Jefferson City celebrated its bicentennial last year, making it a great place to explore Midwestern history, arts, and culture. From the Missouri State Museum to the lush greens of Carnahan Memorial Garden and an abundance of hiking trails along the Missouri River, there’s plenty to see and do in Jefferson City – here are our top six places to see in Missouri’s capital. .
Katy Trail State Park
The Katy Trail is the nation’s longest recreational railroad, running 240 miles, mostly along the Missouri River. Jefferson City is at the heart of the trail and boasts some of its most beloved miles. Joe Wilson’s Serenity Point is located in the North Jefferson City Recreation Area. This access point has a boat ramp, parking, and is near the pedestrian bridge that allows you to walk over the Missouri River. The bridge has an Instagram-worthy photo op to capture the river and the Capitol building in the background.
If you want to cycle along the Katy Trail, you can book a shuttle with Red Wheel Bike Shuttle to a handful of towns along the trail. And there are a variety of distances to cover.
- Short trips: Hartsburg and Tebbetts
- Moderate rides: McBaine, Columbia, Rocheport and Portland
- Long Hikes: Clinton, Sedalia, Boonville, McKittrick, Hermann, Augusta and St. Charles
Missouri State Capitol and Missouri State Museum
The Missouri State Capitol rests on a limestone bluff on the south bank of the Missouri River. The Capitol Building is the third to stand in Jefferson City, and it was officially opened in 1924. In 1935, KC native Thomas Hart Benton was commissioned to paint murals throughout the building. Free Capitol Building tours are offered year-round to showcase the state’s history through the building’s artwork and architecture. Reservations for Capitol tours are required.
The Missouri State Museum is where visitors go to delve into Show-Me State history. The museum, located in the State Capitol, houses an impressive collection of exhibits illustrating the natural and cultural history of the state.
Bicentennial Bridge to Adrian Island
The Bicentennial Bridge is a 12-foot-wide pedestrian/bicycle bridge that connects the Missouri State Capitol complex to the 32-acre Deborah Cooper Park on Adrian’s Island. Although Deborah Cooper Park is currently in progress, it is expected to be completed this summer. The park will include paved paths and nature trails, public art, hammocks, a life-size chessboard, picnic tables, and various viewing areas of the Missouri River and the Capitol.
Missouri State Penitentiary and Missouri State Penitentiary Museum
One of the largest historical landmarks in downtown Jefferson City is the Missouri State Penitentiary, which was decommissioned in 2004. Visitors can take a historical, ghost or photo tour and walk through the historic lodgings , the vast upper courtyard of the property and the gas chamber. , where 40 men and women were executed.
Along with tours of the Missouri State Penitentiary, the museum on the lower level of Colonel Darwin W. Marmaduke’s house provides additional historical information about the famous prison that operated for one hundred and sixty-eight years.
The museum houses memorabilia as well as a replica cell that illustrates the living conditions at the prison. Visitors can see screens that provide information on prison industries, contract labor and private industries, check/counter-check tactics, and life inside the walls. Items on loan from former Deputy Director Mark Schreiber are also on display.
Governor’s Mansion and Carnahan Memorial Garden
The Governor’s Mansion is a stunning brick home that has been the official residence of Missouri governors since 1872 and one of the oldest governors’ mansions in the United States. It is also said to be one of the few governors mansions to be open to the public. Free guided tours are offered throughout the year and reservations are required for all tours.
The Carnahan Memorial Garden is a striking addition to the Capitol complex, located adjacent to the Governor’s Mansion. It was built in the late 1930s and features an inground pool, decks, walkways and a pergola.
Runge Nature Conservation Center
Runge Nature Center provides educational and interpretive opportunities to see, learn, and appreciate the variety of habitats found in Missouri.
The nature center features five hiking trails, two woodchip and three hard surface that total 2.4 miles through woods, meadows, glades, beside ponds and a beautiful stream in wet weather. The Runge Nature Center offers public programs, nature exhibits with live animals, a large fish tank, wildlife viewing area, and gift shop.
Where to energize: breakfast, lunch and dinner
Breakfast: High-rise Bakery
High Rise Bakery offers a delicious variety of confections, made-to-order brunch options, and takeout from the cold till. Everything at the bakery is homemade with seasonal ingredients.
Lunch: JQ’s on High
JQ’s on High is an upscale hole in the wall where the food truck meets the brick and mortar structure. All menu items are created from scratch. The delicious range of dishes includes their signature Fat Boys Burger, Wango Tango Phish Tacos and The Doggfather, as well as other mouth-watering dishes.
Dinner: Last Flight Brewing Company
Last Flight Brewing Company recently opened in March 2021 and offers comfortable indoor space and spacious outdoor space to create an ideal gathering place for friends to share a craft beer. Throughout the year, local food trucks will come out to offer dinner at the brewery. Frequently returning vendors include Hall’s Kitchen, Pizza Kwik, Mammoth Bites, 4’Deez Treatz and Eatz, and 1905 Bistro Capital Catering. Customers are also welcome to bring their own food.
Plan your trip to the capital on Visit JeffersonCity.com!