Family-friendly activities on both sides of Highway 54.

Summer has finally arrived. The kids are out of school, and they don’t want to be cooped up in the house all day. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of family-friendly activities in Jefferson City. Here is a breakdown of what’s available whether you live west or east of Highway 54.

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When I was younger and the weather was nice, I wanted to be at the Runge Nature Center. Not only were the exhibits fun and exciting, but the walking trails were always full of beautiful wildlife. Even after I memorized every exhibit, I still wanted to go back to see the animals. Everything was, and still is, interactive and educational. Activities like Little Acorns and Nature’s Needlers allow kids to have fun and learn with their parents and each other.

On the days no one wants to be outside, the movie theater is the place to be. Every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday morning at 10 a.m., Capital 8 theaters shows popular and new, family-friendly films. When the movie ends, head over to Capital Mall, where there’s always some fun to be had. Jamie Reed, manager of Capital Mall, says: “I feel that Capital Mall is a big part of the community. We want to be a destination for families in Jefferson City and the surrounding communities.”

The mall has built on this idea with the opening of High Voltage Arcade, Downtown Book and Toy II, the SSM Health play area, and more. You can enjoy events such as LabSpace Robotics, for grades two through four, and the Missouri River Regional Library Bookmobile. This is also one of the places to visit Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.

Another option for family activities isn’t a place you’d expect — the grocery store. Hy-Vee (as you’ll see in our Gourmet feature this issue) holds Simple Fix cooking classes for handy meal preparation, as well as kid-friendly cooking classes. Keep an eye on their calendar of events for more family fun.

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There are many new and exciting things happening on the other side of the highway as well; the Lafayette Corridor is continually adding to its roster.

Plan a family fun night at Lincoln University’s eight-lane bowling alley, or plan a healthy family meal with ingredients from Lincoln’s Farmer’s Market at Lorenzo Greene Hall. Down the road is Lincoln University and Parks and Recreation’s new wellness center, The Linc. Play get fit and have fun as a family in this beautiful new building. With youth and family rates, getting a membership to fit your needs is easy and affordable. Also on Lincoln’s campus is the site of the new Boys & Girls Club. “The new Boys & Girls Club facility gives youth in our community a fun and safe place to go where they can play, learn new skills, and participate in life changing programs,” says Stephanie Johnson, executive director of Boys & Girls Club of Jefferson City. “Our partnership with Lincoln University and the Jefferson City Parks & Recreation will enhance the Club experience by providing access to The Linc as well as programs and mentorship that allow them to visualize what higher education can do for their future.” Kids and families can enjoy programs such as Garden ‘N Grow and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math).

Need a venue for your child’s next birthday party? Rent some lanes at Capital Bowl or a private room at Sk8 Zone. Capital Bowl is perfect for an entire night of fun with arcade games, great music, and even black light bowling. Sk8 Zone offers lessons, competition, or simply a night of entertainment for the whole family.

If you’re looking for something hands-on to do, check out The Village Art Studio. Local artists offer classes, children’s workshops, birthday parties, and private events. So be creative together and bring home something you can proudly put on your coffee table. During the month of June, the studio puts on summer art camps for kids.


Last but not least, there’s always something to do at the YMCA. Whether Firley, Knowles, or West, the Y provides physical activities for you and your family, and fun events too. At the Firley center, on Ellis Boulevard., climb a rock wall, take a dip in an outdoor pool, or kick some behind at racquetball. At the Knowles center, across from Jefferson City High School, shoot some hoops, do some laps in an indoor pool, or let your kids show you up in gymnastics. (Don’t hurt yourself — there’s no shame in not being able to do a roundoff anymore.) All three YMCAs also have nurseries or kids’ centers when you need time to work out or play yourself.


Whether you’re looking for something fun or educational, it’s easy to find an activity that satisfies the whole family. Stay close to home or take the short drive to the other side of town. Oh, and don’t forget about our beautiful parks too.