Best Free Midwest Attractions: Missouri | Midwest Living

Best Free Midwest Attractions: Missouri

Some of Missouri's biggest travel draws are free, including museums, parks and a zoo.

Missouri State Parks: free

All Missouri State Parks are free! Our favorites are the dramatic formations at Elephant Rocks (left) and the mansion ruins at Ha Ha Tonka.

The giant granite formations at Elephant Rocks, 90 miles southwest of St. Louis, were formed about 1.5 billion years ago when hot magma cooled into crystalline red granite. Huge weathered boulders are accessible today by several trails.

Ha Ha Tonka, a Lake of the Ozarks park, gets its name from a Native American phrase meaning "laughing waters." Visitors can hike to the dramatic hilltop ruins of a 1905-era mansion that caught fire in 1942.

Missouri State Parks

Don't-miss sights in Forest Park

St. Louis Zoo Lush landscaping makes this top-notch zoo (left) as pleasant as it is popular. Highlights of a zoo visit include River's Edge--a spacious home for Asian and African animals with underwater viewing of hippos--and the Penguin and Puffin Coast.

Missouri History Museum Engaging exhibits explore the city's colorful history, including Lucky Lindy's record-breaking flights and the 1904 World's Fair.

St. Louis Art Museum During the World's Fair, this Beaux Arts-style building held the Palace of Fine Arts. Today visitors come for a collection that spans millennia and includes works by Picasso, Monet and van Gogh.

St. Louis Science Center Dynamic exhibits, including an Omnimax theater and life-size T. rex, engage kids and adults alike.

Know of other free things to enjoy in Missouri? Add them in the Comments section below!

St. Louis Zoo

Missouri History Museum

St. Louis Art Museum

St. Louis Science Center

More to do in St. Louis

Museum of Westward Expansion While you'll have to pay if you want to ride to the top of the landmark Gateway Arch, the museum underneath it is free. Exhibits explore the city's role as gateway to the frontier.

Grant's Farm The Budweiser Clydesdales and 1,000 other animals roam the historic preserves. Shows featuring elephants and other animals are held several times daily. Admission is free, though parking is not.

Museum of Westward Expansion

Grant's Farm

Missouri State Parks: free

All Missouri State Parks are free! Our favorites are the dramatic formations at Elephant Rocks (left) and the mansion ruins at Ha Ha Tonka.

The giant granite formations at Elephant Rocks, 90 miles southwest of St. Louis, were formed about 1.5 billion years ago when hot magma cooled into crystalline red granite. Huge weathered boulders are accessible today by several trails.

Ha Ha Tonka, a Lake of the Ozarks park, gets its name from a Native American phrase meaning "laughing waters." Visitors can hike to the dramatic hilltop ruins of a 1905-era mansion that caught fire in 1942.

Missouri State Parks

Free art in Kansas City

Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art Renovated galleries are opening in 2009 for the American and American Indian collections. The recently completed Bloch Building houses African and contemporary collections. Free audio or docent-guided tours are available.

Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City The 1,000-piece collection features works by Andrew Wyeth, Georgia O'Keeffe and others.

Pictured: Contemporary art gallery in the Nelson-Atkins Bloch Building

Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art

Greetings in Kansas City

Hallmark Visitors Center Hallmark Cards started in Kansas City and employs 4,300 there. At the visitors center, you'll find works by Grandma Moses and Winston Churchill, Christmas ornaments and clips from Hallmark Hall of Fame TV programs and company commercials.

Hallmark Visitors Center

Historical exploration

Museum of Anthropology, Columbia On the University of Missouri-Columbia campus, this museum has exhibits on Native American cultures across North America and Missouri history from 11,200 years ago to the present. Murals by Columbia artist Robert Casati evoke the setting for each region.

Pictured: A totem house post from Alaska

Know of other free things to enjoy in Missouri? Add them in the Comments section below!

Museum of Anthropology

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