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.
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.
2. To meet friendly people.
Everyone we came across from servers to fellow hikers on the trails while in Cape were friendly and welcoming.
3. To pig out.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
11. To have some family fun.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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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.