Best Educational Trip Ideas in Missouri

With countless options for educational getaways in the Midwest region of the United States it’s hard to find just where to go and what to do for your group getaway. The Show Me State in particular boasts endless opportunities to learn while you travel, home to multiple important historic sites, museums, nature centers, historic homes, and learning centers. Missouri, though not on the top of many people’s vacation list, will allow your group to get away for a fun-filled vacation while still constantly learning about America’s heartland and the history that surrounds it. Here are some locations to go and the things you aren’t going to want to miss while you’re there.

Kansas City - Kansas City is the home of jazz, great barbecue, and multiple historic icons that shaped the city each in their own way. From the downtown metro area to the outside river district, this city is sure to keep your group busy, mentally and physically. After all that learning be sure to check out any of it’s many fun locations such as Worlds of Fun, Kauffman and Arrowhead sports stadiums, Sprint concert Center, as well as some of the best eating in Missouri.

Harry S Truman Library and Museum - This 10,500 square foot interactive exhibit allows guests to follow the ‘people’s president's’ personal life and presidency through multiple interactive tours. Able to learn about the hope and frustration Truman experienced, as well as the chances and choices he had to face, this museum is a must stop for history lovers.

Union Station - Sprawling across an astounding 850,000 square feet, this historic train station turned museum allows guests to immerse themselves into the past and see how important railway was to this area and the development of America in general. With the original food, cigar, and barber shops on display, as well as a 95 foot ceiling and 6 ft wide clock, this museum serves as an architectural education trip as well.

Jesse James Farm - Located right outside of KC limits in Kearney, Clay County boasts this rich historic opportunity to visit the former farm and home of Jesse James. Learn about his history, family, and associates at this location as well as this colorful period of American history. The Civil War, Missouri Border War, and other events in the 1800's will all be topics of educational discussion.

Nelson Atkins/ Kemper Contemporary Art - Located in two different places in Kansas City, both Nelson Atkins and Kemper offer an art experience like no other. The only choice you are going to have to make is whether you want to learn about more contemporary art (Kemper) or have a more general community art experience (Nelson). Both locations offer great walking tours as well as shed light on the educational and social life of regional artists.

Jazz Museum/Negro Leagues Baseball Museum - These two buildings are attached, making your visit here doubly educational. The Jazz Museum honors the birthplace of jazz music and offers live jazz performances, educational exhibits, films, and art and poetry inspired by jazz. Learn about the roots of this genre of music and it’s musicians here, or step next door to learn about some of the first and most important African American Baseball players America has seen. Kansas City is also the home of the Royals, if a visit to Kauffman stadium is more up your alley.


St. Louis -St. Louis is another must stop destination in Missouri, filled with historic landmarks, great food, and multiple valuable museums and learning centers. Known as the ‘Gateway to the West’, visiting St. Louis will give you a sense of patriotism and discovery as you adventure around the busy bustling city. Six Flags St. Louis is here as well, for a fun break after all that learning!

Gateway Arch - Visit this iconic location and learn about Missouri’s roots, from Native American land usage to Lewis and Clark and colonial life in St. Louis. This jam pack fact filled area boasts the Museum of Western Expansion as well as the ride up to the top of the Arch itself. Afterwards be sure to take a ride on the historical Tom Sawyer paddle boat for a quick tour of the Mississippi shore while you eat lunch and soak in the city sites.

City Museum - Sitting at a whopping 600,000 square feet and home to the former International Shoe Company, this site is all about architectural and regional education. The purpose of this large playground of a museum is to reclaim former structures around St. Louis, like bridges, cranes, planes, and chimneys, and rebuild them into interesting shapes and figures inside the museum. Basically a monster playground filled with architectural ingenuity, this museum is for the young and old alike as you are offered a unique hands on learning opportunity.

Scott Joplin House - Located in a modest downtown flat on Delmar Boulevard, this 1902 style home with it’s still original set up shows how the King of Ragtime lived. Tours here let guests know about the life and music of Joplin, as well as the community musical dynamics before and after his life.

