The Show Me State
Missouri is located in the Midwestern United States. Like most of America's central states, the weather is often unpredictable, as very hot summers, winter blizzards and violent thunderstorms are not uncommon. Hiking, horseback riding, and water sports (canoeing or kayaking) are all popular activities in the Lake of the Ozarks region. Kansas City and St. Louis are both very interesting cities. Other attractions include the Branson entertainment venues, jazz clubs, the Gateway Arch (a monument representing the westward expansion in the United States, in St Louis), the Mark Twain cave (a show cave that plays an important role in the classic American novel The Adventures of Tom Sawyer) and the Truman home (family farm and the home of the president Harry S. Truman). You can also visit museums in the city of Independence. To travel around the state, you will need to rent a car, book a bus or train ticket. For more information visit: visitmo.com.
Jump to: Historical Sites & Tourist Attractions | Arts & Culture | Sports & Recreation | Outdoor Activities | Food | Local Festivals | Housing Resources | Transportation | Health & Safety | Help Your Community
Mark Twain's boyhood home in Hannibal. Photo by Minnemom.
Add some local history to your cultural exchange experience by visiting a nearby historical site or tourist attraction when living and working in the U.S.
Battle of Lexington State Historic Site was the location of a bloody Civil War battle in 1861. Today, visitors can learn about the battle at the visitor center and even see marks where bullets and cannon fire damaged the Anderson House, a historical building at the site.
The Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum in Hannibal teaches international visitors about the life of Samuel Clemens, later known as Mark Twain, who is considered one of the greatest authors in United States' history. The museum also has 15 original Norman Rockwell paintings and many buildings and artifacts that inspired Twain to write The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.
The Glore Psychiatric Museum in St. Joseph explores the history of “State Lunatic Asylum No. 2” and looks back on the last 400 years of mental health care in the United States.
The Jesse James Bank Museum in Liberty is the site of Jesse James’ first bank robbery in 1866. Today, visitors can see the original bank vault, photographs and artifacts from the bank and can hear the story of the robbery from museum volunteers.
Kansas City Attractions
The Arabia Steamboat Museum tells the story of frontier life in the 1800s and the excavation of a sunken steamboat, the Arabia. Visitors can see some of the 200 tons of supplies that were recovered from the steamboat, see replicated and real parts of the boat, and take a tour to learn more about the Arabia.
Learn about local and regional history at the Kansas City Museum by viewing exhibits, history films, artifacts and original historic buildings at Corinthian Hall in the Northeast neighborhood of Kansas City.
The National Frontier Trails Museum focuses on the history of western migration in the mid-19th century. Learn about the pioneers and their journey west along the Santa Fe, California and Oregon trails by viewing exhibits, an educational film and by taking a covered wagon ride!
St. Louis Attractions
Experience Native American history and culture at the Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site. Located 15 miles east of St. Louis in Collinsville, Illinois, the Cahokia Mounds are a World Heritage Site and the former site of a prehistoric Native American civilization. Exhibits, guided tours, trails and informational presentations are available to visitors at the historic site.
The iconic St. Louis Gateway Arch is located at a site called the Core of Discovery and is the tallest national monument in the United States. Visitors can check out the Museum of Westward Expansion, view movies, or ride a tram to the top of the arch.
The Missouri History Museum contains exhibits, historical artifacts, films, lectures and other live events help tell the story of both Missouri and the U.S. Many exhibits are free to visit, while special short-term exhibits may require tickets.
Ripley's Believe It or Not is an offbeat attraction featuring exhibits and unusual artifacts in Branson, MO.
Take a trip down memory lane at the World's Largest Toy Museum. Some toys at the museum date back to the 1800s!
Visit the Veterans Memorial Museum to learn about American military history in the 20th century, including World War I, World War II, the Vietnam War, Korean War and Gulf Wars.
The Titanic Museum
- Bonne Terre Mine Tours
- Downstream Adventure Tours
- Eco Zipline Tours
- Gateway Arch Riverboat Cruises
- James River Outfitters
- Triple G ATV Rides
The Duttons perform at their theater in Branson. Photo by Paul Frederickson.
The United States offers a wide variety of cultural learning opportunities through the arts. Dance, music, theater, opera, art museums and festivals are just some of the options available to international visitors who wish to experience the U.S. and its culture.
