Jefferson City, the capital of Missouri, is named after the third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson. It is a beautiful city with plenty of attractions and activities to do. In fact, it is home to some of the state’s best parks, historic sites, and museums. You’ll enjoy outdoor activities like hiking and kayaking to exploring the rich cultural heritage of the city. Here, I have compiled a list of the 23 best things to do in Jefferson City, Missouri.
Things To Do In Jefferson City, Missouri
1. Admire The Stunning Architecture Of The Missouri State Capitol
The Missouri State Capitol is one of the most stunning Jefferson City attractions. Built in 1917, it is a stunning structure with its distinctive white dome, grand interior, and beautiful grounds. In fact, it is one of the most outstanding buildings in the city, either due to its structure’s beauty or immensity.
Today, the capitol houses the state’s legislative and executive branches of government and is open for tours. The building has beautiful paintings and statues, which are really significant to American history. The most striking for all its visitors is that of Thomas Jefferson, which is worthy of a family photograph.
On the first floor, you’ll find the State Museum. This museum is made up of paintings, friezes, and pediments, where the main attraction is a series of murals painted by the American painter Thomas Hart Benton.
Also, don’t miss the third floor, where you will find the Missouri Hall of Fame. This hall contains a series of people who have contributed achievements to the state.
There’s a lot to explore in the Missouri State Capitol that I can’t mention all of them here. Therefore, I would really recommend you plan your trip here and witness its stunning architecture with your own eyes.
Address: 201 W Capitol Ave, Jefferson City, MO 65101, United States
2. Visit The Missouri State Penitentiary Museum For A Fascinating Glimpse Into The Past
The Missouri State Penitentiary, also known as “MSP,” was once one of the oldest and most infamous prisons in America.
It was founded in 1836 and housed some of the most notorious criminals, such as James Earl Ray, who assassinated Martin Luther King Jr. This is also where the infamous 1954 prison riot occurred, which was one of the most violent in prison history. Many of the inmates were killed and injured during the riot, and the prison was even burned down in the process.
At one point, The Times Magazine dubbed it “the bloodiest 47 acres in America” after more than 40 people were executed within its walls. However, the prison was de-commissioned in 2004 and is now open to visitors as a museum.
You can explore its death row and solitary confinement units and gain insight into the harsh realities of its past. The tour guides will tell you stories about the prison, its inmates, and the events that took place within its walls. It’s a great way to learn more about the history of prison life in America and understand how far it has come.
Address: 115 Lafayette St, Jefferson City, MO 65101, United States.
3. Take A Tour Of The Governor’s Mansion And Gardens
Visiting the Missouri Governor’s Mansion is one of the best things to do in Jefferson City and a must-do for history buffs. Built in 1872, this classic Neo-Renaissance mansion was designed by renowned architect George Ingham Barnett and served as the official residence of Missouri’s state governor.
Today, the mansion is open to the public and offers guided tours. During your tour, you will get a glimpse into the state’s rich history with its impressive interior, featuring pink granite columns and a grand walnut stairway. The mansion also includes a beautiful garden, which visitors can explore as they take in the sights and sounds of Jefferson City.
And being one of the iconic attractions in Jefferson City, note that all visitors must make reservations for tours at least one day in advance.
Address: 100 Madison St, Jefferson City, MO 65101, United States.
4. Tour The Museum Of Missouri Military History
The Museum of Missouri Military History is an impressive museum located in the National Guard’s training center. It showcases various artifacts and memorabilia from the Revolutionary war of the 1700s to the present day.
The museum is well-known for its weaponry collections, which include an F-4 Phantom II fighter, a C-130 Hercules, an F-15 Eagle fighter, a Sheridan Tank, and more. Taking a guided tour of the museum is the best way to truly appreciate the history of Missouri and its military forces.
5. Explore Missouri’s Natural Beauty at Runge Nature Center
There’s no better place to explore Jefferson City’s natural beauty than the Runge Nature Centre. A haven for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts, this 100-acre nature reserve is home to a variety of local wildlife. You can enjoy miles of nature trails, bird-watching, educational programs for all ages, and more.
In addition, there is a 3,580-gallon aquarium that displays different species of fish from Missouri’s freshwaters. There is also a museum that houses a variety of artifacts, fossils, and photographs of the area’s natural history.
