Named after third US President Thomas Jefferson, most Missourians associate Jefferson City with its domed Missouri State Capitol that houses the legislative and executive branches of the state government.

While Jefferson City is the go-to spot if you’re talking politics, the state capital has a lot to offer even for those who aren’t involved in lawmaking, including more than forty buildings on the National Register of Historic Places. With a bustling downtown district that welcomes tourists—when there isn’t a pandemic happening—Missouri’s capital is a great travel destination to keep in mind for when we can hit the road again.

LODGE at the Globe Hotel Bed and Breakfast in nearby Hartsburg. The B&B offers its guests a homey feel that’s worth the twenty-minute drive from Jefferson City. In addition to its comfortable rooms and friendly hosts, you can also view the Katy Trail right outside the hotel’s front door, making it a great place to lodge if you’re in need of an adventure.

If you’d rather keep your overnight stay local, Capitol Plaza Hotel and Convention Center is a great choice in Jeff City. The hotel is three blocks from the Missouri State Capitol and is within walking distance to most of the tourist attractions in town.

DINE at Sweet Smoke BBQ in the downtown district. Whether you’re a diehard barbecue fan or new to the smoked food scene, Sweet Smoke is one of the most appetizing places to be. Don’t know what to order? We suggest the Pick 2 Combo with the brisket and sausage with pit beans and potato salad (or the jalapeno cheddar grits if you’re extra hungry).

If you’re simply looking for a caffeine boost and a quick bite to eat, try Yanis Coffee Zone, specializing in Middle Eastern plates in addition to its brewed beverages. Order a gyro topped with hummus or tzatziki sauce when you get the chance. To wind down, hit up BarVino for a well-crafted cocktail and please, follow the house rules on page one of the menu to keep things classy. Although rule number one is no drunkenness allowed, BarVino’s sophisticated atmosphere is part of its appeal.

VISIT the Missouri State Museum that was founded in 1919. It’s on the first floor of the Capitol and features multiple exhibits that display the Show-Me State’s full history. When you’re finished at the museum, look around the Capitol that is toured by approximately 250,000 visitors each year.

You can explore the supposedly haunted Missouri State Penitentiary. In operation from 1836 to 2004, the facility served as Missouri’s main maximum security prison. Currently operating as a museum, the nineteenth-century prison now offers both public and private tours available through online booking.

If you want to experience something a little less-known, visit Unique Creations Candle Bar on the historic East High Street, where you can blend scents, add oils, and test your aromatic creativity in glassware that you choose. While you wait about two hours for the candle to be ready to take home, you can browse more than thirty places to shop and dine in this district.

Photos // Missouri Division of Tourism and Kennedy Ward.