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Each week, KCUR's Creative Adventure newsletter brings you a new way to explore the Kansas City region.

Road Trip: Your Guide To Summer Adventures In Central Missouri

Rocheport, Missouri Sunset
Heath Cajandig

Kansas Citians need not travel far to enjoy a relaxing summer vacation. Grab your bike and hit the Katy Trail to explore all that central Missouri has to offer.

This story was first published in KCUR's Creative Adventure newsletter. You can sign up to receive stories like this in your inbox every Tuesday.

This year’s summer travel season has been more eagerly anticipated than most. Perhaps that's why the country's most popular National Parks are overcrowded and closing their gates this summer. But you don't need to travel across the country to find an enjoyable and relaxing spot for your next vacation.

Located halfway between Kansas City and St. Louis, and just off of I-70, are a couple of low-key towns filled with museums, antique shops, restaurants, wineries and flat terrain ideal for cyclists of all ages and experience levels.

Boonville and Rocheport, Missouri, are situated on the Missouri River and the 237-mile-long Katy Trail. Join us as we explore these two hidden gems of central Missouri.

Biking Boonville

Hotel Frederick in Boonville
Anne Kniggendorf
Rent a bike and helmet from Hotel Frederick in Boonville, Missouri.

Regardless of where you stay, bikes seem like an essential element of a trip to Boonville. The historic Hotel Frederick offers bike rentals (that come with a helmet!) in a variety of sizes at daily and hourly rates. Boonville’s downtown drag and a few fun tourist spots are just a pedal away.

Stop in at the Visitors Center to get oriented. The air conditioning feels great after even a short bike ride, so take a moment to explore the museum and learn about local history. You can also view some conservation-themed art such as a display called “Eaglets at Breakfast.” As the display explains, eagles live on the bluffs of the river and were at one time threatened by the use of DDT. Now their population is climbing again, so watch for them when you’re back outside!

Also cool for selfies is the old Boonville railway station and caboose situated on a picturesque brick path right next door to the Visitors Center. The building itself is now home to offices, but train lovers will still enjoy the spot.

Explore Local History

Take a trip to Warm Springs Ranch to catch a glimpse of the famous Clydesdales and sip on a complimentary sample of Budweiser.

Next stop: The Mitchell Antique Motorcar Museum. Lewis Miller is a descendant of the Mitchell family, which is known for The Mitchell Wagon Company, Wisconsin Wheel Works and the Mitchell-Lewis Motor Company.

He’s amassed one of the largest private collections of cars, bikes, wagons and motorcycles, all produced by the Mitchell companies. The first company dates back to 1834 and was founded on the production of the humble wheel.

You can also take a trip to see the Budweiser Clydesdales at Warm Springs Ranch. The Ranch offers 90-minute tours by reservation only between now and October. Visit the gift shop, have a complimentary sample of Budweiser and meet some enormous horses!

Wine Down In Rocheport

Decks at Les Bourgeois Vineyards.jpg
Anne Kniggendorf
A stop at Les Bourgeois Vineyards is a must for any Rocheport tourist.

Les Bourgeois Vineyards in nearby Rocheport, Missouri, offers three opportunities for wine-centered relaxation.

Spend an afternoon on a shady deck overlooking the river at the A-Frame with a bottle of wine and a snack. The snack bar offers a variety of wine and beer to suit your tastes as well as a few “baskets” to choose from, such as a picnic basket with fruit, cheese, crackers and deli meat.

For an indoor experience, the Bistro at LBV offers scenic upscale dining overlooking the river.

And finally, the Les Bourgeois Tasting Room is next door to the facility where the wines are made. Tastings start at $5 for four samples of wine. Tours are available three times on Saturdays and Sundays, and on weekdays by appointment for $5 per person.

Discover Downtown

Diana Bend Conservation Area.jpg
Anne Kniggendorf
Diana Bend Conservation Area in Rocheport, Missouri, features the 243-foot-long Rocheport Tunnel. The old railroad tunnel is now used as a hiking and biking path.

Rocheport’s quaint downtown is certainly worth exploring. Their General Store really is a general store, complete with a bar and ice cream counter, as well as other household odds and ends.

Take your ice cream to-go and walk part of the Katy Trail, or dine in next door at Abigail’s, a family-owned business with a menu that changes daily.

Just a short walk from the General Store and Abigail’s, you’ll find the Diana Bend Conservation Area and Wetlands, featuring the 243-foot-long Rocheport Tunnel, an old railroad tunnel built under the Moniteau Bluff in 1893. You can hike or bike on trails in the area or head to the accessible viewing platform just off the Katy Trail.

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Anne Kniggendorf is a staff writer/editor at the Kansas City Public Library and freelance contributor to KCUR. Follow her on Twitter, @annekniggendorf.
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