Overall, the Runge Nature Centre is the perfect place to spend a day. It’s great for families, couples, and individuals who want to experience the beauty of the city in a peaceful and natural environment. This then makes it one of the top tourist sites in Jefferson City not to be missed.
Address: 330 Commerce Dr, Jefferson City, MO 65109, United States
6. Explore The Downtown Jefferson City
A visit to Jefferson City’s Downtown district is a must-do for anyone visiting the area. The downtown area boasts an array of attractions, from historic buildings to fantastic eateries and shops.
The district is home to some of the city’s most iconic architecture and buildings, including the Cole County Courthouse, the Trust Bank Building, Lohman’s Opera House, and more.
Take a stroll down High Street to experience Jefferson City’s vibrant shopping district, with an array of independent boutiques and stores. The district also offers plenty of options for a bite to eat, from classic diners and pubs to international cuisine.
The downtown area also hosts a number of great festivals and events, from art walks to farmer’s markets and holiday celebrations. And with so much to explore, Downtown Jefferson City is a great place to add to the list of things to do in Jefferson City, Mo.
7. Go Hiking At Binder State Park
Do you need a break from city life? Binder State Park is just the place for you to get away and enjoy nature. This park, encompassing over 640 acres, is known for its many hiking trails that wind through the woods, passing by streams, rivers, and picturesque meadows, offering an amazing outdoor experience.
The park is also home to some amazing wildlife, including deer, rabbits, and birds. There are also some great fishing spots in the rivers that you can explore during your visit. All these make the park a great destination when looking for the best places to visit in Jefferson City.
Address: 5840 Rainbow Dr, Jefferson City, MO 65109, United States.
8. Catch A Show At The Miller Performing Arts Center
There’s no room for boredom in Jefferson City, Missouri. So if you’re looking for something to do at night, The Miller Performing Arts Center is a great place to go. The center has been home to some of the best theater, music, dance, and comedy shows in Jefferson City.
The theater is state of the art and offers comfortable seating, excellent acoustics, and a great view. There is also an art gallery at the upper level which showcases the works of local artists.
Therefore, check their website to see what’s on and plan your visit. It’s one of those things to do in Jefferson City that will make your vacation unforgettable.
Address: 501 Madison St, Jefferson City, MO 65101, United States
9. Take A Stroll Around Carnahan Memorial Garden
Are you looking for a peaceful spot to relax and unwind in Jefferson City? Then look no further than Carnahan Memorial Garden. The garden was built in honor of former governor Mel Carnahan, who was killed in a plane crash while campaigning for the U.S. Senate.
The garden is situated close to the Governor’s Mansion and is a great spot for an afternoon stroll. It’s filled with lush greenery and colorful flowers, making it the perfect place to relax and enjoy nature. There is also a swimming pond in the center, surrounded by a variety of trees, shrubs, and flowers.
Therefore, if you’re looking for a peaceful and relaxing place to visit in Jefferson City, make sure to head over to the Carnahan Memorial Garden. Its tranquil atmosphere and stunning landscape will make it your go-to spot for a soothing escape.
Address: 101 Jefferson St, Jefferson City, MO 65101, United States
10. Explore The Local Art Scene At Capital Arts Gallery
The Capital Arts Gallery is a great place to check out the local art scene in Jefferson City. This gallery features rotating artwork exhibitions that showcase artists’ talents from Jefferson City and Missouri.
You’ll find both traditional and contemporary art on display, ranging from paintings and sculptures to photography and installations. The gallery also features a range of educational programs, such as the Capital Chalk Art Festival and Artist Talks, which provide an opportunity to learn more about the art and culture of Jefferson City.
Address: 1203 Missouri Blvd, Jefferson City, MO 65109, United States.
11. Visit The Lewis And Clark Monument
Lewis and Clark were the first Europeans to explore the land west of the Mississippi and were responsible for mapping much of what is now Missouri. Today, the Lewis and Clark Monument commemorates the achievements of these courageous men and serves as a reminder of their remarkable journey.
Here you will find life-size statues of the explorers and other artifacts like firearms, telescopes, hats, and a notebook. The monument is set in a park-like atmosphere, with waterfalls and plenty of benches to rest and take in the views.
