5 one-tank road trips from St. Louis, Missouri

Use this guide for inspiration for your next locally-based road trip from the Gateway to the West—without stopping to fill up

Between high gas prices, limited vacation days, and chaotic air travel, taking a local road trip is more appealing than ever this summer. These five destinations are all within 300 miles (round-trip) of St. Louis, Missouri, making them ideal for quick getaways. Spend less time at the pump and more time enjoying the road. 

If you’re in an electric vehicle, we’ve noted whether you can expect to find chargers along each route as well.

Related 13 stops along the Great River Road from Illinois to Iowa

1. Meramec State Park, Missouri 

Total mileage: 134 miles

Located along the scenic Meramec River, this state park is dotted with bluffs, woodlands, and more than 40 caves. Less than 70 miles outside of St. Louis, Meramec makes for the perfect place to break away from the city and embrace diverse natural landscapes and ecosystems. In the summer, you can beat the heat by swimming or floating down the river, or finding shade by hiking the park’s trail system and exploring its many caves.

Don’t miss: A visit to Fisher Cave is a must when visiting Meramec. See what lies beneath the park with a naturalist-led tour of this magnificent cavern. From 30-foot-tall columns to wildlife and even preserved bear claw marks, these tours let visitors explore one of the state’s unique natural wonders. 

Stay: Reserve one of the park’s rental cabins or book an RV or tent campsite at Meramec’s campground. Partial- and full-hookup sites are available. 

Charge: There are chargers near the park’s campground at Meramec Caverns. You can also find a handful of charging stations in Sullivan, Missouri, just outside of the park.

2. Ste. Genevieve, Missouri

Total mileage: 126 miles

Located just 63 miles southeast of St. Louis, you’ll find the small, quiet community of Ste. Genevieve, the first permanent European settlement in Missouri and North America’s largest concentration of French Colonial architecture. Budding with rich history, local shops, and restaurants, and surrounded by an abundance of outdoor recreation, this small town lets you be as relaxed or as adventurous as you’d like. It also puts you in the heart of Missouri’s wine country, with two wineries in town and several others nearby.

Don’t miss: Explore the outdoors at Hawn State Park, Hickory Canyons Natural Area, and Pickle Springs Natural Area. Or, sip your way through wine country at Brix Urban Winery and Market, Cave Vineyard, or Chaumette Vineyards and Winery.

Stay: You’ll find the Audubon’s Hotel and Restaurant downtown, which is a great basecamp for all of the area’s attractions.

Charge: While there are several charging stations in surrounding towns, you’ll want to charge before your visit since there aren’t any stations in Ste. Genevieve.

3. Hannibal, Missouri

Total mileage: 234 miles

Follow the Mississippi River north from St. Louis to explore the boyhood home of famed author Mark Twain (born Samuel Langhorne Clemens). While you can learn all about the writer and his literary contributions at the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum, the town itself is known for inspiring the adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. From riverboat cruises to ghost tours, cave explorations, and art galleries, there’s definitely something for everyone in this historic riverside town. 

Don’t miss: The Mark Twain Memorial Lighthouse is perched atop Cardiff Hill in a 10-acre park. Here, you can take in sweeping views of the Mississippi River and downtown Hannibal.

Stay: After touring the stunning Rockcliffe Mansion, book a room at the property’s bed and breakfast to stay in one of the historic rooms.

Charge: Hannibal has several charging locations throughout its downtown area, making this a stress-free stop for those traveling by EV.  

4. Hermann, Missouri

Total mileage: 164 miles

Known for its wine, German heritage, and picturesque small-town vibes, Hermann sits slightly more than 80 miles west of St. Louis in the Missouri River Valley. Follow the Hermann Wine Trail to seven family-owned wineries spread throughout the area or head downtown to Tin Mill Brewery for a pint of German-style beer. There are also several museums celebrating the town’s German culture, including the Historic Hermann Museum, which is located inside an elementary schoolhouse that was built in 1871. 

Don’t miss: A visit to the Hermann Wurst Haus is a must during your time in Hermann. Stop in for a bite to eat or pack the perfect combination of German-style meats and cheeses for your winery adventures.

Stay: Within walking distance to downtown, the Captain Wohlt Inn offers a bed and breakfast vibe in the town’s oldest historic inn. There’s live music every Friday night and the property has fire pits, lawn games, and grilling areas for use during your stay.

Charge: There are three charging stations in Hermann, along with several along the highways leading back to St. Louis.

5. Shawnee National Forest, Illinois

Total mileage: 230 miles

Tucked between the Mississippi and Ohio rivers in Southern Illinois, Shawnee National Forest offers 289,000 acres of forests, wetlands, canyons, and unique rock formations often referred to as the “Little Smokies.” The area gets nearly 1 million visitors each year who come here to enjoy hiking, biking, camping, paddling, and other outdoor activities. The forest’s expansive trail system features hiking routes of all levels, from short day hikes to the 160-mile River to River Trail. 

Don’t miss: The Garden of the Gods Observation Trail features one of the most photographed locations in Illinois. Hike to the top of unique, sandstone bluffs for stunning views of the Garden of the Gods Recreation Area.

Stay: There are several first-come, first-served campgrounds throughout Shawnee National Forest accommodating tent campers and RVers alike. You can also find privately-owned cabin and treehouse rentals in several areas of the forest for a glamping experience.

Charge: Charging stations are few and far between in this area, with only a handful of chargers located near the national forest, including at the cabins.