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ST. LOUIS — Missouri has many famous natural features, including the Ozark Mountains, the Missouri River, and the Mark Twain National Forest. World Atlas has compiled a list of the six towns they are calling the “best hidden gems” in the Show Me State.

Bonne Terre

The Bonne Terre mine is what makes it so special. It was built in 1860 as a deep-earth lead mine, and the caverns were among the world’s first, operating until 1962.

People today go inside and learn about what life was like for miners back then. The first two floors of the cave are for guided walking excursions, while the rest of the cave is underwater. However, swimmers can still access the lower levels. The mine is the world’s largest freshwater scuba center.

There is a city underwater that miners used to live in before it was flooded. When you go scuba diving, you get to explore those lost ruins. From the boat above, you can still peer down into the water and see crates and other leftover tools. 


Columbia, Missouri, USA historic columns at twilight.

Another town that is noted is Columbia, they have another cave there called the “Devil’s Icebox,” which is one of the longest caves in the state. 

Currently, the cave tour is suspended until further notice to protect the bats within the cave from “white-nose syndrome,” which is caused by a fungal infection that affects bats but not humans. 

The White-nose Syndrome is thought to be one of the worst diseases to affect wildlife in modern times. It has killed millions of bats in North America. 

The cave is closed, but visitors can still enjoy the park where the cave sits. Rock Bridge Memorial State Park is just minutes from Columbia. 


Historic railroad Katy Bridge over Missouri River at Boonville with a lifted midsection and visitor observation deck – aerial view

Boonville was also on the list because it was one of the first sites of the first land battle of the American Civil War

The Battle of Boonville happened on June 17, 1861, more than a month before the First Battle of Bull Run. It is often seen as the start of the American Civil War. 

In reality, the battle east of Boonville, Missouri, was just a skirmish that lasted about 30 minutes. But this meeting changed the battle for Missouri in 1861 in a way that lasted for a long time. 

The quick mobilization of Union Brigadier-General Nathaniel Lyon shocked and destroyed the rebels, causing them to leave the Missouri River and run south to Arkansas. 

The Battle of Boonville took place on Rocheport Road, a few miles east of Boonville, Missouri 65233. The real battlefields are on private land and can’t be reached. 

Please be kind to the landowners and don’t go on their land without permission. The trip starts at the Battle of Boonville Historical Marker and goes east to the Merna Parking Area for the Overton Bottoms North Unit of the Big Muddy National Fish and Wildlife Refuge

The trip then follows what is thought to be the path the Federals took as they moved toward Boonville.

St. James

Maramec Spring Park, near St. James in Phelps County, MO, is home to Maramec Spring, located on the Meramec River and the fifth largest spring in the Ozark.

Did you ever want to do a wine trail? St. James is known for its many wineries. St. James, Missouri is a small city in Phelps County recognized for its award-winning wines and pristine scenery.

There are a number of well-known wineries in town that always have a steady stream of tourists, like the award-winning St. James Winery, which has a huge selection of regional grape varieties and wines that change with the seasons.

The wine culture and natural beauty of the area around St. James make it a great place to visit in Missouri.

If you would like to visit a wine trail, the St. James wine trail is called “The Meramec River Wine Trail.

This trail features wineries:

If a wine trail isn’t for you, St. James is also known for Meramec Spring Park. The Park is home to the state’s fifth-largest spring. Every day, 100 million gallons of water pour from the Spring.

There are 1,860 acres of forest and grassland in Meramec Spring Park. The 200-acre public use section of the park has a cafe, a store, camping, viewing wildlife, feeding fish, picnicking, shelters, playgrounds, and fishing, among other services and activities.

The Meramec River, a clean, tranquil Ozark stream, runs through the park and offers great fishing. The James Foundation is the private owner and operator of Meramec Spring Park. The James Foundation is a non-profit organization registered in Missouri.


Hermann, Missouri, United States, North America

Maybe you are closer to Hermann, Missouri. They, too, have a wine trail. The town is on the south side of the Missouri River. It is in an area that is known for making wine. Here, German culture is a big part of what makes the town what it is. There is an Oktoberfest and a Wurst Fest every year in the town.

This wine trail features:

The food scene is also doing well, which goes well with the craft beer breweries that have been doing well as the winemaking. There are also a number of interesting museums and historic sites to see in the area.

These places give you a glimpse into what life was like for early settlers in America. When winemaking started in the area in the 1850s, some of the buildings are still there. Also, people who like to be outside can go hiking and do other fun things in the city parks and campgrounds.

Cape Girardeau

Cape Girardeau, Missouri, USA – August 29, 2020: The Old Historic buildings at Main Street

The following information comes from the City of Cape Girardeau website’s “about” page. It is known as a city that feels like a small town, and about 10,000 students go to Southeast Missouri State University. This underrated place in Missouri has a lot of nightlife and culture because it has a big population and a lot of students.

The Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center has events and learning opportunities every week that keep nature lovers busy all year. The City of Cape Girardeau also takes care of 23 parks where people can go biking, fishing, play sports, and do other things. Trail of Tears State Park is only 10 miles north of Cape Girardeau.

Dalhousie, a GolfWeek Top 100 course, and the area’s biggest shopping mall are two ways to have fun. The arts and performance scene in Cape Girardeau is strong and has something for everyone. Local artists hold an art walk once a month when tourists and art lovers can see their latest work.

On the River Campus of Southeast Missouri State University, there are concerts, plays, and other events. Cape Girardeau is the place to go for good entertainment, from state fairs to ballet.