Central Dairy a Must-Visit in Jefferson City

Central Dairy in Jefferson City
Central Dairy in Jefferson City

Tell someone who knows Jefferson City you’re planning a visit there and you might be surprised at the most frequently asked question about your trip.

Not “Have you taken the tour at the Missouri State Penitentiary?”

Not “Think you might ride the Katy Trail?”

Not even “Are you going to check out the Capitol?”

Nope, it’s likely you’ll be asked, “So, are you going to make a trip to Central Dairy?”

For more than 80 years, Central Dairy has built a reputation for its ice cream parlor, which has become one of the must-visit locations in the capital. Marketing Director Betsy Dudenhoeffer says that, outside of delicious ice cream, the parlor attracts visitors for one simple reason.

“It’s that old-fashioned environment, and I think people come here for that feeling just because, in today’s world, you see less and less of the family friendly environment,” Dudenhoeffer says.

But to say that 1950s décor and vintage wooden benches are the only reasons people show up in droves year after year is to discount the best part of Central Dairy – the ice cream itself! Central Dairy opens at 8 a.m. Monday through Saturday (10 a.m. on Sunday), and for good reason. Dudenhoeffer says regulars stop by as the doors open to get one of Central Dairy’s classic hand-dipped shakes to start their day.

And when it comes to devotion from repeat visitors, Central Dairy’s reach is broad.

“We have a couple that comes in from Texas every year,” Dudenhoeffer adds, “they make it a yearly trip to Jefferson City to frequent Central Dairy.”

While it probably won’t satisfy as much as a delicious hand-dipped cone, check out this video – it should put you in the mood for some of Missouri’s finest ice cream.

Find Central Dairy at 610 Madison Street in Jefferson City. Be sure to bring your appetite.

From Ben Yarnell, new media specialist at the Missouri Division of Tourism.

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