Take your time to explore the monument and better understand the lives of these remarkable explorers. And being one of the top attractions in Jefferson City, don’t forget to get some pictures.
Address: 19962 Monument Rd, Council Bluffs, IA 51503, United States.
12. Step Back In Time At Jefferson Landing State Historic Site
The best way to experience life in the 19th century is to visit the Jefferson Landing State Historic Site. This state-operated site contains several old buildings that are the perfect representation of days gone by. Some of the famous buildings include the Elizabeth Rosier gallery, Christopher Maus House, the Union Hotel, the Lohman Building, and many more.
There are also several art galleries and museums where you can learn more about Jefferson City’s history. I suggest taking a guided tour of the site, as it will give you a better understanding of the history behind the buildings and their significance in the city.
A trip here is definitely of the best things to do in Jefferson City if you want to get an idea of what life was like in the 19th century. And note that this historic site is open to the general public from March to December.
Address: 100 Jefferson Street, Jefferson City, MO 65101, United States.
13. Enjoy The Tasty Delicacies At Prison Brews
Food is a major part of any vacation. But if you’re looking for something unique to try in Jefferson City, Prison Brews is a must-visit.
Prison Brews is a popular prison-themed brewery located just a few blocks from the infamous Missouri State Penitentiary. The facility produces an array of delicious beers ranging from light lagers to robust porters and fruity ales.
They also prepare some delicious food to accompany all your drinks. The menu offers a variety of dishes, such as pizzas, sandwiches, burgers, and more. So you’re sure to find something that will satisfy your appetite.
Address: 305 Ash St, Jefferson City, MO 65101, United States
14. Learn About Local History At The Cole County Historical Museum
The Cole County Historical Museum is a must-see attraction in Jefferson if you want to gain insight into the region’s rich history and culture. The museum is dedicated to collecting and preserving artifacts from Cole County.
The Goller Room is the most notable in the museum, and it is full of items from Revolutionary War. Of particular interest is the saber used by Mad Anthony Wayne during the war of 1812. You’ll also find a number of other items, such as a tablecloth with a portrait of George Washington.
The Civil War Room is another great room that contains artifacts from the Civil War era. You’ll find hundreds of photographs, documents, guns, uniforms, and other items.
The museum has an impressive collection of artifacts from the state’s pioneer days which will give you a glimpse of what life was like in the 19th century.
Address: 109 Madison St, Jefferson City, MO 65101, United States.
15. Explore Devil’s Icebox Cave
Located about 40 minutes away from Jefferson City, Devil’s Icebox Cave is a popular spot for adventurous explorers and nature lovers. Hidden inside Rock Bridge Memorial State Park, the Devil Icebox Cave is a fascinating cave that stays at 56 degrees year-round. It’s also said to be one of the longest caves in the state of Missouri.
You can hike into the cave and explore the entire length or explore the area around the cave, where you’ll find plenty of other attractions, such as trails and waterfalls.
Overall, a trip here is one of the most exciting things to do in Jefferson City, as it allows you to explore the wonders of nature.
Address: 5901 South Highway 163, Columbia, MO 65203, United States
16. Enjoy The Underworld With Scuba Adventure
Scuba Adventures is the most popular destination in Jefferson City for diving and snorkeling enthusiasts. This unique dive center offers a number of scuba diving experiences for all levels, from beginner to experienced.
The dive center has a team of certified instructors and guides available to help you get the most out of your diving adventure. There are also scuba gear and equipment available for rent onsite, making it easy to get everything you need for your dive.
So whether you’re a beginner or a pro, Scuba Adventures is the perfect place to explore and enjoy the underwater world.
Address: 2200 E McCarty St, Jefferson City, MO 65101, United States
17. Have Fun At North Jefferson City Recreation Area
Encompassing over 165 acres of land, the North Jefferson City Recreation Area is one of the best places in Jefferson City to spend time outdoors. It is open to the public and features numerous outdoor activities, like camping, picnicking, boating, hiking, and biking. There is also a pavilion that can hold 250 people and a picnic area with grills and picnic tables.
North Jefferson City Recreation Area is particularly popular during the summer months, as it offers a great escape for local families. It is also a great spot for those who want to enjoy some time alone, as there is plenty of space for solitude.
