Featuring the Ozark Mountains, the Missouri Rhineland, and Jefferson City—the state capital—Central Missouri is a beautiful place to visit and a tranquil retirement destination. Moving toward Missouri's eastern border, you'll also find St. Louis, a popular vacation spot that has been nicknamed the "Gateway to the West." On the western border, Kansas City is the state's largest municipality.
Stretching across the middle of the state, Central Missouri encompasses cities, small towns, and rural areas. The climate varies throughout the region, but it typically features hot, rainy summers and cold winters with light snowfall. In Jefferson City, average summer temperatures rise to the high 80s, while winter days are more likely to be in the high 30s or low 40s.
As the state capital, Jefferson City offers historic sites, museums, shopping districts, and more. Yet Jefferson City is not the largest city in Central Missouri. Kansas City, St. Louis, and Columbia are much larger cities, each offering their own local attractions, including performing arts facilities, sports arenas, and thriving urban centers.
The City of Columbia is the county seat of Boone County and is located squarely in Central Missouri, halfway between St. Louis and Kansas City. The city is home to the University of Missouri, the Missouri Theatre Center for the Arts, and the State Historical Society of Missouri. Music, particularly jazz and blues, is an important part of Columbia's culture and the city hosts popular festivals such as the We Always Swing Jazz Series and the Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival.
St. Louis, MO
To the far east, St. Louis is known for its impressive landmark, The Gateway Arch. This 630-foot tall structure is a popular tourist destination, yet tourists can also enjoy exploring other attractions such as the St. Louis Art Museum, the Missouri History Museum, the Missouri Botanical Garden, and many pre-Civil War churches. The city features shopping districts, restaurants, and a thriving nightlife as well.
Kansas City, MO
Along the western Missouri border, Kansas City offers all the attractions of a major urban area as well as its own unique charm. The city features over 200 fountains, earning the nickname the "City of Fountains." It has a well established performing arts center with attractions including the Kansas City Repertory Theatre, the Kansas City Symphony, and the Kansas City Ballet. Kansas City is also known for its jazz, hosting the annual Kansas City Jazz and Blues Festival. The city even offers riverboat casinos on the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers.
Sports are another important draw of Central Missouri with professional teams housed in both Kansas City and St. Louis. These include the St. Louis Cardinals, the St. Louis Rams, the Kansas City Royals and the Kansas City Chiefs.
Another interesting area in Central Missouri is the Missouri Rhineland. Located between St. Louis and Jefferson City, the Missouri Rhineland is known for its vineyards, which spread along both sides of the Missouri River. This area developed as a prime wine growing region in early 1900s and more than 100 wineries were established by the 1920s. These vineyards were shut down during prohibition, but production began to pick up again in the 1960s and 70s.
Whether you enjoy exploring during a vacation or are looking for a retirement destination, Central Missouri offers beautiful scenery and its own unique charm.