17 Most Unique Places in Missouri For Unforgettable Experiences

Welch Spring and Hospital Ruins in rural Missouri
© Sandra Sapp/iStock via Getty Images

Written by Jennifer Geer

Published: November 1, 2023

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Missouri’s top attractions include popular destinations such as the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, the Ozark town of Branson, and the St. Louis Zoo. But this list is not about the sights everyone has heard of. This is a list of attractions that are a bit more off the beaten path. Listed in no particular order, read on to discover the 17 most unique places in Missouri offering truly unforgettable adventures.

1. SubTropolis — Kansas City

Subtropolis, underground business complex in Kansas City, MO

Subtropolis is a 55,000-square-foot underground business complex. Here, thousands of people work each day along the seven miles of lighted roads and several miles of railroad track.

©ErgoSum88 / Public domain

Hiding underground above the popular Kansas City amusement park, Worlds Of Fun, is an abandoned salt mine. Repurposed as the world’s largest underground business complex. SubTropolis is a 55,000,000 square foot manmade cave built within a 270 million-year-old limestone deposit. The cost-efficient space stays a comfortable, humidity-free temperature of around 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit year-round. 

Open to the public, you can drive your car through the spacious, paved roads underground during open hours and see the complex for yourself. Rent is cheap. Whether it’s food or technology products, U.S. Post Office stamps, or even iconic Hollywood movies (The Wizard of Oz is kept here), the products underground in SubTropolis are kept in a safe, climate-controlled environment without the need for air conditioning.

2. Precious Moments Chapel and Gardens — Carthage

The fountain show at the Precious Moments Park, in Carthage, Missouri.

Precious Moments Museum and Gardens in Carthage is a little-known tourist attraction located in the Missouri Ozarks.

©Eric Mueller from Los Angeles, California, USA CC BY-SA 2.0 – Original / License

This unique place in Missouri tops our list at number two. The collectible porcelain Precious Moments Figurines have been around since 1978. The collection is now in the thousands, with new figurines introduced each year. But few people know that Precious Moments also has a theme park located in Missouri. 

The Precious Moments Chapel and Gardens in Carthage is open to the public and free of charge. The chapel is brimming with colorful stained-glass murals. The gardens contain walking paths, fountains, shaded picnic benches, and a lush landscape. A highlight of the chapel is the European Village, complete with cobblestone streets, faux shop fronts, and life-size figurines.

3. Red Oak II — Carthage

A Buick sits in front of a red building in Red Oak II in Jasper County, Missouri

Relive the past in the unique Red Oak II in Carthage, MO, just off Route 66.

©Mobilus In Mobili / CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED – Original / License

If you’ve stopped to see the Precious Moments Chapel and Gardens in Carthage, you may as well make time to stop at this relocated and completely renovated ghost town. A former resident of Red Oak, artist Lowell Davis, visited his old town in the 1970s. What he found was an abandoned ghost town. Davis was inspired and had some of the old buildings and homes relocated to his farm, which he named Red Oak II.

Today, Red Oak II is a unique stop along Route 66 that makes you feel like you’ve stepped into an idyllic 1950s town. Unlike the typical ghost town with dilapidated structures, these buildings have been painstakingly renovated. Some of the attractions include an old schoolhouse, a jail, an iconic Phillips 66 station, a train car diner, and much more. 

4. Glore Psychiatric Museum — St. Joseph

A giant hamster-like wooden treadmill on display at Glore Psychiatric Hospital in St. Joseph, MO

A giant hamster-like wooden treadmill was used to “treat” mental patients at the Missouri State Lunatic Asylum No. 2. Today, it’s on display along with other mental health devices at the Glore Psychiatric Museum.

©David Becker / CC BY 2.0 – Original / License

A decidedly more macabre entry on this list is the Glore Psychiatric Museum in St. Joseph. Here, visitors can learn the history behind some of the most brutal treatments ever to happen to mental patients in American history. Today, the museum details the history of treatment for the mentally ill.

Opened in 1874, the Missouri State Lunatic Asylum No. 2 used some questionable mental health devices to treat patients. Some of these include a giant wooden treadmill, a “Lunatic Box,” a “Tranquilizer Chair,” and many more “treatments” that will make anyone relieved that mental health care has come a long way since the 1800s. The Glore Museum is part of St. Joseph Museums, Inc., which includes the Black Archives Museum, Doll Museum, and Native American and History Galleries.

5. Nuclear Waste Adventure Trail — St. Charles

Nuclear energy radioactive round yellow symbol on asphalt texture

Climb the staircase up the Nuclear Waste Adventure Trail, otherwise known as the Weldon Spring Site Disposal Cell.

©fongfong2/iStock via Getty Images

If you’ve ever wanted to climb a hill of nuclear waste, now’s your chance. The Nuclear Waste Adventure Trail is an unlikely spot for a nature walk, and yet, many tourists visit it to climb a staircase leading up the 75-foot-tall pile. A Cold War-era uranium refinery, the site was abandoned in 1966 and cleaned up by the U.S. government 20 years later. Underneath the manmade mountain, covered up by rocks, is TNT, mercury, asbestos, radioactive uranium, and radium. 