Address: 927 4th St, Jefferson City, MO 65101, United States.
18. Shop Till You Drop At Capital Mall
Shopping enthusiasts can have the time of their life at Capital Mall. Located in the heart of central Missouri, this mall offers a great selection of stores and restaurants.
High-end retailers like Dillard’s, JCPenney, and Sears offer the latest trends at competitive prices. There are also specialty stores that carry unique items to suit every style and budget.
And for those looking for a bite, the food courts have plenty of options ranging from fast food to sit-down restaurants. On top of that, Capital Mall also has a great entertainment center with an extensive arcade and kid’s play area. This spot is perfect for families and friends to hang out and have a great time.
So if you’re looking for fun things to do in Jefferson City, this mall is sure to meet your needs.
Address: 3600 Country Club Dr, Jefferson City, MO 65109, United States.
19. Take A Tour Of Clark’s Hill/Norton State Historic Site
Another must-see Jefferson City attraction is Clark’s Hill/Norton State Historic Site. This site was where Lewis and Clark, two of the most famous explorers in U.S. history, camped during their journey along the Missouri River in 1804.
The park covers 13 acres of land and offers many outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing, and bird watching. Visitors can also take in the stunning views of the Missouri and Osage Rivers from Clark’s Hill overlook.
This land was donated by William and Carol Norton and has been preserved as a historical site to honor their memory and the history of Lewis and Clark’s expedition.
Address: 8838, 1816 Osage Hickory St, Jefferson City, MO 65101, United States
20. Learn About The City’s History At The Missouri State Museum
Located on the first floor of the State Capitol, the Missouri State Museum offers visitors a chance to learn about Jefferson City’s rich history and culture. The museum was founded in 1919 and is dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of Missouri’s history and culture.
The museum boasts a collection of more than 30,000 artifacts, including documents, photographs, artworks, and artifacts. The exhibits range from the early days before Indian removal to the modern era and cover a wide range of topics, including Civil War battles, the Missouri River, transportation, and more.
Allocate at least an hour or two to explore this museum. This will allow you to learn about the city’s history and enjoy seeing some intriguing artifacts.
Address: 201 W Capitol Ave, Jefferson City, MO 65101, United States.
21. Catch A Baseball Game At Vivion Field
Vivion Field is home to the Jefferson City Renegades, a college-level baseball team in the Missouri Valley Conference. This ballpark is a great place to catch a game and enjoy the excitement of American baseball.
The ballpark is known for its family-friendly atmosphere, and the stadium offers fans a wide range of concessions and activities. The Renegades are one of the top teams in the league, so you will be sure to see some great baseball here!
The Vivion Field experience is unlike any other, so be sure to check it out if you’re looking for fun things to do in Jefferson City.
Address: 1309 Missouri Blvd, Jefferson City, MO 65109, United States
22. Play A Round Of Golf At Turkey Creek Golf Center
For those who love golf, the Turkey Creek Golf Center is a great place to enjoy some time on the green. Located just outside Jefferson City, this golf center features an 18-hole golf course, a 9-hole regular course, and miniature golf.
The courses offer a challenge for all levels of golfers, as well as great views and beautiful scenery. The center also provides equipment rentals, lessons, and practice areas for those who want to work on their game.
You can also enjoy pony rides and even visit a petting zoo with various animals. And if you need to recharge, there is a full-service restaurant and bar serving delicious meals and drinks.
Address: 1616 Oilwell Rd, Jefferson City, MO 65101, United States
23. Enjoy Jefferson City Nightlife
After spending your day enjoying the top sights of Jefferson City, why not explore its exciting nightlife? There are plenty of bars, pubs, and restaurants that offer live music and entertainment, making it the perfect place to end your day.
Some popular nightlife spots include The Mission, Twin Bridges Bar & Grill LLC, High Street Pub, and Prison Brews. Each venue offers something unique and will keep you entertained until late into the night. And if you’re looking for something a bit more relaxed, there are many coffee shops and theatres to check out.
So when looking for fun things to do in Jefferson City at night, you’ll be spoilt for choice. No matter what your preference is, you’re bound to find something that will make your night memorable.