Hit the Road
Five one-tank road trips to satisfy your wanderlust.
As the ground defrosts and the days grow longer, the desire to hit the open road grows stronger. Lucky for you, we’ve compiled travel guides to five close-to-home cities: Hermann, Missouri; Arrow Rock, Missouri; St. Louis; Eureka Springs, Arkansas; and Bentonville, Arkansas. From quaint, historic towns at the foot of the Ozark Mountains and Missouri wine country, to a locals’ guide to big-city living, we’ve found something to suit anyone’s tastes for escape. All that’s left to do is pick a weekend getaway, pack a bag and let Google Maps do the rest.
Distance: 188 miles; 3 hours
Stretch your legs in Columbia, Missouri, where you can grab a scoop of uniquely flavored homemade ice cream from Sparky’s (gas station slushie or lavender honey, anyone?) or a slice from staple Shakespeare’s Pizza.
REASONS TO GO
It’s believed that Hermann’s resemblance to the Rhine Valley is why scouts from the German Settlement Society of Philadelphia chose it as the site for its colony. Now, though it’s known as part of Missouri wine country, the city still has a soft spot for its culture and history. Plan to spend a few days taking in attractions like the Deutschheim State Historic Site and Katy Trail, and browse shops like Saleigh Mountain Leather Co., Hermann’s Attic Antique Mall and Type Styles.
Stone Hill Winery, Hermann | Photo courtesy of visit MO
Tasteful travels await you on the Hermann Wine Trail, which journeys to seven of the area’s family-owned wineries, including Stone Hill. For those looking to swig instead of swirl, Hermann is also home to Tin Mill Brewing Company and Pinckney Bend Distillery. Make a day of family-friendly adventures with forest canopy tours by Eco Zipline Tours or a walking tour that tells more of Hermann’s story.
Located downtown, the Black Walnut Bistro is worth a visit for a romantic evening or casual dinner of handmade pastas, specialty mac ‘n’ cheese and center-cut steaks. For those looking to dine on German fare, Hermann Wurst Haus is the premier meat, sausage and deli shop that carries 47 varieties of award-winning bratwurst and German sausage as well as grand champion house-smoked bacons and more. Before hitting the road, satisfy your sweet tooth with the nostalgic candy and homemade pies at Sugar Momma’s.
Built in the 1860s, the Alpenhorn Gasthaus is a “true old-style” brick B&B that made Midwest Living’s list of “50 Romantic Midwest Getaways” for its private accommodations and hot tub under the stars. The Food Channel for its gourmet meals, multi-course fine dining, cooking classes and candlelit wine cellar, which tops off a romantic weekend away. The Captain Wohlt Inn comprises four residences — three of which are on the National Historic Registry — and can accommodate any need, be it a small business meeting, family trip, friendly reunion or romantic getaway. Among the manifest of amenities are fresh gourmet breakfast, a butterfly and bird garden, lawn games, a barbecue grill and a pergola.
SAVE THE DATES
May 20-21: Enhance your experience of the city’s rich German roots through Maifest, an old-fashioned celebration of spring that features German music, dancing, food, parades, Maypole dancers, children’s games and beer gardens.
June 17: The quickest way to a Midwesterner’s heart — live music, good food and brews — can be found at Tin Mill Brewery’s annual Rhythm & Brews festival.
Arrow Rock, Missouri
Distance: 100 miles; 1 hour, 30 minutes
Stop in Odessa to stock on sweet treats, savory snacks and cheese. One Good Taste Country Store has more than 160 varieties of cheese with daily free samples, Amish-style goods, snacks and sweets. Odessa Creamery has a variety of desserts such as the Beanie (a warm brownie with a scoop of ice cream, hot fudge, whipped cream, nuts and a cherry), pies, brownies, shakes, malts, floats, sundaes and just classic scoops of ice cream. Grab a coffee at the trendy Black Box Coffee for the road, or sit down and enjoy the atmosphere.
