There’s a lot to love in one short jaunt through the Missouri River Valley. This scenic ride takes motorists through an off-the-radar town that’s home to museums, music, a plethora of outdoor activities, and Missouri’s favorite wonder dog.

Don’t miss learning about Jim, the official state wonder dog, at the Jim the Wonder Dog Museum and Memorial Garden on the historic downtown square in Marshall, Missouri.
Photo by Phyllis Moore

See the Sights in Marshall, MO

The Highways: 65 Hwy, Odell St, Eastwood St, Hwy 41, Santa Fe Trail Rd, Rd 122, Rd 4251

Tucked away in the Missouri River Valley is Marshall, Missouri, a small town with big charm. This town may not be on everyone’s radar, but trust us, it’s worth a visit. Marshall is a hub for music, museums, and a plethora of outdoor activities. The area is also full of cultural heritage and history such as the Free Will Baptist Church of Pennytown, Missouri’s American Indian Cultural Center, and the Battle of Marshall Historic Site, among others.

Start by visiting the Free Will Baptist Church, which is approximately 8 miles south of Marshall on South Highway 65. It is the last standing structure from a once established black hamlet that was built in 1871 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Head north on Highway 65 and explore the Nicholas-Beazley Aviation Museum in Marshall and learn about Marshall’s rich aviation history. Set aside at least an hour to see the museum and bring the kids to the STEM center inside to experience what it’s like to fly an airplane. 

Don’t miss learning about Jim, the official state wonder dog, at the Jim the Wonder Dog Museum and Memorial Garden on the historic downtown square. Drive through Marshall’s 325-acre Indian Foothills Park and see where the Battle of Marshall took place near the exit of the park on Eastwood Street. Trace the steps of the early settlers of the Santa Fe Trail by taking Highway 41 to see the still visible and preserved wagon ruts called the Weinreich ruts. Take in Saline County’s breathtaking views of river bluffs and rolling hills that once were the home of the Missouria Indians and learn about the geology of the area and history of their tribe at Missouri’s American Indian Cultural Center. Head into the Annie and Abel Van Meter State Park and take a hike or rent a canoe or kayak for the day and enjoy some time outdoors in nature. Drive by the Henry Blosser Home on the way back to Marshall near Malta Bend and see the newly renovated 1870s estate and barn. Head to the Leaning Side Restaurant and Bar on the Marshall square and order their famous old fashioned, voted the best in the state. If you are in town for lunch, stop in at Montague’s on the square and grab a gourmet sandwich or wrap, and save room for their popular dessert options. Marshall is one of central Missouri’s best-kept secrets. For more information, visit

Points of Interest

  1. Free Will Baptist Church of Pennytown, Pennytown
  2. Nicholas-Beazley Aviation Museum, Marshall
  3. Jim the Wonder Dog Museum, Marshall
  4. The Battle of Marshall Historic Site, Indian Foothills Park, Marshall
  5. Weinreich Ruts, Santa Fe Trail, Marshall
  6. Missouri’s American Indian Cultural Center, Miami, Missouri
  7. Annie and Abel Van Meter State Park, Miami, Missouri
  8. Henry Blosser Estate, Malta Bend
  9. The Leaning Side Restaurant and Bar, Marshall
  10. Montague’s, Marshall

Feature Photo by Matt Vestal

Article originally published in Missouri Life’s Scenic Rides & Drives Guide 2024.