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25 Cant-Miss Things To Do In Jefferson City (MO)

Did you know Jefferson City is named After Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States?

Informally known as Jeff city, Jefferson City is the 15th most populous city in the state.

With numerous locations that provide history, live music, painting lessons, comedy events, and more, Jefferson City is just the perfect destination point.

Although the city is not the largest, nevertheless, Jefferson City provides a fascinating glimpse into the state’s past and local culture.

The history of Jefferson City can be explored through the different pieces of art that are on display there.

Visit the Missouri State Penitentiary Museum to see unique works of art created by creative inmates, then take a tour of the abandoned facility to get a sense of the penitentiary’s gruesome past.

Spend summer evenings watching movies on the capitol lawn or dancing in the streets, or catch a classic at the little downtown theater.

Are you a local or tourist wondering where to visit in the city? Here are the top places you should go to in the city.

Things to do in Jefferson City

1. Missouri State Museum

Missouri state museum

Missouri state museum

One of the first things you should do in Jefferson is to visit the Missouri State museum especially if you love history or architecture.

You will get to immerse yourself in the State’s past at the Missouri State Museum.

The best part? The museum is located in the Missouri State Capitol Building. The fact the museum is housed in the state’s capitol makes it more intriguing.

The Missouri State Capitol building serves as a quite striking backdrop. In fact, the splendor of the structure enhances the impact of the exhibits.

There are an amazing collection of artifacts depicting the state’s natural and cultural heritage can be found in the museum

However, the museum is divided into sections that represent various subjects.

Children will like the area of Missouri’s contributions to World War I (WWI).

A display honoring Missouri Veterans contains a sizable model of the battleship Missouri at one end of the room.

Similarly, a noteworthy and unique collection of more than 125 battle flags from the American Civil War is one of the museum’s centerpieces.

Many of the flags belonged to Missouri units on both sides of the conflict or were taken by them.

The Missouri State Museum’s exhibits also illustrate how Missouri was one of the most divided states during the Civil War.

Visiting the museum can easily take an hour or two. Don’t forget to look at Ella, a Missouri woman who is over 8 feet tall, in the picture cutout.

The museum operates seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday through Friday and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, and entry is free.

Address: 201 W Capitol Ave, Jefferson City, MO 65101, United States

2. Missouri State Capitol, Jefferson City

Missouri state capitol

Missouri state capitol

While the Missouri State museum is located on the first floor of the Capitol, there is still more to explore and learn in the capitol.

Occupying three acres in downtown Jefferson, the capitol was finished in 1918 and has since graced Jefferson’s skyline.

You will get to learn a lot about Missouri and the building that serves as its capital by taking the Capitol tour.

The Roman goddess of vegetation Ceres is depicted in bronze atop the dome, which stands 238 feet above the earth.

Along with the two legislative chambers, the governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, treasurer, state auditor, and administrative agencies all have offices in the building.

Additionally, architectural highlights of the building include eight 48-foot columns on the south portico, six 40-foot columns on the north, a grand stairway, and more.

Tours of the capitol offer a great opportunity to learn about Missouri as a whole and the building itself.

Free guided 45-minute tours are offered every day on the hour from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (except at noon) on Monday through Friday and at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

The tour lasts for around an hour and gives you access to areas that you would not otherwise have, such as the senate lounge with the murals by Thomas Hart Benton. Although a replica is on display in the museum, the room housing the originals is truly unique.

You can visit the website to make an online reservation.

Address: 201 W Capitol Ave, Jefferson City, MO 65101, United States

3. North Jefferson City Recreation Area

North Jefferson City Recreation Area

North Jefferson City Recreation Area

Looking for a place to chill or have fun outdoors, then you should consider the North Jefferson City recreation area.

The severe floods of 1993 and 1995 led to the reconstruction of the North Jefferson Recreation Area, formerly known as Cedar City.

An outdoor restroom and a picnic food preparation facility were part of the first park building.

