Students coming to Southeast Missouri State University as freshmen are provided with tours of the campus, opportunities to find information on the university's various clubs, organizations and events and encouragement to engage in campus activities. Cape Girardeau has parks, restaurants and shops that provide students with even more new experiences while in college.
Cape Girardeau has hiking and biking trails and 24 city parks that give students the opportunity to experience the natural aspect of the area. Capaha Park, the oldest of Cape Girardeau's parks, is located on Broadway and West End Boulevard. It features a fishing pond, ball fields and a disc golf course.
"I like to run in Capaha Park, it's nice," Southeast junior Cheyenne Henderson said. "It's peaceful to run there. It's a safe atmosphere to run in."
The Cape LaCroix Recreation Trail is a trail that runs from Shawnee Park to the Osage Centre that welcomes walking, running, cycling and rollerblading. The Osage Centre is open year-round from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Trail of Tears State Park in Jackson is a memorial to the thousands of Cherokee Native Americans who died on their forced march in 1838. The state park features information on the event as well as shaded picnic sites, horse trails, hiking trails and scenic spots to look out at the Mississippi River or Lake Boudin.
"It's easy when you're in Cape, even though you're living right by the river, to lose sight of the majesty of this huge body of water you live by, and when you go up hiking in the Trail of Tears and look over some of those cliffs into that vast expanse it really makes your place something particularly special," said Ryan Harper, Southeast alumni and Princeton University graduate student. "It's a good place to go to and take in the enormity and the beauty of southern Illinois and southeast Missouri. That's what I always enjoyed about it."
Local restaurants are also popular for college students. Cape Girardeau restaurants are home to a wide variety of foods and atmospheres. Burritoville, established in 2000 by a Southeast graduate, is a Mexican restaurant located on Broadway within walking distance of the campus and is known for its casual atmosphere, large portions and affordable prices. Pagliai's Pizza and Pasta is another restaurant unique to Cape Girardeau located on Broadway, as well as Bella Italia Ristorante located on Spanish Street. Buckner Brewing Company is another popular spot located on Main Street where one can enjoy American-style food, live music and historic downtown Cape Girardeau.
Downtown Cape Girardeau and Broadway are lined with shops leading to the Mississippi River. Shops range from Annie Laurie's Antiques, which was featured as a Missouri Hidden Treasure by visitMo.com in Midwest Living, to Howard's Athletic Goods, which has been in business for over 65 years selling sporting goods, college apparel and more.
The historic downtown district ends at the Mississippi River at Riverfront Park and the 1,100 foot long Mississippi River Tales Mural located on the downtown flood wall. The mural depicts Cape Girardeau's history and runs the length of the downtown shopping district. Riverfront Park beyond the floodwall contains 1.5 acres of terraced seating overlooking the river.
Whether it's getting fresh air at a local park, or enjoying the nightlife, students in Cape Girardeau have an array of chances to experience all that the college town has to offer. For more information, go to visitcape.com or oldtowncape.org.