Missouri actually has ten distinctive vacation regions: The Pony Express area in the northwest, Chariton Valley region in the north central, Mark Twain Mississippi portion in the northeast corner, Kansas City area, Lake of the Ozarks central region, St. Louis area, Ozark Mountain country in the southwest, Osage Lakes Region in the east-central, Ozark Heritage region in the south-central counties, and Mississippi River Heritage region in the extreme southeast. Each region offers unique vacation possibilities.
St. Louis has its fabled Gateway Arch complex, with one of the nation's finest museums of American history, and just west of the city is Six Flags Over Mid-America. Kansas City has Worlds of Fun and nearby Oceans of Fun, plus the popular Truman Sports Complex. Lake of the Ozarks is a popular vacation area, with fine resorts, and a 17,087-acre state park.
In the immediate Springfield area are two don't-miss, drive-through attractions: Fantastic Caverns, the only drive-through large cave in the United States, and Exotic Animal Paradise, a large wild-animal park, where 3,500 beasts and birds roam free and you stay inside your car at all times.
An hour's drive south of Springfield brings you to the Branson lakes area, where there are four large lakes; Silver Dollar City, the state's third largest entertainment center; White Water, an enormous all-day water-fun complex; the Shepherd of the Hills Homestead and Pageant, one of the nation's largest historical dramas; an interesting pirate cruise on Lake Taneycomo; and nearly 30 country music shows, many featuring famous music stars.
Everything south of the Missouri River, which bisects the state, is the Missouri Ozarks, famed for fishing and water sports of every kind?but remembered by travelers for its beauty and wide mix of family entertainment?a place visited over and over again by many vacationers.