180 automobiles can fit in the parking area, and the pavilion can house 250 people.

The North Jefferson City Recreation Area features numerous routes, including the Missouri Katy Trail, a dog park, an RC racetrack, a boat launch with access to Missouri, and modest camping.

Address: 927 4th St, Jefferson City, MO 65101, United States

4. Missouri State Penitentiary

Missouri State Penitentiary

Steve Mays / Flickr

Dubbed the “Bloodiest 47 acres in America” by Time magazine in 1967, Missouri State penitentiary is a historic site in Jefferson city you shouldn’t miss.

In fact, this tour is for you if you want to fully immerse yourself in Missouri and Jefferson’s history.

The Missouri State Penitentiary is a towering structure that stands in Jefferson City overlooking the Missouri River (MSP).

Similarly, the penitentiary functioned for 168 years before it was shut down in 2004.

The best part is that all tours are led by guides, many of whom had previous employment at MSP before it was decommissioned.

Their first-hand knowledge of the institution provides a unique perspective on what it was like to live and work there.

The two-hour tour will teach visitors about notorious inmates, the Riot of 1954, attempted escapes, and female inmates.

The 3-hour tour will feature Death Row, Housing Units 2 and 5, and the recently constructed Centennial Cells, in addition to everything covered on the 2-hour journey.

You can also take a two-hour or three-hour ghost tour which will go over the building’s history and emphasize the unique, unusual, and unexplained events that have occurred there.

Don’t forget to stop by the MSP Museum, which is housed in the Col. Darwin Marmaduke House to discover more about the renowned institution.

The museum has artifacts and a duplicate cell that depict the conditions of the time.

Address: 115 Lafayette St, Jefferson City, MO 65101, United States

5. Arris’ Pizza, Jefferson City

Arris' Pizza

Arris’ Pizza

In the heart of Jefferson City, there is a family-friendly restaurant called the Arris Pizza Palace.

Located across the capitol building, Arris’ provides pasta meals in addition to their specialty of Greek-style pizzas.

In fact, one of the best pizza recipes can be found at Arris’ Pizza.

Similarly, the easiest way to sample several pizzas is to eat from the lunch buffet.

Overall, you can’t go wrong with Arris’ because of the excellent Greek food and tasty drinks they serve, not to mention their wide variety of beers.

Address: 117 W High St, Jefferson City, MO 65101, United States

6. Capitol Plaza Hotel

Capitol Plaza Hotel

Capitol Plaza Hotel

Perhaps you want a place to lodge in Jefferson city that’s not far away from all the happenings in the city, the capitol plaza hotel is a great place.

Located in downtown Jefferson, the Capitol Plaza Hotel and Convention Center gives guests a welcome and reasonable lodging option.

The Missouri State Capitol and Governor’s Mansion, as well as the stores at Capital Mall or the Crossings, are all within a short walk of the top Jefferson City accommodations.

The hotel is also only 22 miles from Columbia Regional Airport and a short drive from Katy Trail State Park’s beautiful hiking and bicycling paths.

After a hard day, the indoor pool offers a tranquil setting to unwind and rejuvenate as well as a fun pastime for children.

The hotel is also a pet-friendly hotel, so you don’t have to leave behind your pet.

There are plenty of other facilities to be enjoyed at the hotel.

Address: 415 W McCarty St, Jefferson City, MO 65101, United States

7. Museum of Missouri Military History

Museum of Missouri Military History

Museum of Missouri Military History

Established less than 20 years ago, the museum of Missouri military history is dedicated to preserving and showcasing Missouri’s military history.

The collection documents the history of the area going back to the time in 1808, when Missouri stood on the brink of the great unknown.

Similarly, the museum explores the history of westward migration while putting a special emphasis on the American Civil War.

Additionally, the collection shows Missourians’ contributions to more distant wars, such as the Spanish American War, both World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, and even the War on Terror.

