Missouri's Central Region boasts premier lake and resort destinations, wineries, beautiful hiking and biking trails and the state capital, just for starters.
The Lake of the Ozarks offers 1,150 miles of shoreline winding through scenic Ozark hills. Besides swimming, boating, water-skiing and fishing, visitors can explore area caves, choose from numerous golf courses and enjoy country-music shows. Malls, factory outlets and specialty stores make this area a year-round destination for shoppers. Before leaving the lake area, explore the ruins of an 80-year-old castle at Ha Ha Tonka State Park near Camdenton. Here, you can imagine the grandeur of days past by observing this European-style marvel. Be sure to stop and take in the view of the lake and hiking trails below. Afterward, head south to Bennett Spring State Park located on the sparkling Niangua River for your chance to catch a trophy rainbow trout.
More water fun awaits you at three other major lakes in the area—Truman, Stockton and Pomme de Terre. These lakes offer 1,369 miles of undeveloped shoreline and 16 full-service marinas. Truman Lake is one of the Midwest's largest impoundments. For the big picture, stop by the Corps of Engineers visitors center near the dam. Perched high atop a bluff, the center offers a dramatic view of the 55,600-acre reservoir. Bring your fishing gear and experience for yourself why Truman Lake has earned rave reviews for its largemouth bass, catfish and crappie.
Head south for more water fun at Stockton and Pomme de Terre. Stockton Lake's 24,900 acres, nestled among rolling, tree-covered hills, entice anglers with abundant smallmouth and largemouth bass, walleye and crappie. Even if you are not an angler, there is plenty to do, including sailing, camping, water-skiing, hiking and picnicking. Pomme de Terre Lake and State Park boast several public-use areas offering camping and recreational facilities and services. Fishing is good year-round, but there is a special flurry in autumn as anglers seek out the lake's most feisty residents, trophy muskellunge.
Plan to spend some time in Jefferson City, the state's capital since 1862. The 68-foot diameter rotunda designed in the Roman Renaissance style welcomes visitors. While observing some of the best heritage-inspired murals by painter Thomas Hart Benton, view the legislative process or visit the inspiring "history hall" gallery. History buffs will enjoy touring Lincoln University, established in 1866 by enlisted men and officers in the 62nd and 65th U.S. Colored Infantries. For a refreshing break, stop in at Central Dairy for legendary ice cream treats.
Fulton boasts a beautifully reconstructed Sir Christopher Wren church, "Breakthrough," a sculpture made from pieces of the Berlin Wall, and the Churchill Memorial, commemorating Sir Winston Churchill's famous "Iron Curtain" speech given here in 1946. German culture is preserved in Hermann, sometimes referred to as "Little Germany." Today, you can sample award-winning wines and authentic food, spend time antique shopping and relax at one of the numerous bed and breakfast inns. Columbia is quickly becoming one of Missouri's great restaurant towns. Numerous festivals throughout the year focus on Missouri's heritage and visual performing arts. Spelunkers can explore he Devil's Icebox cave at Rock Bridge Memorial State Park by permit during certain times of the year.
Just west on Interstate 70 is the quaint river town of Rocheport, one of many trailheads for the Katy Trail. West of Rocheport is Boonville, the site of the first actual clash of arms between Union and pro-Confederate Missouri State Guard troops. Another area to discover is Sedalia, where Scott Joplin composed some of his most famous ragtime music. Fans flock here each year in June for Scott Joplin Ragtime Festival. In August, Sedalia hosts the Missouri State Fair.
West of Sedalia, you can camp or fish amid beautiful scenery at Knob Noster State Park. Farther west is Warrensburg, home of Central Missouri University. Be sure to stop by the old courthouse, site of a famous trial over a dog named Old Drum. From lake fun to historic river towns, there is plenty to keep you busy in Missouri's Central Region.
Community Health Centers in this region include Family Health Center in Columbia, also home to the University of Missouri Medical School, Community Health Center of Central Missouri located in Jefferson City and Linn, and Central Ozarks Medical Center in Richland and Katy Trail Health Center in Sedalia.
Critical Access Hospitals in this region include Hermann Area District Hospital and I-70 Medical Center.
For additional information regarding this region such as individual county HPSA status or loan repayment eligibility, please contact the Missouri Primary Care Association.
**Photos courtesy of the Missouri Division of Tourism**