Jefferson City Tourist Information and Tourism

(Jefferson City, Missouri - MO, USA)

Named in honour of America's third president, Thomas Jefferson, Missouri's state capital began its life towards the end of the 18th century, following the arrival of Europeans. The year 1821 saw Jefferson City become the capital of Missouri and today, this understated city is often overlooked by visitors searching for more obvious tourist attractions and holiday destinations.

Located alongside the Missouri River and on the far northern side of the Ozark Plateau, the city manages to boast an extremely central setting in the very heart of the state. This means that it has good interstate connections to the largest cities of Missouri, such as Kansas City and Independence (I-70 west), St. Louis (I-70 east) and Springfield (I-44 southwest).

Being sited within the Missouri Rhineland means that Jefferson City is close to a profusion of wineries and vineyards, which often offer guided tours and contribute to the region's already healthy tourism industry. Within the city itself, the domed Missouri State Capitol Building proudly overlooks the cityscape and the river from its elevated setting. Of interest, the famous Lewis and Clark Expedition actually passed by this spot many years ago, in the early years of the 1800s. For more in the way of history and in-depth tourist information, the Jefferson City Convention and Visitors Bureau on East High Street (close to the First Presbyterian Church) should be your first port of call upon your arrival.

Jefferson City Tourist Information and Tourism: Top Sights

Character is one thing that Jefferson City has in abundance, thanks to its multitude of old and stylish buildings, which are in particularly good supply around the Jefferson Landing State Historic Site. In particular, look out for the former Union Hotel (now the city's Amtrak Station), the Christopher Maus House and also the Jefferson Landing Building (often known as the Lohman's Landing Building). Standing proud on Lafayette Street is the Missouri State Penitentiary, a huge maximum security prison that operated between 1836 and 2004, and is now opened to members of the general public as a rather unusual and quirky tourist attraction. If you prefer less confinement, then consider a trip to the Runge Nature Center, where some enormous sequoias are accompanied by conservation trails and plenty of native Missouri wildlife. For an intimate evening of entertainment, there are often some very affordable shows staged at the small Scene One Theater on East High Street. More information about Jefferson City Tourist Attractions.

A sightseeing trip in Jefferson City often begins with a guided tour of the Missouri State Capitol Building, where you can admire the workmanship close-up and enjoy some exceptional art works, many of which were purchased due to an unexpected excess of funds for the building project. The Capitol dates back to the second decade of the 1900s and features a whispering gallery within the dome itself, as well as a viewing platform on the roof and a spectacular chandelier, restored in 2007 at the princely sum of US$500,000. Just down the road and close to the riverfront is the Missouri Governor's Mansion, which features an especially grand interior, complete with an extravagant staircase and innumerable antiques. Also close by is the Missouri State Supreme Court Building on West High Street, where an attractive French-Renaissance facade is fronted by red-brick architecture, with simple stone pillars positioned in front of each wing.

A number of poignant and interesting memorials are dotted around downtown Jefferson City. Look out for the Korean and Vietnam Veteran's Memorial on Monroe Street, and the Soldier's Memorial Plaza within the University of Lincoln's campus. And on West Capitol Avenue, the Lewis and Clark Trail Monument remembers these brave explorers. More information about Jefferson City Landmarks and Monuments.

If you would like to learn a little information about the history of both the city and the state, then a visit to the Missouri State Museum is certainly in order. Situated on the first floor of the capital, the museum is run by the Department of Natural Resources and boasts in the region of some 70,000 relics and artifacts, including Civil War flags and much militaria, as well as city models and wildlife exhibits. Located alongside the Jefferson Landing State Historic Site and called home by many valuable collections is the Cole County Historical Museum, while art lovers are advised to time their visit to coincide with the hugely popular Jefferson City Art Exposed Gallery Crawl, staged twice a year, in early May and again in late September. For art appreciation all through the year, choices include the Art Bazaar on East High Street, Capital Arts on the Missouri Boulevard and the Elizabeth Rozier Gallery on Jefferson Street. More information about Jefferson City Museums and Jefferson City Art Galleries.

Jefferson City's central situation in Missouri, part-way between the considerably larger cities of St. Louis (east) and Kansas City (west), means that both of these cities are just about close enough for day trips to be possible, particularly if you are able to catch an early train. Closer to the capital, tempting excursions include Lake Ozark, the Osage Tavern State Wildlife Area and the Rocky Mount Towersite State Wildlife Area, where hiking trails, nature and an endless choice of views are combined. At around 30 minutes away, the small town of Fulton is highly suitable for a day trip, with many choosing to come here to check out the collection of vintage vehicles at its Kingdom Expo and Antique Car Museum.

A little further away is the enticing city of Columbia, where keen photographers regularly come just to capture the David R. Francis Quadrangle at the resident University of Missouri. Also in the area is the Katy Trail State Park and the Rock Bridge Memorial State Park. A simple day out can be enjoyed by following the leisurely Missouri River Wine Trail and sampling the produce at the various wineries along the route, such as the family run Les Bourgeois Vineyards and Winery, where the views across the Missouri River Valley have to be seen. More information about Jefferson City Attractions Nearby.

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