Arts and Culture in Missouri
- Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art, St. Joseph
- Daum Museum of Contemporary Art, Sedalia
- Finke Theatre, California
- Juanita K Hammons Hall For the Performing Arts, Springfield
- Margaret Harwell Art Museum, Poplar Bluff
- Performing Arts Series at the University of Central Missouri, Warrensburg
- Springfield Art Museum, Springfield
- University of Missouri Museum of Art and Archaeology, Columbia
Arts and Culture in Kansas City
- Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Heritage Center
- Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
- Kansas City Repertory Theatre
- Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts
- Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art
- Leedy-Voulkos Art Center
- UMKC Conservatory of Music & Dance
- Unicorn Theatre
- Weinberger Fine Art
Arts and Culture in St. Louis
- Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum
- Museum of Contemporary Religious Art
- Peabody Opera House
- St. Louis Art Museum
- St. Louis Symphony
- Stages St. Louis
Arts and Culture in Branson
Browse the Branson Arts Council website to find local arts and cultural opportunities for children and adults in the Branson area.
Many Americans are passionate about sports – and not just baseball and football! Get a glimpse into this part of American culture by watching or participating in a favorite U.S. sport or recreational activity in your local area.
Missouri has many professional sports teams in Kansas City and St. Louis. There is even an interstate rivalry between the KC Royals and St. Louis Cardinals in baseball:
- Kansas City Chiefs (football)
- Kansas City Royals (baseball)
- Sporting Kansas City (soccer)
- St. Louis Blues (hockey)
- St. Louis Cardinals (baseball)
- St. Louis Rams (football)
For tickets to professional sports games in Kansas City and St. Louis, check the team websites above. Tickets may also be available on the following websites:
- Ticketexchangebyticketmaster.com to buy or sell tickets from season ticket holders and fans.
- StubHub.com for tickets and last-minute deals.
Some of the top college sports team in Missouri include:
- Central Missouri State Mules, University of Central Missouri
- Missouri Tigers, University of Missouri
- Southeast Missouri State Redhawks, Southeast Missouri State University
- Missouri State Bears, Missouri State University
- St. Louis Billikens, Saint Louis University
- UMKC Kangaroos, University of Missouri – Kansas City
Browse a full list of college sports programs in Missouri.
The United States is home to a variety of landscapes and climates to suit all types of outdoor activities. The courageous traveler can find extreme sports and outdoor adventure tours, while others may want to keep both feet on the ground in a national park or forest. Whatever your interests, take advantage of the many outdoor activities available during your time in the United States.
Many outdoor activities are available in Missouri state parks, including ATV rides, horseback riding, hiking, biking, camping, rock climbing, fishing and much more. Visit the Missouri State Parks website to search for parks based on the outdoor activity available at the park.
Try horseback riding at on of these stables in Missouri. No riding experience is necessary for many horseback riding tours and some ranches also provided guided tours for visitors.
Skiing and snowboarding is available at the Hidden Valley Ski Resort in Wildwood or Snow Creek in Weston. Trails are available for skiers and riders of all skill levels and visitors can take lessons if needed.
During winter, watch for bald eagles at one of the many Eagle Day events held at conservation centers or at a popular eagle-watching site in Missouri. The best time of year to see eagles is late December to early February.
St. Louis Outdoor Activities
Forest Park is a large urban park in St. Louis and home to many museums, the St. Louis Zoo, the St. Louis Science Center and the Muny, the biggest outdoor theater in the U.S. Visitors can also enjoy biking, walking, jogging, boating, fishing, golfing, tennis, ice skating, sports and nature walks at Forest Park.
Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis hosts flower shows, concerts and special events throughout the year. Visitors can also enjoy the many gardens and conservatories in the botanical garden, including a 14-acre Japanese garden, sculpture garden and a children’s garden.
Branson Outdoor Activities
The Branson area offers many opportunities to get outdoors and have an adventure, including the Branson Lakes Area and Mark Twain National Forest. Outdoor activities include fishing, camping, hiking, canoe and kayak rentals, golfing, and much more! Learn more about outdoor activities and tour companies on the Explore Branson website.
A typical BBQ restaurant in Kansas City, Missouri. Photo by Marc Smith.
One of the best ways to experience cultural exchange is through food and cooking. Visitors will enjoy exploring the regional specialties and local cuisine during their time in the United States.
Kansas City barbecue is a well-known cooking style that features slow-smoked meats and a tomato-molasses barbecue sauce. Find BBQ-related events in Missouri and around the country from the Kansas City Barbecue Society. Other special foods found in Missouri include gooey butter cake, Gerber sandwich, St. Louis-style pizza, and the lesser-known St. Louis-style barbecue.
Find a local farmers’ market in Missouri by visiting the Missouri Farmers’ Market Directory.
