Missouri Small Towns
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Discover and Explore 21 of the Best Small Towns in Missouri

From former railroad depots to quaint villages tucked into the Ozarks to sites of Civil War battles and run-ins with famous bandits, Missouri has many small towns worth visiting. While Kansas City and St. Louis may be the Show Me State’s biggest map dots, Missouri’s small towns are brimming with rich history and waiting to be discovered.  

Hermann | photo via theinnathermannhof


Nestled along the Missouri River, Hermann is known for its rich German heritage and scenic beauty. It retains much of its Old World charm in the German architecture of its historic downtown. Hermann is also renowned for its wineries and vineyards, producing a variety of award-winning wines and visitors can enjoy wine tastings, tours, and scenic views of the surrounding rolling hills.


Situated along the Missouri River bluffs, this former river port boasts a historic downtown, numerous cultural attractions, and a thriving craft beverage with several breweries, distilleries, and wineries calling Weston home. One of Weston’s most notable landmarks is the Weston Bend State Park, offering stunning views of the Missouri River Valley and opportunities for hiking, picnicking, and wildlife viewing.


Best known as the hometown of renowned author Mark Twain, Hannibal served as the inspiration for the fictional town of St. Petersburg in Twain’s famous novels, including The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

Today, Hannibal celebrates its connection to Twain with several attractions dedicated to the author, including the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum, where visitors can explore Twain’s childhood residence and learn about his life and works.

Arrow Rock

This quaint village was once a prominent stop on the Santa Fe Trail, attracting settlers and traders seeking fortune in the American West. Today, Arrow Rock is renowned for its well-preserved historic district — a National Historic Landmark that exudes a timeless charm.

Visitors can dive headfirst into history at sites such as the J. Huston Tavern, the oldest continuously operating restaurant west of the Mississippi River, and the Old Courthouse, where notable trials were held during the frontier era.


This charming river town along the Mississippi River is known for its significance as a river port. Kimmswick retains much of its historic charm, with well-preserved buildings lining its streets, many of which house shops, galleries, and restaurants.

One of Kimmswick’s main attractions is the annual Apple Butter Festival, held every October, which draws thousands of visitors to enjoy food, music, and crafts celebrating the town’s heritage. Additionally, the town hosts other events throughout the year, such as the Strawberry Festival and the Christmas Festival.

Ste. Genevieve-Missouri
Ste. Genevieve | photo via anisentropicflow

Ste. Genevieve

Founded in the 18th century by French settlers, Ste. Genevieve is one of the oldest towns west of the Mississippi River. The town’s historic district features over 150 buildings constructed in the distinctive French Colonial style. Many of these buildings have been meticulously preserved and are open to the public for tours, offering visitors a glimpse into the town’s past.

Ste. Genevieve is also home to several museums and cultural attractions, such as the Felix Valle House State Historic Site and the Bolduc House Museum, which showcase the town’s history and heritage through exhibits and artifacts.


Nestled along the banks of the Missouri River, Rocheport embodies the quintessential charm of the Midwest, from its well-preserved 19th-century architecture, charming bed and breakfasts, quaint cafes, and antique shops. Visitors can embark on a journey along the scenic Katy Trail and explore historic landmarks, such as the Katy Bridge and the Rocheport Historic District.

Excelsior Springs

Known for its healing mineral waters, Excelsior Springs boasts numerous historic springs and bathhouses, inviting weary travelers to relax with therapeutic treatments and spa experiences. A picturesque downtown adds to the small-town ambiance, and travelers can visit the iconic Hall of Waters — the headquarters of City Hall and the sight of the city’s first spring.


While it’s far from the Vegas Strip, Nevada, Missouri still offers historic architecture, plenty of historic sites, and access to the Katy Trail. Nevada’s rich heritage is displayed at the Bushwhacker Museum, which details the town’s role in the Civil War. Outdoor enthusiasts can take advantage of the Katy Trail to enjoy the natural beauty of the surrounding countryside.