The state’s residents and former National Guard members who earned national recognition, such as Captain Charles A. Lindbergh and President Harry S. Truman, are also given special attention.

Wondering where the planes are? An F-15 Eagle fighter, an F-4 Phantom II aircraft, a Sherman tank, a Sheridan tank, a C-130 Hercules, and other items are on display outside.

Address: 2405 Logistics Rd, Jefferson City, MO 65101, United States

8. The Runge Nature Center

The Runge Nature Center

The Runge Nature Center

Visit the Runge Nature Center to enjoy a wonderful time with nature in a tranquil and serene setting.

The Runge Nature Center offers visitors the chance to explore, understand, and enjoy the various habitats found in Missouri through educational and interpretive programs.

As a matter of fact, the Runge Nature Center is a fascinating location for both kids and adults.

You are greeted with a full-size Bald Eagle nest at the building’s entrance to the nature center.

Then there are stunning life-size mountings of several animals inside the structure, including a black bear, a mountain lion, and a number of birds.

Beautifully themed explanations of numerous types of natural habitats can also be found in the museum section.

The engaging hands-on exhibitions will be appealing to kids. Additionally, a glass wall allows for viewing of a birdhouse on the exterior of the building’s backside.

There’s also a great place for hikers as there are five hiking paths winding through forests, prairies, and glades.

The Raccoon Run route, which is slightly over a mile long and offers views of various types of plants along the way, is the longest paved trail in this area.

Don’t skip climbing the fire tower at the beginning of the Raccoon Run route to obtain a bird’s-eye view of the area.

Address: 330 Commerce Dr, Jefferson City, MO 65109, United States

9. ECCO Lounge, Jefferson City

Ecco lounge, Jefferson city

Ecco lounge

Serving the people of Jefferson City and others for more than 150 years, Ecco lounge is a vintage bar that offers drinks and classic pub fare.

Don’t be deceived by the unassuming interior, the pub serves great food and one of the best and largest onion rings around.

However, you’ll adore the historic signage and other artifacts utilized as décor if you’re interested in the history of Jefferson City beer.

This establishment embodies a genuine local tavern with mouthwatering meal options.

The delicious food and generous serving sizes are also a great draw to this place.

Some of the favorites here include a dish of enormous, deliciously crunchy onion rings, and battered and cheese-topped fried mushrooms.

In short, if you love burgers, you should definitely try the Ecco burger with a side of waffle fries.

In addition to the great food, there are cool beers and hard liquors at the bar.

The Ecco Lounge is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week.

Address: 703 Jefferson St, Jefferson City, MO 65101, United States

10. Missouri Governor’s Mansion

Missouri governor's mansion

Missouri governor’s mansion

There are so many historical sites in Jefferson City and the Missouri governor’s mansion is definitely one of such.

As a matter of fact, one of the few official houses in the United States that is accessible to the public is the Governor’s mansion in Missouri.

Located just two blocks from the capitol and Jefferson landing state historic site, the governor’s mansion is a great place to be if you want to get some history of the state.

The Missouri Governor’s Mansion offers year-round guided tours.

Volunteer docents provide free guided tours as a result of the Friends of the Missouri Governor’s Mansion Docent Program’s assistance.

Similarly, six portions of the mansion’s ground level are explored.

In fact, the docents do a wonderful job of providing information about the decor, the building’s past, and the several prior First Ladies of Missouri, whose portraits are displayed on the walls.

Although the duration of a tour is roughly twenty to thirty minutes; however, you will get to explore wonderful things here. The tour is also free.

The governor and his family occupy the upper levels, thus the tour is just on the first floor.

Address: 100 Madison St, Jefferson City, MO 65101, United States

11. Binder State Park, Jefferson City

Binder State Park, Jefferson City

Binder State Park

Enjoy going for picnics, camping or even having outdoor fun? Binder Park is a nice location to look into.

