Brush Up on History in Jefferson City, Missouri

Take a trip to the Missouri state capitol, Jefferson City, for history, dining, shopping and more.

By Jenna deJong, Juliana Goodwin

Mar 2024

Missouri State Capitol Building
Photo courtesy ShutterstockThe Missouri State Capitol building in downtown Jefferson City.

Where to Eat in Jefferson City

Central Dairy

The weather does not need to be sweltering for you to enjoy an ice cream cone from Central Dairy. The parlor is a popular historical Jefferson City staple and famous for its banana splits. If that’s not your thing, try one of the ice cream dishes, sodas, malts, shakes or sundaes.

Madison’s Cafe

For dinner, make reservations at Madison’s Café, which has been serving diners since 1982. Start with mussels Milano, try one of their many salads, sip on warm seafood bisque and then move onto one of their hand-cut steaks or pasta dishes for dinner. Here’s something you don’t see often: They have Chateaubriand for two, carved tableside.

Prison Brews

After touring the eerie prison, unwind at a local brewery. Prison Brews is a brewpub with a fun play on the penitentiary. There are about 10 beers on draft, and you can order a tasting flight or a growler. If you’re hungry, try a burger, Reuben or pork tenderloin sandwich. There’s a lot going on at this brewery from trivia to bingo.

Missouri State Capitol Building
Photo courtesy Shutterstock

Take a free guided tour of the capitol over the weekend.

Bridge over the Missouri River
Photo By Mark Bosky

Bridge over the Missouri River in Jefferson City, MO.

Places to Visit in Jefferson City

The Missouri State Capitol 

Explore the Missouri State Capitol covering approximately three acres of downtown. Free guided tours by the Missouri State Museum are offered throughout the weekend (about 45 minutes long) and while you’re there, you can even set up an appointment to meet a representative and walk on the senate floor.

The Missouri State Penitentiary

The Missouri State Penitentiary is the Alcatraz of the Show-Me State. There are a variety of tour options from a 2-hour ($25) basic tour to paranormal overnight tours ($100). You’ll learn about the history of the building, escape attempts, executions and infamous prisoners. Time magazine referred to it as “The bloodiest 47 acres in America.

Places to Shop in Jefferson City

Save a little time for shopping because this city has some quaint locally owned shops. Dogwood Vintiques is a vintage consignment shop with everything from housewares to ties and collectibles. Or visit a four-generation shoe store at American Shoe.

Where to Stay in Jefferson City

Victoria's Place by the River 

Formerly known as Cliff Manor Inn is Victoria’s Place by the River. It has four rooms to choose from, located near downtown Jefferson City and within walking distance of the Katy Trail. Fun fact: The first portion of the house was built in 1861 and the second half in 1866.