Who doesn’t love a vacation? Personally, after the last two years, I think we’ve all earned at least one good, long vacation. But that isn’t always workable. Schedules, costs and even paperwork can become barriers to a lengthy trip, but you can’t let that stop you from disconnecting and checking out what lies beyond mid-Missouri. We’ve provided some tips for five weekend getaways to help get you started. Whether you’re looking for a solo sojourn, a family affair or a romantic respite, there’s something for everyone in these getaways. Drive safe!
Hot Springs, AR
Drive time: 7 hours and 8 minutes
Highlights: Garvan Woodland Gardens, Gangster Museum of America, Lake Ouachita State Park
- Adventurers: Marineland, Adventureworks, Inc.
- Relaxation: Bathhouse Row, Chrysalis Day Spa and Skin Care Center
This one may be best for a long weekend, like three or four days, as it is definitely the longest drive of our five featured getaways. But it’s a destination that’s worth a longer weekend. There’s so much to do in Hot Springs, and we have very little space to get into it all, so let’s get right to our favorite part: the World Championship Running of the Tubs. This annual event takes place on the famous Bathhouse Row and is a unique way of celebrating Hot Springs’ historic past. Set for June 3, with awards taking place June 4, the Running of the Tubs is truly something to see, with costumed teams racing customized wheeled bathtubs through the street. And spectators are encouraged to show up in robes, slippers and shower caps, and armed with water guns to really lean into the theme.
Drive Time: 3 hours and 16 minutes
Highlights: Table Rock Lake, National Tiger Sanctuary, Titanic Museum Attraction
- Thrill seekers: Castle of Chaos, Bigfoot Fun Park
- Outdoor sports enthusiasts: Trophy Run, Big Cedar Lodge
There is no shortage of things to do in Branson, from theme parks to live shows in just about every category to fishing and hiking. It’s truly hard to pick just a few things to focus on when there’s so many options! Looking for entertainment? Check out places like WonderWorks where exhibits are meant to challenge the mind or the Hollywood Wax Museum, which really doesn’t need further explanation. Looking to get back to nature? Head to Table Rock State Park or Branson Lakes. We could go on and on, but you should really just find out for yourself.
Drive time: 1 hour and 42 minutes
Highlights: Mark Twain Riverboat, Rockcliffe Mansion, Cave Hollow Theatre
- Families: Mark Twain Cave Complex, Hannibal Trolley Company Sightseeing Tours
- History buffs: Haunted Hannibal Ghost Tours, Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum
This historic town, best known as the boyhood home of Mark Twain and the setting for Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, is a great option for fans of history and literature alike. One of the community’s signature events returns Memorial Day weekend — the Twain on Main Festival. A celebration of the life and works of Twain, this year’s event is themed around the author’s 1872 semi-autobiographical travelogue of his adventures in the Wild West, Roughing It. The western-themed festival includes arts and crafts, food and drinks, music and live performances, and lots of vendors. It’s a perfect time to explore all that Hannibal has to offer!
Drive time: 2 hours and 27 minutes
Highlights: National Silk Art Museum, Weston Brewing Company, Green Dirt Farm Creamery
- Nature lovers: The Redbarn Farm, Weston Bend State Park
- Antique hunters: Jeff’s Architectural Salvage Yard at Old River Landing, Main Street Antiques
The pre-Civil War town of Weston may not have been on your radar before, but we strongly advise you check it out. This small town has some unique features, including the Weston Brewing Co., first established in 1842 and reopened in the 21st century. The best way to check out the place is to visit O’Malley’s Pub, where you can enjoy a drink within the three-vaulted limestone cellars 55 feet below ground. The pub’s adjacent patio and courtyard frequently hosts live music for another option to enjoy a warm summer evening. The town is also home to the National Silk Art Museum, which houses the world’s largest collection of rare silk art tapestries from the 18th and 19th centuries.
Drive time: 3 hours and 45 minutes
Highlights: National Balloon Museum, Des Moines Metro Opera’s Summer Festival, Buxton Park Arboretum
- Couples: West Hill Brewing Co., La Vida Loca Winery, Summerset Winery
- Hikers: Great Western & Bill Riley Trail, Lake Ahquabi State Park, Annett Nature Center
Not too far north from us lies this small town in south-central Iowa. And while, like many small towns, it has a few specialties worth noting, what really put this spot on our radar was the National Balloon Museum. This museum archives more than 200 years of ballooning, with exhibits and collections. It’s a perfect fit for Indianola, which is known for prime flying conditions and hosts the National Balloon Classic, a nine-day ballooning event that fills the Indianola skies. (This year, it’s slated for July 29-Aug. 6, just in case you were wondering.) And the answer to the question you are currently thinking of is yes, balloon rides are offered to the general public during that event.