REASONS TO GO
Take a step back in time and enjoy a beautiful weekend in Arrow Rock, home to centuries of U.S. history. Visited by Lewis and Clark on their infamous journey exploring westward expansion in the 19th century, the charming village hosts more than 100,000 visitors each year. Arrow Rock bestows the honor of being a National Historic Landmark, with several individual structures listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Arrow rock state historic site
The Arrow Rock State Historic Site was a pivotal stop on the Santa Fe Trail, a crucial trade route connecting Independence, Missouri to Santa Fe, New Mexico, during the 19th century used by countless traders. Hit the town and stop at the Boardwalk Shops to pick up some handcrafted souvenirs. Wander down the streets and visit numerous historical buildings like famous American painter George Caleb Bingham’s House. Book a ticket to the Lyceum Theatre, the oldest professional regional theater in Missouri. The 2017 shows include favorites like Beauty and the Beast, Mamma Mia! and Oklahoma!.
Catalpa, Arrow Rock | Photo Courtesy of Visit MO
For casual dining, J. Huston Tavern is the oldest continuously serving restaurant west of the Mississippi River. Known for its fried chicken, J. Huston Tavern has three dining rooms: The Sappington Parlor, the Huston Room and the Bingham Room. Guests can also enjoy a drink in the Tap Room, the mercantile store attached to the tavern. For a more upscale menu with lobster, lamb and prime steaks, visit Catalpa, a restaurant tucked away in a red brick house. Catalpa serves exceptional seasonal dishes with local produce whenever possible and sources proteins from Missouri family farms. For modern French cuisine and an exquisite wine list, dine at Chez Trappeur Bar & Bistro. Chez Trappeur focuses on serving farm-to-table meals with local, organic ingredients and is home to 180 fine wines from all over the world.
Down Over Bed & Breakfast is ideally located on Main Street and has been serving visitors of Arrow Rock for more than 30 years. Choose from four spacious guest rooms with private baths or a private cottage. Wake up for a full breakfast and relax on the large, bungalow-style front porch on a rocker or swing. Kick back at the Arrow Rock Bed & Breakfast, which has two spacious guest rooms, plenty of beautiful outdoor space and common areas accented with owner Linda Hoffman’s original artwork.
SAVE THE DATES
May 13: Arrow Rock is hosting its annual garden market and vintage bazaar at the Old Schoolhouse. Adopt beautiful plants, visit with gardening experts and find one-of-a-kind vintage items.
June 7-18: The Lyceum Theatre presents Beauty & The Beast.
St. Louis, Missouri
Distance: 248 miles; 3 hours, 40 minutes
The historic town of Fulton is just 4 miles south of Interstate 70 on Highway 54 in Callaway County. Visit the National Churchill Museum, a $4 million masterpiece located on Westminster College’s campus, or explore Fulton’s Brick District, the town’s main retail hub that features 67 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places. On Brick Street Saturdays, you’ll find local produce from the Fulton Farmers’ Market, local handicrafts, live music and sidewalk sales among the nearly 30 restaurants and shops.
REASONS TO GO
Our sister city that anchors Missouri to the east might be a common road-trip destination, but St. Louis has more to offer than what meets the eye. Yes, we all know about the Gateway Arch, the St. Louis Zoo and the City Museum. This tour will take you on the road less traveled. Get ready to eat where the locals eat, play where the locals play — and even sleep where Frank Sinatra slept!
st. louis cathedral basilica | photos by m.l. olsen
Skip the Anheuser-Busch tour and explore local breweries like Schlafly Bottleworks in Maplewood or Urban Chestnut Brewing Co. in the Grove. Each is in a lively entertainment district worth exploring once the tours have concluded. Deemed “one of the 10 great streets in America” by the American Planning Association, the Delmar Loop in University City is home to more than 120 businesses, including diverse restaurants, eclectic shops, a bowling alley, a movie theater and concert venues like The Pageant. And be sure to look below your feet; the St. Louis Walk of Fame honors greats like Maya Angelou, Scott Joplin, Yogi Berra and Tina Turner. Head to the Missouri Botanical Garden, which is known for its stunning displays of plants and flowers. Marvel at the Japanese Garden, one of the largest of its kind in North America, complete with waterfalls, an island, koi fish, flowering cherry trees and more. Take a self-guided tour of the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis, which houses one of the largest mosaic collections the in the Western Hemisphere. Twenty different artists created the mosaics, which contain 41.5 million pieces of glass, took 76 years to complete and cover 83,000 square feet.
