This guest post is by Rebekah Teague adding Missouri to the 50 states series.

I've asked fellow Missourians for their favorite places to visit (some well-known and few secret treasures).   Here is a variety of interesting information about Missouri and some places you might want to check out next time you are passing through.

 History Buff

Missouri has a rich history and played an important part of the expansion of the West. Missouri was the starting point of both the Oregon Trail and the Santa Fe Trail. Some of your ancestors might have joined a wagon train going west at Independence. It was also the eastern most post for the Pony Express. Early in our nation's history Lewis and Clark started their famous expedition from St. Louis. Because of it's natural starting off point for all travel west, St. Louis earned the nickname "Gateway to the West."

During the Civil War, Missouri remained in the Union, The state pledge to remain neutral and not supply arms or supplies to either side. As a result, Missouri was a hot bed of guerrilla warfare. There were certain groups called “Bushwhackers.”   A story in my Dad’s family goes something like this. A young man in the family was hid in a cave to avoid the fate of being captured by the Bushwhackers.The family brought him food and supplies. The quilt that kept him warm in that cave hung in a museum for years and most recently hung in my parent’s home.

Some Bushwhackers kept the tradition of mayhem and malfeasance going after the Civil War.  Have you ever heard of Frank and Jesse James? They were infamous outlaws who pretty much terrorized the Old West. They are from Missouri. Jesse James even has his own museum.

There are some pretty neat Civil War Memorials in Missouri. One happens to be just a few miles from our house. The Battle of Wilson's Creek was the first major Civil War Battle fought west of the Mississippi. Wilson's Creek National Battlefield Park has beautiful trails along with the museum and a preserved home on the property that housed wounded Southern soldiers. It is quite a lovely place especially considering the bloodshed that took place there so many years ago. By the way, did you know that there are certain dates
during that year that some National Parks waive their entrance fees? Very handy information for homeschoolers everywhere!

One of our most famous Missourians is President Harry S. Truman. He was known for his common sense approach and appeal to folks of all walks of life. Here is the link for the Harry S. Truman National Park.

For the Naturist

Missouri is a picturesque state. We are pretty proud of our rolling hills,
scenic waterways and fascinating foliage (I just had to alliterate!).
One of my favorite memories as a younger person was taking day trips to
the various springs here in Southern Missouri. You can read more about
them in this article. But if you want to visit one of our lovely springs, here is a great site to check out. In my humble opinion, Alley Springs is a perfect place for a day trip and a picnic lunch.

Are you a caver?  Missouri is also called The Cave State. And there are some you can explore. This site has all kinds of information. The first cave I ever visited was The Marvel Cave at Silver Dollar City when I was a little girl. I've visited again several times since. I think my favorite part was riding down in a mine cart. I was tempted to start "whistling while I work." Don't tell me you wouldn't do the same!

Lakes! Rivers! Creeks! Oh, my! We've got 'em! Some are man made, but all are beautiful. My great grandfather was a fishing guide on Lake Taneycomo long before I was born. So if you are in to boating, fishing, water sports or just hanging out by the creek with a book and a glass of iced tea (oh..that's me!) we have plenty of  to do that. And for all you
fishermen? Or fisherwomen? Here is the Missouri Department of Conservation's Fishing Guide. So bring your pole!


Believe it or not, Elephants are found in Missouri. I promise! At least these huge granite boulders look like elephants. Elephant Rock State Park is a wonder for geology buffs everywhere! 

Another fascinating place is Johnson's Shut-In State Park. A "shut-in" is a narrows, where hard rocks confine a river's course.You can discover more about the Shut-In here.

And for naturalists and; scientists everywhere, I can't say enough about the George Washington Carver National Monument. George Washington Carver
was born into slavery. He became a scientist,  educator, author, His story is fascinating and inspiring and the museum is a gem. We've
enjoyed many visits there. And it's FREE!

Contrary to popular belief, Hillbillies (of which I am one) of my acquaintance have running water, indoor plumbing, have never smoked a corn cob pipe and mostly keep chickens in the coop...not the house. And
the hillbillies of my acquaintance (of which I am one) wear the badge proudly. There is beautiful music, art and literature of the region.

For the Bookworm

Laura Ingalls Wilder. One of my favorite authors. I was reading about Laura's adventures in the Big Woods long before my grown up teeth made an appearance. So you can imagine that one of my favorite trips was to visit Laura's home in Mansfield. It was pretty special to stand in her kitchen (it is tiny!) I could imagine her writing about Pa and his fiddle, the Long Winter and how she met Almanzo. It's a beautiful piece of country.

