6 Fun St. Louis Day Trips
Get off the couch and head out for Missouri’s most beloved destinations near St. Louis for an inexpensive and enjoyable day trip!
Money is tight. A great weekend these days might consist of a few games at a smoky bowling alley or sitting at home watching a football game. And you don’t like football. Well, get out of town! Literally! Check out some of these inexpensive day trips around the St. Louis area for a way that you can get out and explore the world around you. Unfortunately, you cannot get around using a little gasoline, but these trips range from two hours from St. Louis to a mere thirty minutes. So grab the keys and light out for some of Missouri’s most interesting and exciting territories!
1. Elephant Rocks State Park – Ironton, Missouri
This park attraction is located in a wonderfully isolated part of Missouri, where ancient rock formations lay among endless trails spanning over 130 acres of beautiful land. Every bend in the path will provide you with great views of the park and the surrounding beauty of Missouri hills. You’ll see wildlife, remnants of the past mines that existed within the confines of the park, and a lake that has been formed in the old quarry.
With a driving time of just under 2 hours from the city of St. Louis, this trip will take up the majority of the day, but bring a good friend along and put together a good long playlist and you’ll be good to go.
2. Alton, Illinois
Alton is a fantastic town nearby St. Louis that affords breathtaking views of the Mississippi River, exciting gaming at the Argosy Casino, and great food and fun. From Fast Eddie’s Bon-Air to the small antique stores and bookshops, Alton is sure to please you no matter what you’re in the mood for. Alton is also home to the second-largest population of bald eagles in the United States.
Once again, if you are in the mood for some great views and good photograph opportunities, Alton is a fantastic destination only about 40 minutes from St. Louis.
3. Hermann, Missouri
Two hours west of St. Louis lies Missouri Wine Country. Hermann, Missouri is a wonderfully historic town along the Missouri River. It is home to ten wineries and two breweries that will have you a little buzzed if you aren’t careful. Winery and brewery tours are usually very cheap (or free) and always fun and interesting.
But alcohol and history are not the only reasons to come to Hermann. The small town is chock full of antique stores and fantastic restaurants. If you are in the area, go to Montague’s. It is the most affordable, delicious barbeque you will ever have! And if you find yourself in Hermann on March 26th or 27th this year, you will be in sausage heaven at the annual Wurstfest. Enjoy.
4. Vienna, Missouri
Another small German town in Central Missouri, Vienna is another town that will virtually transport visitors to the German Rhineland while charming them with magnificent views of the Gasconade River and with its locally-owned shops and stores.
Every November, Vienna hosts a Christmas festival called Christkindlmarkt, a traditional German holiday celebration in which the whole town lights up and gears up for the fun of the season. It’s another two-hour drive, but a good friend and that trusty playlist will pass the time if you get bored of the beautiful Ozark Mountains.
5. Kimmswick, Missouri
Just a forty-minute drive south of St. Louis, Kimmswick boasts 20 locally-owned shops and five festivals throughout the year. The Strawberry Festival takes place on the first weekend of June. Memorial Day brings with it Operation W.A.V.E. (We Appreciate Our Veterans Event). The Apple Butter Festival is perhaps the most popular event, “draw[ing] over 100,000 visitors” during the last weekend of October. And finally, Christmas in Kimmswick takes place on the first weekend of December.
If the Elephant Rocks State Park rocked your world, be sure to also check out the Mastodon State Park in Kimmswick after you’re done sampling apple butter or scarfing strawberries. The park has several small trails that take you up and down rock formations and by the site where dinosaur bones were unearthed in the early 1800s.
6. St. Charles, Missouri
This is the shortest drive on the list, but it will provide you with great local restaurants, fascinating history, and even a bit of the supernatural. Main Street St. Charles is home to a few spirits outside of the bars that you can explore with a tour guide. Located on the Missouri River, St. Charles is yet another town that will afford visitors great views as they dine, shop, and play. Another attraction that should not be missed is the Ameristar Casino, located just minutes from Main Street.
The largest event of the year for St. Charles is the Festival of the Little Hills, where one can walk Main Street for hours on end and not see the same thing twice. With beer from local breweries, crafts from creative people from jewelry to homemade candles, and food from sausages to roasted nuts, the Festival of the Little Hills is an event that should not be missed. It takes place annually in late August.
Whatever you do, do not miss out on some of the best entertainment in the area this year! Get out there on the road and have fun folks.