What’s on Your Local Must-See List

Spend a day exploring castle ruins and nature's wonder at Ha Ha Tonka State Park.

We are all guilty of it: You live in a place for a few years, or even a lifetime, and frequent the same shops, restaurants, parks, attractions.

I have lived in the Jefferson City area most of my life but still hear about great places I have never seen. So, I have decided to make a local must-see list. My plan is to see all the places on my list within the next six months, and I am only selecting places within an hour drive of my home.

  • Revisit downtown Jefferson City. I work on the edge of downtown Jefferson City but don’t make it to the other areas of downtown very often. I have heard of some great new shops that I need to check out.
  • Revisit downtown Columbia. I have been to downtown Columbia back in my college days, but so many things have changed – drastically (in a really good way). I did stumble across Chong’s, a small oriental market, the other day and absolutely loved exploring all the oriental food options.
  • I have always been jealous of the people who have a small market with fresh fruits and vegetables “just down the street.” Jefferson City has one now (has been open for a little over a year) and I still have not made it there, so D&D Main Street Market is on my list.
  • Across from D&D Main Street Market is a small, locally owned café, Angelina’s Cafe, which I have not yet visited. In addition, there is a new Missouri Boulevard Café that I am adding to my “must try” food list, and two more restaurants opening on nearby. I’m very excited to try them all.
  • There are a couple of Missouri State Parks that I also have not visited. Clark’s Hill/Norton State Historic Site is just outside of Jefferson City on Highway 50, and about five miles from my childhood home. Yes, that close. The trails at this historic site were once walked by Lewis and Clark, and they camped at the base of Clark’s Hill in 1804.
  • Rock Bridge Memorial State Park is one that is a little farther from home, but still easily within an hour’s drive. MOTravelSon will enjoy exploring the caves and the “jungle” as we walk the trails at this park. Great exercise and learning experience for him, too! This will probably be one we save for the warmer months.
  • This is my cheater one, I have been here before, but not since I was about 10, so I want to go back with my son to share my memories. Painted Rock Conservation Area was the place we would go as a family, with our Labrador retriever, and walk the trails for hours.
  • As many kids do in the winter months, MOTravelSon is asking when he can go swimming again. The Arc is an indoor water recreation area in Columbia that many of my friends have taken their children to, but we have not made it there yet. Hope to soon.
  • Another indoor water park that is within an hour drive of us that we have not visited yet is Timber Falls at Tan-Tar-A Resort in Lake of the Ozarks. While I have stayed in the hotel many times, it has been for work reasons and have not had much time to enjoy the fun side of the resort or water park.
  • I finally made it to Ha Ha Tonka State Park this past summer, but was there for work reasons. We just walked around the ruins and didn’t have time to enjoy the trails. From the scenic outlook we were able to see the beautiful blue water of the spring below and this prompted my need for a return trip. The waters were far below the scenic outlook and were just so beautiful that I decided I must return to see the spring up close.

So, that’s my local must-see list. I would encourage others to create a similar list and share it, too. These are attractions and eateries we pass by daily or those just a short day trip from your home. They don’t require a significant amount of pre-planning but will provide entertainment for you and your family.

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