Saturday, August 12, 2017

Seven Reasons You Should Visit the Missouri State Capitol

Last week the boys and I looked around at the State Capitol building for about the 6th time this year. It is one of the boys' favorite places to visit around here and it is so easy and fun to navigate (and, I should mention, FREE). The boys are pros now at getting around and I just kind of tag along while they explore. We've talked to people who have lived here all their life and have not taken advantage of this great local attraction, so I'm here to tell you why you should take a morning (or afternoon, or even a Saturday - they're open!) and go visit.


The first reason you should visit the Capitol is because it's incredibly easy to do so. It's easy to get there, easy to park there, and easy to find the visitor's entrance. Basically, if you're anywhere in the vicinity of Jefferson City, just follow the roads to the big white big building that stands taller than all the others. There's a dome on top, so it's hard to miss. Okay, so I'm kidding. But in all seriousness, it really is about that easy. There is free visitor parking all around the building and we have found spots there on every single visit. On the off chance that those spots are full, there is a full street of meter parking right next to the building. And those spots are always open too. There are signs to the visitor's entrance all around the building. Just look for this tunnel (also known as the carriage entrance). It's right under the main stairs where everyone likes to get photos. You have to go through a metal detector to get in, but there's never a line.

The Building Itself

Even if you ignore the rest of this post and don't care about any other reasons to see the Capitol, you should at least go to see the building.

 Every time we go, we walk around the building. They are making some renovations but the construction gates are easy to see past.

There is a walkway all the way around so you can take your time checking out the statues and views. 

The inside is also incredible.

Everywhere you look, there is some stunning piece of architectural design. 

Our favorite spot is standing on the first floor and looking up to the dome. 

 Even the drinking fountains are ornate.

This old elevator looks haunted, but the boys absolutely love riding on it.

And also, if you go to the third or fourth floors and find a window in the corner, the views are amazing. You can see forever.

The Museum

If you've looked all around the building and still want to do something more, the museum on the first floor is worth looking around. 

Down one corridor are artifacts and interactive centers all about Missouri's role in various wars and other history facts. Below is a picture of the boys listening to songs made famous during war. There are a number of other interactive displays as well as loads of other artifacts.

At the end of this hallway is a Veterans Gallery with a model of the U.S.S. Missouri. The boys were more interested in looking at this since we just recently toured the Battleship North Carolina.

Down the other hallway on the main floor is more of the museum, but this area is dedicated to Missouri's resources. There's an interactive display here where you can learn about Missouri's energy sources.

And then other really cool displays about the state's natural resources which is especially interesting to us since we spend so much time in the outdoors.

I will say that the museum requires a lot of reading so young kids might not be interested for long, but my boys at ages 6 and 8 really like most parts of it. They ask lots of questions and seem to be find something new to peak their interest every time we go.

The Gardens

The Capitol is landscaped with beautiful fountains and gardens. Just across the road, you can also visit the gardens at the Governor's mansion. We haven't done that yet because we always have plenty to do at the Capitol Grounds, but during our next visit, I definitely plan to do that. 

 The gardens border the Missouri River too so you can get a great view of that while you're there too.

The Education

Yes, there is cool stuff to see everywhere you turn, but the fact of the matter is, the Capitol is where state laws get made, and that is also very cool. We talk about this on every single trip. If you're there on the right day, you can see all the lawmakers going about their lawmaking business. You can look right into the House and Senate floors (you can't walk in, but you can see in). If you go when they are in session, then you can watch from the viewing galleries. Because we constantly are talking to our boys about civic duties (voting is a family outing for us), this part of the Capitol tour is one of our favorites because we get to add some depth of knowledge about how laws in our state are made. 

Private Tours

Last spring when we visited the Capitol with my brother and his family, we looked up into the dome and kept trying to figure out how to get to the top floor (which we later learned was called the "Whispering Gallery.") We explored all over the place, and couldn't find it, so we ended up asking one of the security guards who told us that if we called our Senator or Representative's office that they could arrange a private tour... AND... they would even take us to the very top of the dome, as in outside, standing on top of the dome. So of course I called and a tour was easily arranged for later that same day. We were so excited! 

Here is my brother's family in the Whispering Gallery. It gets that name because someone can whisper and you can hear them clear as day anywhere else in the gallery.  

It's also cool because you can look down through all the other floors to the main level. Okay, well you can call it cool, or really, really scary, depending on your feelings or fears of heights. I personally try not to look down. 

Here was our tour guide, who was really sweet and great with the kids and all their questions. 

A completely different view of the Capitol. 

And the caged winding staircase that led to the very top. 

And finally, we were there, on what was unfortunately a very cloudy day. Even so, the view was amazing, if not a tiny bit eerie. 

The Missouri River blanketed in a hazy mist.

The People

We have met the kindest people on each visit here. The people who work at the museum desk are incredibly helpful for starters. When I called to schedule the private tour, the lady at our Senator's office called around to find an intern who was available since there was none available in their office. She even got us in the same day. On another trip, we didn't call ahead and just popped into the first open office we found. The lady who worked there happily agreed to take us to the Whispering Gallery and gave us lots of information along the way. She asked where we were from and seemed to really enjoy what she was doing. On one of our more recent trips, a lady saw me holding up Eli to see into the House of Representatives chambers and stopped to introduce herself. She was a representative from another district and invited us back later that day for a tour of the chambers. We couldn't go, but now that I know that's an option too, I might be asking our representative for a tour on our next visit. The point, however, is that people who work in the Capitol are proud of the Capitol and are proud to show it off. That makes the trip well worth it. 

Seriously, if you're within driving distance of Jefferson City, or even just passing through, this is an outing well worth your time. Happy touring! 

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