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6 of the Most Walkable Cities in Missouri

Missouri is a Midwestern state often characterized by its largest cities, Kansas City, St. Louis, and Springfield. All cities are distinguished by being extremely walkable despite their large size, and they all have attractions that make them worthy destinations. However, the Show Me State also has a variety of hidden gems and small towns off the beaten path that are just as exciting (and walkable) as their larger counterparts. From Ozarks towns like Rolla to Mississippi River communities like Cape Girardeau, college towns like Warrensburg to St. Louis suburbs like Kirkwood, these picturesque towns are among the most walkable in Missouri – and are definitely worth a visit.

Rolla

Rolla, Missouri, United States.  Editorial credit: Sabrina Janelle Gordon / Shutterstock.com
Rolla, Missouri, United States. Editorial credit: Sabrina Janelle Gordon / Shutterstock.com

Rolla is located in south-central Missouri along Route 66. Although the seat of Phelps County, Rolla’s relatively small population (20,000) and small landmass (12 square miles) make it extremely walkable, with easy access to historic downtown and its many attractions. Explore the Ozarks city and its rich heritage with a visit to the Dillon House Log Museum, or visit historic buildings such as the Limestone Block Jail and the historic Phelps County Courthouse. The historic Main Street pedestrian bridge also offers visitors a glimpse into Rolla’s railroad past. Rolla also has plenty of walkable cultural attractions, such as the Ozark Actors Theater and the Leach Theater at Missouri University of Science and Technology. The scenic gem also offers many recreational opportunities within the city limits, including the Audubon Trails Nature Center, Ber Juan Park, and Lions Club Park, all offering a variety of activities including hiking and biking trails, wildlife watching, and fishing. The perfect combination of the picturesque Ozarks landscape and a vibrant, bustling downtown area, Rolla is one of the most walkable small towns in Missouri.

Cape Girardeau

Cape Girardeau, Missouri, USA  Editorial credit: Roberto Galan / Shutterstock.com
Cape Girardeau, Missouri, USA Editorial credit: Roberto Galan / Shutterstock.com

Cape Girardeau is a picturesque town in southeastern Missouri, located on the Mississippi River. Although a sprawling town of just under 20 square miles, Cape Girardeau is still very walkable due to its abundance of close-knit neighborhoods. The Cape LaCroix Recreation Trail allows visitors and residents to travel around Cape Girardeau with ease as it connects the city to multiple areas and attractions, including downtown, the riverfront and city parks. Additionally, Osage Park, Arena Park, and Shawnee Park are all accessible via the recreation trail. Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center also offers hiking and fishing opportunities, interactive nature exhibits and an indoor wildlife viewing area.

The walkable river city also has its fair share of history. Visitors can explore Cape Girardeau’s rich heritage at historic homes such as Oliver-Leming House and Glenn House or learn about the military past at the US Grant Trail Southeast Segment and Fort D. Art is also an important part of Cape Girardeau’s culture and is reflected in colorful displays like the Missouri Wall of Fame Mural and the Mississippi River Tales Mural and places like the Crisp Museum at Southeast Missouri State University.

Kirkwood

The National Transportation Museum in Kirkwood, Missouri.  Editorial credit: Matthew Cone / Shutterstock.com
The National Transportation Museum in Kirkwood, Missouri. Editorial credit: Matthew Cone / Shutterstock.com

Kirkwood, a suburb of St. Louis, is a vibrant community of approximately 29,000 residents. Despite its population size, however, Kirkwood’s relatively small footprint (15 square miles) makes it an extremely walkable place full of attractions, scenery, and welcoming Midwestern charm. Experience the city’s natural beauty at one of the many local parks, such as Kirkwood Park, Emmenegger Nature Park and the Meramec Highlands Quarry at Dee Koestering Park, to name a few. Kirkwood is also home to the Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center, a wooded oasis in the middle of the bustling city. Additionally, Kirkwood is known for community events such as the Greentree Festival, the Route 66 Cars and Guitars Festival, and the popular Farmer’s Market.

Kirkwood also has a lot of history, heritage and culture. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the iconic train station is a bastion of history and architecture, and it is the third busiest train station in Missouri. The Historic Kirkwood Landmark Walking Tour also allows visitors to experience the suburb’s distinguished past, with stops at historic buildings and landmarks around the city. Other Kirkwood attractions include “a walk through history” at The Museum of Transportation; the Laumeier Sculpture Park, an open-air museum of epic proportions; and The Magic House St. Louis Children’s Museum, a family-friendly place for fun and adventure.

