Along Missouri's southern border, the state's charming small towns seem more like the state's southern neighbor, Arkansas, with flat terrain, a rural landscape and miles/kilometers of rivers and springs. As you travel north along the Mississippi River, the flatlands morph into the hillier terrain found in St. Louis and Hannibal.

Springfield, located in the southwestern part of the state, offers outdoor adventures and serves as the gateway to the Ozarks and Branson. The western part of the state seems as if it should be annexed by next-door neighbor Kansas, as Kansas City's decidedly western ambience features a cosmopolitan attitude. To the north, historic sights detail the adventures of outlaw Jesse James and the Pony Express headquarters in St. Joseph.

And with its sites related to several beloved and/or infamous figures from the nation's past—Mark Twain, Walt Disney, Scott Joplin, Harry S Truman and Jesse James—Missouri has a knack for making a vacation into a heartland pilgrimage.

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