St. Louis Magazine named Olive + Oak, a chic eatery in the heart of Webster Groves, the Best New Restaurant of 2016. The menu has price points to suit any budget. Opt for the classic O+O Burger for $12 or splurge on the 32-ounce Prime Cowboy Rib-Eye for $68 (granted, this entree is intended for two). Other trendy spots include Nixta, which serves modern Mexican food in a vacation-like setting; Private Kitchen, which serves authentic Shanghai-style Chinese food by reservation only; and James Beard Award-winning chef Gerard Craft’s latest concept, Sardella, which spans old world Italy to 21st-century St. Louis cuisine. And you can’t go wrong with St. Louis classics like Crown Candy Kitchen, Broadway Oyster Bar, The Fountain on Locust, Gioia’s Deli (a James Beard Foundation American Classics Award winner); Carl’s Drive-In or Guido’s Pizzeria & Tapas on “The Hill” (St. Louis’ Little Italy).
The Moonrise Hotel in the Delmar Loop is a one-of-a-kind destination. Its blend of modern design and quirky sophistication — think iridescent lobby walls, rare space memorabilia, evocative art and lighted staircases — makes for an unforgettable stay. Grab a drink on the rooftop bar underneath the spinning 3-D moon model, then check out a show at The Pageant music venue next door. Live like royalty at the Chase Park Plaza Hotel in the Central West End. With its stunning 1930s Art Deco design, iconic Mediterranean-style pool with carved stone porticoes and tranquil fountains, iconic celebrity guests like the Rolling Stones, historic five-screen movie theater, three restaurants, and Aveda Salon and Spa, you may never want to leave the premises!
SAVE THE DATES
May 20: Enjoy samples from more than 50 local breweries at the sixth annual IndiHop. With your tasting glass in hand, hop on one of five shuttles and be transferred between The Grove and Cherokee Street for 25 samples in each neighborhood with 18 local bands providing entertainment.
July 2-4: Fair St. Louis, one of the city’s most cherished traditions, features live music from national acts, air shows, food, educational activities and spectacular fireworks in celebration of America’s birth. Best of all? The Independence Day weekend festivities at Forest Park are free.
Aug. 9-10: It’s the second half of the notorious I-70 series. Watch the Boys in Blue take on the hometown Redbirds in what’s sure to be an exciting Missouri faceoff at the beautiful Busch Stadium. Be sure to grab a post-game brew at Ballpark Village, Kansas City Power & Light’s distant cousin also designed by Cordish Companies.
Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Distance: 227 miles; 3 hours, 48 minutes
Joplin, Missouri, provides a great pit stop for history buffs to check out the Bonnie & Clyde Garage Apartment, 3347½ Oak Ridge Drive. It’s the hideout where the notorious outlaws holed up for 13 days during the Depression. It can be seen from the road, but is not available for tours.
REASONS TO GO
With its quaint European look, Eureka Springs is affectionately called “The Little Switzerland of the Ozarks” or “The Stair-Step Town” because of its steep, winding, up-and-down streets and walkways. Nestled in the Ozark Mountains, the entire city is on the National Register of Historic Places. It boasts more than 60 mostly chef-owned restaurants, 65 natural springs punctuated by pocket parks, and a downtown filled with unique shops and historic lodging. Oh, and then there’s its art! Eureka Springs has more than 350 working artists, performers and musicians, and more than 20 art galleries.
White river valley | Photo courtesy of eureka springs city advertising and promotion comission
The No. 1 attraction in this vibrant art village is its charming downtown, with daytime and nighttime adventures to be had. Other attractions are the well-known Great Passion Play that brings to life the epic drama surrounding Christ’s death and resurrection; the Thorncrown Chapel made of glass in a woodland setting; and the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge that is a haven for rescued “big cats” and its accompanying safari lodges, suites, tents and treehouses. You feel like you’re spending the night in Africa because all night long you hear lions and tigers roar. The town also boasts one of the largest city parks in the U.S., Lake Leatherwood Park.
