Hit the road and travel the open plains of Indiana to the Ozark hills of Missouri on the perfect weekend RV road trip from Indianapolis to Branson. Indianapolis, considered a central road trip jumping off point, has RV-friendly campgrounds, a great interstate system, and all the amenities you'd expect in a capital city.
Before embarking on this entertaining RV road trip, stay awhile in Indianapolis and enjoy the many family-friendly sights. The Indianapolis Zoo has wonderful exhibits and a lush botanical garden. The Children's Museum of Indianapolis is the world's largest with almost 500,000 square feet of exhibits divided into three collections: American, Cultural World, and the Natural World. If you time your visit right, check out the Indianapolis Speedway for the burning rubber of the Indy 500. Eagle Creek Park and White River State Park are favorites with locals looking to escape into nature.
Your RV road trip to Branson will take you through the small towns of Terre Haute and Effingham before arriving in St. Louis close to the Illinois border. Then head south in Missouri through the Mark Twain National Forest and Springfield. The total trip from Indianapolis will take around ten hours, and late spring, summer, and early fall provide the best weather and road conditions.
Once in Branson, where live music is king, the nightlife is one of the main draws. You can still get outside in nature and visit other attractions like amusement parks to keep the road trip spirit alive.
Although a somber first stop, don't pass by the Candles Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Terre Haute. It's Indiana's only Holocaust museum, and its main exhibit tells the story of the Mengele twin and Holocaust survivor, Eva Mozes Kor. She is also the founder of the museum with her twin sister, Miriam Mozes Zieger.
The name Candles is an acronym for Children of Auschwitz Nazi Deadly Lab Experiments Survivors. The organization started in 1984 to locate other Mengele twins around the world.
Subjected to a tragic bombing in 2003, which destroyed the building, the museum was rebuilt in 2005. This further demonstrates one of their main messages to visitors: never give up. Other themes explored through stories and photos include the ever importance of genocide prevention, the consequences of choices, and the dangers of prejudice.
Right on the border between Missouri and Ilinois is the towering 630-foot stainless steel Gateway Arch Monument. An iconic symbol of the USA's westward expansion, the Gateway Arch sits between the steps overlooking the Mississippi River and the old courthouse. A true sight to see, it's the tallest man-made monument in the country.
Originally called the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, the site offers amazing views to those who dare. Hop in the tram that will take you to the top of the monument for excellent views over the city of St. Louis and the Mississippi River.
Stroll the manicured grounds of the Gateway Arch National Park for incredible photo opportunities of the Arch. Venture into the old courthouse, built in 1939, a historical landmark of civil rights cases and try not to be inspired.
Learn a little something while you're here about the westward expansion spanning the years 1764 to 1965. A total of six interactive exhibit areas are waiting to be explored in the Gateway Arch Museum.
A good opportunity to get out of the RV and stretch your legs is at the Mark Twain National Forest, a little over two hours from Branson. Set in the Ozark Highlands, this 1.5 million-acre forest paradise has endless miles of trails and rivers perfect for your nature fix. The hustle and bustle and noise of larger cities like Branson and St. Louis will feel like they're worlds away.
In addition to exploring the acres of forest on foot, you can also go horseback riding or mountain biking. If the weather is good, rent an inner tube and relax away the day floating along the rivers. Regardless of how you choose to tour the area, prepare for stunning scenery, the refreshing smell of nature, and glimpses of local wildlife.
If you prefer to stay in one spot for the day, you can set up at one of the abundant RV-friendly campsites. Make this your base for fishing, swimming, and outdoor dining.
Less than an hour from Branson, the Fantastic Caverns north of Springfield, Missouri, are certainly worth a visit. They offer 55-minute tours through the show caves on a tram. Pulled by a Jeep, the tram is accessible to wheelchairs and visitors of all ability levels. You can experience the entire one-mile tour without walking. The temperature inside Fantastic Caverns stays at a balmy 60 degrees Fahrenheit no matter the weather outside. This majestic natural attraction is open year-round for your enjoyment.
The tour itself through the caverns uses the same path as an ancient underground river. Prepare to be amazed at the fragile soda straws dangling from the ceiling and the cave pearls peeking through the clear underground water. The caverns are full of other cave formations that must be seen to be appreciated, like the majestic columns spanning the cave's full height.
While on your guided tour past stalagmites, stalactites, flowstones, and draperies, watch out for the water droplets that infiltrate the caves. This water is responsible for much of what you see. Guides will also provide an extensive history of the caverns throughout the tour.
Branson, Missouri is a great place to end your road trip with a bang, or maybe the crash of a cymbal. With its reputation as the world's live music capital, Branson draws tourists from all over. The nightlife full of exciting musical performances does not disappoint. After a night on the town, you'll find ample RV accommodations at campgrounds like the Branson KOA.
During the day there's plenty to do here too. Take the trip to scenic Table Rock Lake for fishing, hiking, and swimming, or stay in town and visit the Titanic Museum. To feel like a kid again, check out Silver Dollar City Amusement Park featuring a historical 1880s experience.
You're sure to be tired after completing this thrilling road trip through Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana. Museums, monuments, parks, and natural wonders are unforgettable stops on your RV road trip from Indianapolis to Branson.