There's always something new to see and do in Missouri. Here's a roundup of recently opened or renovated attractions – plus a few more set to open later this year.
The historic St. Louis Union Station has been reinvented as a hub for family fun. The 1.3 million gallon St. Louis Aquarium is home to 13,000 animals and 44 exhibits that take you on a virtual trip down the Mississippi to the deep blue sea. Just outside the aquarium, The St. Louis Wheel – a 200-foot observation wheel with 42 fully enclosed, climate-controlled gondolas – offers amazing views of the city. Other new attractions at Union Station include a classic carousel, ropes course, mini golf, mirror maze and soda fountain.
Explore an intriguing chapter in Missouri history at the state's newest national park. The Ste. Genevieve National Historical Park focuses on the story of the first permanent European settlement in Missouri and preserves some of the oldest and rarest French colonial architecture in the country. The park features several historic buildings including The Amoureux House, a vertical log poteaux-en-terre (post in ground) structure built in 1792. Only five such houses still stand in the United States – and three are located in Ste. Genevieve.
You can't miss the new Aquarium at the Boardwalk, located in the heart of Branson's entertainment district. A giant octopus sculpture draped across the top of the building is guaranteed to catch your eye. The real octopi are inside along with colorful fish, seahorses, jellyfish, eels and sharks. Journey through an underwater tunnel for an immersive view of the sea life, experience a submarine adventure and explore the Mermaid Palace.
Test your golf skills on the first public-access course designed by Tiger Woods. Payne's Valley is the newest golf course at Big Cedar Lodge near Branson. The course pays tribute to Ozarks native and World Golf Hall-of-Famer Payne Stewart. It offers scenic Ozark Mountain views, large fairways and greens, and a dramatic 19th hole.
Located in the Arcadia Valley deep in the Ozarks, Shepherd Mountain Bike Park features five downhill trails carved into the mountainside. The trails offer varying degrees of difficulty as they wind through ancient volcanic rock formations and across wooden ramps. The mountain bike park is situated near some of Missouri's most popular state parks – including Elephant Rock, Johnson's Shut-Ins and Taum Sauk Mountain.
The centerpiece of Silver Dollar City's newest area, Rivertown, is a water adventure called Mystic River Falls. Thrill seekers board an eight-person raft for a trip along an elevated "river channel" before plunging down a 4.5 story waterfall – the tallest raft ride drop in the Western Hemisphere.
See the evolution of the machine that has helped feed our nation at the American Tractor Museum in Perryville. The museum features one of the largest collections of its kind, including rare tractors from manufacturers such as Rumely, Waterloo Boy, Centaur and more. Exhibits honor our country's agriculture heritage and celebrate the tractors used by many generations to plow, plant and harvest our fields.
Still to Come
With a major renovation nearly complete, the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum in Independence is set to reopen this year. The museum will explore the life and legacy of the only president to call Missouri home. New interactive exhibits will chronicle his rise from humble beginnings to the most powerful man in the world.
A 35,000-square-foot expansion of the Primate House at the Saint Louis Zoo is scheduled to open this summer. The Primate Canopy Trails will include eight new outdoor homes for primates, mesh tunnels overhead leading to the new outdoor habitats and an elevated boardwalk that will provide an eye-level view of all the canopy activity.
The Wilson's Creek Battlefield Visitors Center, located 10 miles southwest of Springfield, is expected to reopen later this year following a renovation that will more than double its exhibit space for artifacts. The site, considered one of the best-preserved battlefields in the National Park system, commemorates the first major Civil War battle west of the Mississippi River.