectacular view of the surrounding plains. At its base lies the Museum of Westward Expansion, where families can learn about the pioneering spirit that drove American settlers west to find their fortune. Don't miss this breathtaking and historical monument.

The St. Louis Zoo

The St. Louis Zoo is home to hundreds of different species of animals, and separates itself from other zoos by offering lots of kid-themed activities. From the acrylic tube that slides down into the Otter Pool to a giant spiderweb kids can crawl along, there are lots of exhibits that combine education and fun in a way that all kids will enjoy. And with the indoor penguin habitat and 4-acre River's Edge exhibit, there's plenty of ground for the whole family to cover.

Kaleidoscope

Kaleidoscope, an art studio right next door to the Hallmark visitor's center, uses cast-offs from the card manufacturer's factories to provide a fun and creative playland for children. Using scraps of ribbon, glitter, glue, and some imagination, kids visiting this craft center can create and showcase unique works of art. With daily activities and multiple rooms, each sporting a different theme, kids are allowed to go wild and create their own masterpieces.

Continue on to the next page to learn more about the Live Music Show Capital of the World, Branson.

To learn more about family vacation destinations, see:

  • Family Vacations: Learn about hundreds of family vacations in destinations all over North America.
  • Missouri State Guide: Learn about Mobil Travel Guide-rated hotels and restaurants in Missouri, as well as other recreational activities.
  • Scenic Drives: For those who think that getting there is half the fun, we have compiled more than 100 of the most scenic drives throughout the country.

Family Vacations in Missouri: Branson

© Branson/Lakes Area C.O.C. Audiences thrill to the riders' stunts atthe Dixie Stampede.

the World," and it features dozens of performances daily, as well as a variety of attractions that can keep the fun going for days.

You'll find entertainment for all ages at Branson. The Dixie Stampede is a dinner theater that features costumed stunt riders on horseback, ostrich races, and performing pigs, while the Kirby Van Burch Show offers exotic animals and magic. There are also acrobatics shows, a lively 1950s music review, and family-friendly comedy shows. Amusement parks, go-cart tracks, train rides, and festivals add to the fun.

For more information on Branson:

The Branson Tourism Center at 800/785-1550.

Continue to the next page to learn more about the fun and educational exhibits on display at the Magic House.

To learn more about family vacation destinations, see:

  • Family Vacations: Learn about hundreds of family vacations in destinations all over North America.
  • Missouri State Guide: Learn about Mobil Travel Guide-rated hotels and restaurants in Missouri, as well as other recreational activities.
  • Scenic Drives: For those who think that getting there is half the fun, we have compiled more than 100 of the most scenic drives throughout the country.

Family Vacations in Missouri: The Magic House

Kids play with a wall of pins, one of the educational attractions at the Magic House. Mixing learning with fun is one of the key goals of the museum.

This enchanting 1901 three-story Victorian house in St. Louis is jam-packed with hands-on learning disguised as fun. Ranked by U.S. Family Travel Guide and FamilyFun magazines as one of the top family destinations in the country, it has more than 100 exhibits, and most of them encourage children to touch, poke, push, pull, or play.

Kids can glide down a three-story slide, make their hair stand on end with static electricity, record their own music, and become a news anchor on the KIDS-TV news station. Children under the age of two have their own play area, For Baby and Me, complete with a peekaboo house and a toddler-size bus.

The Magic House's interactive exhibits show kids how to lift themselves off the ground with pulley power and demonstrate the powerful force of air as they launch an air rocket and spin a wind generator. They can change their shadows into a multitude of colors, tap out messages in Morse code, and crawl through tunnel mazes. It's all fun in the name of science.

The Magic House Information

Address: 516 S. Kirkwood Rd., St. Louis, MO

Hours of Operation:

  • Sept. - May, 12 p.m. - 5:30 p.m., Tues. - Thurs., and open until 9 p.m. on Fri. 9:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m., Sat. 11 a.m. - 5:30 p.m., Sun.
  • May - Sept. 9:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m., Mon., Wed. - Thurs., Sat., and open until 9 p.m. on Tues. and Fri. 11 a.m. - 5:30 p.m., Sun.

Admission: $7.50 adults and kids

Check out the next page for information on the Gateway Arch, one of America's tallest and most famous landmarks.

To learn more about family vacation destinations, see:

  • Family Vacations: Learn about hundreds of family vacations in destinations all over North America.
  • Missouri State Guide: Learn about Mobil Travel Guide-rated hotels and restaurants in Missouri, as well as other recreational activities.
  • Scenic Drives: For those who think that getting there is half the fun, we have compiled more than 100 of the most scenic drives throughout the country.

Family Vacations in Missouri: The Gateway Arch

The tallest monument in the nation, the Gateway Arch commands an amazing view.

