Hit the Road This Autumn: Missouri Driving Tours Offer Color and Flavor
Jefferson City, Mo. -
There’s no better time to hit the highways of Missouri than fall, when the days are warm, the nights are cool, Mother Nature’s putting on her best colors and the air is filled with music and laughter. Whether you’re getting away for a long weekend, or just want to take a quick spin through the countryside, the roadways of the Show-Me State await you.
You can find a collection of great trip ideas on the Missouri Division of Tourism’s revamped Website, www.VisitMO.com, by clicking the “Trip Ideas” button on the home page.
Sample some of the state’s best “road food” along U.S. 36, a coast-to-coast highway that connects New York and San Francisco—and delivers some great attractions between the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. Highway 36 not only features the homes and lives of Mark Twain, Walt Disney, Gen. John J. “Black Jack” Pershing and Jesse James, it’s also home to some of the state’s best “road food”—and the birthplace of sliced bread.
On 17 murals painted on the sides of buildings throughout downtown in the Livingston County seat of Chillicothe, you can learn the history of possibly one of the world’s greatest inventions. According to the story, in 1928, the Chillicothe Baking Company, located at First and Elm Streets, was the first to use a machine called the Rohwedder Bread Slicer—invented by Iowa inventor, Otto Rohwedder—and offer pre-sliced bread to the public.
Wabash BBQ offers some of the best smoked meat
Although the bakery’s building is now home to a local electrician, just steps away is one of the state’s best barbecue joints—Wabash BBQ, which is located in a historic train depot and offers some of the best smoked meats and onion rings in the state.
And if you’re a fan of onion rings, you’re in luck. As outlined in this blog post from the VisitMO Bistro blog, many restaurants along Route 36 are “known for their onion rings.”
If you’re interested in something a bit more upscale than food from the fryer or a stainless steel grill, then Bevier’s Pear Tree Restaurant is for you. Located just west of Macon, the Pear Tree offers steaks, fish, chops and chicken, fine wines and an elegant atmosphere.
If the unique varietals of Missouri’s nearly 100 wineries are what you seek, then grab a designated driver and head for Southwest Missouri, home to the newest of Missouri’s five designated wine trails.
Keltoi Winery in Oronogo is a beautiful stop for any traveler
Keltoi Winery, in Oronogo, just south and west of Jasper, offers a collection of wines bearing names like Irish Raindrops, Biddy Early, Autumn Memories and Nine Ladies. The winery was established in 1998 when Erv and LeeAnn Langan purchased 43 acres north of the former town of Medoc.
The White Rose Bed and Breakfast is located in a 1900 farmhouse sitting on 10 acres, including a four-acre vineyard, near Carthage. The B&B features four guestrooms: the Vineyard room, the Dublin, the White Rose Room and The Gambler.
Williams Creek Winery, located just south of the courthouse square in Mt. Vernon, offers enjoyable Missouri wines in styles to please every taste. Opened by Louis and Sue Woody on February 8, 2007, the winery undergoes changes almost daily. Although the wine list continues to evolve, the principles of value, quality and “sense of place” remain constant.
Founded by third and fourth generation of Overboe winemakers whose family tree dates back to A.D. 1192 in Norway, the “Viking Vintners” of OOVVDA Winery, just north of I-44 in Springfield, use only the highest quality fruit for their handcrafted wines. Most of their grapes come from vineyards located within a few miles of the winery, and their fruit wines are often made from estate grown raspberries and cherries.
Whispering Oaks Winery is located in the beautiful Gasconade watershed of the Ozark Mountains Viticultural Area (AVA) of southwest Missouri in the town of Seymour. The vineyard overlooks a picturesque valley north of the second-highest point in the state. Whispering Oaks Winery’s vintner, Larry Green, set the goal of becoming the “best little old wine maker possible,” using grapes grown by the Green family since 1997.
No trip to Southwest Missouri would be complete without a swing down to Branson. If you’re headed that way, be sure to check out their special “Fall Foliage Meter,” which is quickly making its way into the “peek” range, by visiting a special ‘fall’ page on the Branson Convention & Visitors Bureau Web site.
Stop and take in the beauty of fall colors on Taum Sauk Mountain
One of the prettiest drives this time of year is on the east side of the state in the Arcadia Valley, along Routes 21 and 49 through the heart of Iron County. Take in the beauty of the fall colors from the observation tower on Taum Sauk Mountain, Missouri’s highest point; hike through Elephant Rocks State Park; and visit Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park (although it may be a bit too cool for swimming this time of year). The natural beauty and low-angle fall light in these areas make for great photo opportunities.
Fort Davidson State Historic Site in Pilot Knob
Fort Davidson, in Pilot Knob, is the site of a major Civil War battle. Fort Davidson State Historic Site serves as a memorial to those who gave their lives on that battlefield. The Visitors Center provides information about the battle, including a diorama, artifacts, and a film.
Nostalgic Place Bed & Breakfast, the oldest building in the historic district of Arcadia
Continuing south from Pilot Knob four miles on Route 21, you enter the town of Arcadia, where you find the Ursuline Academy Historic District. Spend a relaxing night at the circa 1889 Nostalgic Place Bed and Breakfast Inn, the oldest building in the historic district; it is on the National Register of Historic Places. The inn offers three guestrooms and a full breakfast. Also in the historic district, the St. Joseph Chapel is still used for weddings; it has some amazing stained glass windows.
For more information about lodging, attractions and dining across Missouri, visit www.VisitMO.com. To order a copy of the Official Missouri Travel Guide, dial 800-519-4800.
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Home of Sliced Bread, www.HomeOfSlicedBread.com
Wabash Bar, www.WabashBBQ.com
VisitMO Bistro, www.VisitMOBistro.com/2009/05/04/onion-ring-tour
The Pear Tree Restaurant, www.ThePearTreeRestaurant.com
Keltoi Winery, www.KeltoiVineyard.com
White Rose Bed and Breakfast, www.WhiteRoseBed-Breakfast.com
Williams Creek Winery.com, www.WilliamsCreekWinery.com
OOVVDA Winery, www.oovvda.com
Whispering Oaks Winery, www.WhisperingOaksWinery.com
Taum Sauk Mountain State Park, www.MoStateParks.com/taumsauk.htm
Elephant Rocks State Park, www.MoStateParks.com/elephantrock.htm
Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park, www.MoStateParks.com/jshutins.htm
Fort Davidson State Historic Site, www.MoStateParks.com/ftdavidson.htm
Nostalgic Place Bed & Breakfast, www.NostalgicPlace.com
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Missouri Division of Tourism