Central Missouri of the Ozarks is full of things to do, if you have a passion for city lights, then you certainly will enjoy Missouri’s capital, Jefferson City. Whether catching an indie film at the downtown cinema, dancing in the streets or simply, watching a flick at the amphitheater, you’re sure to love the downtown experience. For those who enjoy history, you do not want to miss out on the museums and remarkable historic landmarks in this region of the Ozarks. The vibrant art displays and dinner theaters are also high on the “to do “ list for most visitors. Jefferson City hosts numerous baseball and softball tournaments, track and field events, the Capital City Summer Hoops Classic, disc golf and soccer tournaments. With the increasing popularity of competitive races, 5ks and other fun races are popping up in the Jefferson City area including the annual Prison Break Race, themed from the infamous decommissioned Missouri State Penitentiary.
Central Missouri offers a large variety of things to do in the great outdoors. Fishing, skiing, and boating are some of the favorite things to do when visiting Lake of the Ozarks. Lake of the Ozarks State park is Missouri’s largest park and has 89 miles of shoreline, featuring marinas, boat-launching areas, swimming beaches and an aquatic trail. Also available are campgrounds, hiking, mountain biking and equestrian trails.
The Ha Ha Tanka State Park in Camdenton, Missouri is a fun place for travelers and locals alike. This is the home of the remains of a massive, circa 1905 European-style stone castle. Atop the towering bluffs, you will find the views of Lake of the Ozarks breath-taking. The winding trails will take you past caves, a spring, sinkholes, a natural bridge and down to the lake. And for a more, up-close and personal look at the caves, you may want to consider a tour.
Touring the caverns can be enjoyed by the entire family. When touring the Ozark Cavern (children’s tours are also offered) you use handheld lanterns and bats, salamanders and interesting cave formations are features of this cave. The Bridal Cave/Thunder Mountain Park tours travel over concrete pathways, through the cave’s 60-degree environment and one-hour guided tours are offered every few minutes. The park’s facilities include a rock shop, a sportswear shop, observation decks and Observation Tower, a lakeside picnic area, and a boat dock. To make things even more interesting, a Bridal Chapel is located inside the cave and has hosted more than 4,200 weddings.
Central Missouri’s Current River is the most spring-fed of all the Ozark rivers, the Current may be floated at almost any time of the year, particularly below Welch Spring. On weekends in the summer, the river is usually crowded. Due to the increase in size of the river and the frequency of motor boats below Big Spring, most canoe and kayak trips are made on the sections above Big Spring. The current flows through the counties of Dent, Shannon, Carter and Ripley.
Big Spring was one of Missouri's first state parks. Big Springs is located four miles south of Van Buren at the end of State Route 103. It is sometimes called America's biggest spring. In reality there are three contenders for that title: Big Spring, Idaho's Snake River Spring Complex and Florida's Silver Spring. Since the flow from springs varies with local rainfall, any of these three might be biggest on any given day depending on the weather in Missouri, Idaho and Florida! The truth is they are all about the same size.
Other rivers located in the Ozarks of Central Missouri that are also great for kayaking and canoeing are the Niangua, Meramec, Gasconade, Huzzah, and Big Piney, each offering it's very own wonderfully unique experience.
Sikeston, Missouri hosts the annual Crawfish Boil & Music Festival. Here you will enjoy fresh Louisiana crawfish and all the fixings and live music from several bands of this region. The event features great food, drinks, music, and kids’ activities.
Through forest management, the Missouri Conservation Department is trying to provide better forests, wildlife habitat for animals such as deer, turkey, and songbirds, and help maintain watershed quality. The Rudolf Bennitt Lake (about 48 acres) was built in 1999 as part of the Moniteau Creek Watershed Conservation Plan. This lake provides a good fishery for bass, catfish, bluegill, crappie, and sunfish. Watering ponds have also been built to provide habitat and water for the area's wildlife. Hikers, bikers, and equestrians can enjoy the Moniteau Trail throughout most of the year (seasonal restrictions for bikers and equestrians). There are several conservation areas and nature centers available throughout Central Missouri for travelers visiting the Show-me State.
The geologic formations are some of the features of the 2,273-acre Rock Bridge Memorial State Park located in Columbia, Missouri. Connor’s Cave can be explored on your own.
Laura Ingalls Wilder is famous for her Little House books. Thousands of visitors visit the historic Rocky Ridge Farm site every year and are inspired by her pilgrimage life and the Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Home and Museum. When visiting the area, you will most certainly enjoy a special connection with the historic Rocky Ridge Farm and the Ozark Mountain Region. Central Missouri is a thriving vacation destination in the Ozarks, not only for fans of Laura, but for those seeking a Midwestern Americana experience.
The Harry S. Truman Library located in Independence Missouri is one experience that you and your party will find eventful and fascinating. Here the amazing life story of America’s 33rd president is beautifully displayed. From his humble beginnings, to his rise to become the most powerful man in the world. Harry S. Truman guided our nation (and the world) through some of the most perilous times in our history. He made decisions that shaped the world we live in today. Since the Library’s dedication in July 1957, the Library and Museum has welcomed millions of visitors from all across the globe.
For the food and drink lovers, you may want to consider Hermann Missouri for their smoky, savory and delicious food and wines. Bacon is the star ingredient in the foods paired with wine at the Wild Bacon Wine Trail on the Hermann Wine Trail.