The most beautiful small town

Rand-McNally, the map people, had a contest to pick “the most” this or that small town in America and Jefferson City beat out Punta Gorda, Florida as the most beautiful. It was one of those gimmick contests used to promote the company’s 2014 atlas.

Jefferson City is not the friendliest small town. That’s Kewanee, Illinois.  Or the most patriotic. That’s Gallup, New Mexico.  And it’s not the small town to have the most fun.  That’s Corning, New York.  It’s just the most beautiful.  But it is pretty friendly and patriotic. Sometimes there are complaints from people that “there’s nothing to do” in Jefferson City.  They’re wrong of course. 

If you want to compare Jefferson City to Punta Gorda, you can check YouTube for the videos they submitted extolling their attractiveness. 

Jefferson City is at and Punta Gorda is at 

The videos show both cities at their luscious summer best (we assume it’s summer in Punta Gorda).  Punta Gorda, which has rebuilt its beauty after a devastating hurricane a few years ago, probably looks about as delicious in the winter, too.

Missourinet Managing Editor Jessica Machetta, who has lived in Florida and occasionally returns, says Punta Gorda means “Fat Point.”   Jefferson City actually is the City of Jefferson and that means “City of Jefferson.”  The founder of our company, Clyde Lear, has to exercise extreme control not to strangle people who refer to it as “Jeffcity.”

We suspect Punta Gorda and other cities that contended for the “beautiful” designation have some pimples and warts–all cities do, and so does Jefferson City.  Those things don’t make it onto videos entered into contests like this.  But they’re there.  Rand-McNally will not give you directions to them

 Jefferson City’s prize-winning beauty is not, shall we say, consistent in the winter. 

The place has hills. 

Lots of hills.

And it gets ice. 

Snow on trees and statues is pretty.  But when snow hits in any quantity, things get pretty ugly on the streets and many who might talk of how beautiful the city is are in danger of finding themselves lying in that beautiful snow with a sore nose courtesy of somebody who has tried to get up a hill only to find a stoplight halfway up.   

Three seasons of the year, though, Jefferson City is a lovely place.  It is helped by having one of the nation’s most beautiful Capitols.

Capitols often lend a special dignity and beauty to cities like Jefferson City–although some state capitols don’t do much for their towns.  Columbus, Ohio did not leave that great an impression on us when we stopped at its domeless capitol in the middle of the city.  The Arkansas Capitol was hardly a soul-stirring experience. The tall office buildings of Louisiana, North Dakota, and Nebraska are more interesting on the inside than the outside. Arizona’s Capitol is reminiscent of some 1930s courthouses in Missouri.  And New York’s Capitol has little going for it other than the fact that it’s a big honkin’ building that is a mishmash of architectural styles (one of the commissioners who oversaw construction of our capitol wrote in his journal after visiting Albany that the New York capitol represents everything wrong in public architecture).  

Jefferson City has fun.  It has parks and access to the KATY Trail, a great blessing to hundreds of people who have taken up biking now that there’s a level place to ride.  It has street festivals and other street events.  It has a museum that contains the largest hairball we’ve ever seen–and other museums, too, including the Cole County Historical Society that has a large collection of  Missouri First Ladies’ inaugural ball gowns, a Highway Patrol Museum, the museums in the Capitol.  It also has the old penitentiary where fascinating tours are given when the mold problem allows. 

It has a symphony, a city concert band, theatre groups, and art galleries that allow those of artistic bent to express their talents.  It has a nature center. And it has lots of  watering holes that serve water only when mixed with something else.

It also has a long road full of fast-food joints but try as they might, they’re not very pretty.  They’re also not on the video. 

The views of the Capitol from most of the roads coming into the city are impressive although billboards on Highway 63 try their best to spoil things.  The highway views are more impressive, in fact, than views from the street in front of the Capitol.   You can see the building from the highways but there are so many trees around the place that it’s almost invisible from High Street.  Heck, it’s almost invisible from the circle drive on the north side of it.

Jefferson City has a state university picturesquely placed on top of a hill.  And it has turned a former community across the Missouri River destroyed by the ’93 flood into a garden spot.  

Yes, Jefferson City’s a pretty good place. 

But now, thanks to Rand-McNally, it s good PRETTY place.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email