This year was our first ever Discover the Best of Missouri Life Awards and we received over 800 nominations! Turns out, our readers love the Show-Me State as much as we do. After counting the more than 35,000 votes, the winners are in, and we have so many places featured that you must visit in 2020. From museums and bakeries to shopping spots and small towns, discover the best!


Mike Langille, winner of best photographer


WINNER: Mike Langille, Hermann RUNNER UP: Aaron Fuhrman, Missouri Division of Tourism

Concert Hall

WINNER: Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, Kansas City RUNNER UP: Starlight Theatre, Kansas City

Concert Venue

WINNER: Starlight Theatre, Kansas City RUNNER UP: JQH Arena, Springfield


WINNER: Louis Darby

Family Show

WINNER: Sight & Sound Theatres, Branson RUNNER UP: The Wizard of Oz at Starlight, Kansas City

Glass Blower

WINNER: Astral Glass Studio, New Haven

Art Gallery

WINNER: Saint Louis Art Museum RUNNER UP: University of Central Missouri Gallery of Art and Design, Warrensburg

St. Louis Art Museum

Historical Museum

WINNER: National Churchill Museum, Fulton RUNNER UP: Missouri History Museum, St. Louis

Little Theater

WINNER: Corbin Theatre Co., Liberty RUNNER UP: Arrow Rock Lyceum Theatre

Movie Theater

WINNER: B&B Theatres Liberty Cinema 12 RUNNER UP: Walt Theatre, New Haven


WINNER: Adam Long

Best Kept Secret

WINNER: Stone Hill Winery, Hermann RUNNER UP: Riverside Park Amphitheater, Jefferson City

Photo courtesy Stone Hill Winery.

Music Festival

WINNER: Roots Blues N BBQ Festival, Columbia RUNNER UP: MO Jazz Music Festival, Columbia

Natural History Museum

WINNER: Top of the Rock, Ridgedale RUNNER UP: Mastodon State Historic Site, Imperial

Outdoor Festival

WINNER: Missouri State Fair, Sedalia RUNNER UP: Art in the Park and MO Jazz Music Festival, Columbia

Outdoor Theatre

WINNER: Starlight Theatre, Kansas City RUNNER UP: The Muny, St. Louis

Visual Artist

WINNER: Doug Hall RUNNER UP: Carolyn Linton


Photo courtesy Missouri Botanical Garden


WINNER: Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis RUNNER UP: Powell Gardens, Kansas City’s Botanical Garden

Bed and Breakfast

WINNER: The Branson House RUNNER UP:The Inn At Harbour Ridge, Osage Beach

Boat Put In/Access

WINNER: Aunts Creek Park Coe, Reeds Spring

Boutique Hotel

WINNER: Moonrise Hotel, St. Louis RUNNER UP: Hotel Vandivort, Springfield

Charity Event

WINNER: Cork, Fork, & Brews Event for Boys and Girls Club, Jefferson City RUNNER UP: Uncorked Wine Festival, Independence

College Game Day

WINNER: Mizzou

Farmer’s Market

WINNER: Soulard Farmers Market, St. Louis RUNNER UP: City Market, Kansas City


WINNER: Big Cedar Lodge, Ridgedale RUNNER UP: Chase Park Plaza Hotel, St. Louis

Interpretive Center

WINNER: Daniel Boone Home National Historic Site, Defiance RUNNER UP: George Washington Carver National Monument, Diamond

Best Kept Secret

WINNER: Onondaga Cave State Park, Leasburg RUNNER UP: World Bird Sanctuary, Valley Park

Local Actor

WINNER: Scott Bacula RUNNER UP: Lorry Myers

Motorcycle Route

WINNER: Route 66

The steel bridge along old Route 66 at Devil’s Elbow in Pulaski County Missouri.

