Visiting the United States? There are 50 states to see in all.

Missouri is known as the “Gateway to the West.” The famous Gateway Arch in St. Louis symbolizes the country’s expansion westward in the 1800s.

But the state is also famous for music. Ragtime was popularized here in the early 1900s, and its influences can still be found in the blues music in St. Louis and jazz in Kansas City. The city of Branson is known for country music and family fun.

U.S. map with Missouri highlighted (State Dept.)
(State Dept.)

Missouri is called the Show Me State. The expression is usually attributed to Missouri Congressman Willard Duncan Vandiver, who in 1898 said, “I am from Missouri. You have got to show me.” However the slogan originated, it has come to represent what Missourians describe as their “noncredulous character.”

Kansas City is Missouri’s largest city, on the state’s western edge straddling the border with Kansas. Don’t be confused though. Kansas also has a Kansas City — that city is much smaller and lies four miles away from Kansas City, Missouri. St. Louis is on Missouri’s eastern border with Illinois. Between both of those cities is Jefferson City, the state capital.

Ride to the top of the arch

Metal arch in sky (Courtesy of Missouri Division of Tourism)
(Courtesy photo)

Visitors can ride a tram to the top of the Gateway Arch. Made of steel and concrete, the arch stands 630 feet tall, which is 63 stories or 192 meters. The Mississippi River flows directly below the east windows of the arch. The Missouri River meets the Mississippi River about 15 miles north of the arch.

All that jazz

Piano, saxophone and bass players on stage in club (Courtesy of American Jazz Museum)
(Courtesy photo)

Four nights a week, the Blue Room looks like a 1930s nightclub and resonates with the sounds of Kansas City jazz. During the day it’s part of the American Jazz Museum, located in the historic 18th & Vine Jazz District in Kansas City.

Ragtime music is celebrated every June during the weeklong Scott Joplin Ragtime Festival in Sedalia. Joplin, an African-American composer and pianist, wasn’t born in Sedalia, but he did attend college there and met the musical influences that would shape him and this genre of music.

A little bit country and wholesome fun

Woman serving food to customer across counter (Courtesy of Missouri Division of Tourism)
(Courtesy photo)

Branson, in southwest Missouri, is known as the family-friendly alternative to Las Vegas, as the town has nearly 100 live music shows. Like Vegas, Branson has a “strip,” but here it has developed to be more welcoming to children, with Silver Dollar City, an 1800s-themed amusement park. Also in Branson: Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede dinner theater, which includes 32 horses and riders doing trick riding.

The famed Budweiser Clydesdales

Large horses standing along fence (Courtesy of Missouri Division/Anheuser-Busch)
(Courtesy photo)

Missouri is home to one of the world’s most famous teams of horses: the Budweiser Clydesdales. Check out their gilded stables at the Anheuser-Busch brewery in St. Louis as well as at Warm Springs Ranch, the 120-hectare Clydesdale breeding farm located near Boonville, Missouri.

Famous Missourians: Mark Twain and Harry Truman

Two people in historic costumes standing in brick street (Courtesy of Missouri Division of Tourism)
(Courtesy photo)

See how two of the most famous Missourians lived. Writer Mark Twain’s boyhood home and a museum dedicated to his writings are in Hannibal, about 160 kilometers northwest of St. Louis. During the summer on Friday and Saturday you may see two of Twain’s characters, Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher, strolling the grounds, dressed the way they would have in 1876, the year Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer was published.

President Harry Truman returned to the state after he left the White House in 1953. The personal home of Truman, the 33rd president of the United States, and his presidential library are both in Independence, on the outskirts of Kansas City.

Read more about Missouri and check out the other 49 states. If you need a visa to visit, here’s how to get one.