Situated on the Missouri River, Washington captivates visitors with small-town charm, unique attractions, and nearby access to the Katy Trail for outdoor adventures. Visitors can learn about Washington’s history at the unique Missouri Meerschaum Corn Cob Pipe Factory or shop and dine in a historic downtown district with beautifully preserved 19th-century buildings.

Lexington | photo via andissworld


Lexington offers a charming glimpse into the heart of Midwest small-town life. Visitors can explore the town’s fascinating history at sites like the Battle of Lexington State Historic Site, which commemorates a pivotal Civil War battle, and the antebellum Oliver Anderson House. Travelers of all ages will find Lexington captivating, as they pass by elegant historic homes, cozy cafes, and quaint shops.


In the rolling hills of Northwest Missouri, Chillicothe is literally the greatest thing since sliced bread. Visitors won’t want to miss a trip to the Grand River Historical Society Museum, which highlights the town’s past as the “Home of Sliced Bread.” Travelers can also enjoy the town’s historic downtown district, adorned with elegant Victorian-era buildings, charming boutiques, and locally-owned cafes, inviting relaxing strolls and explorations. 


Travelers who relish the allure of small towns will discover a wealth of attractions in Marshall. The town’s historic downtown is graced with elegant brick buildings and Marshall’s history as a thriving railroad town is preserved at the Saline County Historical Society Museum. Outdoor enthusiasts can soak up Marshall’s natural beauty at Indian Foothills Park and the Missouri Valley College Community Gardens.


Once upon a time, Boonville was a thriving railroad town. That heritage continues to be celebrated at sites like the Katy Depot, a restored train station/museum, which showcases Boonville’s role in the development of the railroad and the Westward expansion. Boonville’s history is also celebrated during its annual June Heritage Days, which features entertainment for all ages.

Cape Girardeau

With approximately 40,000 residents, Cape Girardeau is a bustling city that seamlessly blends historic significance with modern amenities. Its history is showcased through sites like the Old St. Vincent’s Church and the Glenn House and the town’s historic downtown district boasts beautifully preserved 19th-century buildings, making Cape Girardeau a captivating destination.

Parkville | photo via getmeonaplaneasap


Parkville is a delightful retreat on the banks of the Missouri River  — a welcoming town steeped in history. Parkville’s location along the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail provides a unique opportunity to trace the footsteps of early explorers and pioneers and its rich heritage is celebrated at sites like the Park University campus and the Parkville Commercial Historic District.


Nestled along the banks of the Mississippi River, Clarksville, Missouri isn’t the Clarksville the Monkees famously sang about but, it can boast of a historic downtown district, and heritage sites like Apple Shed Theater, which showcases local talent and offers cultural performances year-round.


Nestled in the heart of Mark Twain country, Perry offers travelers a tranquil escape and a gateway to Mark Twain Lake. The town’s historic downtown district, with its well-preserved Victorian-era architecture and friendly local businesses, exudes Midwest charm.


The historic mining town of Centerville sits on the west fork of the Black River in an area marked by the Black River and St. Francis Mountains. With a population of just a few hundred, it’s one of the state’s smallest towns but is home to several historic buildings like the old Reynolds County courthouse and Reeds Spring Mill.

Reeds Spring

Situated on Table Rock Lake, the town of Reeds Spring is a vacation destination and a place steeped in history. Quite simply, it has stood the test of time, surviving a run-in with Bonnie and Clyde, fires, and more. Outdoor enthusiasts can explore nearby parks and recreational areas, such as Table Rock Lake and Ruth and Paul Henning Conservation Area.


Located just south of Jefferson City, the community of Westphalia is tucked into the rolling hills that define the Ozarks. While it has a population of around 400, Westphalia still honors the area’s German heritage and is home to the St. Joseph Church, a German Catholic landmark that’s one of the area’s oldest buildings.

Centerville | photo via attie23

Show Yourself the Tranquil Side of the Show Me State

Whether you’re a history buff who can’t get enough of historic small towns or a curious traveler eager to see a new side of the Midwest, the Show Me State has plenty to offer travelers of all ages and help them discover the best small towns to visit.