St Charles, Missouri
Early American history is everywhere in this charming and somewhat eclectic community on the banks of the Missouri River. Lewis and Clark passed through shortly after setting out on their historic journey west, recording that;
Upon entering the Village of St. Charles, a crowd of spectators welcomed the party. Exploring the French village, they found the community of 450 living harmoniously. Last minute adjustments were made to the vessels cargo and …With three cheers (Bon Voyage) the Corps proceeded up-stream into unknown territories. (16-21 May 1804)
Thereafter, early American settlers would leave St Charles on to the Santé Fe and Oregon Trails. While the early trappers and traders found this an ideal place for commerce, discovery and adventure, the same can be said for modern day visitors to the region. You can stroll along the brick paved streets and shop in the largest designated historic district in Missouri, discover some boutique dining atmosphere in one of the many patio setting restaurants, or if you’ve got some time on your hands – take an excursion on the water, bike/walking trail, or check out the event calendar for something special that’s going on. Those who are inclined can visit the casino, although I found it more invigorating to be outside and soaking up the 8-10 blocks of South Main Street.
Most people know about the Gateway Arch in St Louis, just a 30 minute drive east, and many people have heard of Branson, Missouri, four hours to the southwest; but I found St Charles is a hidden gem that I’m glad to have visited, and would love to have stayed longer. The family friendly ambience was unmistakable, and the town had character that is deeply rooted in a rich history of adventure. Even Daniel Boone lived here later in his life, serving as Judge and Commandant for five years prior to the Louisiana Purchase. Remnants and replicas of the early settlers’ lifestyle help keep their inspiring stories alive.