This tiny town in southern Missouri's Ozark Mountains is a real find – and getting there is a treat in itself

ALTON, Missouri may be the best-kept secret in the Midwest. Hidden deep in the Ozark Mountains, this small town is surrounded by some of the prettiest scenery you'll ever see.

We're about 200 miles southwest of St. Louis, near the Arkansas state line. If you travel west out of St. Louis on I-44 , you can pick up Highway 19 – a designated Scenic Route – and follow it to Alton. Highway 19 is a two-lane road with deep hills and valleys all the way from Winona, MO to Alton, MO.

This spectacular drive gives you closeup views of the Mark Twain National Forest and crosses all three rivers in the Ozark National Scenic Riverways – Eleven Point, Jacks Fork and Current River. Once you reach Alton, you'll find lots of fascinating old buildings, some dating to the late 1800s. Our town was founded around 1810, destroyed during the Civil War and then rebuilt. Our closest major town is 35 miles away.

Homes Built of Stone

Almost every block has at least one stone house, thanks to the expert stone mason who lived here in the 1920s and the other masons who followed.

On occasion, some activities are on the square as in olden days. When you visit, check out the veterans' memorial on the west side of the courthouse. The local VFW post and it's auxiliary conducted many fund-raisers to erect this monument to our veterans.

If you're looking for lodging, the Alton Motel is right across the street from the post office. Or try Alton's variation on the bed-and-breakfast and rent an entire house! Our five "guest houses" are completely furnished, right down to the linens. Feel like a picnic? Visit our city parks — The Alton City Park and The City of Alton Piney Creek Park. The Alton City Park has a swimming pool and The City of Alton Piney Creek Park has picnic facilities, ball diamonds, a horseshoe-pitching area and a go-kart track.

If you visit the first week in October, don't miss the Ozark Black Gold Walnut Festival, held the first Saturday in October with fun for all — craft and flea market booths — contests and entertainment.

Alton is located at the intersection of Highways 160 and 19 in southern Missouri, 15 miles north of the Arkansas state line.

Greer Spring, the second largest spring in Missouri, is about 8 miles north of Alton. Mammoth Spring, just over the Arkansas border, spews about 10 million gallons of water an hour – to form Spring River, a favorite trout-fishing stream. North of the state line, visitors to Grand Gulf State Park can hike to the bottom of "the Little Grand Canyon".

You are welcome to come for a day or come to stay, but come.