WOWED By Weston
For 180 years, visitors have been drawn to this charming town tucked in northwest Missouri.
By Diana Lambdin Meyer
The canopy of trees covering the scenic overlook of the Missouri River at Weston Bend State Park is dappled in red, yellow, and orange, a lovely contrast to the perpetually muddy brown waters below.
With low humidity and such colorful landscapes, including pumpkin farms, apple orchards, and ripening vineyards, an autumn road trip to Weston and its nearby state park is a treat every year. Yet this year, there’s added significance as the historical small town in northwest Missouri celebrates its 180th birthday.
Enjoy The Outdoors
A picnic or hike at Weston Bend State Park encompasses two celebrations. Weston was settled here in 1837. A little stream is named Pensineau for the French Canadian who ran a tavern nearby in the early days. And this year celebrates the 100th birthday of the Missouri State Park system.
Weston Bend's treasures include an off-leash dog park and the Weston Bluffs Trail, a 3.25-mile bike trail that connects the park to the towns of Weston and Beverly. Bring your own bicycle or rent from Bike Around the Bend (608 Market St.).
The Main Event
As Main Street climbs upward from what had once been the riverbed, little imagination is required to envision these old buildings as they were in the 1850s, when Weston was the second-largest river port in the state (behind St. Louis).Many of those travelers spent the night or enjoyed a meal at the Saint George Hotel, a fixture on Main Street since 1845. The hotel bar serves locally made beer, wine, and spirits — of one kind or another. The Saint George is said to be haunted. The neighboring shops that once served guests arriving via steamboat now cater to those arriving via SUV. Shops such as the Celtic Ranch on Main Street and Bozzetta’s on Spring Street offer unique clothing and fashions for those who set rather than follow trends.
Antiques find a natural home in these old buildings, so make sure your vehicle has a bit of cargo capacity. Prairie Rust and Roses (366 Main St.) has a tasteful selection of old washtubs, leather books, and old brooches. The antique jewelry selection is worth the drive.
At The Farmer's House (415 Main St.), as I browsed among a nice variety of household items, I was intrigued by a chalkboard sign that said “Ask about our non-profit status.” So I did.
The clerk immediately reached behind the counter and handed me a small bag of saltwater taffy as a reward for asking. The shop, I was told, employs and provides services to adolescents and adults with developmental disabilities. At a second location (23200 state Highway 273) just southeast of Weston, those same individuals work a small farm raising produce for sale. In a commercial kitchen, they learn to make jams, jellies, and other canned goods and prepare them for sale. Fresh bread, rolls, and pies using the fruit from the orchard also fill the shelves here. This is where you can really load up on apples, pumpkins, gourds, and other autumnal delights.
While shopping, enjoy live bluegrass music and barbecue each weekend throughout September and October. For a special treat, make reservations for the Fall Feast on Sept. 9, a family-style dinner that serves as a fundraiser.
For The Foodies
Save some room in your belly and some space in your vehicle for a visit to the Green Dirt Farm Creamery. Tours of the organic and Animal Welfare Approved farm outside of town are available Thursday–Sunday for a fee. Reservations are required, but you'll get to watch the sheep play in the pasture and learn about what makes a grass-based sheep dairy special.
The Green Dirt Farm also offers a retail outlet at 1099 Welt St. that sells the cheeses, yogurt, and ice cream from the farm. Take advantage of the picnic tables outside to sample a board of the cheeses, along with local jams and nuts, or a nice sandwich and local beverage of your choice.
Pay particular attention to a cheese called Aux Arcs, a French twist to Missouri's Ozarks. Cheese lovers can partake in regular tasting sessions and farm-to-table dinners with local chefs. Both require advance purchase tickets.
No visit to Weston is complete without a visit to Holladay Distillery, a destination in these parts for 160 years. The little village of Weston wasn't yet 20 years old when, in 1856, Ben Holladay and his brother, David, harnessed the goodness in the natural limestone springs of this area and began making moonshine. Tickets are sold for tours of the distillery, which is at One McCormick Lane. An outdoor area for tastings is especially enjoyable on a nice autumn day.
However, the good times in Weston are not limited to these picture-perfect days of September and October. As soon as temperatures drop below freezing at night, snow starts appearing on the slopes at Snow Creek, one of two ski destinations in the Show-Me State. (The other, Hidden Valley Ski Area, is near St. Louis.)
Although the hills of Platte County are a far cry from the magnificent peaks found in the Rocky Mountains, the 30 acres of skiable terrain with a 300-foot vertical drop are considered a good place to learn and refresh skills before heading to bigger slopes.
When The Trees Are Bare
But even Colorado can't match the fun on Snow Creek's tubing hill called Tornado Alley. Even the smallest of children and least physically active adult can ride a canvas-covered inner tube down the 700-foot-long slope, and take the conveyor belt back to the top to do it all over again.
Like a visit to Weston any season, it just never gets old.
Diana Lambdin Meyer is a contributor from Parkville, MO.