Top 10 attractions along the Missouri River Runner route

If you’re a Missouri resident or planning a trip to St. Louis or Kansas City, Amtrak’s Missouri River Runner train can provide a fun day trip or a relaxing way to travel between the two cities. There’s plenty of historic sites, landmarks and river views to enjoy along the way. To start planning your trip, view the top attractions to hop off the train for (listed in order of train stations from west to east).

1. River Market

Arabia Steamboat Museum
Paddle wheel at the Arabia Steamboat Museum. Photo by Jazz Guy/Flickr.com

The River Market neighborhood is a 10-minute walk north of the Kansas City Union Station (where Amtrak trains arrive and depart). It’s a vibrant and historic area to explore. Eat at one of the many great restaurants, shop, visit the Arabia Steamboat Museum and check out City Market, a year-round indoor farmers market on Saturday and Sunday. If you want a more formal tour of the area, check out Kansas City Walking Tours.

2. Military and War Memorials

National World War I Museum
Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

There are three major war memorial sites to visit along the Missouri River Runner route:

3. Kansas City Union Station

Union Station in Kansas City
Photo by Ron Reiring/Flickr.com

In addition to being a landmark (and beautiful) 1914 building, Kansas City’s Union Station features exhibits, a science center, planetarium, 3D movies, live theater and the Model Rail Experience. The building really is a hub for transportation, culture and entertainment that adults and kids will enjoy.

4. Harry S. Truman National Historic Site

Truman House
Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Take the Missouri River Runner to the Independence, MO stop to visit the Harry S. Truman National Historic Site. Attractions include the Truman Presidential Library and Museum, Historic Truman Courthouse and Truman Home. Plan for at least a 15-minute walk to the Truman Home (where he lived as an adult), 20 minutes to reach his childhood home and 30 minutes to reach the presidential library and museum.

5. Frontier/Pioneer Experience

Also in Independence is the National Frontier Trails Museum where you learn about how the American West was settled. There are exhibits, films and Pioneer Trail Adventures that provide tours of the area on historic wagons. For more history on movement of people across America, visit the 1879 Chicago & Alton RR Depot that is next to the museum. The depot was carefully restored both inside and out and contains railroad artifacts.

6. Missouri State Museum(s)

Missouri State Capitol and Museum
Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Catch up on your Missouri history at the Jefferson City Amtrak Station. The Missouri State MuseumLewis and Clark Monument, Jefferson Landing Historic Site and the Cole County Historical Society Museum are conveniently next to the station and highlight the natural and cultural history of Missouri. Walk a couple blocks into town to reach several highly-rated restaurants if you need a bite to eat.

7. Historic Hermann

Historic Hermann Missouri
Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Step off the train in Hermann, Missouri to experience old-world Europe. Settled by German immigrants, the town features charming brick buildings that are a part of the Deutschheim State Historic Site, and you can also visit the Historic Hermann Museum and Hermann Farm Museum. Many nearby wineries, bed and breakfast accommodations and special events also make Hermann a great Amtrak stop. Don’t miss Oktoberfest, Wine & Jazz Festival and a seasonal German Christmas market.

8. Downtown Kirkwood

Kirkwood, MO Amtrak Station
Photo by Keith Yahl

Get off Amtrak at the beautiful Kirkwood Station to enjoy a small town atmosphere in Downtown Kirkwood. There you’ll find a huge farmers market that is open daily, many restaurants, shops and special events including concerts and festivals (highlights include the Summer Concert Series, Mayfest, Route 66 Festival and the Peach Festival). Just a 45-minute train ride from downtown St. Louis, Kirkwood is a great day trip from the big city.

9. Forest Park

Missouri History Museum

Forest Park spans over 1,000 acres and contains major attractions including the St. Louis Zoo, St. Louis Art Museum, St. Louis Science Center and the Missouri History Museum. It’s not in walking distance of Amtrak, however, the Civic Center MetroLink light rail station is conveniently next to the St. Louis Amtrak station, so you can travel to Forest Park via rail in about 13 minutes.

The rail system is easy to ride and trains (on red and blue lines) are very frequent with wait times under 10 minutes. Look for the westbound train platform and take the first westbound train to the Forest Park Station. If you’re concerned about safety, most people report clean and safe experiences on Metrolink, but recommend daytime travel and sitting in the front of the train for the best experience.

To purchase fare, look for the ticket vending machines in all light rail stations. We recommend the day pass for unlimited rides, which you can also use on the trolley buses once you are inside the park (view all fares).

Tip: The Forest Park trolley buses are free on Sundays in 2018, so even if you take a Lyft or Uber ride to the park from Amtrak, you can still catch a ride for free inside the park once you’re there.

10.The Gateway Arch and Mall

St. Louis Arch
Photo by Lorie Shaull

The Gateway Arch is the landmark attraction in downtown St. Louis. A national park, the site includes a museum, tram ride to the top of the arch, “Old Courthouse” and a film. It’s a good 30-minute walk from Amtrak to the Arch, which you can shorten to 15 minutes by getting on any eastbound MetroLink train outside the St. Louis Amtrak Station. Exit at the 8th & Pine Station to reach the Arch and consider continuing eastbound before or after your Arch visit in order to go over the Mississippi River. (See why that MetroLink day pass comes in handy?)

Be sure to buy your tram tickets as far in advance as possible and check out the many events at or around the Gateway Arch, including river cruises!