Binder Park is the biggest park in the city, with 644 acres and it’s just 15 minutes from downtown Jefferson

Fred C., Fred H., and Frederick Binder are honored by the name of Binder Park. In 1918, Fred C. Binder set up a trust fund to create a park as a tribute to his father, himself, and his son.

The park has various walking and bike trails, as well as many picnic areas.

Furthermore, playground equipment and a covered balcony with a picnic area overlook the beautiful Binder Lake.

Up to 75 people can congregate on the terrace, which is available for rental as a shelter.

An 18-site full hookup RV campground with laundry and a shower house is provided for camping at Binder Park.

A covered area is also available in the pavilion for your lunch or dinner.

In addition to the campgrounds and fun sites, there’s also an 18-hole disc golf course on the park’s northwest portion.

Missouri is filled with lots of cities with amazing things to do and the Lake of the Ozarks happens to be one of them!

12. Jefferson Landing State Historic Site

Landing State Historic Site

Landing State Historic Site

Jefferson Landing State Historic Site is recognized as a National Historic Site in Jefferson City and is home to a number of historic residences, buildings, and structures.

The structures include the Christopher Maus House, the Jefferson Landing Building, Lohman, and the Jefferson City Amtrak station, to mention a few.

An art gallery, the Carnahan Gardens, and the Lewis & Clark Monument Plaza are all within walking distance of Lohman House.

The Lohman Building has a film on the history of the location and of Jefferson City, and it is a recreation of a general shop and warehouse from the 1850s. It also acts as a support building for the Missouri State Museum, which is housed on the Capitol’s ground level.

The Amtrak rail station for the city is located on the ground floor of the former hotel, continuing the legacy of giving access to the state’s rural areas.

Jefferson Landing State Historic Site is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Address: 100 Jefferson St, Jefferson City, MO 65101, United States

13. Miller Performing Arts Center, Jefferson City

Miller Performing Arts Center, Jefferson city

Miller Performing Arts Center

The Miller Performing Arts is a sizable venue that was formerly a school.

Although just one-half of the building is the theater; however, the Miller Performing Arts Center is owned and operated exclusively by the Jefferson City Public Schools.

This center is ideal for any event with its 1,600 capacity and is a fantastic location to attend a play, concert, etc.

There are a variety of different performances outside plays that can be seen.

Modern elevators and escalators lead to the main auditorium lobby, which also serves as a lovely exhibit hall and a “backstage” area where audience members can interact with the actors after performances.

It has undergone extensive renovation and remodeling and is endowed with excellent sound and lighting

Additionally, it features a museum shop where customers may buy t-shirts, CDs, and DVDs from artists who have performed there in the past.

Address: 501 Madison St, Jefferson City, MO 65101, United States

14. Downtown Jefferson City

Downtown Jefferson City

Downtown Jefferson City

Perhaps you want a fun time out with friends or with family. Downtown offers numerous venues to have a perfect all-rounded tour.

Downtown Jefferson is home to the most popular eateries in the state. Whether it’s fine dining establishments, coffee shops, or even classic sports bars, you will get them here.

Additionally, downtown Jefferson City is also home to a variety of shops that sell everything from clothing to vintage furniture to handmade crafts.

You can even spend summer evenings watching movies on the capitol lawn or dancing in the streets or catching a classic at the little downtown theater.

Sit on benches in the city center’s tree-lined streets to drink coffee, frozen yogurt, and other goodies while taking in the mood of the place.

Address: 100 E High St, Jefferson City, MO 65101, United States

15. The Capital City Productions

The Capital City Productions

The Capital City Productions

Want a perfect date night in a cozy and intimate environment? Then the capital city productions is a great place to go.

Since 1991, the theater has delighted the people of Jefferson City and more.

You’ll appreciate seeing both classic and contemporary plays performed live.

In fact, you can always count on the great quality of performance and meals here.

There are constantly new shows to view because they are put on all year long!

