15 Reasons to Visit Cape Girardeau

Cape Girardeau is a charismatic river town in southeast Missouri with a unique blend of history, natural beauty, charm and entertainment. Here are 15 reasons to visit Cape Girardeau:

1. To get out in nature.

If you visit Cape Girardeau during spring (March to May), stop by Pinecrest Azalea Gardens, to witness thousands of vivacious blooming flowers. You can walk or drive through the free enchanting garden.

Pinecrest Azalea Gardens Cape Girardeau
Not quite peak season, but still beautiful!

Spend time in the great outdoors at Trail of Tears State Park. It’s a beautiful park with a beach, hiking trails, fishing, camping and scenic bluff views overlooking the Mississippi River. The Conservation Nature Center has 2.5 miles of hiking trails through rolling hills with ravines and sinkholes.

Trail of Tears State Park
Lake at Trail of Tears State Park

2. To meet friendly people.

Everyone we came across from servers to fellow hikers on the trails while in Cape were friendly and welcoming.

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Maybe not everyone…

3. To pig out.

There are many restaurants to choose from in Cape. We loved the authentic Irish feel at Katy O’Ferrells, the Cajun cuisine at Broussard’s and the giant onion rings at Port Cape Girardeau.

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We always manage to find an Irish pub!
Broussards Cape Girardeau
Can you say YUMMY at Broussards!
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I think the onion rings were the same size as my head at Port Cape Girardeau

4. To sit back and relax while sipping on a glass of wine.

A short drive away from downtown Cape are a few winery options. Hunter Valley Winery is close to the Trail of Tears State Park and offers a patio overlooking a serene pond with live music on most weekends. Apple Creek Winery has music on Sundays and a quaint wrap-around deck overlooking a pastoral landscape. Follow the lovely tree-lined path, past adorable donkeys right into Steele Crest Winery. The indoor tasting room is decorated with elaborate stained glass and the patio overlooks peaceful green pastures.

Steele Crest Winery
The drive up to Steele Crest Winery

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5. To tango with Lady Luck.

Like to gamble? We do! It’s our guilty pleasure. Isle Casino Cape Girardeau has slots, table games and live entertainment. Head up to Keller’s for the stellar view of the river.

Isle Casino Cape Girardeau
I won $120 right after I took this. Coincidence? I think not!

6. To visit a downtown area that is brimming with charm.

Coming from Chicago, “downtown” means loud car horns and herds of people. Don’t get me wrong, I love the city and its vivaciousness, but there’s nothing like strolling down a quiet street dotted with budding flowers and boutique shops.

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7. To be hoppy sampling beers at a local brewery.

Cape Girardeau has two local breweries right downtown: Buckner’s Brewing Co. and Minglewood Brewery. Our favorite from Buckner’s lineup is the smooth breakfast stout with a hint of coffee. With the lights hanging from the high ceiling, Minglewood has an outdoor patio feel even though the room is surrounded by brick. We sampled a few, but we both landed on an IPA for our beer of choice.

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Minglewood Brewery
Sampling at Minglewood Brewery
Minglewood Brewery
Minglewood Brewery

8. To imagine life on the Mississippi.

Cape offers many outstanding vantage points of Ol’ Man River. Standing on the riverfront, with the Mississippi water rolling up almost to my feet, eye-level with barges idly meandering by, it’s effortless to picture the adventures that Mark Twain brought to life in his books. To indulge in more history, stop by the Cape River Heritage Museum.

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Just imagine!

9. To see where “Gone Girl” was filmed.

Cape Girardeau provided the main filming location for the fictional town of North Carthage for the movie, “Gone Girl.” The crew spent six weeks filming in Cape and there is now a drive/walk tour you can follow to all the sites. Even if you don’t follow along, a few of the major locations from the movie are right in town: the riverfront, The Bar that Ben Affleck’s character owned in the movie and the courthouse gazebo where the candlelight vigil is held.

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Where’s Ben? I don’t see him!

10. To feel like you’re back in college again.

Home to Southeast Missouri State University, it’s likely you’ll get the youthful vibe wandering around Cape. Among the art galleries, studios and entertainment venues that pepper the area is the Bedell Performance Hall, located at the River Campus, which hosts theater productions, music performances and more. A popular event is First Friday with the Arts, held the first Friday of each month. Galleries extend their hours and open their doors to welcome the community.

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Like you’ve never done it before!

11. To have some family fun.

Plunge into the deep end or float on a lazy river at Cape Splash Family Aquatic Center, explore one of many interactive exhibits at Discovery Playhouse or see an exotic animal at Lazy L Safari Park.

12. To play disc golf.

What is disc golf you might ask? Only the best game ever, according to some people from Cape! It is basically frisbee golf. You play on a well-kept course where you throw a disc into a basket. The game is played in about 40 countries worldwide. Cape Girardeau has two parks with disc golf courses: Cape County North and Capaha Park.

