Attracting visitors for more than five decades, Branson is often described as a "family-friendly Las Vegas" for its abundance of kid-approved attractions. This southwest Missouri city, which is nestled in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains, was named after Reuben Branson, the postmaster and the proprietor of the area's general store in the late 19th century.
Kansas City is a friendly place, filled with salt-of-the-earth Midwesterners who smile at strangers as they pass them on the streets. But KC is also cool: The Power & Light District brims with trendy bars and restaurants and equally trendy 20- and 30-somethings. The city's cultural, too, with some surprisingly great museums like the Nelson-Atkins. Plus, the city's history – as a trading post in 1821 and an important stopover on the Oregon Trail in the early 1800s – gives it an interesting narrative. You can view parts of this history at the National World War I and Arabia Steamboat museums. The city's jazz and barbecue are just about unparalleled, but Kansas City has also successfully delved into other types of music and food (more on that in the dining section). And just so you won't be confused, Kansas City straddles both the Show-Me State of Missouri and the Sunflower State of Kansas. If you're a tourist, you'll probably be spending most of your time on the Missouri side since that's where most of the city's top attractions can be found.
With a slice of Midwestern Americana and a hint of cosmopolitan flair, St. Louis' charms are best viewed in the stands of Busch Stadium, in the nostalgia of the iconic Judy Garland film "Meet Me in St. Louis," or at the bottom of a pint of Budweiser. And yes, there's the Gateway Arch – that gleaming curve of stainless steel. But beyond St. Louie's star attractions, you'll find a vibrant city that has plenty to offer for beer, food, sports and music enthusiasts. To start, it's the birthplace of iced tea and ice cream cones and is often referred to as the "Home of the Blues" thanks to its rich music scene. And with 79 distinct neighborhoods to tour, including tranquil Forest Park and historical Soulard, there's plenty to see, eat and do in this Midwestern metropolis. Plus, exploring here won't put a major dent in your wallet: St. Louis boasts more free attractions than any city outside the District of Columbia. So take a cue from Lewis and Clark, who "discovered" the area in the early 19th century, and start your exploration of the West – and St. Louie – here.
Best Places to Visit in the USA