Rest Stop

WINNER: Conway Official Missouri Welcome Center RUNNER UP: I-44 Missouri

Roller Coaster

WINNER: Silver Dollar City, Branson RUNNER UP: The Mamba at Worlds of Fun, Kansas City

Route 66 Location

WINNER: Devil’s Elbow RUNNER UP: Donut Drive In, St. Louis


WINNER: Stockton Lake RUNNER UP: Sunnen Lake Road

Scenic Spot

WINNER: Maramec Springs Park, St. James RUNNER UP: National WWI Museum and Memorial, Kansas City


WINNER: The Elms Hotel & Spa, Excelsior Springs RUNNER UP: Natural Connections Day Spa, Jefferson City

Special Event Farm

WINNER: Pete’s Pumpkin Patch, Rolla RUNNER UP: Rutledge-Wilson Farm Community Park, Springfield

Stretch of Highway

WINNER: Route 66 RUNNER UP: Highway 19


WINNER: City Museum, St. Louis RUNNER UP: Homegrown Farm Tour, Potosi

Travel Stop

WINNER: Union Station, Kansas City RUNNER UP: Conway Official Missouri Welcome Center

Best U Pick Farm

WINNER: Historic Weston Orchard & Vineyard, Weston RUNNER UP: Persimmon Hill Farm, Lampe

Waterpark Ride

WINNER: White Water, Branson RUNNER UP: Pipeline Plunge at White Water, Branson



WINNER: Green Truck Bakery, Warrensburg RUNNER UP: Missouri Baking Co, St. Louis


WINNER: Ophelia’s, Independence RUNNER UP: Golden Corral, Various locations


WINNER: Hunan Restaurant, Jefferson City RUNNER UP: China Town Chinese Restaurant, Camdenton


WINNER: Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, Various locations RUNNER UP: Bissinger’s Handcrafted Chocolatier, St. Louis

Destination Restaurant

WINNER: Fulton Cafe RUNNER UP: Sybill’s Saint James


WINNER: Broadway Diner, Columbia RUNNER UP: Charlie Gitto’s On the Hill, St. Louis


WINNER: LaMar’s Donuts and Coffee, Various locations RUNNER UP: Donut Drive In, St. Louis

Food Truck

WINNER: Ozark Mountain Biscuit Company, Columbia RUNNER UP: KC Fooditude, Kansas City


WINNER: Arian Dreshaj, Luigis RUNNER UP: Mark Marsten, Sybill’s St. James


Fried Chicken

WINNER: Claysville Store RUNNER UP: Rc’s Restaurant & Lounge


WINNER: Fulton Cafe, LLC8 RUNNER UP: Heroes Restaurant & Pub, West Pine Street, Warrensburg

Hot Dog

WINNER: Hotdog Man, Washington RUNNER UP: Up Dog, Independence


WINNER: Jack Stack Barbecue – Freight House, Kansas City RUNNER UP: Arthur Bryant’s Barbeque, Kansas City

Best Kept Secret

WINNER: Fulton Cafe RUNNER UP: Main Street Cafe, Salem

Kid-Friendly Restaurant

WINNER: Lambert’s Cafe, Various locations RUNNER UP: Bandana’s Bar-B-Q, Various locations

Noodle House Restaurant

WINNER: Lulu’s Thai Noodle Shop, Kansas City RUNNER UP: J Vietnamese Cafe, Jefferson City

Outdoor Patio

WINNER: The Lavender Tea Room, Carrollton RUNNER UPS: Canterbury Hill Winery and Restaurant, Holts Summit and Madison’s Cafe, Jefferson City

Best Roadside BBQ

WINNER: Lutz’s BBQ, Columbia and Jefferson City RUNNER UP: B.B.’s Lawnside BBQ, Kansas City

Best Roastery

WINNER: The Mug Coffeehouse, Excelsior Springs RUNNER UP: Classic Rock Coffee Co., Springfield

Best Soul Food

WINNER: Lambert’s Cafe, Various locations RUNNER UP: The Blue Skillet, Jefferson City

Best St. Louis Italian

WINNER: Charlie Gitto’s On the Hill RUNNER UP: Rigazzi’s

Best Steakhouse

WINNER: Raging Bull Steakhouse, Warrensburg RUNNER UP: Madison’s Cafe, Jefferson City

Best Sushi Roll

WINNER: Love Sushi, Jefferson City RUNNER UP: Mr Le’s Sushi, Kansas City

Best Taco

WINNER: Taco Republic, Kansas City RUNNER UP: Mexican Villa South, Springfield

Most Romantic Restaurant

WINNER: Luigi’s, Liberty RUNNER UP: Sybill’s Saint James


Photo courtesy Laura Ingalls Wilder Home Association Mansfield, MO.

