Winter, spring summer or fall, there’s nothing quite like experiencing a new hidden gem to shake up your routine, get active and learn something new. Sedalia, Missouri is quite the hidden gem – read on to find out why this historical, hip and recreationally-happenin’ hidden gem should be on your road trip list.
Disclaimer: our founder, Megan Zink, partnered with Madden Media and the Sedalia CVB to produce this guide, but her passion for cool cultural activities and adventure, thoughts and recommendations are her own/reflected here!
You can read more about Sedalia and start planning your trip over at https://www.visitsedaliamo.com/play/weekend-getaway/!
How to Get To Sedalia, Missouri:
Sedalia, Missouri is pretty much squarely between St. Louis and Kansas City, Missouri – which makes it an easy drive from Kansas, Missouri, Kentucky, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Indiana, Illinois and other midwestern states. Originally inhabited by the Shawnee and Osage indigenous peoples, the Show-Me State city is also a major train hub (more on that later) – so even if you didn’t want to drive you have plenty of options!
If you’re really up for an adventure, Sedalia is a major milestone point on the Katy Trail – a 30+ years young rails-to-trails stretch (which happens to be the longest of its kind, clocking in at 239 miles) that runs essentially the whole width of the state. And fun fact: along with another favorite hidden gem of ours (Madison, Indiana – find the guide on the site under places!) it’s part of the southern route of the American Discovery Trail, as well as many other trail networks. More on that later, too!
Where to Stay in Sedalia, Missouri
Along with other great options, our personal favorite place to stay is the historic Hotel Bothwell – which channels the glitz and glamour of old Hollywood. That energy comes from the real deal – the Choice Hotel group’s Ascend Collection (focusing on unique, boutique hotels that spotlight art, luxury and characteristic culture of their home bases) has counted Harry Truman, Marilyn Monroe, Bette Davis, Clint Eastwood and Quentin Tarantino amongst its star-studded guests. Spend some time enjoying the many amenities – like a fully-outfitted fitness room, Oak Room bar, on-site restaurant the Ivory Grille – or take a history tour of the gorgeous Classic Revival and Art Deco areas of interest. The hotel also has amenities for those biking in – like a bike washing station and special storage!
Things to Do in Sedalia, Missouri
Whether you’re in the mood for history and culture, entertainment, or outdoor recreation, Sedalia will deliver on all of those goals and then some (don’t feel like you have to leave the kiddos or your furry friends at home, either, there are plenty of family options for fun, and the Hotel Bothwell is pet-friendly!). Here are some of our favorite highlights:
History & Culture
- The Katy Depot – this gorgeous, painstakingly refurbished building houses not only the Sedalia Chamber of Commerce and Convention and Visitors Bureau, but a very engaging and interactive exhibit (built off-site in a California movie set lot and reconstructed!) paying homage to the important history of Sedalia and its role in the Missouri-Kansas-Texas railroad (nicknamed the Katy) railroad in westward expansion, the cattle trade and other points.
- Pettis County Circuit Courtroom & Murals – they say a picture is worth a thousand words, and so you should definitely head up to the 3rd floor to see 42 bright and colorful murals showcasing the rich culture and history of the town.
- Historic Bothwell Lodge – John Homer Bothwell’s 4-stage project built over the course of 31 years in the late 19th century is worth a visit, not only to see all the amazing historically-accurate artifacts but also to take advantage of the views and the trails in the surrounding area.
- Trail’s End Monument – a beautiful monument just outside the Missouri State Fairgrounds marks a point of interest on the Katy Trail, as well as a snapshot into the historical significance of the railroad in the country’s cattle trade. View a refurbished drover’s caboose and lots of interactive learning experiences – including a special phone number for a lively history lesson.
- Daum Museum of Contemporary Art – though we didn’t have enough time to make it to the museum, it’s worth mentioning here – catch rotating exhibits, plus must-see works by artists like Chuck Close, Dale Chihuly and Robert Kushner, to name a few.
