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About an hour away from Kansas City, St. Joseph, Missouri, has a few new gems to explore. Known as one of the most historic cities in the state, there are a variety of standout things to do on a visit here.

Saint Joseph’s historical roots date to 1843 when Joseph Robidoux, a fur trader and merchant, settled the city. With a prime location on the Missouri River, it was a big transportation hub in America. I later found out that it’s where the Pony Express began and then ended in my home city of Sacramento, California. It’s also where the notorious outlaw Jesse James hung around, giving quite a reputation to the city at that time.

Today, historical landmarks from the Wyeth-Tootle Mansion to the Patee House Museum and Pony Express National Museum give visitors a glimpse into a different time. With new businesses opening, like a wonderful Neapolitan-style pizzeria and a local brewery, there’s great food to enjoy while in town. All of these things and more contribute to a quintessential visit.

If you’re considering a day trip to St. Joseph, Missouri, these are some of the best things to do. And like the locals say — Welcome to St. Joe.

*This post is done in partnership with Visit Missouri, as always, all opinions are own.

8 Things to Do in St. Joseph, MO

A Guide to Visiting St. Joseph, MO (Things to Do)

1. Start Your Day With Coffee at Mokaska Coffee Company

When you arrive in St. Joseph, head straight to the local Mokaska Coffee Company for a coffee. It’s right in the heart of downtown and a good way start to your day. You’ll get an idea of what downtown feels like, and you could even go for a stroll afterward.

2. Grab Breakfast at The Café Belle Epoque

In the heart of St. Joseph, nestled within the downtown district, is the charming Café Belle Epoque. When I walked in, the first thing to grab my attention was the elegance of the bistro’s old-world design. I came in for breakfast, and by lunchtime, the restaurant was busy with locals.

3. See the Historic Museum Hill District and the Wyeth-Tootle Mansion

One of the iconic parts of St. Joseph is the Historic Museum Hill District. The architecture of the historic district is a great showcase of Victorian-era design. This neighborhood has a diverse range of architectural styles, like the ornate Queen Anne, Italianate, and Gothic Revival homes. One of the most famous buildings here is the Wyeth-Tootle Mansion, a grand mansion built in 1879 that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. You can tour the mansion most of the year, which gives you a great idea of what this era’s style was like.

4. Explore the St. Joseph Museums

This complex consists of four distinct museums, each housed within historically significant buildings. Attractions include the Glore Psychiatric Museum, Black Archives Museum, Doll Museum, and the Native American and History Galleries. The St. Joseph Museums bring in a lot of visitors, mostly to the Glore Psychiatric Museum. It’s a museum dedicated to the evolution of psychiatric care, shedding light on the often misunderstood and stigmatized field of mental health. It is a place of education and reflection, providing visitors with a deeper understanding of the historical context of mental health care and the progress that has been made in this vital field.

Important Visitor’s Note: I will give a fair warning; it can be quite triggering for those who visit. Please keep in mind that what you will see can be graphic as it sheds light on misguided treatments from the past.

5. Enjoy Neapolitan-style Pizza at Il Lazzarone

One of my favorite stops in St. Joseph was for freshly-made Neapolitan pizza at Il Lazzarone. To be honest, it was one of the best pizzas I’ve had in a while, and I loved the chef’s focus on creating memorable meals. What truly sets Il Lazzarone apart is its commitment to preserving the authenticity of Neapolitan pizza-making, so do make it a priority to come in.

6. Tour the Galleries at the Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art

A Guide to Visiting St. Joseph, MO (Things to Do)

Set inside a beautifully preserved Beaux-Arts mansion, the Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art has rotating exhibits and a permanent collection of American art. One of the museum’s standout features is its dedication to promoting and showcasing regional artists. I’d set aside an hour or so to come in and view the galleries. Don’t forget to go downstairs to see the historic speakeasy and library.

7. Shop Local at Bee and Thistle

If you’re looking to shop Missouri goods, head to Bee and Thistle. It’s a cute, local store in St. Joseph that has an array of fashion, home, and lifestyle goods.

8. Try the Beer at River Bluff Brewing

One last stop in St. Joseph — River Bluff Brewing. It’s a craft brewery that has about a half dozen beers on draft. I came in for a small flight tasting to give several of the beers a try. I loved their IPAs and a few of their seasonal offerings.

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A Guide to Visiting St. Joseph, MO (Things to Do)

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Use for hotels and guest houses. They have the biggest inventory and consistently offer the best rates.

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Use Viator or Get Your Guide to find the best tours and experiences. They are my favorite tour search engines. I always check both as their inventory varies depending on the destination.

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