Best Historic Home

WINNER: Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Home Visitor Center & Museum, Mansfield RUNNER UP: Bingham-Waggoner Estate, Independence

Best Architect

WINNER: George Martin

Celebrity Home

WINNER: Jack Buck, Ladue RUNNER UP: Nelly, St. Louis

Victorian Home

WINNER: Vaille Mansion, Independence

Most Notable Civil War Home

WINNER: Anderson House at Battle of Lexington State Historic Site RUNNER UP: The John Wornall House Museum, Kansas City


Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Dive Bar

WINNER: Kelly’s Westport Inn, Kansas City RUNNER UP: Broadway Oyster Bar, St. Louis


WINNER: 3 Trails Brewing, Independence RUNNER UP: Weston Brewing Co


WINNER: Oh Sweet Mystery of Life at Last I’ve Found You at Madison’s Cafe, Jefferson City RUNNER UP: TikiCat, Kansas City

Cocktail Bar

WINNER: TikiCat, Kansas City RUNNER UP: Moonrise Hotel, St. Louis


WINNER: Pinckney Bend Distillery, New Haven RUNNER UP: Evansfield Distillery, Independence

Historic Tavern

WINNER: J Huston Tavern, Arrow Rock RUNNER UP: O’Malley’s Pub, Weston


WINNER: Trop Top, Mother’s Brewing, Springfield RUNNER UP: Green Ghost IPA, Springfield Brewing Company

Best Kept Secret

WINNER: Independence Uncorked Wine Festival RUNNER UP: Martin Brothers Winery | Martin Brothers Mead, Hermann


WINNER: Oh Sweet Mystery of Life at Last I’ve Found You, Madison’s Cafe, Jefferson City RUNNER UP: Bartolino’s Osteria, St. Louis


WINNER: Stone Hill Winery, Hermann RUNNER UP: Balducci Vineyards, Augusta


WINNER: St. James Winery

Tap Room

WINNER: 3 Trails Brewing, Independence RUNNER UP: Civil Life Brewing Co., St. Louis

White Wine

WINNER: Adam Puchta Winery, Hermann RUNNER UP: St. James Winery


WINNER: Adam Puchta, Hermann RUNNER UP: Stone Hill Winery, Hermann


Homecoming at Mizzou. Photo courtesy University of Missouri.

College Tradition

WINNER: Homecoming at Mizzou RUNNER UP: St. Pat’s Celebration at Missouri S&T

Haunted House

WINNER: Lemp Mansion, St. Louis RUNNER UP: Pythian Castle, Springfield

Best Known Missouri Family

WINNER: Truman RUNNER UP: The Busch Family

Best Missouri Tall Tale

WINNER: MoMo RUNNER UP: Lovers Leap, Mina Sauk Falls

Best Re-enactor

WINNER: Richard Garey’s Mark Twain Live, Hannibal RUNNER UP: Barney Combs

Best Kept Secret

WINNER: St. Charles Legends and Lanterns Halloween Celebration RUNNER UP: 1859 Jail ghost tours, Independence

Most Famous Missouri Athlete

WINNER: Stan Musial, St. Louis Cardinals RUNNER UP: Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs

Stan Musial. Photo courtesy Bowman Gum.

