North Missouri's Travel Sites and Tourist Destinations

The children are out of school and ready for vacation. And, quite honestly, their parents might welcome a reprieve from the daily routine, as well. Perhaps it’s time to reconnect with the family or, maybe, just get some personal time away. But where to go?
While exotic locations may pique one’s interest, the lack of time or financial resources may squelch those ideas.  
What about Missouri?  
People often turn shorter getaways to satisfy their vacation appetites. And, there’s plenty to do in Missouri.
“There are all kinds of activities and events that a family can enjoy all across Missouri, and they don’t have to spend a fortune to make that happen,” said Division of Tourism Director Katie Steele Danner.
Diverse options compete for a person’s discretionary income and leisure time, yet consumers often put vacations at the top of their “to-do” lists.
“Everybody feels they deserve a vacation,” Danner said. “They want a time to reconnect with their families or the outdoors. People are still valuing that.”
Last year, the Missouri Division of Tourism spent nearly $11 million on marketing efforts — largely focusing on residents of Missouri and those of neighboring states — promoting attractions in the metro areas as well as some of those found in outstate Missouri.
“We try to promote cultural, outdoor, sports, night life, youth activities, and family fun activities,” Danner said. “The great thing about Missouri is that you can find those types of things everywhere.”
The state’s investment appears to reap profitable returns. For every dollar invested in the state’s tourism budget, research supplied to the Division of Tourism indicates that Missouri receives $3.22 in sales tax revenue, based on 2011 figures. An estimated 36 million people visited Missouri in 2011. Based on numbers from the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, it is estimated that 281,000 Missourians are directly employed by tourism businesses.  
According to 2012 preliminary figures, the latest numbers available, the tourism industry in Missouri brought in nearly $11 billion — attributed to restaurants, lodging, commercial sports and other revenue-generating activities. The dollar amounts are calculated by the Missouri Department of Revenue in what it classifies as tourism-related Standard Industry Classification (SIC) codes.  
While St. Louis and Kansas City boast big-city attractions,   rural Missouri communities have their own unique assets.  
“They offer everything the leisure traveler is looking for,” Danner said. “There are a variety of things to do — things that are multi-generational. You can bring your parents and grandparents, your children and infants.”
Additionally, north Missouri offers what vacationers are looking for — a good affordable vacation.
In Linn County, tourism efforts are broken down to the two largest draws that the County has to offer.  In the small town of Laclede, the Boyhood Home of General John J. Pershing, stands as an official Historical Site. While approximately 15 miles east of there in Marceline is the Walt Disney Hometown Museum and Main Street USA.
The Pershing Boyhood Home is the main drawing attraction for Laclede, which boasts less than 400 residents.  Each fall, the town honors their famous son with a weekend-long affair in their park, featuring games, pageants, a play and concerts.
In Marceline, the town is certainly crazy for Walt Disney, who grew up on a farm just outside of the city limits.  The town boasts the original Main Street USA, the model for the same street in Disneyland in Anaheim California.
Also in Marceline is the Walt Disney Hometown Museum. The Museum is open seasonally, and features the story of Walt and Marceline.  Disney even has the local elementary school named in his honor, and adorned with original Disney character art in the cafeteria.

- Dustin Watson contributed to this report for the LCL