Cape County Park
Cape County Park

13. To see peacocks at a cemetery.

We were driving by the Cape County Memorial Park Cemetery and noticed an unusual tower at the entrance. We took a detour and found one of the strangest things we’ve ever found at a graveyard: peacocks! There’s no sign explaining why they are there, just a machine to buy food to feed them.

Cape County Memorial Park Cemetery
Tower of Memories at Cape County Memorial Park Cemetery

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14. To step back in time.

The Cape Girardeau area is rich in history and cultural significance. The Red House Interpretive Center is a reconstruction of the original trading post of Cape Girardeau’s founder, Louis Lorimier. It is open May – October so we were not able to tour inside, but it’s evident from the exterior that it is a throwback to simpler days. Take a look at our post Chasing History in Cape Girardeau for more details.

Red House Interpretive Center
How about you learn something!


15. To hop, skip and jump from Missouri to Illinois over a really cool bridge.

The Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge is an 86-foot wide cable bridge that stretches over the mighty Mississippi. Laid flat, the cables would stretch 171 miles long. We couldn’t help driving over it a few times when we were in the area.

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Lodging in Cape Girardeau

We stayed at Auburn Place Hotel & Suites right off of I55 about 10 minutes from downtown Cape Girardeau. It’s in a great location, has a complimentary hot breakfast, snacks in the evening, free wifi, an indoor pool, hot tub and fitness center.

Looking for other Midwest travel destinations?

Thank you Cape Girardeau CVB and its associates for providing accommodations for us in the city. All words and opinions, however, are my own.

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Did you visit Cape Girardeau? If not, what’s your favorite Missouri destination? Tell us in the comments below.






29 Responses

  1. Hi Angela & David

    Wow! Amazing photos of a beautiful area. To be honest I’ve never heard of Cape Girardeau but your post makes me want to visit right now. The city looks very charming. I already put it on my bucket list. Definitely a must-see on our road trip around the US in about three years.

    Thanks for sharing.


    • Thanks! It’s a quaint town in the Midwest. Missouri is often overlooked as a travel destination, but it has great cities and wonderful natural areas.

  2. I have only ever visited Missouri briefly to see St. Louis. Cape Girardeau looks like a great little city to explore. I would love all of the eating, sipping wine and brewery hopping!

  3. Is it as laid back of a place as it seems to be?

  4. I have never been, but can easily see that it would be a great place for a weekend getaway.

  5. A few of my fave things in here. Wine, beers, great food (loved those onion rings) and a whole lot of beautiful places to visit in between. Really loved the scenery around the water.

  6. I love reading less-told beautiful destinations like this. Thanks heaps!

    • Thank you, we love finding them! Since my husband has been working part-time just outside of Missouri, we’ve been exploring the area and love what we are finding!

  7. Looks like a nice, relaxing trip! I’ve never been here but I would definitely check it out.

  8. Wow! such a comprehensive list – I wish I could visit Cape Girardeau! One more reason to visit the US.

  9. Ah maaaaan those onion rings look lush! What was the dish above it!?

  10. I need to do more exploring in my home country! This post and especially the photos make this place look really intersting- especially the pics of the food and beer! I’m also a fan of Gone Girl so I would definitely take that tour if I were in town!


    • It’s easy to take your home country or state for granted, isn’t it? For the time Dave is working (1/4 of the year), we are going to explore as much of the states as we can. Then when he is off work we will try to have adventures in other countries. Gone Girl was such a good movie!

  11. Looks like a great town to visit! So much charm. Those onion rings look incredible, and I could definitely handle washing them down with some of that local beer.

    • Yep, a great town indeed. We love when we can hike, drink beer, gamble and learn a little bit about history all in the same place!

  12. Kay Teeters

    Enjoyed your post- live near Cape so very familiar with most of the places you mentioned. If anyone is visiting Cape Girardeau in mid April I would highly recommend a side trip to Charleston, Mo about 30 mins. south of Cape. Our Dogwood-Azalea festival has received national recognition several times and was named #2 flower festival in the country by Fodor’s.

  13. Linda Smith

    I was born and raised in Cape and this article is spot on! Plus lots more to see and do when you are there. Hope everyone tries to put Cape on your list of places to visit.

    • Thanks Linda! We were only there a few days and the weather didn’t cooperate the entire time so we didn’t do as much as we wanted to. Can’t wait to make it back down again. Heard the market is nice too!

  14. Also, visit Fort D! A civil war fort that is very much intact. Or, some of the antebellum homes, or the first Methodist Church West of the Mississippi, Old Mckendree. There are several beautiful golf courses, as well.

  15. Julie Miller

    How can you talk about Cape Girardeau and not mention Pagliai’s Pizza?? I go there every time I visit my friend in Cape!!

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