The river town of Boonville, Missouri has a rich history some of which impacted the entire nation. It offers an opportunity to experience some of the most important events that made America what it is today. You’ll find a wide array of attractions to discover and explore including historic sites like the Roslyn Heights Mansion to outdoor recreation at the 237-mile Katy Trail State Park to the thrill of chance at the Isle of Capri Casino.
It’s safe to say that Boonville has much to offer whether you’re just passing through or staying for a longer visit. Its small area belies its importance to its role in the early history of the nation. It was the stepping stone to the large expanse that would become the United States.
A Brief History of Boonville
If the name sounds familiar, you’re on the right track. Nathan and Daniel Morgan Boone, sons of legendary American pioneer, Daniel Boone, helped put the town on the map in the early 1800s. But instead of gold, salt was the driving force that led to the area’s name as Boone’s Lick. The salt business was a thriving industry at the time.
The mineral springs provided the resources to produce salt for tanning hides and preserving food. They caught the notice not only of the local wildlife but a pair of other famous explorers, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. In fact, the Boonville area was the site of the first camp of the Corps of Discovery in May 1804.
Located on the Missouri River, Boonville was an important strategic location during the War of 1812 and the Civil War when both sides recognized its military significance. The first battle of the Civil War was fought here. It was also the site of three other battles including the First and Second Battles of Boonville.
It also was a crucial transportation hub on the Missouri Pacific Railroad. It’s worth noting the latter because its other claim to fame as the longest rail to trail in the entire United States as the Katy Trail State Park. Many other historical attractions exist as testaments to the many struggles the area has experienced and remain poignant reminders of its past.
Attractions in Boonville
You’re sure to find something for everyone when it comes to what to do in Boonville, Missouri. There’s a good reason why it’s known as the Show-Me state. It’s anything but boring. The town is located in the center of the state, about two hours west of St. Louis. It’s a worthy destination on its own.
The area boasts of a lot of first and noteworthy places to see. They include the town’s Thespian Hall, the oldest theater west of the Allegheny Mountains. There is the historic Hain House which is an excellent example of an extant family home from the early 1830s. Let’s run down some of our favorites to help you start planning your stay.
You’ll have plenty of places from which to choose with over 450 sites on the National Registry of Historic Places. You can get a relaxing, self-paced overview with the Boonville’s Historic Walking Tour. You’ll visit 23 of the most interesting sites of the town. The city is host to a plethora of grand mansions and other historic properties that you can tour.
Begin your journey with a visit to the Cooper County Historical Society to learn more about the history of the area and its residents. Interested in classic cars? Add the Mitchell Antique Motorcar Museum to your list of places to visit. Delve into the area’s dark side with a tour of the longest-operating jail in Missouri, the Old Jail and Hanging Barn. Be aware that some sites require a prior appointment.
The manufacturing sector is the primary industry in the Boonville area. That means opportunities to tour various sites including sweet options like Russell Stovers or finding treasures at places such as the delightful Boonville Clay Company. Its downtown has many great shops to find that special souvenir of your travels.
Boonville Parks and Outdoor Recreation
There are 12 city parks in the 7.21 square miles area of Boonville, giving you plenty of places for having a picnic or throwing the football. You can also view prehistoric Indian mounds or enjoy some quality time with the family pet at an off-leash dog park. Or if golfing is more your speed, you can play a round at the Hail Ridge Golf Course.
One of the best ways to experience Boonville, Missouri is at a leisurely pace. The Champion Bike Shop can set you up with a rental whether you prefer a comfortable touring bike or a rugged mountain model. The best way to enjoy the area is with the time to take in everything at your own pace with plenty of time to take it all in.
Katy Trail State Park
The Katy Trail State Park is the jewel in Boonville’s array of outdoor recreation opportunities. Where else can you experience history first hand as Lewis and Clark may have done over 200 years ago? You are literally walking in the footsteps of history. The trail is suitable for a variety of skill levels from beginner to advanced. But it’s more than a hiking and biking trail.
There are two caves and four restored railroad depots located along its length for a welcome rest along the way. The trail is accessible in most parts too. Whether you explore a few miles on a day trip or a multiple-day journey, you’ll find an enjoyable ride for an excellent way to get away from the stress of the day with gorgeous scenery all along the trail. It runs between the towns of Clinton and Machens with 26 trailheads along the way.
You can travel along the entire length of the trail during the annual Katy Trail Ride. You’ll get breakfast and dinner each day of the five-day jaunt including the all-important daily hot shower. And to top it off, you’ll get some cool swag as mementoes for your efforts along with bragging rights too. Please note that the trail is open from sunrise to sunset. Equestrians are allowed only in designated areas.
Warm Springs Ranch
Boonville has the unique distinction of being the breeding farm of the famous Budweiser Clydesdales. Seeing the horses that inspired some of the best Super Bowl commercials ever made. Take a guided tour of the grounds. Be sure to bring your camera for this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Isle of Capri Casino
If you’re looking for some adult entertainment, be sure and visit the Isle of Capri Casino. It features a host of table games, slots, and video poker along with its Fan Club to earn extra points for more fun. The casino also has a 140-room hotel with pet-friendly suites, a 24-hour fitness center, and three on-site restaurants.
Restaurants in Boonville
Wondering where to eat in Booneville? The town has a wide selection of casual and fine dining experiences to suit whatever your palate is craving for between your adventures. You can enjoy a leisurely meal at one of several eclectic diners located in the town. Looking for something more formal? Be sure and visit the Hotel Frederick or the restaurants at the Isle of Capri Casino.
Accommodations in Boonville
You’ll have several options when it comes to deciding where to stay in Booneville. Several national hotel chains serve the surrounding area including Comfort Inn, Days Inn, and Holiday Inn Express. You’ll also find luxurious accommodations at the Isle of Capri Casino Hotel. But wait, there’s more!
Bed and Breakfast Inns
Boonville offers other options for booking your overnight stay including the Touch of Claas Salon, Spa and B&B, the historic Hotel Frederick, or the elegant High Street Victorian Bed & Breakfast. Find the ideal accommodations to make your stay in Boonville the experience you desire with all of the perfect touches.
Year-Round Weather Conditions
Of course, the annual weather in Boonville, Missouri or any destination is one of the most important considerations when planning a trip. Summers are often quite warm with average daily high temperatures topping 90 degrees Fahrenheit or more. High relative humidity is usually a part of the mix, creating sultry conditions. Keep that in mind if you’re planning on outdoor activities.
As you may expect, winters are more mild with less snowfall than other parts of the country. Nevertheless, the area sees its share of winter storms along with rain and a greater number of tornadoes due to its geographical location. On the plus side, the air quality of this area is better than you’ll find in the rest of the country. Talk about the ultimate in a relaxing getaway!
Boonville, Missouri has so much to offer as a destination off the beaten path. Its history will captivate you with direct ties to the country’s journey through time in a place that is as beautiful as it is historically significant. With numerous attractions, you’ll never have to worry about what you should do next. Just pick a direction and enjoy the experience.