With the holidays fast approaching, any outing just naturally has to do with one of three things:
1) Buying gifts.
2) Getting together with friends and family.
3) Getting away from friends, family and gift-buying for a few hours to restore sanity.

With the holidays fast approaching, any outing just naturally has to do with one of three things:
1) Buying gifts.
2) Getting together with friends and family.
3) Getting away from friends, family and gift-buying for a few hours to restore sanity.

In honor of the season, here’s a garland of suggestions — a circle of five small towns within 90 minutes of the Lake of the Ozarks — plus one more that is too much fun to leave out. All of these communities have delicious places to eat and quaint shops, but if you go, you won’t run into yourself coming and going. And take note: what follows are just a smattering of suggestions. Every community has many more places to shop and eat than we can list.
From Bolivar on the west, to Salem and St. James to the south, to Jefferson City on the east, and Warsaw at the other end of the Lake, here are some suggestions for holiday season day trips. We finish up with a bit about St. Charles. It’s 100 miles from here, but this historic community does Christmas so well we couldn’t leave it out.
Take a day off, enjoy the drive, the small town ambiance, and let us know how you fare!
Happy Holidays!

Officially founded in November 1835, Bolivar was a stop on the Overland Stage route. Tums were invented in Bolivar, and when he was president, Harry Truman visited the city with Venezuelan President Romulo Galleges to dedicate a statue of South American liberator Simon Bolivar.  
A typical 19th century town with a courthouse square, it’s also home to Southwest Baptist University, and the Dunnegan Gallery, which displays regional and national artists. The gallery is open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, from 1-4 p.m. through December 13. (www.dunnegangallery.org).

Directions: Take US 54 from Camdenton to MO D towards Pomme de Terre Lake, then onto MO-64E, (or go 30 miles north of Springfield on MO 13).

Events not to miss
Through December 27
Light the Park: Dunnegan Park is decorated with Christmas displays and lights provided by local businesses. Free.
Dec. 14, 2 p.m.
Christmas parade.
Downtown on the square:
Fired Up Pottery and Art
The Printed Page Bookstore
The Lily Pad Boutique, children’s and women’s clothing.
The Country Hearth and Tea Garden Café, gift shop and delicious tea room
Miller’s Jewelry.

The Bean: A coffee shop on the square.

The Country Hearth and Tea Garden Café: A local favorite on the square.

Brenda’s Café: Breakfast and brunch.
115 W. Broadway

Kathy’s Pasta: Homemade Italian dishes.
329 S. Main

Boone’s BBQ: In a big red barn.
5260 Scenic Ave.

The Main Street Mediterranean Restaurant: The Turkish owner offers a variety of cuisines, from falafel to baklava.
107 N. Main

Our state capitol really dresses up for the holidays, and the community isn’t far behind. If you haven’t been inside the capitol to see the Thomas Hart Benton murals, visit the state history museum, or just gawk at the lovely architecture, give yourself an hour or two and visit the stately building that belongs to all Missourians. If you’re just going for the shopping and eating, see below.

Directions It’s a direct route from the east side of the Lake, 45 miles up US 54 to Jefferson City.

Carrie’s Hallmark (117 East High St.) & Southbank Gift Company (110 E. High Street) both have good selections of unique items for people of all ages.

Downtown Book & Toy
125 E. High Street, www.bookandtoy.net

The Art Bazaar: Clay & sculpture, fiber and wearable art, two dimensional art, metal, mixed media, wood and photography by local and regional artists.
114 E. High St., www.theartbazaar.org

Capitol City Cork & Provisions
Grand Café
Madison’s Café: A longtime favorite
Arris Pizza: Part of the family owned mid-Missouri chain that also has a place in Osage Beach.   

Known as the City of Trees, Saint James is also the Ozarks’ City of Wine. This time of year the wineries are all open and many have wonderful gift shops. It is also home of the Vacuum Cleaner Museum (3 Industrial Drive). Maramec Spring Park contains one of the largest natural springs in Missouri.

Directions: Located about 1.5 hours from Osage Beach. Take MO 42 east to US 63 south, then left onto MO 68 east to St. James.

