In early May 2018, I was convinced to go back to Missouri for the second time in my life. The first time left much to be desired. Yes, it was great to visit one of my best friends, but we did not explore much and I was not overly impressed with what I saw. However, a special someone convinced me to come back. And you know what? I was completely wrong the first time! Missouri has plenty worth exploring and I was really happy to be proven wrong. For all of my reviews from this trip, check out my Trip Advisor profile. Specific ones will be linked below.
We had all kinds of plans going into the weekend, but the weather unfortunately did not cooperate well. However, I had dinner and drinks at Bella Vineo Wine Bar & Tapas, the #1 restaurant on Trip Advisor in St. Charles. This is a really cool spot with a nice outdoor patio and some great wine and food selections. You can read more in my review on Trip Advisor. We also saw the Gateway Arch, watched a game at Busch Stadium, hit up a Stake & Shake, and ate some amazing fish tacos at a cool authentic Mexican restaurant in St. Louis. All of these were just off-the-cuff ideas!
That being said, one of the things we did plan ahead for, and probably my favorite stop of the trip, was the Anheuser-Busch Budweiser Brewery Experience. Although there is a $15 paid tour, we took the free one, which allows you to see how the beer is made, visit the historical landmarks on-site, meet the Clydesdales and, most importantly, try a free sample of Budweiser or Bud Light AND a post-tour free beer in the garden. The garden has some unique beer styles you may not see elsewhere, so I highly encourage you grab one of those instead of another main-streamer. The shop on-site is filled will all kinds of great take-home gifts. This is just an awesome tour and experience; well worth the free price tag.
Naturally on a trip anywhere, I have to do some sort of hiking. The best place nearby with any sort of views or evaluation gamin was Castlewood State Park. My girlfriend and I walked the trails and hiked to the highest section of the area. It is a beautiful park and nice for running or biking. Missouri seems to be huge for biking trails in the parks, so if you like some easy biking trails, definitely consider bringing an off-road bike or renting one. Also, I had to sneak a 2 Hard Way tall boy from Orono Brewing Company & Mast Landing Brewing Co. to enjoy on the hike… It was a must!
After a long day out in the sun on some nature trails, you just want to relax. What better way can you do that then hitting up a popular local winery? Cedar Lake Cellars
is in Wright City, MO. It is a really cool vineyard with tons of outdoor space, including picnic tables, a dock with on-water seating, an outdoor stage for local music, and some delicious barbecue. I highly recommend trying the wine tasting first. Our bartender Sheila was phenomenal and provided tons of information about each wine, which convinced me to take home two bottles. Their wine is unique and delicious. You won’t regret spending half of a day here, especially if the weather is nice! Check out their Facebook page ahead of time to see music their live music schedule.
Me being me, I had to get to the highest elevation in the area I was exploring. In St. Charles, that is what’s called “The Moon,” which is a former nuclear waste site that the city took over and did some really cool green initiative work to prevent spread of toxic chemicals. Due to the great work done here, this site is now a popular attraction for locals and tourists. It’s a short stop that you can visit within 15-20 minutes, but worth visiting if you are close by.
That about wraps it up! I had a great time in Missouri, not just because of the people I was with but because of the places I got to see, visit, and experience. I recommend a trip like this for anyone interested in finding hidden gems. Missouri is not necessarily on everyone’s wish list for vacation destinations. But you know what? You’ll be as surprised as I was by how much fun you can have.