Make sure to include a stop at Ermillio’s Italian Home Cooking, in the city’s downtown. Winner of the Arkansas Times’ Readers’ Choice 2016 Best Restaurant award, this eatery provides “comfortable, just-like-home” fare. Because it’s so popular and doesn’t accept reservations, guests play board games in its upstairs bar while waiting for their tables. Another favorite worth mentioning: Mud Street Café. Located in what locals call “Underground Eureka Springs,” (tours are available) the restaurant has wonderful old limestone walls, stained-glass lighting, large wooden beams, and its dining room centerpiece is a turn-of-the-century oak bar with beveled mirrors.
Choices include charming bed and breakfasts and several resorts with amenities like golf, spas and healing water soaks. Particularly appealing is Arsenic and Old Lace Bed and Breakfast, a Queen Anne Victorian-style mansion that features a “Tree-Top Suite” that has two stories of floor-to-ceiling windows and the “Patio Room,” which has a separate entrance and large courtyard patio covered with ivy walls that make you feel like you’re in a world of your own. A popular downtown hotel is the 1905 Basin Park Hotel. Guests get two free tickets to the downtown tour “Hellraisers, Hoodlums, and Heated History.”
SAVE THE DATES
April 14-16: The 30th Annual Ozark Mountain UFO Conference will feature speakers from various professions, including physicists, investigative reporters and authors.
May 1-31: The 30th Annual May Festival of the Arts features dozens of exhibits, demonstrations, gallery walks, free concerts and more.
Distance: 208 miles; 3 hours, 10 minutes
Right along Interstate 49 is the charming township of Carthage, Missouri. Carthage is said to have once been home to the wealthiest citizens in the America thanks to the miles of underground marble quarries that have long since been abandoned. The families left the town with a legacy of architectural marvels that comprise some of the largest historic districts in the state of Missouri.
REASONS TO GO
Named for American painter and muralist Thomas Hart Benton, Bentonville, Arkansas, pays tribute to the legendary artist by infusing art and culture in a myriad of ways. Bentonville is a quiet city, but don’t let its unassuming stature fool you. It is the birthplace and international headquarters of mega-retailer Wal-Mart. During the week, thousands of vendors, suppliers and merchants descend upon the town hoping to woo Wal-Mart. With the influx of new Wal-Mart employees, spin-off companies and vendors setting up shop in town comes world-class restaurants and hotels to explore. Everywhere you turn in Bentonville, you will find beautiful art, architecture, well-preserved greenspace and breathtaking views of the Arkansas Mountains. It’s also a great jumping off point for adventures in the Ozarks and the scenic Northwest Arkansas region.
The Walton Family Foundation (of Wal-Mart fame) founded Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, a world-class art complex, in 2005. Nestled in the woods just north of the city square, the architectural marvel has become a mecca for art enthusiasts. Around the museum are walking and biking trails. The museum houses a permanent collection of American art masterworks, from the colonial era to modern day. Touring collections from national art institutions are also hosted there throughout the year.
The Peel House Mansion Museum and Historic Gardens, which is named for former resident Colonel Samuel West Peel, is a tribute to the late 1800s, complete with authentic antiques and artifacts from the era plus a lush garden of 19th-century plantings. The Bentonville City Square features a Civil War statue, benches, a fountain and gardens surrounded by quaint shops. A main attraction on the square is the Wal-Mart Museum, located in Sam Walton’s Five and Dime store. Traces of its origin are still perceptible right down to the soda fountain.
Located in Bentonville’s City Square, Pressroom is home to one of the city’s buzziest executive chefs, Michael Robertshaw. His inventive menu has made regulars of locals and travelers alike. Try the Korean fried chicken (chicken thigh, kimchee, blue crab and scallion cream cheese, crispy wontons and sesame). For “modern Latin with a blend,” head to Table Mesa Bistro and get your fill of anything from tacos and enchiladas to paella, bao or even burgers. A diverse list of house specialties — like Jerusalem grilled cabbage, Mamma Mia Chicken, and inventive burritos — will make your final decision a tough one. Pair your meal with an El Corazón Margarita (passion fruit, blood orange, pomegranate, Patron Silver, Grand Marnier) for the full experience.
