Where to go, what to do?
September 20, 2019 8:50 AM   Subscribe

Mr. DrGail and I are headed from our home in Chicago to St. Louis for the Historic Shaw Art Festival in early October. Besides spending a few days in and around the city, we're casting about for other places to go and things to do on our fall road trip.

Our timing is very flexible, so additional destinations can be added at the front or the back end as appropriate. We'd like to stay within a day or two drive of home but even that restriction is negotiable. Museums, amusement parks, and major tourist attractions are of little interest to us (plus, we'll have our dog with us). But we're great fans of the quirky (for example, we loved Dr. Evermor's Forevertron), enjoy visiting towns with a lot of character and many galleries/interesting shops (Lancaster PA is a favorite of ours), and can generally be counted on to dine at oddball restaurants such as those featured on Diners Drive-ins and Dives. Pretty scenery, scenic drives, and short hikes are also good bets for us.
posted by DrGail to Travel & Transportation (8 answers total)
You should plan to go to Missouri Botanical Gardens at 0700 on that Saturday (they open early on Weds and Saturdays). Right next to the art festival.

As far as things to see when travelling, you may consider US61/MO79 at least from Keokuk down to STL, and the Great River Road (IL96/IL100) from STL at least as far as Quincy. Both sides of the Mississippi river, both will just be starting to get a little color.
posted by notsnot at 9:34 AM on September 20, 2019

The Delmar Loop is one of my favorite parts of St. Louis and boasts eclectic shopping, the awesomely intimate concert venue The Pageant and arthouse cinema The Tivoli Theatre. The hub of its quirkiness is the pet-friendly Moonrise Hotel.
posted by DrAstroZoom at 9:56 AM on September 20, 2019 [1 favorite]

Check out the winery scene near outside of St. Louis along the Missouri River. Herman, MO is one of the key spots. I have only been once, but it was really beautiful sitting by the river drinking wine and eating cheeses. The wine/climate supposed to be like German/Alsace region.
posted by Mid at 10:05 AM on September 20, 2019 [2 favorites]

We did Chicago-St. Louis via Route 66 and really enjoyed it. We got an app that helped us stay on the Route and suggested some things to see. Downtown Pontiac and Atlanta were really nice, and we had a good meal at the Palms Grill and I have eaten there several times since (first opened 1934, with a SUPER cool vintage arcade adjacent that is sometimes open and sometimes open-able if you ask nicely). There are as many dumb, quirky things to see as you may wish along the way; we made a point to stop at as many as possible and it was fun.

The trip down turns from a 5 hour trip to 8-10. But you still get down there the same day.
posted by AgentRocket at 12:11 PM on September 20, 2019 [1 favorite]

They might fall under museums and major tourist attractions, but I add an extra day to every St. Louis trip just to visit Cahokia and the City Museum. (I'm not sure about dogs at the former. On leash might be okay. It's worth calling ahead. They're definitely not welcome at the later.)

BB's Jazz, Blues, and Soups club is fun. I'm not sure it's worth going out of your way for, especially if you're coming from Chicago, but if you're already nearby it's worth a stop.
posted by eotvos at 12:42 PM on September 20, 2019 [1 favorite]

The Venice Cafe might be something you would like. They have a lot of outsider art decorations, along with really cool mosaic. Heads up, it opens in the late afternoon so you don't have to walk around killing time like we did.
posted by stray thoughts at 8:26 PM on September 20, 2019 [2 favorites]

Might be too 'major attraction', but when I was there a few years ago, it was pretty low-key, and a lot of fun: the Mark Twain cave (from Huckleberry Finn) in Hannibal, MO. Quincy, IL is nearby, you can stop at Maid-Rite for a loose-meat sammy, as featured on Diners & Dives. Some lovely old Victorian homes in Quincy as well.
posted by Bron at 7:39 AM on September 21, 2019

City Museum is a MUST
Joe's Cafe
Tower Grove/Botanical Garden
Crown Candy
Laumeier Sculpture Park
Lone Elk Park
posted by saul wright at 1:02 PM on September 23, 2019

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