One of the greatest benefits of living in a small town is that they are usually close knit communities where everyone knows everyone else. If you come upon hard times, your neighbors are there for you, and when the town itself is in need, people work together to improve things. All of the towns listed here are extremely small at under 1000 people (some are even under 100!) and are great examples of these types of communities.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Arrow Rock, Population: 54
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
2. Jamesport, Population: 515
Visit a simpler time by taking a trip to Jamesport, Missouri's largest Amish settlement. Located in Daviess County, you'll find Amish, Mennonites, and "English" folks in this community. Downtown holds more of the "English" (non-Amish) shops, and you'll find the Amish shops more on the outskirts of town.
Be prepared for a few cash only shops and prepare for a possible spotty cell signal, but you will find many homemade, unique and quality wares at shops like the H&M Country Store or the Countryside Bakery.
3. Westphalia, Population: 390
Located in Osage County, Westphalia is rich in German Catholic Heritage, and many of the buildings possess such influence. In fact, it is the oldest German Catholic community west of the Mississippi. The Westphalia Historical Society Museum was established to preserve that heritage and is a must visit.
You can stay at the Westphalia Inn, and eat at the restaurant or sip award-winning wine from the Westphalia Vineyards. You might also stay in one of the other many bed and breakfasts, or visit the Historical St. Joseph Catholic Church.
4. Auxvasse, Population: 983
A little town in Calloway County, Auxvasse hosts car shows, quilt shows, all-town garage sales, rodeos, parades and more. They have two parks. A.H. Domann Memorial Park features a basketball court, playground and pavilion. Mottaz park, located on Main Street next to City Hall, has a gazebo and picnic tables and is rented out for small weddings.
5. Lupus, Population: 34
This tiny river town in Moniteau County was once named Wolfe's Point, but was changed to Lupus which is latin for wolf. They are most known for the live music featured at Lupus General Store, which is no longer a store at all but still displays old wares. Located near the Missouri River, most of the houses are on stilts to prevent possible flood damage. You might also see dogs roaming Main Street. If you are visiting in October, check out the annual Chili Festival.
6. Eminence, Population: 591
Sports Afield Magazine called Eminence "the top outdoor sports town in Missouri" and there's a reason for it. The Jack's Fork River flows through the middle of the town, and the Current River is nearby providing canoeing, trails, horseback riding, fishing, hunting, camping and more. There are even wild horses in the area.
In downtown Eminence, visit quaint and unique shops and restaurants. Stay in one of many campgrounds, cabins, bed & breakfasts, resorts, hotels and motels like the River's Edge Inn Resort, which has a terrific swimming hole.
7. St. Patrick, Population: 20
Founded in 1833 and named after the patron saint of Ireland, St. Patrick, though tiny, takes their heritage seriously. Their biggest time of year is obviously around St. Patrick's Day where they host a huge celebration and the annual Irish Road Bowling.
The town is also home to a shrine to St. Patrick which still hosts mass three days a week. It was created in Celtic style with Celtic crosses and 37 stained glass windows made in Dublin. It is also the only St. Patrick in the world with a post office, and each March since 1979, cards and letters are sent to the post office to be hand stamped with a pictorial cancellation commemorating St. Patrick's Day. Another must visit is the Old Irish Gift Shop featuring unique gifts and other items.
8. Lesterville, Population: 706
Located in Reynolds County near the Black River, Lesterville's local attractions include Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park, and Franklin Floats for canoeing and floating. Stay at one of the many bed & breakfasts, cabins, and campgrounds or, for a view of the Black River, stay at The Wilderness Lodge, or the Black River Lodge for family-style fun. Established in 1816, Lesterville is the oldest town in Reynolds County.
9. Blackwater, Population: 164
Named for the River adjacent to it, Blackwater in Cooper County has for the last decade or so been involved in a community-wide effort to improve and restore the town. They feature the newly remodeled Iron Horse Hotel and Restaurant, the Telephone Museum, an 1890s jail and a restored one-room schoolhouse. They also have performances at The West End Theatre, where proceeds go to community development. There are also antique shops and unique gift shops, and festivals hosted throughout the year.
10. Van Buren, Population: 836
Van Buren is the county seat and the largest town in Carter County. Near the Current River and Big Spring, there's much to do such as Cave tours at Cave Spring Park & Current River Cavern, zip-lining at Eagle Falls Ranch Zipline Tours, a drive-in theater and the Current River Guide Service.
Shop at The Landing River Store, Ash House Bed and Breakfast/Antique Mall, Crafton Farm & Home, and Jeans & Jewells. Stay at any number of cabins, campgrounds, RV sites and motels. Grab a snack at the Jolly Cone Drive-In or a meal at The Landing & Float Stream Restaurant or Dean's Barbecue & Grill.
11. Arcadia, Population: 608
Arcadia was incorporated in 1849 and is located in Iron County with a population of 608. Of particular historical note, the former Ursuline Academy is now known as the Arcadia College Historic District, and features 8 buildings, all from the mid to late 1800s. It has been redesigned as a destination tourist attraction and features a bed and breakfast, restaurant, bakery, ice cream parlor, wedding location, a chapel, gymnasium, theater and walking and horse-drawn tours.
12. Augusta, Population: 253
Located in St. Charles County with a population of 253, Augusta was founded in 1836. Besides Augusta’s Historic Museum, they also are home to the Augusta Winery, Mount Pleasant Winery, Augusta Brewery, antique shops, restaurants, bed and breakfasts, a wood shop, a glass studio, and more. Located in the bluffs above the Missouri River Valley about 35 miles from St. Louis, the town is also a stop along the Katy Trail.
13. Vienna, Population: 610
Vienna became the county seat of Maries County in 1855 and has a population of 610. Attractions of note include the Old Jail Museum, Felker Log House, and Latham Log House, all built in the 1850s, as well as the Historical Society of Maries County Museum. They host the Maries County Fair every year at Vienna Park and are near the Gasconade River.
14. Reeds Spring, Population: 913
With a population of 913 and located in Stone County, Reeds Spring was incorporated in 1906. They are currently in the process of rebuilding and restoring historic buildings like the 1936 WPA Building. Visit their historic downtown loop on Highway 413/248 for shopping, restaurants, and an art school and gallery. Check out Ace’s Antiques and Collectible Emporium on Main Street.
15. Ellington, Population: 987
Another historic town in Reynolds County, Ellington was established in 1893 and has a population of 987. Visit the Reynolds County Museum on Main Street or tour nearby Fort Barnsville. The Sweetwater Lead Mine mines both lead and zinc. Rent a canoe at Joe’s Canoe Rentals or visit the Webb Creek Marina. Stay at the Homeport Inn Bed and Breakfast and dine at one of the many local restaurants including Checo’s Mexican Restaurant or the Clearwater Lake Café.
16. Centerville, Population: 191
Located on the west fork of the Black River in Reynolds County, Centerville has a population of 191 and was established in 1845 as the county seat. West Fork Mine has been mining lead, zinc, and silver for years, and the 1871 era Reynolds County Courthouse is one of the few courthouses in Missouri that are over 100 years old. There are many historical sites, museum, and antique shops, and The Butterfly Inn, a turn of the century home, is available for rental.
17. Rocheport, Population: 244
Another little town in wine country, Rocheport 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
18. Kimmswick, Population: 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
What are some other great small towns in Missouri? Did we include your home town? We would love to hear from you!