“Summertime and the living is easy…..” Summer is traditionally the time for vacation; getting away from it all for a couple of weeks and then coming back and needing a rest before you go back to work. Unless I’m traveling to Europe or some foreign country, I much prefer to take day trips and weekend getaways. They just seem to be a lot more relaxing and fun without all of the planning and stress associated with longer trips. You might even take an extra day or two off to chill out around the house. If your work allows you to, you can turn those two weeks into a bunch of little “mini-vacations.” Here are a few fun and unique things to do in the bi-state area of Missouri and Illinois, all maybe a couple of hours away from St. Louis:
One of my favorite getaways and fishing spots was Johnson’s Shut-Ins. Sadly the whole area was literally washed away recently when Taum Sauk dam broke and the tiny river that runs through the park suddenly got several more million gallons of water than it bargained for. The park superintendent’s house was washed away and the whole park is now a pile of boulders, but it was in the off-season and no one was seriously hurt. Fortunately most of the surrounding area around the Black River remains intact and just as beautiful as ever. The area abounds with campgrounds, lodges, floating facilities, shops, restaurants, and concert venues. There’s also a Civil War era fort and lots and lots of conservation areas and pristine trails to check out. Find out more at www.experienceblackriver.com
Centennial Farms And Orchard in Augusta, Missouri has been family owned since 1854. They have grown fruits and vegetables since 1969. Right now they feature more than 80 different varieties of herbs. In the fall they are all about pumpkins and some 24 varieties of apples. They also got lots of bees that make some really tasty honey.
The Heartland Spa over in Gilman, Illinois sits on some 32 acres with a spring-fed lake. In the past it was a dairy farm. Now a wellness retreat, Heartland offers 2, 3, and 5 night stays for both men and women. They have programs focused on relaxation, stress management, fitness, and just plain ‘ole pampering. Activities and amenities include Yoga, Tai Chi, fitness center, swimming pool, and a High Ropes Course. Get more information at www.heartlandspa.com
Do you love the smell of lavender? Then come take a look at the Winding Brook Estate Lavender Farm. Located near Eureka, Missouri just a few minutes west of St. Louis, the estate features fields of blooming lavender in a setting from the past. Not only does the place smell terrific, but the colors of red, pink, violet, and purple offers enough eye candy to make Prince jump for joy. You can also harvest some of the lavender yourself to take the pleasant scents home with you. More information can be had at www.WindingBrookEstate.com
And if you really want to try something unique and different, check out Diana’s Grove in Salem, Missouri. Diana’s Grove sits on 102 secluded acres near a town that definitely has an appropriate name. The Grove offers Mystery School and other retreats that foster personal growth, community building, and leadership. Their intensives and workshops are Earth-based spiritually with a focus on mythology as a vehicle for personal growth. For 2006 the focus is on the story of Psyche and Eros; a story of love, transformation, and the soul’s yearning for union with the divine. Heavy stuff. Their address is P.O. Box 159, Salem, Missouri 65560.