Load up the car and fill up the gas tank – we’re taking a road trip! We’re sharing the best spots you can enjoy without straying too far from the city. While there’s a lot to do here in St. Louis, there’s an abundance of attractions a short distance from the city in every direction. Let’s get on the road!
Editor’s note* We tried to limit this to about 300 miles round-trip while still offering a variety of sight-seeing along the way. While you can use this as a guide, feel free to make your own adventures!
This place packs on the history as the childhood hometown of author Mark Twain. The riverside town was the inspiration for classics like Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer. You can visit the childhood home as well as a entire museum dedicated to the author. Take a haunted cave tour of Mark Twain Cave or a cruise on the Mark Twain Riverboat. There’s something for everyone!
Next spot on the list is Edwardsville, IL. Only 30 minutes from St. Louis, it makes for the perfect day trip for the whole family. The Edwardsville Children’s Museum is a family-friendly attraction with exhibits that are all child-sized and built with components that inspire imagination and learning. Their mission is to stimulate curiosity and cultivate learning at the age of wonder.
Grafton is also a great place to explore! You can take the free Brussels Ferry and check out the small town of Brussels (known for some of the best American Bald Eagle watching in the region). Go for a hike or a horseback ride in Illinois’ largest state park, the beautiful and scenic Pere Marquette State Park, or drive a few more minutes and visit Eckert’s Country Store and Farms in Grafton where fun is always ripe for the picking.
Check out Johnson Shut Ins! Created by volcanic activity long ago, the river’s flow has created pools, rapids and waterfalls that make for fun exploration. There are hiking trails alongside, or in the summer you might simply sit around by one of the swimming spots and take a dip. There are plenty of picnic spots to make this a great family day out, and there’s an excellent visitors’ center to make your trip a bit easier.
Located just 30 minutes outside of the city, nature abounds in Shaw Nature Reserve. With over fourteen miles of trails, you can experience a variety of different landscapes, from meadows to forests, as well as plenty of different fauna. If walking isn’t your thing you can always take a ride on the Wilderness Wagon instead – or simply pack a picnic and find a nice spot in which to sit. There are three different picnic areas in the park, plus a lovely outdoor classroom for the kids, with plenty of toys and equipment to keep them entertained.
Whichever direction you’re heading, it’s a safe bet that there will be a Drury Hotel nearby to rest your head (after all, they do have 40 different locations in Missouri and Illinois).