St. James Winery (www.stjameswinery.com), Meramec Winery (www.meramecvineyards.com) and 3 Squirrels Winery (www.threesquirrelswinery.com) all have enticing shops, besides wine and wine-related items on sale.

Sybill’s St. James has an astounding gift shop, especially for grandparents’ shopping.
1100 N. Jefferson, www.sybills.com

Sybill’s is a wonderful get away place to have a more formal luncheon or dinner than is typical in this part of the world.
1100 N. Jefferson, www.sybills.com. Closed Sunday & Monday

Known as a center for hikers, campers and Ozark preservationists, Salem is also an arts center, which makes it a great Christmas town.

Directions: About 1.5 hours from Osage Beach. Take MO 42 east to State Hwy. U and turn right onto MO 17 south then left onto Old Route 66 and merge onto I-44 east. Take exit 184 for I-44 BUS east toward US 63S. At the traffic circle take the second exit onto Kingshighway, then right on North Bishop and left onto MO 72 and follow directions to Salem.

Events not to miss
Through Dec. 24, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday
Trees and Trains Exhibit at the Ozark Natural and Cultural Resource Center. Dozens of sparkling trees decorated by individuals, businesses and organizations. Model railroad settings are included to demonstrate the magic created in 1901 when Joshua Lionel Cowen put a moving model train in the window of J.L. Hudson department store in New York City.
www.oncrc.org, 573-729-0029

Gateway to Memories and More: Booths with a variety of treasures, new and old.
403 W. Fourth St.

Designing Ideas Florist and Gifts
112 W. Fourth St.

US Foods Outlet: A variety of unusual food items and paper goods.
1203 E. Hwy. 32


Huckleberry’s Diner
300 W. 3rd St.

Main Street Café
509 N. Main St.

Red Barn Barbecue
204 W. 4th St.
Our sister city at the west end of the Lake is always a fun place to visit and never more so than during the holidays. It’s an eclectic place with an art gallery, a pottery, a woodworker's, and an art glass/art glass supply and homemade fudge shop.
Lights are a big thing during the holidays at Warsaw. They are all over the downtown buildings, at the harbor, and on the swinging bridge.

Directions From Sunrise Beach and Greenview, it’s just over an hour to Warsaw. From Hwy. 5 take MO 7 Northeast to US 65 N to the Warsaw exit.

Salt Box Primitive Woolens: Handcrafted rugs and materials for rug making.  www.saltboxprimitivewoolens.com

The Woodshed: Handcrafted red cedar furniture and novelties from coasters to shingle art to bird houses.
13913 Hwy. 7 N, www.ozarkwoodshed.com

Kaysinger Bluff Visitor’s Center (Harry S. Truman visitors Center at Kaysinger bluff) is a history museum with a spectacular view of the Osage River and Truman Lake, and a historic village with a brand new General Store ready for Christmas.
29027 Visitor Center Road, 660-438-7371, www.welcometowarsaw.com  

The Pig’s Tale: Antiques and gifts.
303 Seminary

Common Ground Café
145 Main St.

Hummingbird Tea Room
245 West Main St.

Smoke Shack BBQ
1601 E. Main

Cow Patties
604 E. Main St.

Missouri’s first state capital revels in its history and at no time of year is that more fun than during the holidays.

Directions: St. Charles is about 150 miles and 2.5 hours from the Lake, on I-70 just west of St. Louis.  

Events not to miss
Through Dec. 24, noon-5 p.m. plus Sunday, Wednesday and Friday evenings
Christmas Traditions Festival along Historic Main Street includes victorian carolers, fife and drum corps, carriage rides, wonderful shopping and eating.

Historic Main Street includes a wide variety of art, antiques, collectibles, stained glass, clothing, seasonings and other shops. Late-night shopping and dining during the Christmas Traditions Festival.

Just a few blocks further north along the Missouri River is the Frenchtown District, where antiques are the treasures offered.

The Historic Main Street area offers a variety of eating opportunities from French and German to Greek, Irish pubs, Italian and American classics.