Holiday time in Missouri is a true American classic
Crack! One swing of the bat, and one of the most successful baseball franchises in history—the St. Louis Cardinals—has tied up the game. Well, the Cards didn’t make it to the World Series this year, and won’t be taking the field again for a few months, but a trip to St. Louis this fall or winter won’t be complete without visiting the St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame and Museum, where you’ll see mementos from the team’s long history, including the 1944 “streetcar” series, 11 cases showing off championship artifacts, many items from “Stan the Man” Musial, and a special section devoted to the Negro League’s St. Louis Stars.
St. Louis Fun Trolleys can tour you through revitalized and beautiful 1,300-acre Forest Park and past the iconic Gateway Arch—where you can actually take a “Journey to the Top” to gaze out on the cityscape.
Forest Park houses many attractions, but don’t miss the city’s Beaux Arts St. Louis Art Museum and its outstanding collection, including their extensive German Expressionist group and the huge and powerful Andy Goldsworthy “Stone Sea” sculpture. Admission is free. (Highly recommended while you’re there: Lunch at fine dining Panorama.) Art lovers visiting SL will also want to take in the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, especially for its contemporary and conceptual works.
And don’t forget the music. Celebrating its 20th year is the world-class Jazz St. Louis, one of the best spaces in the country to hear jazz while having a bite and a beverage in the Ferring Jazz Bistro. This season, you still have time to catch Poncho Sanchez (Nov. 4-7), Omaha Diner (Nov. 18-21), Sean Jones (Dec. 2-5), and Matt Wilson’s Christmas Tree-O (Dec. 16-19).
Like our own Reflection Riding/Nature Center, St. Louis’s Endangered Wolf Center is doing its part to save and restore the magnificent and misunderstood hunters. Located about 20 miles outside the city, the Center protects and raises Mexican gray and red wolves, among other species.
But whatever you plan to see, the stunning Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis has to be on your list. Its massive interior houses an absolutely breathtaking collection of mosaics, considered by experts to be the greatest display in the Western Hemisphere. ’Tis the season for the Vienna Boys Choir (Nov. 21) and Christmas at the Cathedral with the Sonos Handbell Ensemble and Frederica von Stade (Dec. 12 and 13).
Hippest place to stay in the city: The Moonrise Hotel in the Delmar Loop neighborhood. Always busy, book in advance.
For more information about all of these places, visit explorestlouis.com
Right across the bridge from St. Louis, you’ll find charming and historic St. Charles, where Lewis and Clark met to launch their famous exploration.
The town’s Main Street is the place to be during the holidays, when “Christmas Traditions” fills the street with costumed performers, drum-and-fife bands, and special evenings and events at merchants and restaurants.
(Suggestion: Before heading to Main Street, treat yourself to an outstanding meal at eco-friendly Prasino…don’t pass up a craft cocktail!)
Chattanooga tech entrepreneurs will want to know about OPO (112 S. Main St.), the incubator housed in a restored 1918 post office and started by tech legend Randy Schilling. Like our own city, St. Charles has begun attracting a wide range of young, savvy professionals, who are drawn by the beauty and affordability of the area.
Artsy folks should stop in at Missouri Artists on Main (315-321 S. Main), where two buildings hold some very collectible pieces from artists all over the state.
(Hotel tip: Fancy a little gambling time at the tables during your Missouri visit? Then the enormous and very modern all-suite Ameritstar Casino Resort Spa St. Charles is just the ticket.)
For more information, visit historicstcharles.com
The childhood home of arguably the most American of authors, Mark Twain, is a day trip from St. Louis. Hannibal boast three museum homes, jointly forming the Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum, and they are impressively laid out and curated.
At certain times, you can see live performances at one of the museum house, including “Mark Twain’s Retreat” and “A True Story.” (Visit marktwainmuseum.org for more information and times.)
The holiday season is especially lively in Hannibal, and this year includes:
50 Miles of Art: Artisans in Hannibal, Louisiana & Clarksville, Missouri open their studios for a unique view into how their work is created. (Nov. 7, 8)
Victorian Festival of Christmas: Horse-drawn carriages, carolers, holiday tea parties, beautifully decorated storefronts. (Nov. 28)
Mark Twain’s 180th Birthday Party Celebration: His birthday is on the 30th, but the Museum is celebrating early. (Nov. 28)
Second Saturday Gallery Walk: Be sure to stop in at Rails County Clocks to view an amazing collection of clocks old and new, and Nancy Lee Kaufman Gallery for handwoven wearable art. Wander from gallery to gallery and enjoy special guest artists and food. (Dec. 12, 5-8 p.m.)
Annual Downtown Living Windows: From classic to comic, strolling down Main Street enjoying these windows is something even the sometimes-curmudgeonly Twain would have liked. (Dec. 12)
For more information, go to visithannibal.com
Yet another aspect of Missouri is revealed in a day (or overnight) trip to Hermann, founded in 1836 by the German Settlement Society of Philadelphia, and believed to have been chosen because of the area’s resemblance to the Rhine Valley.
Did you know that Missouri has become an increasingly respected wine-growing region? The original settlers grew wine vines in Hermann, most of which were pulled out during Prohibition, but now, thanks to the area’s renaissance, the hills are once again dotted with wineries, including nationally known Stone Hill Winery, with its 165-year-old arched underground cellars, four vineyards and fine-dining restaurant.
Stone Hill specializes in growing grapes that flourish in the micro-climate of this area right along the Missouri River, including Norton and Vignoles. Like all the area wineries, Stone Hill is open for tours. One don’t-miss for wine buffs will be the seven-stop “Holiday Fare Wine Trail” on Nov. 21 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Don’t despair, beer lovers. Of course there is a great option for you: The Tin Mill Brewing Company, right in downtown Hermann, and awash in yummy craft brews.
Naturally, the Christmas season is one long festivity in German-heritage Hermann, so plan a visit anytime between Dec. 1 and 31 and experience “Christmastime in Hermann,” with parades, open houses and especially, the KrisHindl Markets taking place the first two weekends in December.
For more information, go to visithermann.com
The upshot is: No matter what your tastes, from baseball to jazz to Twain to wine, you’ll find it in the Show Me state.