11 Things to Do in Jefferson City MO

Hello, fellow adventure seekers! Curious about what Jefferson City, MO has to offer? If you’re in search of a mix of history, nature, and unique experiences, Jefferson City is a must-visit. I recently had the pleasure of exploring this city, and let me tell you, it was unforgettable! I’m thrilled to share my personal highlights and top recommendations for things to do in Jefferson City, MO.

Updated: March 2024

1. Missouri State Penitentiary Ghost Tour: Thrills and Chills Await!

things to do in Jefferson City, MO

Oh, I’ve got to tell you about this spine-chilling experience that sent shivers down my spine like you wouldn’t believe! It was a dark night featuring a full moon (how perfect is that for a ghost tour?!) and my travel companion and I decided to take on a ghost tour at Missouri State Penitentiary. Now, I usually love ghostly adventures, but something about this historic prison just scared me. Little did I know what I was signing up for!

As we stepped into those hauntingly dark corridors, I felt my heart pounding like a jackhammer. The atmosphere was electric with anticipation, and goosebumps prickled on my skin. The walls seemed to whisper tales of sorrow, resilience, and even hope. I looked at my companion, trying to hide the nerves, but I’m pretty sure they could see right through me.

The tour guide, with a mischievous glint in her eye, began weaving tales of the prison’s chilling history. I felt like I was in the start of a horror movie, but hey, I was all in for the adventure!

We made our way through death row, and the air seemed to change – heavy with the weight of the past. The guide shared stories of infamous inmates, and I couldn’t help but imagine their haunting echoes lingering in those very walls. My heart raced, and my grip on my companion’s arm tightened as we walked through the narrow and caged corridor. It was eerie, to say the least.

And then came the moment I had been half-dreading and half-anticipating – the eerie dungeon. I mean, I had seen enough horror movies to know that dungeons and ghosts don’t usually mix well! As we stepped into that cold, dimly lit space, a chill ran down my spine, and I’m pretty sure I squeaked like a mouse.

Despite the fear that was practically coursing through my veins, the thrill of the experience was undeniable. I clung to my companion’s arm like my life depended on it, but there was an exhilarating rush in facing the unknown.

things to do in Jefferson City, MO

The guide masterfully added suspense to the tour, dropping hints about possible ghost sightings and eerie encounters that had happened to previous visitors. I found myself half-believing every word, my imagination running wild with the possibility of otherworldly encounters.

By the end of the tour, I was both relieved and exhilarated. Yes, there might have been a few nervous giggles and a sigh of relief as we stepped back into the outside world, but it was a fun rollercoaster of emotions, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

So, would I do it all over again? Absolutely! The Missouri State Penitentiary Ghost Tour was an adventure unlike any other – it made my heart race, sent chills down my spine, and filled me with a sense of fear and exhilaration that’s hard to achieve. This was my absolute part of visiting Missouri and I’d rank it in the top 3 things to do in Jefferson City, MO. If you’re up for a thrilling and spooky escapade, take my word for it and dive into the dark corridors of history at the Missouri State Penitentiary. 

2. Missouri State Penitentiary Museum: Unraveling the Past

things to do in Jefferson City, MO

Before the ghost tour, I was curious about the history of the Missouri State Penitentiary. It’s like the upcoming tour ignited this insatiable hunger to know more about the lives that once dwelled behind those imposing walls.

We decided to visit the Missouri State Penitentiary Museum, hoping to unravel even more of the prison’s secrets. The moment we stepped into the museum, it was like stepping back in time. 

As I wandered through the exhibits, I was struck by the rawness of the stories they told. The museum didn’t sugarcoat the past; instead, it offered an unfiltered glimpse into the lives of those incarcerated in the formidable prison across the street. Letters, personal belongings, and even inmate-made crafts were on display, each one a window into a life that was both tragic and captivating.

things to do in Jefferson City, MO

One exhibit, in particular, held my attention for what felt like an eternity. It showcased the personal stories of some of the prison’s most notorious inmates, revealing their humanity beneath the hardened exterior. It was a reminder that every person has a story to tell, no matter how grim their circumstances might have been.

As I read through the stories and examined the artifacts, I couldn’t help but feel a deep sense of empathy. These weren’t just faceless criminals; they were individuals with their own hopes, dreams, and struggles. Some were driven to crime by desperation, while others had made regrettable choices that led them down a dark path. The prison had been a place of punishment, but it was also a place where lives were forever altered.