Holocaust Museum and Learning Center - One of the more sobering learning opportunities in St. Louis, this facility is dedicated to remembering the lives and potential lost during the Holocaust. Through history, personal stories, and artifacts, this museum allows guests to learn about the religious and ethnic hatred that shaped the lives of so many. After the tour guests have the option to speak to survivors in person as well.

Missouri Botanical Gardens - Being the nation's oldest surviving botanical garden, this 79 acre historic landmark was built in 1859 and serves a center for science, conservation, and horticultural education. Visit the famous dome climatron and be in awe at the technology involved in recreating a rain forest right here in st.louis, or maybe visit the Japanese garden for a zen moment. There are also several classes daily, ranging from food, photography, landscape, and sustainability.


Springfield Area - Mostly characterized by its diverse physical landscape, the southern part of Missouri is home to multiple opportunities for natural learning. Filled with lakes, caves, and forest, this typical Missouri setting close to the lake district and boot hill has plenty of opportunities for educational fun in almost any direction you look. Branson is also home to Silver Dollar City theme park and water park as well as many other vacation destinations.

Ha Ha Tonka State Park - Located near the Lake of the Ozarks, this Karst defined topographical area is home to some of Missouri’s most unique land forms and over 400 plant species. Due to cave collapses in the past, this park holds 15 miles of hiking trails, 500 by 300 ft wide sinkholes, 70 ft wide natural bridges, and multiple caves to explore. Two caves, Counterfeiters and Robbers Caves were used as getaways in the early 1800's and can be specially requested for spelunking groups today. The park as a whole serves as a perfect getaway to learn about natural architecture and Missouri scenery at its finest.

Missouri Mine’s State Historic Site - Actually located east of Springfield in Park Hills, this historic site teaches guests about the history and importance of mining in this area. There are old pieces of machinery on display, as well as minerals found here and lead products made in the past. This area thrived in the 1720's, making this a historic site you probably don’t want to miss.

Fantastic Caverns - Missouri’s only drive-thru cave system is located near Branson and is home to ‘Missouri’s oldest classroom’. Fantastic Caverns offers the opportunity for children and adults alike to ride along into their underground classroom and explore a fossil dig site in this permanently 60 degree cave. The history of caves in south Missouri, the science of caves in general, and the experience of being underneath such a busy city make this stop an educational location worth the drive!

Discovery Center - Southwest Missouri’s primary science education facility since 1998, this locations boasts 45 hands on galleries and 200 exhibits within its 50,000 square feet. Science, technology, engineering, and math are all explored and discussed at the Discovery Center, and over 40 educational programs are offered weekly.


Jefferson City - Jefferson City is home to the state of Missouri’s capitol building, making it a location worth stopping at just for the political and historic importance. The Jefferson City area also offers nature excursions, historic museums, and historic parks that you won’t want to miss, as well as fine dining and fun shopping for your vacation.

Capitol Building - The state capitol offers a 45 minute tour in which guests will get to see the Missouri State Museum and Historic Hall as well as the upper level politically used office building. Filled with facts about Missouri and our historic origins, stopping at the capitol is also a great learning opportunity for politics. Be sure to stop by the gorgeous Governor's mansion next door as well for an architectural lesson or two.  

Runge Nature Center - Located in the middle of the Jefferson City woodland, Runge Nature Center is the perfect location for some ecological education. This center teaches guests about wildlife resources and sustainability, as well as basics about wildlife surrounding the center. Guests can bird watch in the observatory, scavenger hunt for facts in the facility, or check out a backpack and hike through the forest for a more up close learning experience.

Katy Trail State Park- All of Missouri is lined with MKT trails for walking and hiking. These recreational rail trails total to 225 miles of former Missouri - Kansas- Texas railroad and are known as the longest rails to trails trail as well as Lewis and Clark and American Discovery trails. The park here in Jefferson City explains the importance of rail travel to the area and also allows guests to be educated about Lewis and Clark and their important trail through this area along the Missouri River.

Laura Ingalls Wilder Home and Museum - Almost everybody has read the Little House books during their childhood or watched the loosely based TV series, so why not make a stop at this iconic home of Laura Ingalls Wilder in Mansfield. Learn about her life and the life of pioneers in general during this time as you take a step back in time and sit on the same porch Laura did while she wrote her famous life story.