Throughout the state of Missouri, beautiful, historic, charming and interesting small towns are abundant. So many of them have historic downtown areas filled with shops, eateries, antiques, historic buildings, and so much more. Here are of few of the most picturesque.
1. Branson, Pop. 11,064
Branson is a small town with only 11,000 residents, but there is SO much to do! It’s a well-known family vacation destination featuring Silver Dollar City, an 1800s-themed amusement park along with White Water Waterpark. When it comes to entertainment, they have much to offer in the form of live music and shows, museums, wineries, and outdoor activities such as zip lining and rock climbing. Other options include a visit to Table Rock Lake, a dinner cruise, or going on a helicopter ride. Find out more at
2. Washington, Pop. 14,031
On the Missouri River in Franklin County, you will find the "corn cob pipe capital of the world" due to Missouri Meerschaum, manufacturer of tobacco smoking corn cob pipes. They also have museums, such as the Washington Historical Society Museum and the Firehouse Museum. There are guided and walking tours, historic homes and buildings, art galleries, theatres, wineries, antiques and other unique shops, festivals, fairs, and farmer's markets. For more information go to
3. Weston, Pop. 1703
Located in Platte County, Weston features so many things to do, you won't believe they can fit it all in such a small town. Visit historic homes and sites on walking or driving tours. Learn something new at one of the museums, orchards, educational farms, old distillery, winery, or operating brewery. Shop for antiques, stay in a bed and breakfast, listen to blues, country and Irish music, or visit the state park on the Missouri River for trails, picnics or camping. You can find out more about this little town at
4. Carthage, Pop. 14,232
"America's Maple Leaf City," Carthage, the county seat of Jasper County, is worth a visit. The town was established in 1842, burned to the ground during the Civil War, and then was reconstructed. Attractions include: The Precious Moments Chapel & Gardens, Civil War Ranch, The White Rose Winery, Restaurant, Bed and Breakfast, and Art Gallery, Civil War Museum, Red Oak II, and Whisler's Drive up. They also have a historic homes driving tour. Visit
5. Hermann, Pop. 2,389
Hermann is the county seat of Gasconade County, near the center Missouri Rhineland and south of the Missouri River. They feature many festivals, shops, galleries and museums. You can also participate in a "Wine Trail" featuring seven family-owned local wineries and covering 20 scenic miles. You can also go zip-lining, take a walking tour, visit the Katy trail or golf. You can find out more at
6. Pacific, Pop. 7, 077
Pacific is a city in Franklin and St. Louis counties that was laid out in 1852 and named for the new railroad traveling from there toward the Pacific Ocean. After being completely nearly destroyed by fire in 1903, most of the historic buildings were restored or rebuilt and are still there today. Pacific is bordered on the southeast by the Pacific Palisades Conservation Area, which provides access to the Meramec River. The Union Pacific (formerly Missouri Pacific) railroad, BNSF Railway (formerly St. Louis San-Francisco) Railroad, historic Route 66, Brush Creek, and Fox Creek all run through the town. The historic downtown area is mostly located along First and St. Louis streets. Attractions also include the Blackburn Park Civil War Cannon, Pacific City Park, and Liberty Field.
7. Parkville, Pop. 5,928
This historic river town, located about 5 miles north of downtown Kansas City in Platte County, features antique shops, art galleries, and a historic downtown. It is the home of Park University, and English Landing Park, a large park along the Missouri River that has a soccer field, volleyball court, two playgrounds, a baseball diamond, a three-mile walking or biking trail, and a 9-hole Frisbee golf course.
