History, peace and quiet, and a slower pace are just a few of the reasons to visit one of these small-town destinations.

There are a lot of reasons to visit a big city. They have it all — diversity, the arts, five-star dining and access to everything, but they just don’t have the kind of charm and seclusion that small towns have to offer. History, peace and quiet, and a slower pace are just a few of the reasons to visit one of these small-town destinations. If you are looking to get away for the afternoon, or to spend the night somewhere off the grid, here are a few places you might want to consider for your next road trip.

 

Rocheport

Population: 244

Often designated as one of the coolest small towns, Rocheport makes for a great getaway close to home. This little spot on the map is a step back in time for a little peace and tranquility away from the fast paced world around us. 

The Katy Trail is a major draw, considered by many to be the most scenic bike trail. You can even camp alongside the 237-mile trail stretching across most of the state of Missouri. Ideal for hiking, running or cycling (on just about any kind of bike). In the fall when the trees are bare, you have a clearer view of the river, bluffs and the countryside. AND if you don’t have a bike, check out bike rentals at several locations. If you don’t want to peddle, you can always take a guided scenic canoe trip with Mighty MO Canoe Rental. So, visiting Rocheport any time of the year is a great outdoor adventure.

Wine enthusiasts are sure to make a stop at Les Bourgeois Vineyard & Winery. A family-owned business, it is the third largest winery in the state. They feature a wine garden and an amazing bistro restaurant overlooking the bluffs along the Missouri River with a spectacular sunset view. They offer tours, and of course, wine tasting. They are just one of Missouri’s winery’s on a “Wine Trail Tour.” Be sure and save the date for the third weekend in September for the annual Rocheport Wine Stroll.  

If you want to spend the night in Rocheport, consider staying at one of the lovely bed and breakfast inns. I personally love the experience of visiting with the hosts. People don’t open a B&B unless they are friendly and wanting to share about where they live. There are onsite innkeepers who provide freshly-prepared complimentary guest breakfasts. Most of the hosts will house your bikes when you take your walk through the quaint town. 

Once you settle in your room, there are many great spots to visit. If you like shopping in a (“I want to touch everything store”) relaxed atmosphere, the quaint shops are close together for a friendly shopping experience. The Rocheport General Store has a café, known as the gathering place featuring live, local band music on Friday and Saturday nights. Also, a friendly bartender who can tell you the town’s history in the time it takes you to have a glass of wine. 

Did you know, Rocheport even has a cooking school? Yates House Cooking School holds their classes on the weekends with as little as two to eight people. What fun!

 

Augusta

Population: 300

This small town has huge attractions and is secretly one of the best places in Missouri. It is located off of a two-lane highway just under a three hour drive from the Lake, and less than an hour from St. Louis. Small country roads lead to this secluded town full of natural beauty that will take your breath away. (A photographers paradise.) You’ll have an amazing time touring wineries, shopping for antiques, and dining at some of the best restaurants when you visit Augusta! In the heart of this tiny town, you will find antique and specialty shops.

It features more of the Katy Trail, as well as the Lewis & Clark Trail. Of course you can rent a bike and grab a map, or engage one of the trail guides. 

Augusta is also home to Klondike Park which is 250 acres of scenic beauty, perfect for camping and hiking. It’s my understanding that the park will take reservations. It is a busy park so campsite and reservations provide you with a better spot. You can bike to Augusta from the campsite. Check out the Missouri State Park website for information. 

The town was founded in 1836 by Leonard Harold, one of the settlers that followed Daniel Boone to Saint Charles County. Many of the buildings and homes date back to the late 1800s. Step into history and enjoy a visit to the home of Daniel Boone. The beautiful setting represents life in the early 1800s. There is a simulated town, comprised of more than a dozen 19th century buildings for you to visit. 

There are seven wineries in Augusta, beating out Napa Valley in 1980, designated as the “First United States Wine District.” The wineries are open daily, year-round for tasting, tours, picnics and special events. Nestled in the nation's first designated viticultural area, with specific characteristics to a grape growing region. Which is why the vineyards are so beautiful and the wine tasting is the best. You can bring your own picnic basket, purchase a bottle of Missouri wine or just enjoy the day. 

The Augusta Brewing Company & Beer Garden is located on the Katy Trail. With Augusta's strong German heritage, there always has been a love of great beers. Their hope is to revive the tradition serving their own beer in this unique setting. This is a small microbrewery where you can also grab a bit to eat. 

So whether you're looking to rough it or kick up your feet and relax, you can do it all in Augusta.

 

Lexington

Population: 4,726

This town may not be considered tiny, but its historic areas and long history takes you back to the 1840s. It feels small strolling down the streets were wagon trains once rolled and shops are located in buildings that are more than 170 years old.  

Once an outfitting post for the Santa Fe and Oregon trails, Lexington is also known for the Battle of Lexington State Historic Site & Anderson House preserve, the site of a fiercely contested Civil War battlefield. Remnants of trenches can still be seen in the site’s 100 acres, and the house, though restored beautifully, still shows damage from the battle. 

A much newer draw in Lexington is wine: There are five wineries in Lexington’s Lafayette County. 

Take a tour of four National Historic Districts by taking a self-guided walking or driving tour. Victorian homes, and sites along the Santa Fe Trail are among the highlights. You can stay in the Linwood Lawn, known as the finest antebellum mansion west of the Mississippi, or schedule a historical tour. 

Lexington is an hour and a half west of Columbia.

 

Weston

Population: 1,784

A booming river port in the 1800s, Weston shows off its history covering 22 blocks of the town’s downtown. If you are looking for an authentic soda fountain, want to walk through an orchard or visit one of the oldest breweries in the country, you’ve found the right place. 

The area includes 91 historic homes and buildings that house wineries, museums, a community theater, boutiques and many other businesses where you can relax and have fun. 

A visit to Farmers’ House is a must to pick up farm-to-table products such as vegetables, fruit, honey, cheese and home items. Of course no visit would be complete without a visit to the Coal House Saloon. Weston even has a cigar lounge with more than 600 different types of cigars, if that’s your thing. In the winter, the Weston Bend State Park and Snow Creek attracts outdoor enthusiasts for skiing, snowboarding and tube sledding. 

Weston sits just minutes north of Kansas City’s International Airport.  

 

Kimmswick

Population: 158

If you plan to make a trip to Kimmswick, don’t go on a Monday. All shops and restaurants are closed. Located about 25 miles south of St. Louis in Jefferson County, the town has a number of unique businesses. You can visit the Anheuser Busch Museum & Estate, the Mastadon State Historic Site, or take a riverboat cruise. Whether it's the Strawberry Festival, the Apple Butter Festival or one of the many other events the town hosts, you'd be surprised what this small town has to offer. 

The Blue Owl Restaurant and Bakery is famous for home-cooked meals and specialty desserts, like the Levee High Caramel Pecan Apple Pie. This pie is made with 18 hand-peeled and hand-sliced apples and has been featured on the Food Network and Travel Channel. Hundreds of people stop by the bakery every day but an online store is available for anyone who wants one of the dozens of pies, cheesecakes and other desserts delivered to their door. 

For more information on what the town offers, make sure to stop by the Kimmswick Visitor Center for information and maps.