- Scott Joplin Ragtime Festival – just one of the area’s many festivals, the summertime Scott Joplin Ragtime festival is worth noting due to Sedalia’s designation as ‘The Cradle of Ragtime’ – serving as a home to the father of ragtime himself, Scott Joplin, as well as his protégé and equally great musician, Scott Hayden. There are also plenty of live music options in town!
- Lamy’s Manufacturing – a destination in and of itself, Lamy’s was a major manufacturing site of Levi’s denim up until just a handful of years ago. It’s been renovated into a bright and spacious multi-purpose hotspot, now home to an event venue, Josey Records and book shop, fast casual café Ox Horn Market, upscale bar & bites No. 5 Bistro, as well as office spaces AND luxury apartments.
- Craft Beer Cellar – purveying all the best local and craft brews of the area (and then some), you don’t have to make any hard decisions; just order a couple flights from their rotating selection and try them ALL!
- Shopping in Historic Sedalia – plenty of options whether your looking for accessories, clothes, or souvenirs. One must-see? Vintage Nostalgia on Ohio; it’s essentially a decades-organized warehouse of an incredible vintage selection. Plan to spend an hour or two here – and maybe even stop for lunch; they have a café on the upper level!
- Missouri State Fair & Fairgrounds – you can’t go to Missouri and not visit the famed fair! 11 full days of flora, fauna, food and fun – it’s been operating since 1901 on a cool 215 acres of land. The permeant structures house events, attractions and even have their own restaurants!
- Katy Rails-to-Trails Recreational Trail – BYOB (bring your own bike) or rent from a shop in the surrounding area. Keep an eye out for wildlife, points of interest, restaurants, shops, wineries and public artworks. Make a day (or many days) of it – fun for the whole family or bike enthusiast – no matter what age or ability level!
- Camping at the Missouri State Fairgrounds – enjoy the Missouri State Fair or all Sedalia has to offer conveniently on the 60-acre campgrounds. All types of camping units, including tents in the ‘on’ season are permitted, and hookups are first come, first-served.
- Hiking near the historic Bothwell Lodge grounds – head to the historic Bothwell Lodge for a tour, but don’t skip out on the surrounding trails and open green space. – Easy to moderate options means you’re sure to find a path for even your littlest hiker.
Where to Eat in Sedalia, Missouri
Traveling with curiosity means being open to all kinds of new sights, sounds, smells and of course, food sensations. Here are a couple of our favorites:
- Ivory Grill – Hotel Bothwell’s onsite steak house with lots of art deco glitz and glamour and an awesome wine list. Make a pit stop in the Oak Room for a cocktail before or after!
- Kehde’s BBQ – Kansas-city style BBQ joint featuring the regional tomato/molasses-based sauce and some ridiculously amazing sides. Dine inside a refurbished train car or cozy up in your own car, this spot used to be a drive-in! Don’t skipped the baked beans, they’re known for ‘em!
- Ozark Coffee Company – locally-roasted coffeehouse with great selections, sweet & savory food items and merchandise. Outdoor seating as well!
- No. 5 Bistro & Bar – great spot for brunch, lunch or dinner – or just come hang out for a delicious cocktail or appetizer! Don’t skip the salmon salad, lots of bright, fresh ingredients make it a great option for a warm-weather meal.
- Ox Horn Market – ‘fast-casual concept’ inside the Lamy’s Manufacturing building great for coffee, sandwiches, breakfast and other items.
- Papa Jake’s Donuts – ‘get-up-early-and-stop-worthy’ Papa Jake’s Donuts was recommended by a local and absolutely worth the early alarm! Check hours and availability before you go, though.
Show-Me Sedalia, Missouri
As you can tell, Sedalia is a well-rounded, easy-to-get-to destination. It offers a wide variety of educational, exploratory and exercise options for anyone you’re traveling with. Build an itinerary for this Show-Me state hidden gem – and be sure to tag us on Instagram or Facebook with #ColorAndCuriosity! You can also learn more over at https://www.visitsedaliamo.com/play/weekend-getaway/!