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There's more going on in Capital City than an eclipse

There's more going on in Capital City than an eclipse

August 19th, 2017 by Allen Fennewald in News

Davion Thomas stares up into the sky Friday, Aug. 18, 2017 alongside the United Healthcare Dr. Health Hound during a "mannequin challenge" at the United Healthcare Solar Eclipse Glasses Giveaway in front of Central Dairy. "Our goal is to just help people be safe," United Healthcare Director of Marketing Stephanie Thomeczeh said. United Healthcare gave out 500 pairs of free eclipse glasses to Jefferson City residents.

Photo by Emil Lippe /News Tribune.

People are pouring into the Capital City this weekend for a celestial event that will last less than three hours.

For those looking for something to do with the rest of their time in town, here are a few activities that don't involve heavenly bodies, protective glasses or craning necks. There are many family-friendly ways to stay cool in the heat or enjoy the outdoors in Jefferson City, a place rich in history and offers tours and exhibits for those looking to learn about the town beneath the shadow.


Cool family fun

Weather reports forecast humid days over the elongated eclipse weekend. Here are a few ways to stay cool while the moon isn't functioning like a giant patio umbrella.

The Central Dairy Ice Cream Parlor is a Jefferson City institution offering a wide variety of locally produced ice cream, milk shakes, sodas, hot dogs and other treats, located at 610 Madison St. since 1934.

The 6-year-old frozen yogurt purveyor, YoYums, has a downtown location to attract foot traffic at 122 E High St. Owner Lisa Kemna is expecting a lot of customers, but she said, "We will have the same high-energy service and delicious frozen yogurt we do every day." YoYums also offers an assortment of toppings from fruit to hot fudge, along with water and customer restrooms.

The Washington Park Ice Arena offers a wintry atmosphere for a casual skate in late summer. Public sessions will be noon-1:30 p.m. and 4-5:30 p.m. the day of the eclipse at 711 Kansas St. Costumers can bring their own skates or rent a pair.

If you prefer wheels to blades, SK8 Zone at 301 Flora Drive houses a 14,000-foot maple hardwood roller skating rink with air conditioning. Groups of four will gain entrance at reduced admission tonight for Friends and Family night.


Outdoor destinations

Along with the Ice Arena, Washington Park also contains the Washington Skate Park, hiking trails, horseshoe pits, baseball fields and lighted tennis courts. It is one of several public parks throughout Jefferson City with spaces for play and relaxation, like the lakeside playground surrounded by shade trees in 20.5-acre McKay Park. There are many miles of hiking and mountain bike trails for people feeling active. For more information on parks and trails, visit

There are two public pools located within 3 miles of the Capitol. The Memorial Park Family Aquatic Center is open noon-7 p.m. daily at 120 Binder Drive. It features open flume slides, drop down slides, a lily pad walk, climbing wall, an aquatic play structure and lap lanes. While on the other side of town, Ellis-Porter Riverside Pool also includes a drop down slide, along with a climbing wall, diving board and shallow pool with a rooster tail, flower shower, dumping buckets and froggy slide. Stationary alligator and lobster floatables are also available. Ellis-Porter's pool is open noon-5 p.m. Monday-Thursday, noon-7 p.m. Friday-Saturday and lap swimming is available 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Monday-Friday.

While families are busy at the pool or playground, uninhibited adults can get a few rounds in at the 18-hole Oak Hills Golf Center, open 7 a.m.-8:30 p.m. at 932 Ellis Blvd. The center, with its driving range and practice facility, totes 4.3 out of 5 stars on Facebook reviews with challenging fairways and well-kept greens. The driving range opens at 9 a.m. Mondays after mowing and maintenance.

For those preferring discs to golf balls, there are two 18-hole disc golf courses. Located at Joseph C. Miller Park and Binder Park, there is no cost to play and the courses are open during daylight hours, including eclipse hours.


History buffs beckoned

The Missouri State Parks department offers free guided tours at the Missouri State Museum, located on the first floor of the Capitol. The museum houses exhibits highlighting the natural and cultural history of the Show-Me State, including topics like the indigenous tribes, the Civil War and the signing of the Japanese Instrument of Surrender, which ended WWII aboard the USS Missouri battleship.

The state Parks department also offers tours of the Jefferson Landing State Historic Site from Tuesday-Saturday. It was once a busy commercial nexus of Missouri River trade. Steamboats ferried passengers between St. Louis and Kansas City, docking in front of the Lohman Building to release its passengers. The only tours that won't be offered are 1 p.m. Monday, so guides can view the eclipse.

The Governor's Mansion is closed for tours in August, but the surrounding landscape has been a prized feature of the property, which can be seen from the sidewalk. Thousands of plants were planted during the governorship of Loyd Crow Stark about 80 years ago, including a rose garden and fruit trees that still produce today.

The Governor's Garden was First Lady Juanita Donnelly's passion project. The spouse of Gov. Phil Matthew Donnelly is credited for working to transform the vacant area below the Mansion into a sunken garden with a pool, terraces, walkways and plant-covered archway known as a pergola. People can wander freely through the garden, taking in all the sights and smells experienced by Missouri governors for decades.

The Museum of Missouri Military History houses exhibits that date from the founding of the Missouri Militia in 1808 to the modern Missouri National Guard. Topics include the Guard's involvement in conflicts like the Civil War, World Wars I and II, as well as humanitarian relief efforts. It's located at the Missouri National Guard's Ike Skelton Training Center and personal identification is required to enter the main gate.