Warrensburg

Warrensburg, Missouri, USA Editorial credit: Ian Peter Morton / Shutterstock.com
Warrensburg, Missouri, USA Editorial credit: Ian Peter Morton / Shutterstock.com

Known as the “home of man’s best friend,” Warrensburg is a scenic Missouri community with a population of approximately 20,000 and an area of ​​approximately 9 square miles. Just a five-minute walk from the University of Central Missouri (UCM) campus, Warrensburg’s historic downtown and shopping district is the heart of the area. Explore the city’s culture and heritage with a visit to the Grover Street Victorian District and the UCM Archives, or take a journey through history with a visit to the Johnson County Historical Society’s Museum Complex, several Civil War sites and the Old Drum Tour, where visitors can learn how the dog became man’s best friend.

Warrensburg is also a great place to explore nature, relax and unwind. Some of the city’s parks and trails include Cave Hollow Park, the Johnson County Spirit Trail, and the Pertle Springs Trail. There are also several public lakes to enjoy. Lions Lake, Lake Cena and Hazel Hill Lake offer fishing, boating, wildlife viewing and breathtaking natural scenery. Family-friendly activities include climbing and bouldering at the UCM Student Recreation and Wellness Center and retro fun at the Retrograde Charitable Toy & Video Museum. With its variety of cultural, natural and historic attractions, Warrensburg’s vibrant college atmosphere and welcoming hometown feel, Warrensburg is one of Missouri’s most walkable small towns.

Kirksville

Kirksville, Missouri / USA  Editorial credit: ecbphotos / Shutterstock.com
Kirksville, Missouri / USA Editorial credit: ecbphotos / Shutterstock.com

The seat of Adair County, Kirksville is a city in northeastern Missouri with a population of 17,000. Surrounded by Thousand Hills State Park, Kirksville has no shortage of recreational opportunities and breathtaking natural beauty. However, it’s the scenic spot’s small footprint (14 square miles) and abundance of attractions that make it one of Missouri’s most walkable cities. There’s a lot of history in Kirksville, with the free self-guided audio tour of the Kirksville Historic Site offering walking/biking access to more than 100 attractions in and around the area. The tour’s Kirksville locations include attractions such as the Adair County Historical Society Museum, the Battle of Kirksville & Forest Llewellyn Cemetery, and the Ruth Towne Museum at Truman University.

Kirksville also has its share of outdoor activities. City parks such as Patryla Park and Spur Pond, Rotary Park and Memorial Park each offer different recreational options, while the city’s walking and biking trail connects many of the other parks and attractions around the central business district. Located in nearby Thousand Hills State Park, Forest Lake is just two miles from Kirksville and offers swimming, boating, and fishing. Kirkwood also has plans to supplement existing trails with new access points that connect directly to Thousand Hills, an ongoing project that will make the city even more walkable in the future.

Ste. Genevieve

The County Clerk Building in Ste.  Genevieve, Missouri, USA
The County Clerk Building in Ste. Genevieve, Missouri, USA

With just over 5,000 inhabitants, Ste. Genevieve is the epitome of small-town fun in Missouri. The oldest permanent European settlement west of the Mississippi, Ste. Genevieve’s small footprint (3.9 square kilometers), abundance of history and culture, and beautiful surroundings also make it an extremely walkable place to visit. Experience living history in Ste. The various sites in Genevieve’s National Historic District honor France’s colonial past, including the Center for French Colonial Life and the House of Guibourd-Vallé. Events such as the annual French Heritage Festival and the Holiday Christmas Festival also help celebrate the city’s rich heritage.

A backdrop to the legendary culture, Ste. Genevieve’s natural landscape is also an integral part of its identity. They are all within walking distance and scenic spots such as the Ste. Genevieve Levee Wildlife Refuge and Lake Audubon, Pickle Springs Natural Area, and Hickory Canyons Natural Area offer both outdoor recreation and some of the area’s most breathtaking scenery. The picture-perfect city is also home to the Ste. Geneviève-Modoc Ferry, also known as “The French Connection,” provides access to even more attractions, state parks and historic sites in Southern Illinois. With its small size and abundance of diverse destinations, Ste. Genevieve’s is undoubtedly one of Missouri’s most walkable small towns.

The walkable treasures of Missouri’s small towns are vibrant destinations packed with history, culture and outdoor recreation. Spread across the beautiful Show Me State, these diverse communities offer numerous must-see attractions that are easily accessible and pedestrian-friendly. From historic sites and state parks to scenic hiking trails and unique cultural attractions, these small, walkable towns are bursting with Midwestern hospitality and have something for everyone looking for a relaxing getaway.