8. Arrow Rock, Pop. 56
This tiny little village in Saline County has a historic bearing due to its part in westward expansion and the Santa Fe Trail. The entire town has been designated as a National Historic Landmark, and it features several historic sites including the J. Huston Tavern. Established in 1834, and still in business today, it is the oldest operating restaurant west of the Mississippi. Arrow Rock also features the Arrow Rock Lycern Theatre, which is the oldest in Missouri. You can also visit the Old Courthouse or the home of 19th Century artist George Caleb Bingham. For more information, visit
9. Boonville, Pop. 8,370
Located about halfway between Kansas City and St. Louis, the county seat of Cooper County was named one of the "20 Best Small Towns to Visit" by Smithsonian Magazine. For a dose of nature, Katy Trail State Park runs right through Boonville. For a taste of history, visit one of the 450 sites belonging to the National Registry of Historic Places. A few other notable sights include: The Hain House, Thespian Hill, Warm Springs Ranch, Aquatic Center, Hail Ridge Golf Course, Isle of Capri Casino Hotel, Old Jail and Hanging Barn, Mitchell Antique Motor Car Museum, Rivercene Mansion and Bed and Breadfast, and the Roslyn Heights Mansion. For details and more information, check out the website at
10. Ste. Genevieve, Pop. 4,405
This little French Colonial Village is Missouri's oldest town. They have nationally recognized historic homes and buildings, restaurants, wineries, and microbreweries. They also have historic home tours including the Ste. Genevieve Ghost Tour. It is also home to the Crown Ridge Tiger Sanctuary, Hawn State Park, Pickle Springs Natural Area, Magnolia Hollow Conservation Area, and Hickory Canyon Natural Area. Visit
for more information, or click
for a previous feature by Only in Missouri on this charming town.
11. Rocheport, Pop. 244
Another little town in wine country, Boone County, was called one of "America's 10 Coolest Small Towns" by Frommer's Budget Travel Magazine. With antique shops, bed and breakfasts, wineries, art galleries, a museum, and access to the scenic Katy Trail, there is plenty to do and see. Also, don't miss the Rocheport River Walk or the Diana Bend Conservation Area. You can find out more at
12. Fulton, Pop. 12,760
The county seat of Calloway County, Fulton boasts 67 buildings on the historic registry. Notable attractions include the National Churchill Museum, located on the campus of Westminster College, along with the Berlin Wall sculpture. Also, there is Kemper Center for the Arts, Westminster Gallery Art House, Backer Auto World Museum, and the Brick District. For more information, see
13. Kimmswick, Pop. 158
Located 25 miles south of St. Louis in Jefferson County, Kimmswick features many buildings that date as far back as 1859 when the town was founded. They have unique shops, restaurants, and bed and breakfasts. You can also visit the Anheuser Busch Museum & Estate or the Mastadon State Historic Site, or take a Kimmswick Riverboat Cruise. Find out more at
14. Cuba, Pop. 3,369
Located 80 miles southwest of St. Louis in Crawford County, Cuba is a must-see for many travelers due to its Route 66 heritage and charm. Visit Mural City, see the World's Largest Rocking Chair and shop at the Fanning 66 Outpost, stay at the Wagon Wheel Motel, and go check out Bob's Gasoline Alley. Also nearby are ways to get back to nature through rafting rivers, lakes for fishing, canoeing, swimming or water skiing, and lodges and campgrounds to stay in.
15. Lexington, Pop. 4,654
Lexington is rich in Civil War history. The Battle of Lexington was fought here, and is remembered at the Lexington Civil War State Historic Site. The county seat of Lafayette County, this historic town is located 45 miles east of Kansas City. You can also visit the Lexington Historical Museum, the Lafayette County Courthouse (built in 1849), go shopping in historic downtown, take a walking or audio tour, visit Riverfront Park Marina for some water sports, or go horseback riding, camping or visit one of the local wineries. For more information, visit
16. Waynesville, Pop. 5,316
Located in the heart of the Missouri Ozarks in Pulaski County's county seat, their website boasts of "Preserving the Past, Planning for the Future". While you are there, visit the Route 66 Candy Shop, Old Stagecoach Stop Museum, antique and gift shops and local art galleries, theaters and parks. You can even go scuba diving (yes, in Missouri) at Odyssy Scuba. Also check out Pulaski County Courthouse Museum, Waynesville Splash Park, walk some hiking trails or listen to some live music. If you get hungry, check out Nona's Kitchen, Hopper's Pub or grab some ice cream at I Love Ice Cream.
17. Charleston, Pop. 5,921
Located at the top of the "bootheel" in Mississippi County, Charleston is home to the Hearnes Museum, the Lewis & Clark Commemorative Site, the Moore Home Museum, and the Robert Delaney Lake Conservation area. Shop for some antiques or unique gifts or grab a bite at The Glenn, Las Brisas, Wally's or City Limits Grill.
What is your favorite small town in Missouri? What are some others that should be on this list? Share in the comments below.