- Kansas City Restaurant Week, January
- Capital City Cook-off, Jefferson City, April
- Mushroom Festival, Richmond, May
- Weston Sizzlers BBQ Festival, Weston, July
- Taste of the Ozarks, Springfield, July
- Annunciation Greek Fest, Kansas City, September
- Apple Butter Festival, Kimmswick, October
- Missouri Wine & Food Festival, Branson, October
For a unique and local perspective on American cultural, be sure to check out festivals and events near your cultural exchange program location. These events are a fun and interesting way to interact with locals and to learn more about American culture by experiencing it firsthand.
Fair St. Louis is a July 4th festival under the Gateway Arch. The festival includes free concerts, a parade, an air show and other fun activities.
The Kansas City Fringe Festival is a July arts festival that focuses on both emerging and established artists. Work includes visual arts, theater, music, dance, performance art, storytelling and film from local, regional and international artists.
Trails West! is an August outdoor arts festival in St. Joseph featuring fine art, crafts, food vendors and live music in multiple locations.
The Ozark Empire Fair in Springfield, just north of Branson, is a summer family event featuring a kid's area, live music, livestock competitions and other fun activities.
The Missouri State Fair in Sedalia has been running for over 100 years and features livestock shows, a rodeo, live music, food, parades, dancing and much more each August.
Autumn Daze is an annual September arts and crafts festival in Branson, MO featuring food, live music and entertainment, and homemade arts and crafts.
St. Louis International Film Festival (SLIFF) is one of the largest film festivals in the Midwest. Held in November at several venues in St. Louis, the festival presents full length, documentary and short films and also hosts special events like lectures and talks with filmmakers.
Festival of Lights is a six-week winter festival in November and December with activities like ice skating, fireworks, live entertainment, plays, music and much more. Visit the downtown Springfield website for information.
Gateway Arch in St. Louis. Photo by Daniel Schwen.
Employers may be able to assist with housing during your time in the United States, but this is not always possible for all participants. When looking for housing during your cultural exchange program, consider the cost of the accommodation, the distance to your work place and the amount of time you will be in the United States.
It's also important to avoid fraudulent housing. It is highly recommended that you secure short-term housing upon arrival (e.g. in a hostel) and conduct your housing search once you are in the U.S. Never give your financial information to a stranger over the Internet. Browse the Housing Information guides for InterExchange participants below for more tips and advice.
General Housing Information
- Housing information for Work and Travel USA participants
- Housing information for Career Training USA interns and trainees
Missouri Housing Resources
Some examples of housing and accommodation resources for Missouri participants include:
- Craigslist - Missouri
- Craigslist - Springfield/Branson
- American Homestay Agency
- Hostelling International
Public transportation options can be hit or miss, depending on your location in the United States. Buses are a common transportation option for short and long-term travel in the U.S., while some areas will also have trains, subways and other options.
The Kansas City Area Rapid Transportation Authority (KCATA) operates buses in the Kansas City metropolitan area.
Metro Transit is a bus and light rail system in the St. Louis region.
For information on other local public transportation systems in Missouri, visit the American Public Transportation Association website.
Greyhound buses travel throughout Missouri and connect to many locations across the United States.
Megabus travels from Columbia, Kansas City, Springfield and St. Louis to locations like Chicago, Memphis and Dallas/Fort Worth.
Trailways offers local bus routes in Missouri and other locations in the United States.
Participants in Missouri can use the following resources in case of an emergency or extreme weather event in their area:
- Missouri State Emergency Management Agency
- Storm Aware - Tips and early warning about tornados and extreme weather events.
- Storm Aware on Twitter @MoStormAware
- Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) www.fema.gov and www.ready.gov
- Missouri FEMA updates on Twitter @femaregion7
- National Weather Service
- Weather – Kansas City and Northwestern Missouri
- Weather – St. Louis and Eastern Missouri
- Weather – Springfield and Southwestern Missouri
Interact with others and expand your skill set by volunteering in your local community. Volunteer organizations are often looking for short-term volunteers or for individuals to help with a single event, making it a great option for InterExchange participants who wish to add to their cultural exchange experience during their time in the United States.
Habitat for Humanity has many locations across Missouri where volunteers can help build low-cost housing for families in need. Contact information is available on the organization’s websites, such as Columbia, Kansas City, St. Louis and Joplin.
Volunteer with a Missouri food bank by searching for a local organization and signing up to help with tasks like stocking shelves, sorting donations, preparing food and more.
St. Louis’ United Way has a short-term volunteer program called St. Louis Cares that allows groups and individuals to donate a few hours of time rather than committing to a long-term volunteer project.
The Kitchen, Inc. helps the homeless and poor in Southwest Missouri and needs volunteers for a number of tasks, such as working in the gardens, cafeteria, food distribution center or office.