Nearby Summer Travel Destinations

Summer Travel Destinations that aren’t (too) Far from St. Louis

With spring semester almost over, you may be thinking about fun and interesting places to visit over summer break. However, you don’t necessarily have to go that far from St. Louis to find some great travel destinations.


Yes, the city of Chicago is a short 4-1/2 hours away by car (and a great travel destination), but it’s a well-known and popular destination for students from St. Louis. Here, we’ll focus on a couple of cities that are a little closer and that you might not have considered before.


  • 4 hours by car

Located 280 miles south of St. Louis on the Mississippi River, Memphis sits at the Southwest corner of the state of Tennessee, close to Arkansas, Missouri and Mississippi.

Memphis is known as the “Home of the Blues and the birthplace of Rock n’ Roll,” which is one of the reasons so many tourists are drawn to the city each year.

Memphis has a number of sites connected with early rock n’ roll, including Graceland (Elvis Presley’s House) and Sun Studio record company, which launched the careers Elvis Presley and many other famous rock n’ roll musicians of the 1950’s and 60’s. One of the most popular attractions is historic Beale Street downtown. Known since the 1920’s for its bars and blues clubs, Beale street still has an active music scene and nightlife today.

Memphis is also home to the National Civil Rights Museum, which is built onto the motel where civil rights leader, Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated in 1968.

And of course, a visit to Memphis would not be complete without stopping in to one of the local barbecue joints to sample the famous Memphis-style barbecue.

Other popular attractions in Memphis include: Brooks Museum of Art, Children’s Museum, Pink Palace Museums, and Mud Island River Park.

For additional tourist information, visit: OR

Memphis’ Beale Street is known for its music scene and provides an active night life. (Image source: )

Kansas City

  • 4 hours by car
  • ~ 6 hours by train

Kansas City is located on the Missouri River, 250 miles west of St. Louis, straddling the border between Missouri and Kansas.

Being the two largest cities in Missouri, St. Louis and Kansas City are often compared against one another and there even exists a bit of rivalry between the two. Like St. Louis, Kansas City has a broad array of attractions for visitors.

One of the most popular attractions is Union Station, the restored central train station, which is known for its beautiful architecture. The building now houses shops, restaurants, museums, and a movie theater. Kansas City’s historic and trendy Westport neighborhood is a good place for shopping and restaurants during the day and also has an active nightlife scene. Like Memphis, Kansas City is famous for its own style of barbecue. If you’re a meat-eater, visiting one of the local barbecue establishments is a must!

Other popular attractions include: Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Sea-Life Aquarium, World War I Museum and Memorial, Arabia Steamboat Museum, Loose Park and Rose Garden,  Money Museum at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.

For additional tourist information, visit:



Some smaller destinations are close enough to drive up for a day trip, leaving St. Louis in the morning and returning later the same day.

Hannibal, Missouri

  • A little over 2 hours by car

Situated on the Mississippi River about 120 miles northwest of St. Louis, Hannibal is known for its most famous citizen, author Mark Twain. Twain spent much of his childhood in Hannibal, which served as the inspiration and setting for his books, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and the Adventures of Tom Sawyer. The old town area close to the river still maintains much of its river town charm, and many sites connected with Mark Twain have been preserved and are open to the public, including the Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum and nearby Mark Twain Cave.  For those who want are drawn to the supernatural, the Haunted Hannibal Ghost Tours are a popular activity. Other local attractions include the Hannibal History Museum, Rockcliffe Mansion, and short excursions on the Mark Twain Riverboat.

For additional tourist information, visit:

The Mark Twain river boat goes out on the Mississippi River for one-hour excursions and for dinner cruises.  (Image source: )

Springfield, Illinois

  • Around 1.5 hours by car
  • Around 2 hours by train

About 100 miles northeast of St. Louis, lies Springfield, the Illinois state capitol, and the site of Civil-War-era president Abraham Lincoln’s home and his final resting place. Lincoln’s home, has been restored to the way it looked when he resided there with his family in the 1850’s, and it’s open to the public for tours. Lincoln’s tomb is another popular tourist attraction along with other local sites associated with the former president.  Other local attractions include the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum, and the Old State Capitol.

For additional tourist information, visit:


The historic Old State Capitol in Springfield, Illinois. (Image source:

Hermann, MO

  • Less than 2 hours by car
  • About 2 hours by train

Hermann, Missouri is a small, picturesque town located on the Missouri River about 80 miles west of St. Louis. The town provides a charming locale to walk around in, with a number of shops and cafes. However, what Hermann is most well-known for is its wineries. The Hermann area boasts over a dozen wineries, including Hermannhof Vineyards and Stone Hill Winery, both of which are located in the town of Hermann itself. The wineries have shops and wine-tasting areas, and Stone Hill gives guided tours of its cellars. Hermann is also a great destination for its Bed and Breakfast Inns and is a popular place for biking, with the Katy Trail nearby. Other attractions in Hermann include the Historic Hermann Museum, The historic Gasconade County Courthouse, and the White House Hotel 1868.

For additional tourist information, visit:

A view of picturesque Hermann, Missouri. (Image source: )






Ideas, comments, suggestions for the newsletter are welcome! Contact the editor, Mark Bass, at: