So many people ask me for recommendations in and around Saint Louis, that I thought I’d list a few here:
Saint Louis has a commitment to free arts.
The Zoo, Art Museum (a relic of the 1904 World’s fair with a new modern addition), Laumeier Sculpture Park are all high on my list of wonderful ways to spend a day. If you go to Laumeier, be sure to take the woodland trail and pack a picnic.
A quick driving excursion should include a visit to Lone Elk County Park to see the Buffalo and Elk. They do not allow dogs—even in your car.
A drive around Lafayette Square to see the pretty painted Victorian grey stones, walk the Victorian park (some say they still hear and see the hanging of the Confederate Soldiers during a civil war skirmish there. I’ve heard many first account haunting stories in this little area. One of my favorites was during a large explosion of the Praxair company nearby. A homeowner friend said he thought a bomb or the New Madrid had hit. He ran downstairs and saw a Victorian lady in full body apparition. He said she was wearing a long, elegant white dress and had her hands covering her mouth in a look of absolute fright.) A good meal can be had outdoors at Square One Brewery or indoors at Sqwires.
An all time favorite hike is Pickle Springs (most beautiful in the Springtime) with Camping at Hawn State Park. Bring a picnic.
Another fabulous hike is Elephant Rocks SP. closest camping is at Johnson Shut ins. A few years back the levy collapsed, taking out the trees, campground and Ranger’s home. We haven’t camped there since, but the shut ins are pretty. There is another shut in area with primitive camping that locals enjoy: Pink Rocks. While down there, drive to Arcadia and have lunch at The Abbey. It’s a large family of Mormons with a very interesting story. The mother (of 10 autism spectrum kids) had lifelong visions of a property and was told in prayer that she would buy this place and thousands would eventually show up to help them rebuild it. As a school bus driver in Salt Lake, her school was given a free bus but it was on the East coast. She was given the summer off to drive it home, any way she liked. When she started into the tiny town of Arcadia, she recognized it. A realtor showed her two decaying Victorian school buildings. She described her vision as much bigger, with grounds, dorms and a church. With raised brows, he showed her the old academy…a place where Fidel Castro’s sister was once schooled by nuns. The Mormon family has been scraping by trying to keep true to their vision. (They no longer tell their story so don’t ask them…they willprovide a tour, though. The food is very tasty …but bring home the sticky buns w homemade caramel sauce. Yum, yum, yum.
There are three historic little towns with charming shops and restaurants.
Saint Charles is the first Capitol site. There are several log cabins to tour and pleasant boutiques. Best lunch is Magpies and I like The Trailhead Brewery for veg and bean burgers.
The Campbell house museum is a favorite because it was held in total for decades by a single family. The youngest son was presumed “mentally ill” and doctors told the family never to change anything in the home…that it would keep him calmer. (My personal feeling is he was psychic because I got the strong feeling he still hangs out there.😉)
Another really beautiful home to tour is on the Saint Louis University campus. The Cupples House. Mr Cupples made a lot of money during the wagon trail days. St Louis U is also the home of the priest who presided over the famous Exorcism case (Linda Blair played the child in the film but in actuality, it was a boy. His Aunt and Uncle took him in so this priest could help them. That house is in Bel Nor in North Saint Louis County. It changes owners frequently.
If you are in town on the right weekend, tour the Magic Chef (stove company) house.
Kimmswick is a touristy kind of town. They have a fun Apple Butter festival and The Blue Owl Cafe for mile high pies.
Saint Genevieve is an old French settlement. Make time to tour the Bolduc house as the vertical beam construction is amazing. Lunch at Stella and Me.
The Daniel Boone Village is in Defiance MO, not too far off the Katy Trail. It is a collection of charming historic structures mostly assembled by Lindenwood University. You can tour it most days but the best tour is the first two weekends of December, when there are reinactors, bonfires, luminaries hot cocoa and cider.
Washington State Park is an hour south of StL. There are petroglyphs, and very nice CCC structures. We like it best because there is a long stretch of swimming beach along the Big River (where dogs are allowed).
Another favorite camping destination is Arrow Rock MO. The park is attached to the historic village. There is a history tour and trails. There is a beautiful restaurant called Catalpa (the menu is simplified since the virus). Not far from Arrow Rock is Marshall MO. It’s a nice little side trip to learn about Jim the wonder Dog.
Drive west to Independence MO to tour The Vaille Home (crazy haunted, trust me), the Truman Home (be very punctual because it’s run in military precision) and the Truman Library.
I’ve always been interested in The New Madrid earthquake so the little town was very interesting to me. There is an informative museum and a nice historic home to tour in town. Camping can be found at Reelfoot Lake…the epicenter of the 1811-12 quake.
I have only just touched the surface of fun places in and around MO. I’ll try to add more when I have time. I also hope to provide favorite places in Illinois and Indiana. Please forgive any and all typos, I’m working on my IPad in a park.