Missouri Winter Tourism: Crowd-Free Adventures

Christmas is over. New Year’s Day has passed. We’ve entered the time of year when it’s natural to want to just hibernate. You’ve been surrounded with people and your calendar was stuffed with activities, but now it’s the season of solitude. Cuddle up in front of the fire in fuzzy socks, sipping cocoa and watch old movies. Enjoy it, because it lasts about a minute before cabin fever sets in.

And when it does, the Show-Me State is standing by to provide fun activities and interesting destinations while avoiding the high-season crowds.

Saint Louis Zoo, Photo credit: Robin Winkelman

My favorite place to go in Missouri in winter? The zoo. It’s a totally different experience this time of year. Snow leopards, polar bears, sea lions, camels and grizzly bears are just some of the species who aren’t reluctant to venture out into the cold to play. And if you start to get cold, just head into some of the indoor exhibits. Missouri’s year-round zoos include Dickerson Park Zoo in Springfield, Branson’s Promised Land Zoo, Kansas City Zoo, Promised Land Zoo in Eagle Rock, Saint Louis Zoo and the National Tiger Sanctuary in Saddlebrooke.

For those of you who are really into winter outdoor fun, check out our Show-Me State Trout Parks. From the second Friday in November through the second Monday in February, the parks are open for catch-and-release only, but you’ll love the challenge and the competition for space is way less. You still need a fishing license and trout permit – and only flies may be used during catch-and-release season. Maramec Spring Park is open daily 8 a.m.-4 p.m. The three state parks – Bennett Spring, Montauk and Roaring River – are open 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday through Monday.

Bennett Spring State Park

Floating an Ozarks stream is a favorite summertime activity but it can be a bit of a madhouse sometimes. But you’ll discover complete serenity with a winter float trip. It takes a little courage and skill (you really don’t want to be flipping the canoe this time of year), but the rewards can be breathtaking. Complete stillness is broken only by the sounds of the water beneath your hull and the birds in the trees overhanging the stream. Year-round outfitters include:

One more option for adventure in the winter because the summers are the high season: go underground. One of Missouri’s nicknames is “The Cave State” with good reason. We’re known for some fabulous show caves accessible to just about everyone, a few more rugged ones for the true spelunker and for America’s only all-riding cave tour at Fantastic Caverns, and our newest addition to the show cave family, the Lost Canyon Cave Nature Trail at Top of the Rocks Ozarks Heritage Preserve in Branson. Check out our whole list here.

And at the end of the day, if you’d rather be indoors than out, our amazing wineries are standing by to welcome you, some with cozy fireplaces and all with incredible vintages. So don’t hibernate too long. Come chill out with us in the Show-Me State.

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