It’s officially known as the Weldon Spring Site Remedial Action Project Disposal Cell. Stop in at the visitors center to learn all about this unique attraction in Missouri.

6. Bat Bar in Lost Canyon Cave — Ridgedale

Daubentons bat (Myotis daubentonii) flying on attic of house

Only in Missouri can you have a cocktail inside of a mountaintop cave filled with bats.

©Rudmer Zwerver/Shutterstock.com

This unique place is a bar next to a waterfall, inside of a mountaintop cave where bats live. You need to ride a golf cart to get there. The Bat Bar in Lost Canyon Cave is at the end of a 2.5-mile golf cart tour that takes visitors through a scenic trail of waterfalls, unusual rock formations, and a view of Table Rock Lake.

Located inside Big Cedar Lodge in Ridgedale, tickets can be purchased in advance. Other things to do inside Big Cedar Lodge include swimming, golf, fishing, yoga, and clay shooting lessons.

7. Leila’s Hair Museum — Independence

Shadow box framed hair wreath incorporating locks of hair of several prominent Southern men, mostly Confederate officers of the Civil War.

Hair art, including wreaths made of hair locks, dried flowers, and jewelry, was popular in the Victorian era.

©Laura S. Davis / Public domain – Original / License

Hair was a big deal in the Victorian era. It wasn’t unusual to have locks of hair crafted into artwork such as wreaths or other keepsakes. At Leila’s Hair Museum in Independence, visitors can tour an unusual display of over 400 wreaths and 2,000 pieces of jewelry made from human hair. Learn all about the Victorian hair obsession at this fascinating museum. 

Be sure to check ahead before going. At the time of this writing, Leila’s Hair Museum was closed. However, the museum’s Facebook page states they will reopen soon by appointment only. 

8. Uranus Fudge Factory and General Store — St. Robert

Colorful sign for Uranus Fudge Factory in St. Robert, Missouri.

Uranus Fudge Factory and General Store in St. Robert is a great place to stop if you’re craving something sweet.

©Adventuregirlkat / CC BY-SA 4.0 – Original / License

Another spot on our list that can be reached off of the iconic Route 66 is a very quirky candy shop and general store. The Uranus Fudge Factory and General Store sells, of course, fudge. Some of the many flavors include chocolate, toffee, blueberry cheesecake, raspberry vanilla, and maple walnut. The general store sells a variety of merchandise, including plenty of Route 66 collectibles. 

9. Ghost Tour at the Abandoned Missouri State Penitentiary – Jefferson City

Abandoned Missouri State Penitentiary - Jefferson City

Three deadly riots occurred during the years the Missouri State Penitentiary was in operation. 

©Unknown Author / Public Domain – Original / License

In Jefferson City, there is a creepy abandoned state penitentiary that is sometimes called “The Walls.” In Operation from 1836 to 2004, the Missouri State Penitentiary is alleged to be haunted. Today, guided tours are available of the eerie historic landmark. A formerly violent and tragic place, you can choose whether you’d like a ghost, history, or photography tour. Guides will take you through the housing units, the upper yard, and the gas chamber. Check ahead as reservations must be made in advance.

10. Lemp Mansion Restaurant & Inn — St. Louis

Allegedly haunted Lemp Mansion in St. Louis, Missouri

Today, the allegedly haunted Lemp Mansion in St. Louis has been restored as a restaurant and inn.

©MattHucke, CC BY 3.0 – Original / License

The history of Lemp Mansion is a complex and tragic tale. It was once home to a prosperous, but unfortunate family, plagued by tragedies. Today, visitors and staff members report ghostly hauntings and spooky vibes at the mansion. You can see for yourself by eating at the restaurant, taking haunted tours, or even staying overnight in one of the cozy, but spooky, bedrooms.

11. Where Pigs Fly Farm & Pigs Aloft Museum — Linne



This unique Missouri attraction is the only pig museum in the United States. Even more than a museum, Where Pigs Fly Farm & Pigs Aloft Museum has lodging for visitors to stay overnight. The farm boasts 62.7 acres and hundreds of rescued farm animals. Beyond pigs, some of the rescue animals include horses, cows, goats, sheep, and chickens. If you stay overnight, be sure to dress casually. You may get to help feed and water the animals in the morning.

12. Bonne Terre Mine — Bonne Terre 

"Safety" sign outside the giftshop in Bonne Terre Mine, Missouri

Bonne Terre Mine is a flooded abandoned mine where today, guests can view the old mine shafts via walking, boat tours, or scuba diving.

©ASerge Melki from Indianapolis, USA / CC BY 2.0 – Original / License

The Bonne Terre Mine was the world’s largest producer of lead ore until it closed in 1962. Today, tours are available of the five-level mine. Guests can take guided tours on the two upper levels along the old mule trails. The lower levels are completely submerged in water. Boat tours are available and provide extraordinary views of the abandoned mine shafts below. Open water-certified divers can explore even further underwater.