Most Notorious Outlaw-Missourian

WINNER: Jesse James Notable Historical Hotel WINNER: The Elms Hotel & Spa, Excelsior Springs RUNNER UP: Chase Park Plaza Hotel, St. Louis

Notable Military Figure

WINNER: General Pershing RUNNER UP: Omar Bradley

Weirdest Name

WINNER: Tightwad, Missouri RUNNER UP: Fonnie Johnson


Meramec Caverns

Unique Caverns

WINNER: Meramec Caverns, Sullivan RUNNER UP: Onondaga Cave State Park, Leasburg

Best Float Trip Outfitter

WINNER: Bass’ River Resort, Steelville RUNNER UP: Windy’s Canoe Rentals, Eminence

Hiking Trail

WINNER: Ha Ha Tonka State Park, Camdenton RUNNER UP: Katy Trail


WINNER: St. Francis River

Best Kept Secret

WINNER: Springfield Botanical Gardens RUNNER UP: Papa’s Cat Cafe, Columbia

Rock Climbing

WINNER: Huzzah Conservation Area, Bourbon

RV Spot

WINNERS: Cottonwoods RV Park, Columbia and Happy Trails RV Park LLC, Phillipsburg

State Park

WINNER: Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park, Middle Brook RUNNER UP: Bennett Spring State Park, Lebanon

Johnson Shut-Ins

Best Stretch on the Katy Trail

WINNER: Rocheport RUNNER UP: Jefferson City, MO to Rocheport

Bicycle Rental

WINNER: Jefferson City, City of Jefferson Bikes and Scooters

Bike Route

WINNER: Katy Trail State Park RUNNER UP: Katy Trail, Rocheport

Trail System

WINNER: Burr Oak Woods Nature Center, Blue Springs RUNNER UP: Ozark Trail

Best Running Trail

WINNER: Katy Trail, anywhere RUNNER UP: Castlewood State Park, Ballwin


Downtown Liberty

Shopping District

WINNER: Historic Downtown Liberty, Inc RUNNER UP: Branson Landing

Amish Store

WINNER: Dutch Bakery and Bulk Food Store, LLC, Tipton RUNNER UP: Meadowview Dutch Market, Tunas

Country Store

WINNER: Crane’s Country Store, Williamsburg RUNNER UP: Old Village Mercantile, Caledonia


WINNER: Kas A Designs, Jefferson City RUNNER UP: Becraft Jewelers, Moberly

Best Motorcycle Dealer

WINNER: Ozark Harley-Davidson, Lebanon RUNNER UP: Larry’s Motor Sports, Jefferson City

Best Kept Secret

WINNER: More Excuses Boutique, Liberty RUNNER UP: Dick’s 5 & 10, Branson

Outdoor Clothing Store

WINNER: Bass Pro Shops, Various locations

Outdoor Gear Shop

WINNER: Rogers Sporting Goods, Kansas City and Liberty RUNNER UP: Bass Pro Shops, Various locations

Outlet Mall

WINNER: Tanger Outlets, Branson RUNNER UP: Osage Beach Outlet Marketplace

Quilt Shops

WINNER: Quilting Is My Therapy, Liberty RUNNER UP: Hamilton, Multiple quilt shops

RV Dealer

WINNER: Happy Trails RV Center & American Dream Vacations Missouri, Phillipsburg


Best Small Town Shopping

WINNER: Weston RUNNER UP: Sybill’s Antiques and Fine Gifts

College in a Small Town

WINNER: Westminster College

Historic Small Town

WINNER: Hermann RUNNER UP: Weston

Best Kept Secret

WINNER: Sybill’s Saint James RUNNER UP: Rocheport

Small Town Art Gallery

WINNER: Columbia Art League RUNNER UP: Gary Lucy Gallery, Washington


WINNER: Sybill’s Saint James RUNNER UP: Hermann, MO

Best Small Town Newspaper

WINNER: The Examiner, Independence RUNNER UP: Joplin News

Best Small Town Sports Team

WINNER: Springfield Cardinals RUNNER UP: Camdenton Lakers

Friendliest Small Town

WINNER: St. James RUNNER UP: Weston

Most Unusual Business in a Small Town

WINNER: Bratcher Cooperage & Gifts, Liberty RUNNER UP: Missouri Meerschaum Corn Cob Pipe Museum and Retail Shoppe, Washington