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Show me downtown Missouri!

Ste. Genevieve
Founded between 1735 and 1749, Ste. Genevieve is Missouri’s oldest European settlement. Its National Historic District has100 landmark homes, including the oldest brick home west of the Mississippi. Most restored houses combine the French and German heritage of the town’s founding fathers.

The Bauvais-Amoureux Historic House, built in 1790, offers a look at rare “poteaux-en-terre” construction — cedar log walls set into the ground. The home tour includes a large diorama of 1832 Ste. Genevieve.

The 1792 Louis Bolduc Historic House displays accurately restored 18th-century furnishings, a French herb garden and a grape arbor.

Menard and Vallé, a Federal-style limestone building built in 1818, features an authentically stocked mercantile store, living quarters with early Empire furnishings and a backyard garden.

“Everything in our downtown is locally owned,” said Stephanie Bell, director of the Ste. Genevieve Department of Tourism. “We have wineries, French and Creole cuisine, antique shops and boutiques.”

The Ste. Genevieve Museum displays a wide collection of farming equipment and Civil War memorabilia. Exhibits trace the area’s railroad history, display a scale-model train and detail accounts of the town’s Mississippi River ferry. Stories of the five local Indian tribes and an original copy of a Spanish land grant make the museum a worthwhile stop.


Home of the University of Missouri, Columbia is Tiger territory for avid football and basketball fans. But this town has a thriving arts community, too.

Galleries and vintage clothing stores dot downtown. Bluestem Missouri sells jewelry, pottery, and glass, metal, fiber and wood art created by more than 250 Missouri artists, as well as artists from eight surrounding states.

Fine art and fun art coexist at Poppy, which represents more than 200 artists and sources nationwide. Each gift-wrapped box contains a neon-colored origami poppy.

The Columbia Art League Gallery hosts year-round exhibits, and June’s Art in the Park showcases more than 100 juried national artists.

On Artrageous Fridays, the last Friday of each quarter, artists work in downtown shops or in their North Village Arts District studios.

The Shelter Insurance Gardens free concert series takes place on Sundays in June and July.

Elizabeth Hey

Elizabeth Hey is a member of Midwest Travel Journalists Association and has received numerous awards for her writing and photography. Follow her on Instagram and Facebook @travelbyfork.