3. YoYum Frozen Yogurt: A Whimsical Treat

While wandering downtown Jefferson City, our sweet tooth cravings led us straight to YoYum Frozen Yogurt – and it was a delightful discovery! From the moment we stepped inside, we knew we were in for a treat. The place was like a burst of colors with its whimsical decor transporting us to a cheerful wonderland.

As we approached the yogurt bar, we were greeted by an array of flavors and toppings and I couldn’t wait to concoct my perfect dessert. 

Each spoonful was pure bliss.

things to do in Jefferson City, MO

But what truly made YoYum Frozen Yogurt stand out was the quirky and charming addition of beta fish at every table. Yes, you heard that right – actual living, swimming, and utterly adorable beta fish! And the best part? Each fish had a unique name, adding a new level of fun to our frozen yogurt experience.

4. Missouri State Capitol: Top Things to do in Jefferson City MO

Nestled in the heart of Jefferson City, the Missouri State Capitol stands as a captivating beacon of history and political significance. Its attraction extends far beyond the history buffs, drawing in visitors from all walks of life. Even those who wouldn’t typically label themselves as history enthusiasts find themselves enchanted by this place. It’s a must on the things to do in Jefferson City, MO list.

Stepping through its imposing doors and embarking on a guided tour feels like a journey back in time. The hallowed halls echo with whispers of the past, and each room holds untold stories waiting to be unraveled. As visitors wander through the corridors, the breathtaking architecture just wows them- the artistry and craftsmanship of the place just isn’t seen much anymore.

Yet, it is not just the striking beauty of the building that leaves a lasting impression. The guided tour weaves a rich tapestry of captivating stories, unveiling the state’s vibrant political history. From the triumphs to the trials, the Capitol’s walls have witnessed it all – the struggles and the triumphs of the people who have shaped the destiny of Missouri.

As these stories unfold, visitors are spellbound, hanging onto every word. They become immersed in the unfolding narrative, connecting with the past and gaining a deeper understanding of the state’s heritage. 

5. Binder Park: Fun for the Whole Family

Looking for family friendly things to do in Jefferson City MO? This park is a great place to spend a few hours. As you step into the park, you’ll be greeted by the joyful sight of children running around and laughing with glee on the well-equipped playgrounds. Their boundless energy seems contagious, spreading smiles to everyone around.

While the kids immerse themselves in play, adults can take a moment to appreciate the tranquility of the park’s serene river views. The gentle sound of water flowing adds a soothing backdrop to the atmosphere. It’s the perfect setting for relaxation and unwinding amidst nature’s beauty.

And when hunger strikes, a good old-fashioned picnic becomes an irresistible option. Spread out the blanket and indulge in delicious homemade treats while sharing laughter and stories. There’s something about the simplicity of a picnic that brings families closer together, creating memories that last a lifetime.

6. Runge Nature Center: Nature Lover’s Paradise

The Runge Nature Center is an incredible place for nature enthusiasts, offering an unforgettable experience that immerses visitors in the world of Missouri’s wildlife. From the moment you step inside, you’ll be captivated by the center’s interactive exhibits and engaging educational programs, each designed to spark curiosity and excitement.

As you wander through the center, the childlike wonder takes over, and you’ll feel like a kid in a candy store, eager to explore every nook and cranny. The exhibits are like portals that transport you into the heart of Missouri’s diverse ecosystems.

But the real thrill awaits as you venture out onto the nature trails. The moment you set foot on the trail, you’re enveloped by the sights, sounds, and scents of the natural world. Your senses come alive, and you can’t help but feel a sense of awe at the beauty that surrounds you.

7. Dogwood Vintiques

Oh, and let me tell you about the hidden gem we stumbled upon during our Jefferson City adventure – Dogwood Vintiques! It was like discovering a secret portal to a world of vintage wonders.

As I explored the city streets, something caught my eye – a little shop with a charming sign that read “Dogwood Vintiques.” Curiosity got the better of me, and I couldn’t resist stepping inside.

The moment I crossed the threshold, I felt like I had stepped into a time machine. Dogwood Vintiques was a treasure trove of vintage delights, each corner filled with unique and nostalgic finds. From antique furniture to quirky collectibles, the shop had a character of its own that transported me back in time.

things to do in Jefferson City, MO

The friendly shop owner greeted me with a warm smile and I began our journey through the shop. As I wandered through the aisles, I found myself wondering of the stories each piece held, and about the lives they had touched in the past.

