It's not so unusual that Missourians considers themselves at once Midwestern and Southern. After all, Missouri is bordered by eight distinctly regional states: Iowa, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska making up the Midwestern team, and Kentucky, Tennessee, Illinois, and Arkansas around or below the Mason-Dixon line. Its most famous son, Samuel Clemens (aka Mark Twain) actually considered himself a Southerner -- not surprising with all those tales woven on the banks of the Mississippi. And before the borders were drawn, there was a time when 21st state in the Union was simultaneously owned by France, Spain, and the fledgling United States, giving Missourians a distinctly ingrained sense of going with the flow from their very beginnings. Even the terrain makes versatility a part of the state's natural make-up: from the soft hills of the northern plains to the Ozark Mountains in the south, and the many rivers and lakes in between (hence the translation of its Siouan name, "place of large canoes").

Historically, Missouri has also been a spot for those with a sense of adventure. Meriwether Lewis and William Clark began their famous western expedition on the banks of the Missouri River in St. Louis. Years later, the towns of Independence and Westport marked the start of the Sante Fe, California, and Oregon Trails, routes that marked the westward starting point of the over 250,000 pioneers who settled the wild frontier, and thus gave Missouri one of its nicknames, the "Gateway to the West." With all those covered wagons heading into unknown wilds, it's fitting that some of our most famous adventurers of page and place hailed from here, like author Laura Ingalls Wilder, explorer Daniel Boone, outlaw Jesse James, and military commander John J. Pershing. And for those who like to throw on a rucksack, angling for supper (there's lots of great trout to be caught in the waters here), or searching the skies for bald eagles, the Show Me State still has a lot to show.