The rooms at the 21c Museum Hotel are spacious and furnished with simple yet elegant decor. Throughout the hotel, you’ll see 21st-century art exhibits, including the signature green penguins. The facility is within walking distance of anything you could possibly want to see in town.
SAVE THE DATES
May 2-7: The 2017 Bentonville Film Festival, co-founded by Geena Davis, celebrates diversity on screen. View a variety of films with diverse themes and characters and are written and directed by women and minorities.
May 5-7: The Spanker Creek Farm Spring Festival is the premier arts and crafts fair in Northwest Arkansas. It features exhibitors from all over the country selling handmade goods, plus old-time treats like fresh kettle corn, live music and a beautiful setting at the foot of the Ozark Mountains. The fall festival is Oct. 18-22.
The Ultimate Summer Adventure: Missouri National Parks Passport Challenge
Missouri is home to six national parks: Jefferson National Expansion Memorial in St. Louis; Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site in St. Louis; Ozark National Scenic Riverways in Van Buren, Eminence, Salem and Winona; Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield in Republic; George Washington Carver National Monument in Diamond; and the Harry S. Truman National Historic Site in Independence. Whether you soar to the top of the Gateway Arch, float down a cool, spring-fed stream or walk in the steps of Civil War soldiers, Missouri’s national parks offer many things to do, learn, experience and enjoy.
This year, the Missouri National Parks are offering a Passport Challenge. You and your family will be rewarded for experiencing adventures at our state’s national parks. Get your passport stamped at three parks and receive a free Missouri National Parks Passport Challenge water bottle. Stamp your passport at all six parks and receive a commemorative “Challenge Accomplished” Passport Challenge drawstring backpack.
Two of these parks have more in common than you’d think. Jefferson National Expansion Memorial and Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site both honor past U.S. presidents and are located in St. Louis, making a national parks-centric trip to St. Louis as easy as ever. Here’s what you need to know about each of these sites.
Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site
Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site educates the public on the lives and legacies of Civil War general and 18th president of the United States Ulysses S. Grant and his wife, Julia Dent Grant, as well as the enslaved African-Americans and other residents of White Haven, a sprawling former farming plantation where Julia grew up.
The White Haven property was a focal point in Grant's and Julia's lives for four decades. The Grants lived there off and on during the 1850s. Although the family moved to Galena, Illinois, in 1860, the Grants continued to think of White Haven as their family home. By 1870, President Grant owned nearly 650 acres of the White Haven farm and began readying the property for a relaxing retirement. Although circumstances caused him to abandon those retirement plans, Grant retained ownership of the property until a few months before his death in 1885.
Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site is anchored by the restored White Haven home and includes a visitor center and a museum. It showcases Grant’s humble beginnings and links them with his future and the state of our country today.
For more information, visit nps.gov/ulsg.
Jefferson National Expansion Memorial
Located in downtown St. Louis, Jefferson National Expansion Memorial is a 90.96-acre national historic site comprising the Gateway Arch and Old Courthouse. The vision of renowned architect Eero Saarinen, the Gateway Arch reflects St. Louis’ role in the westward expansion of the United States. The park is a memorial to Thomas Jefferson’s role in opening the West and to Dred Scott, who sued for his freedom in the Old Courthouse.
America’s tallest man-made monument at 630 feet, the Gateway Arch has beckoned visitors for more than 50 years with its iconic, awe-inspiring shape. The CityArchRiver Foundation, a public-private partnership, is leading a $380 million plan to enhance the Arch visitor experience. The plan includes new exhibits at the Old Courthouse and the Arch, a new accessible westward-facing entrance, renovated park grounds and new bike trails along the riverfront, and the construction of a Park Over the Highway that will connect the Arch ground with the Old Courthouse.
The Old Courthouse stands as a prominent architectural landmark and was the backdrop for some of America’s pivotal early legal cases. It was the site of Dred and Harriet Scott’s suit for freedom in 1847 and Virginia Minor's case for a woman's right to vote in 1873. Today, the Old Courthouse features restored courtrooms and exhibit galleries on the Dred Scott case and westward expansion.