So, if you’re ever in Downtown Jefferson City and have a penchant for vintage wonders, make sure to pay a visit to Dogwood Vintiques. It’s not just a shop; it’s a time capsule filled with nostalgia, stories, and a delightful journey back to the past. Trust me; it’s an experience you won’t want to miss!

8. Cole County Historical Museum: Time Traveler’s Delight

Step into the Cole County Historical Museum, and even if history isn’t your usual cup of tea, you’ll find yourself geeking out. The exhibits and artifacts come alive, telling tales of Jefferson City’s past that are impossible to resist. It’s like stepping into a time machine that takes you on a trip through the archives of history.

As you wander through the museum’s exhibits, you can’t help but be drawn into the narratives that surround you. The artifacts and displays seem to come alive, telling the stories of the people who once called Jefferson City home. It’s incredible how those little pieces of the past can spark such curiosity and wonder.

From old photographs of everyday life to treasured relics from significant events, each piece has its tale to share. You will be transported back in time, imagining what life was like during those pivotal moments in history. It’s like being a time traveler, immersed in the richness of the past.

When you leave the museum, you’ll feel like they’ve just gone on a journey through time. The experience will leave you with a newfound appreciation for the heritage of Jefferson City and a sense of connection to its past inhabitants. It’s a great way to understand the city’s roots and the people who shaped its story.

Whether you’re a history geek or not, I encourage everyone not to miss the chance to explore this captivating museum. You might just find yourself geeking out in the best possible way. 

9. Governor’s Garden: A Peaceful Retreat

When in need of some quiet contemplation, seek solace in the Governor’s Garden. The greenery and serene ambiance offer a perfect escape for unwinding and finding inner peace. As you step into the garden, it’s as if the worries of the world melt away, leaving you with nothing but a sense of calm and tranquility.

Surrounded by vibrant flora and the gentle rustling of leaves, you’ll feel a deep connection to nature. The garden becomes a sanctuary, allowing you to pause, breathe, and immerse yourself in the beauty of the present moment. Time seems to stand still, and the outside world fades into the background, leaving only a sense of peace within. The Governor’s Garden has a magical way of grounding you. 

10. Downtown Jefferson City: Where History Meets Modernity

things to do in Jefferson City, MO

Downtown Jefferson City was like stepping into a charming time capsule, and let me tell you, it was incredible! As we roamed the streets, I couldn’t help but feel like a modern-day explorer on a treasure hunt. Vintage buildings and quirky shops were scattered all around, each one holding a piece of history..

The city’s architecture was a sight to behold – a perfect blend of old-world elegance and modern flair. I couldn’t resist running my fingers along the ornate facades, as if trying to connect with the stories etched into those walls.

As I wandered deeper into the heart of Downtown, time seemed to lose its meaning. I found myself getting lost in the maze of streets, hypnotized by the city’s unique charm. I had no agenda, no schedule to keep, and I reveled in the freedom of wandering aimlessly. This is definitely a thing to do Jefferson City MO when you visit.

11. Missouri State Museum: A Fascinating Educational Experience

Honestly, museums usually make people feel like walking encyclopedias, but the Missouri State Museum is different. It’s like an interactive crash course in Missouri’s history, engaging and enlightening at the same time. Visitors leave feeling proud to have learned so much about the state they were visiting.

The moment visitors step inside, they can feel the excitement bubbling up. The exhibits are so well-crafted, making history come alive right before their eyes. It’s not just a collection of artifacts; it’s a story waiting to be unfolded. This is why this place is one of the best things to do in Jefferson City MO.

Moving from one display to another, visitors can’t help but be drawn into the narratives of Missouri’s past. The stories of pioneers, trailblazers, and everyday heroes paint a vivid picture of the state’s journey through time.  What stands out is the interactive elements sprinkled throughout the museum. It’s not just about staring at dusty old relics behind glass; visitors get to touch, feel, and even participate in some of the exhibits! It makes learning so much more fun and memorable.

From the early days of settlement to the struggles and triumphs of Missouri’s growth, it feels like an adventure through time. Leaving the museum, visitors don’t feel like tourists passing through, but people who have a genuine connection with the state they visited. There’s a sense of pride in learning about Missouri’s history, making visitors appreciate even more the places they’ve visited and the people they’ve met during their time there.

As I bid farewell to Jefferson City, I couldn’t help but feel grateful for the unforgettable memories I made. This city surprised me in so many ways – it was like finding a treasure trove of history, nature, and unique experiences all in one place. If you’re seeking a destination that has it all, look no further than the things to do in Jefferson City, MO. Trust me; it’ll leave you feeling awe-inspired and longing to return for more adventures!

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