Choose from comedies, mysteries, dramas, and masterpieces like Shakespeare’s Hamlet or Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales when you go to the theater.

Address: 719 Wicker Ln, Jefferson City, MO 65109, United States

16. The Mission, Jefferson City

The Mission


The Mission, a well-liked music venue in the center of the city, is renowned for hosting some of the top performances in the area.

Entering the mission feels as though you have been transported back in time and gives you some awesome nostalgic feelings.

Although there’s a nostalgic feeling associated with the location, however, the facility has undergone a significant renovation over time to become the cutting-edge, trendy spot it is now.

Address: 915 E High St, Jefferson City, MO 65101, United States

17. Riversong Spa & Salon

Riversong Spa & Salon, jefferson

Riversong Spa & Salon

The Riversong Spa & Salon is the ideal hideaway whether you’re traveling with your family or seeking some time away from the grind.

Hot stone massages and aromatherapy treatments are both available, and the staffs are skilled in all facets of massage therapy.

This resort spa is hidden away on 10 picturesque acres and offers a variety of amenities like heated mineral pools, indoor and outdoor whirlpools, and a large deck with a view of Table Rock Lake for total relaxation.

Additionally, a full range of day spa services is available at Riversong, including therapeutic massage, couples’ massages, pedicures, manicures, hair coloring and styling, facials, waxing, and make-up.

European facials, calming body wraps, and honey scrubs are also among the available treatments.

You can even purchase hair and skin care products as well as other items related to health and beauty.

You may always get your hair done before or after your treatment because they also provide a full-service salon.

Address: 2014 William St, Jefferson City, MO 65109, United States

18. Lewis and Clark Monument

Lewis and Clark Monument

Lewis and Clark Monument

A pleasant place for a leisurely stroll in the historic district is Lewis & Clark Monument.

The Lewis and Clark Monument, which is located close to the Missouri Capitol grounds, honors the beginning of an important expedition in American history.

In addition, five bronze figures make up the monument: Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, Lewis’s Newfoundland dog Seaman, Clark’s African American slave York, and interpreter, hunter, and trapper George Drouillard.

The monument is also a component of a plaza that also includes interpretive panels that provide information about the voyage and the Jefferson City Greenway.

The Plaza serves as a trailhead for the trails leading to Cole County Park.

Address: 19962 Monument Rd, Council Bluffs, IA 51503, United States

19. Prison Brews

Prison Brews

The Prison Brews

Prison brews is the best place to visit after leaving the Missouri state penitentiary.

Two blocks from the former Penitentiary, on Jefferson City’s historic east side, lies this unique brewpub, Prison Brews.

With barbed wire and prison cell interiors, the restaurant’s decor has a prison feel.

Different dishes are available, including seafood, burgers, sandwiches, and brick-oven pizza. The seven available beers are handcrafted locally.

Furthermore, two courts are located outside, next to a sizable covered terrace that makes the most of a lovely Missouri day.

They also sell mementos, like t-shirts, that you can purchase.

Although, the foods are delicious here, nevertheless be sure to sample their beers, burgers, and pizza.

Address: 305 Ash St, Jefferson City, MO 65101, United States

20. Katy Trail

Katy Trail, Jefferson

Katy Trail, Jefferson

One of Missouri’s outdoor leisure wonders for biking, walking, and jogging is the Katy Trail.

This stretch of the path between Jefferson City and Hermann is lovely with open pasture land and shaded areas where the trail is shielded by a forest canopy.

Watch out for any small tree limbs or sticks in the trail as you get closer to Rhineland.

Stay at Joey’s Bird House B&B in McKittrick for a lovely setting and welcoming staff.

21. Missouri River Pedestrian Bike Bridge

Missouri River Pedestrian Bike Bridge

Missouri River Pedestrian Bike Bridge

An unusual place to take an afternoon stroll to is the Missouri river pedestrian bike bridge.

