Each state has its own set of ‘secret spots’ that most locals know about and most tourists only dream of seeing during their visit. These secret spots, or hidden gems, of each state, are beyond the best hole-in-the-wall eateries or pop-up boutiques in each region, they are about the natural scenes, jaw-dropping viewpoints, and awe-inspiring architectural pieces and landmarks that make each state so special.
This month we are featuring the Show-Me State for our Secret Spots blog, the state of Missouri an actual treasure trove of hidden wonders waiting to be explored during your next visit.
Here are our top ten secret spots in Missouri:
- Ha Ha Tonka State Park RuinsThis 3,700-acre state park in Camdenton, MO, near the Niangua arm of the Lake of the Ozarks is amazing for several reasons, the biggest being the ‘once-grand castle’ remains from 1905 sitting on the property. Of course, the history behind it involves a local wealthy businessman, tragic death, and even devastating fire, so it is an intriguing stop, to say the least!
- Marble Creek
An absolute shining gem in the Mark Twain National Forest, Marble Creek in Arcadia, MO, is one of the most gorgeous spots in the whole state. The creek itself rushes 20 miles through the St. Francis Mountains, the land sitting on remains of a grist mill dam from 1935 as well as several trailheads to Ozark Trail and Crane Lake. Anywhere you choose to set up camp or explore out here is absolutely sensational!
- Forest Park Jewel Box
Forest Park holds one of the most jaw-dropping secret spots of them all, this St. Louis favorite city park home to the locally famed Jewel Box. The Jewel Box is a glass greenhouse that literally glows with bright colors all around from the different flowers, plants, and trees grew inside, both native and exotic. Nature and architecture lovers, don’t miss out on this one!
- Grand Falls
Down south in Joplin Missouri, you will find the state’s largest continuously flowing natural waterfalls, Grand Falls. Plunging 12 feet down over a 163 feet wide ledge, these falls create quite the sight, and sound, for tourists and locals alike looking for something beautiful, and something was hidden.
- Devil’s Icebox
Deep inside Rock Bridge Memorial State Park in Columbia, MO, you will find this chilling natural landmark, the Devil’s Icebox. This cavernous hole in the woods stays a cool 56 degrees all year, an excellent and rewarding spot to hike in the humid Missouri summer. You can even sign up for an official tour from April to August to ensure you see it all!
- Meramec CavernsHead to Meramec Valley near Rolla, MO, and you will find one of the largest hidden treasures in the entire state, the Meramec Caverns. This complex of mineral formations is known to collectively be the largest commercial cave in the state of Missouri, reaching totals of 4.6 miles long with the capability of holding a 7-story building inside. The cave is open year-round and provides an excellent way to learn about the state’s geological background.
- Jim the Wonder Dog Park
One of our odder secret spots on the list features a pretty spectacular dog and some even more spectacular stories, the Jim the Wonder Dog Park located in Marshall, MO. The local legends have it that this dog could not only out hunt any human around, he could also predict the sex of unborn babies correctly (he even predicted the Kentucky Derby Winner one year)! Believe it or don’t, the fact that there is a park dedicated to his legacy is enough for us to be sold on a visit!
- Katy Trail
The MKT, or Missouri Kansas Texas Railroad, was a very prominent one in Missouri’s history, both geography and innovation wise. Today the remnants of that industrious railroad provide both excellent history and excellent views, the entire state dotted with different hiking trails along the old tracks, following the exact same path as the train did. Our personal favorite spot to visit on the Katy Trail? Rocheport, right along the Missouri River in Mid Mo. The views are amazing, the wineries nearby are amazing, and the biking trails don’t get much better than this!
- Johnson’s Shut-InsJust east of Mark Twain National Park and southwest of St. Louis, you will find one of the most unique secret spots in Missouri, the Johnson’s Shut-Ins. Getting its name from the ‘shut-ins’ of rushing water by hard volcanic rock, this state park amongst the St. Francois Mountains provides interesting cracks, pools, and channels that provide excellent natural waterslides and delightful scenery in general for guests today.
- Bonne Terre Mine
Bonne Terre Mine, near Park Hills in Southern Missouri, is one of the largest freshwater dive locations in the world, providing 100 feet of visibility at all times. Commonly referred to as the ‘billion-gallon lake’ this spot offers diving instruction, boat tours, and even walking tours to learn all about the history of this old lead mine.