13. Elephant Rocks State Park — Belleview

Elephant rocks trail

Climb the 1.5 billion-year-old granite elephant-shaped boulders in Elephant Rocks State Park in Belleview, MO.

©Fredlyfish4, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons – Original / License

An unusual park, Elephant Rocks State Park in Belleview is home to a natural display of 1.5 billion-year-old giant granite boulders. Looking like a train of circus elephants, these massive rocks are fascinating for history buffs and kids who like to climb. The 137-acre park offers hiking trails, picnicking, and fishing for bluegill in the nearby quarry. If you forgot to pack a lunch, be sure to grab a bite from a food truck on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday from 10 AM to 4 PM.

14. Ha Ha Tonka Castle Ruins — Camdenton

Ruins at Ha Ha Tonka State Park in Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri

Explore the ruins of an abandoned castle in Ha Ha Tonka State Park in Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri.

©Melissa Kopka/iStock via Getty Images

Another intriguing state park on our most unique places list includes the Ha Ha Tonka Castle Ruins in Camdenton, MO, inside the Ha Ha Tonka State Park. Kansas City businessman Robert Snyder once dreamt of a European castle in his home state of Missouri and began working on his dream in 1905. He was tragically killed before construction was complete. However, his sons continued his dream and finished the building in 1920. Destroyed by a fire in the 1940s, today visitors can explore what remains behind.    

Besides the castle ruins, visitors to the park can hike along the trails and boardwalks, have a picnic, see a natural bridge, and view the gorgeous sheer bluffs. 

15. The Joplin Spook Light — Joplin

Beautiful view of train tracks leading into Joplin Missouri


Viewing this next sight will take both patience and luck. A mysterious orange orb of light has been reported as being seen multiple times along a four-mile gravel road in Joplin. Near Joplin, west of the tiny town of Hornet, is where this well-known phenomenon is said to occur.

It’s known by many names, including the Joplin Spooklight, the Hornet Ghost Light, the Devil’s Jack-O-Lantern, and the Ozark Spook Light. Possible explanations include reflected car lights, luminescence created by rotting organic matter, or escaping natural gas. However, nobody has found the source yet. To watch for the orb, you must go at night down Spooklight Road, eleven miles west of Joplin, past the village of Hornet, and then wait to see if the light appears for you.

16. Welch Spring Hospital Ruins — Jadwin

Welch Spring and Hospital Ruins in rural Missouri

The Welch Spring Trail, near Jadwin, MO, takes hikers past a unique place in Missouri. A picturesque spring and the old ruins of a hospital, or health spa, built in the early 1900s.

©Sandra Sapp/iStock via Getty Images

short hiking trail in Missouri leads to the unexpected, the ruins of a hospital. The hospital has long since been abandoned but was once a hospital built near the healing waters of Welch Spring. In the early 1900s, Dr. C.H. Diehl opened Welch Spring Hospital, believing the spring water contained healing properties. In reality, the hospital was more of a health spa. The benefits the hospital offered were the healing spring waters and cool pollen-free air of the nearby cave.

However, the hospital never had much success due to its inaccessibility on the remote and unpaved Missouri roads. Today, a one-mile hike through a scenic forest lets visitors see the crumbling stone hospital built near the bubbling spring.

17. The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures — Kansas City

Kansas City: National Museum of Toys and Miniatures

The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures in Kansas City is home to beautifully crafted, tiny replicas.

©Anthony G. Reyes / CC BY-ND 2.0 – Original / License

Last, but certainly not least on our list is Kansas City’s National Museum of Toys and Miniatures. This is the place to go for dollhouse enthusiasts.

The museum boasts the world’s largest public collection of fine-scale miniatures. Tour the miniature galleries and see fully furnished tiny houses complete with mini figures. The details in each exhibit are mind-boggling. 

Summary of the 17 Most Unique Places in Missouri

1SubtropolisKansas City, MO
2Precious Moments Chapel and GardensCarthage, MO
3Red Oak IICarthage, MO
4Glore Psychiatric MuseumSt. Joseph, MO
5Nuclear Waste Adventure TrailSt. Charles, MO
6Bat Bar in Lost Canyon CaveRidgedale, MO
7Leila’s Hair MuseumIndependence, MO
8Uranus Fudge Factory and General StoreSt. Robert, MO
9Abandoned Missouri State PenitentiaryJefferson City, MO
10Lemp Mansion Restaurant & InnSt. Louis, MO
11Where Pigs Fly Farm & Pigs Aloft MuseumLinne, MO
12Bonne Terre MineBonne Terre, MO
13Elephant Rocks State ParkBelleview, MO
14Ha Ha Tonka Castle RuinsCamdenton, MO
15The Joplin SpooklightJoplin, MO
16Welch Spring Hospital RuinsJadwin, MO
17National Museum of Toys and MiniaturesKansas City, MO

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About the Author

Jennifer Geer is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on animals, news topics, travel, and weather. Jennifer holds a Master's Degree from the University of Tulsa, and she has been researching and writing about news topics and animals for over four years. A resident of Illinois, Jennifer enjoys hiking, gardening, and caring for her three pugs.

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