The soaring Gateway Arch in St. Louis is the tallest monument in the nation. This graceful 630-foot-high stainless-steel arch commemorates the city and the thousands of pioneers who stopped here to rest and replenish their provisions before continuing west. Visitors can take a tram up either side of the Arch to an observation room for views of the city, the Mississippi River, and the vast plains stretching out into the distance.

The Museum of Westward Expansion is located at the base of the monument and features exhibits on the exploration of the West and noteworthy people who formed its history, including Lewis and Clark, the Plains Indians, and the Buffalo Soldiers. Two theaters beneath the Arch show movies daily, including an informative documentary on the history and construction of the Arch. Viewing the film before journeying to the top of the Arch helps visitors appreciate the work that went into this monument.

The Gateway Arch Information

Address: 11 N. 4th St., St. Louis, MO

Phone: 877/982-1410

Hours of Operation: 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., daily

Admission: $10 adults; $3 kids

Click over to the next page for information about the wild world of the St. Louis Zoo.

To learn more about family vacation destinations, see:

  • Family Vacations: Learn about hundreds of family vacations in destinations all over North America.
  • Missouri State Guide: Learn about Mobil Travel Guide-rated hotels and restaurants in Missouri, as well as other recreational activities.
  • Scenic Drives: For those who think that getting there is half the fun, we have compiled more than 100 of the most scenic drives throughout the country.

Family Vacations in Missouri: St. Louis Zoo

Photo courtesy of Lightspeedphotos.com Penguins frolic in their indoor habitat, the Penguin and Puffin Coast. One of the main goals of the zoo is to recreate animals' habitats as closely as possible.

While the St. Louis Zoo takes its commitment to worldwide animal conservation issues seriously, visiting the zoo is all about fun. In the children's zoo, kids can pretend they're animals. They can slide through a transparent acrylic tube that takes them to an observation area in the middle of the otter pool. They'll enjoy navigating the strands of a giant spiderweb, digging in the sand like an aardvark, and measuring their height against that of a grizzly bear.

The zoo is filled with excellent exhibits that will take you right into the middle of the animals' habitats. You're hit with a blast of cold air as you enter the indoor penguin habitat in The Penguin and Puffin Coast. Here you can watch penguins swim underwater and waddle around on shore in a remarkably natural-looking habitat with high coastal cliffs. In the ten-acre River's Edge exhibit, a river path that meanders through four continents -- Africa, Asia, South America, and North America -- features an underwater hippo tanks. You'll also see cheetahs, giant anteaters, elephants, and many creatures who live near the rivers and riverbanks.

St. Louis Zoo Information

Address: One Government Dr., St. Louis, MO

Phone: 314/781-0900 800/966-8877

Hours of Operation: Sept. - May, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., daily May - Sept., 8 a.m. - 7 p.m.

Admission: $4 adults and kids

Continue to the next page for info on all the crafty creations kids can conceive at Kaleidoscope.

To learn more about family vacation destinations, see:

  • Family Vacations: Learn about hundreds of family vacations in destinations all over North America.
  • Missouri State Guide: Learn about Mobil Travel Guide-rated hotels and restaurants in Missouri, as well as other recreational activities.
  • Scenic Drives: For those who think that getting there is half the fun, we have compiled more than 100 of the most scenic drives throughout the country.

Family Vacations in Missouri: Kaleidoscope

Photo courtesy of Kaleidoscope/Chris Duh A young artist hard at work surrounded by Kaleidescope's vibrant decor.

Hallmark Cards, Inc., created an art studio for children right next door to its visitor's center in Kansas City. Called Kaleidoscope, it's an 8,000-square-foot space divided into various colorful theme areas with all kinds of art supplies and creative materials.

Children need only bring their imaginations and willingness to create. Ribbons, papers, melted crayons, cutout shapes, and all kinds of other craft materials are provided. In one part of the room, children color a plain piece of cardboard that is then cut into a puzzle by a special device while they watch.

Another area is decorated in an outer space motif. It is lit by black light so that the ink of the fluorescent markers glows as children color. Broken fluorescent crayons are melted, and children can paint with the wax using long sticks tipped with cotton.

Every day there are different projects, and supply bins are placed throughout to hold the inviting castoffs from the Hallmark studios -- curly bows, old ornaments, parts of pens, little lockets from old journals, circles and squares stamped out of gold or silver paper, and alphabet letters. They are available for a collage or whatever masterpiece a child wishes to create.

Kaleidoscope Information

Address: 2500 McGee St, Kansas City, MO

Phone: 816/274-8300

Admission: Free

To learn more about family vacation destinations, see:

  • Family Vacations: Learn about hundreds of family vacations in destinations all over North America.
  • Missouri State Guide: Learn about Mobil Travel Guide-rated hotels and restaurants in Missouri, as well as other recreational activities.
  • Scenic Drives: For those who think that getting there is half the fun, we have compiled more than 100 of the most scenic drives throughout the country.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Laura Sutherland is a widely acknowledged authority on family travel and has published several books on the topic, including Best Family Ski Vacations In North America and Tropical Family Vacations.