Another famous Missouri author is a National Treasure. Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) wrote some of the most beloved American novels of all time. I know I love them. You can visit the Mark Twain Museum in Hannibal. And the Mark Twain National Forest is some of the prettiest country you will ever drive through.

The Shepherd of the Hills is a beautiful story of forgiveness and redemption.And it's setting is in some territory very familiar to my family.Written by Harold Wright Bell in 1907 it depicts life in the Ozark Mountains. 

Music to My Ears

These hills are alive with the sound of music! Traditional Ozark music is rich and steeped in history.

This isn't necessarily Ozark Mountain music, but Have you ever heard The Entertainer? It was written by Scott Joplin, a Missouri native.  And Porter Wagoner (of the Grand Ole Opry fame) is another Missouri musician. This recording of Company's Coming by Porter Wagoner is from an old TV show called the Ozark Jubilee filmed right here in Springfield in the 1950s. Are any of you Andy
Griffith Show Fans? If you watch this clip of the Dooley's on the show you are actually watching The Dillards. A bluegrass band from right here in Missouri.

Stopping By (or Passing Through)

 Branson is a popular family vacation destination. We love Silver Dollar City (which includes the Marvel Cave mentioned above), The Titanic Museum and the Dixie Stampede. And don't forget the Sight and Sound Theatre. But a favorite of mine has always been Dick's 5 and 10.

My mom's people are from the Branson area. I'm always checking out the
locals ears (which are very distinct). You never know who you might be
related to in these hills.              

Bass Pro Outdoor World is always a big hit with us. For one, besides being the Daddy of all sporting goods stores the store itself is like a museum/wonderland. I myself enjoy watching the crocodile (native to Missouri, of course....kidding!). We wondered for the longest time if he was stuffed or real. Until the day we saw one of the brave employees feed him. Yikes! Bass Pro is really good about having all sorts of free activities for families.And it just a few miles from my house!

Have any Precious Moments figures at your house? The Precious Moments Chapel is just down I-44 in Carthage. It's free! The chapel is beautiful to see.

The Gateway Arch in St.Louis is a Missouri landmark. Did you know you can go all the way to the top in an Elevator? I have never been. Sometimes I think I've seen the arch sway in the wind. I've got too much of an
imagination...not enough of the adventure spirit!

Want to get your kicks on Route 66? Take a look at this site to help you plan your route on the Mother Road. 


This one is a guilty little pleasure of mine. Springfield Style Cashew
Chicken. I can tell you exactly how far in either direction you have to
drive from Springfield before Chinese restaurants no longer serve it.
I'll let you read all about it here.I will say that in my humble hillbilly opinion the best Cashew Chicken has to be served by Cashew Inn Cashew Out in Nixa.

Are you a fan of fresh, hot rolls? How about fresh, hot rolls that are hurled at your face by young men who happen to play baseball for their high school teams (well...maybe not.) Lambert's is the Home of the Throwed Rolls. There are two locations (Ozark and Sikeston). They even encourage graphiti art. Just a piece of advice from a native, avoid Lambert's (like the plague) on the weekend! Those tourists! (Just a little extra: another great location for hot fresh bread is Bootleggers in Aurora..just bring me back a piece!)

Here are some other favorites of friends:

  • Louise's Tea Room (Boonville) I've been told this little Tea Room (located behind Your Moneys Worth Tearoom) has the best pie on the Missouri River.
  •  Andy's Frozen Custard (Springfield, Joplin)...Okay! So this is one of my favorites. It's worth the trip to Missouri just for some Andy's!) May I suggest the Ozark Turtle? Or if you come in the summertime try a Strawberry Shortcake Sundae. It will change your life.
  • Ava Drug Store (Ava) - This little place is a typical pharmacy with an Old-Fashioned Soda Fountain...And old-fashioned prices.
So I hope that this little glimpse of Missouri will inspire you; whether it is to plan a little trip or help you in your study of our state.

And to my Fellow Missourians: I apologize if I missed one of your favorites (especially those of you who live in the bigger cities). Sometimes you just got to Show Me!

Rebekah Teague is a homeschooling Mama of one creative and
highly-entertaining son. She has been married to The Studly Muffin who is a pastor and a really great guy. She resides in the Ozark Mountains and blogs at There Will Be a $5 Charge For Whining.  She is a member of the 2013 TOS Review Crew.

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