A Memorial Day weekend getaway in Missouri puts you and your family in the heart of summer’s kickoff. The holiday marks the season when theme parks in Branson officially open, and festivals in St. Louis are plentiful. Look forward to enjoying a swim in Tablerock Lake, and boating the waters of the Lake of the Ozarks. Book a stay at one of numerous Missouri vacation rentals for your upcoming Memorial Day weekend trip. Consider these nine cities when determining the best place to rest and relax over the long weekend.

1. Kansas City

Kansas City is known for its barbecue, and Memorial Day weekend is the perfect time to savor some ribs or brisket at Jack Stack Barbecue and Arthur Bryant’s. This lively Missouri city offers plenty of family-friendly attractions, too, with the Worlds of Fun Theme Park, and the Kansas City Zoo. Get in some of the nightlife on your long weekend retreat in the Light District, or browse the masterpieces at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. A vacation rental in Kansas City over Memorial Day weekend also gives you a chance to see the annual Celebration at the Station, a free performance by the Kansas City Symphony.

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2. Hermann

Spend your Memorial Day weekend in Missouri’s wine country with a vacation rental in Herman. Spend a weekend afternoon at the Stone Hill Winery, or sample the Chardonnay at the Oak Glenn Vineyard and Winery. This German town is home to the Deutschheim State Historic Site and the Historic Hermann Museum, all open over the holiday weekend. Don’t miss out on tapping your toes at the Memorial Day Concert of the Hermann City Band.

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3. Lake of the Ozarks

Kick off the start of the summer season on a kayak, tube, or boat right on the Lake of the Ozarks when you make this thriving tourist city your vacation destination for Memorial Day weekend. Lake of the Ozarks features vacation rentals with balconies overlooking the lake, or you can choose to get right on the water with a boat tour from Iguana Watersports. Let the kids try their hand at putt-putt golf or skeeball when you venture to the Bagnell Dam Strip. Head to the Lodge of the Four Seasons on weekend evenings to see the Memorial Day weekend fireworks display.

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4. Hannibal

Indulge the history buffs in your family when you make Hannibal your vacation destination for Memorial Day weekend. The city is home to the Cameron Cave, Mark Twain Cave, and the Mark Twain Memorial Lighthouse, as well as the childhood home of Mark Twain. After learning about Twain’s accomplishments and childhood, treat the kids to a stop in at the Big River Train Town Museum and Show. Since May is the official kickoff to summer, make a splash while dipping your toes in the Mississippi River or take a jaunt on the water on board the Mark Twain Riverboat Cruise.

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5. Columbia

Once the spring semester ends at the University of Missouri, the college town of Columbia offers attractions without the crowds over Memorial Day weekend. Take part in the city’s annual Salute to Veteran’s Memorial Day Weekend Celebration, which includes a parade in the downtown area and a two-day air show at the Columbia Regional Airport. Get out and about while enjoying the cool May Missouri weather with a hike on the trails of Rock Bridge Memorial State Park, or make your weekend trip educational with stops in at the Museum of Anthropology or the Museum of Art and Archaeology.

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6. Branson

Most of the outdoor attractions in Branson officially open over Memorial Day weekend, giving you a chance to get wet and wild at White Water Branson or ride the coasters at Silver Dollar City Theme Park. Don’t miss out on a chance to see the exhibits at the Titanic Museum, and get ready for out-of-this-world sights at the Ripley’s Believe It or Not museum. When you want to kick back and tap your toes, reserve a table at the Dixie Stampede dinner theatre. Branson is also situated right along Tablerock Lake, so you and the kids can fish on a sunny afternoon or tube down the lake with rentals from Kayak Branson.

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7. St. Charles

Get in some rest and relaxation with a vacation rental in the quaint town of St. Charles, which features cobblestone-lined streets in the downtown area. Shop away the afternoon in the antique shops on Main Street, or head to the Historic Frenchtown District for even more specialty shops. Honor local veterans when you attend the annual Veteran’s Memorial Service at St. Charles Memorial Gardens before setting out to see the sights the city has to offer, such as the Lewis and Clark Boat House and Nature Center. You can also chow down on some barbecue at Firebirds Wood Fired Grill on a weekend evening.

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8. Carthage

If a small-town experience is what you’re looking for, then Carthage is the place to visit. This Missouri city is home to historical attractions, including Victorian architecture that spans across four districts, with 600 homes listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. The warm May weather over Memorial Day weekend offers the perfect opportunity to visit the artists’ colony of Red Oaks or the Precious Moments Chapel and Art Gallery. After a day of exploring the history, stop in at Big Ben’s BBQ Station for some Midwestern barbecue before heading to Carthage Municipal Park for a Memorial Day fireworks display.

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9. St. Louis

Known as the Gateway to the West, St. Louis prides itself on entertaining and historical attractions, such as the St. Louis Arch and the Muny outdoor theatre in Forest Park. Over Memorial Day weekend, this big city hosts several festivals, including the Gypsy Caravan Flea Market, the Spring to Dance Festival, the St. Louis African Arts Festival, and the St. Louis Scott Gallagher Gateway Memorial Classic Soccer Tournament. Stop in at Anheuser Busch to sample the brews and let the kids see the Clydesdale horses, or wander through the Missouri Botanical Gardens to explore its 1,200 acres of blooming plants and flowers.

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