The Katy Trail, the Noren River Access Park, and the city center are all easily accessible through this route.

The bridge is eight feet wide and has two vantage points with breathtaking views of Jefferson City.

The Missouri River Bridge is safe for use by both bikes and pedestrians.

There are also two historic or observation areas on the bridge from which to enjoy beautiful views of the Missouri River and the State Capitol Building.

Because there aren’t many people on the bridge, the environment is serene and tranquil, with the river running beneath you and great views all around.

22. McKay Park

mckay park jefferson city

McKay park

One of Jefferson City’s noteworthy parks is McKay Park.

The location was formerly known as Sunset Lake and offered lake swimming before being designated as McKay Park.

After Neil McKay, who generously donated to the project, it was constructed in 1979 and was given his name.

The park is still one of the best places to have fun with your family in Jefferson City.

A playground, an asphalt basketball court, 10 picnic tables, and a fitness walk that circles the lake are all included in the 20.4-acre McKay Park.

In addition to the plentiful amenities, McKay Lake also allows fishing all year round, but only from the bank.

Although, the park has a lake, a playground, a basketball court, and picnic areas, however, Mckay Park is renowned for its wonderful picnic space, fishing pond, and play area for children.

The most common species of fish you should expect include crappie, large-mouth bass, bluegill, channel catfish, red-ear sunfish, and crappie.

During the winter, the back of the McKay dam serves as a fantastic sledding slope.

Address: 1700 Southridge Dr, Jefferson City, MO 65109, United States

23. Jefferson City National Cemetery

Jefferson City National Cemetery

Jefferson City National Cemetery

Want to pay your respects to fallen heroes in Jefferson city? Jefferson City National Cemetery is a good place to go.

There are around 1,500 veterans’ graves ranging from the War of 1812 to the Vietnam War.

The first burial at this location occurred in 1861, and it was initially meant to serve as a cemetery for local Civil War veterans.

It is noteworthy that both Federal and Confederate soldiers are also laid to rest at this cemetery.

The cemetery is accessible every day from dawn till nightfall. There is no staff working at the cemetery.

Address: 1024 E McCarty St, Jefferson City, MO 65101, United States

24. Turkey Creek Golf Center

Turkey Creek Golf Center

Turkey Creek Golf Center

An expensive and fun way to enjoy Jefferson City is by visiting turkey creek golf center. In fact, be it a family outing or just you, you will love it here.

Two 9-hole par-3 courses, 18-hole mini-golf, and a driving range are all available at Turkey Creek.

Turkey Creek Golf Center offers a variety of entertaining activities, such as pony rides, a petting zoo, a sizable driving range, and a short game area.

Even a full-service restaurant is also located there!

So whether you’re seeking a day of fun with your friends and family or looking for a location to host an event, you should include this place in your plans.

Address: 1616 Oilwell Rd, Jefferson City, MO 65101, United States

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25. Boathenge

Boathenge,jefferson city


Looking for something unique and different, try visiting the boathenge. Especially if you haven’t visited Stonehenge yet, then this location is a great place to get a glimpse.

Boateng is similar to Stonehenge, but with boats, with some significant mystery.

Boathenge seems like nothing more than a group of boats stuck awkwardly into dry land at first glance.

Visit the BoatHenge in Columbia by taking a quick journey from Jefferson City.

You’ll find a set of strange boats in someone’s lawn that are buried straight up in the ground.

These painted boats on a lawn near the Katy Trail along the Missouri River were created by an unidentified artist and were first noticed in 1993 after the 100-year flood.

The area has exactly six boats set up at random, and it attracts almost as much curiosity as Stonehenge itself.

Address: Columbia, MO 65203, United States

Final Remarks

With numerous locations that provide history, live music, painting lessons, comedy events, and more, Jefferson City is a place worth visiting.

Don’t forget to visit the Missouri State Capitol which gives an insight into the city’s past and present.