Ah, fall. The days are getting shorter, the kids are back in school and the air has that decidedly crisp feel to it. One of autumn’s highlights is the striking colors as leaves begin to change, and Missouri’s foliage offers a vibrant display. The colors usually peak around mid-October, according to the Missouri Department of Conservation, so don’t wait too long to stop and appreciate the seasonal magic. Here are some of the best ways to enjoy fall in Missouri.
Take a Drive
Take a relaxing drive to enjoy the fall colors. In the northeastern part of the state, Highway 94 through Augusta and Defiance is a popular drive in the fall, or follow the Mississippi River along Route 79 (try the 50 Miles of Art in November). In southwest Missouri, take the Ozark Mountain Parkway, which connects to a number of other historic and scenic routes. In the northwest, try the Spirit of Kansas City Regional Scenic Byway. No matter what part of Missouri you live in, there’s a scenic drive close enough for a day trip — or go for broke and make it a weekend getaway.
If observing the foliage through a car window isn’t hands-on enough for you, take a trek to the great outdoors. Try hiking, biking, kayaking, fishing, camping or just have a picnic at one of Missouri’s 56 state parks or 35 historic sites. There’s no better place to fully experience the vibrance of fall than in the middle of a forest or from atop a scenic overlook. For a more fast-paced experience, try a zipline experience. Or simply enjoy the season at unique special events, like St. Louis’ Great Forest Park Balloon Race.
Harvest festivals abound across the state, offering plenty of opportunities for hayrides, pumpkin picking and other fun for the whole family. Experience German cuisine, dancing and drinks at Oktoberfest celebrations in Jefferson City’s historic Munichburg area, or at the historic town of Cole Camp. Pay homage to the foliage that brightens up each autumn at Carthage’s annual Maple Leaf Festival. For a taste of autumn in days gone by, head to Hannibal for its annual Hannibal Folklife Festival, an 1800s-themed festival that features historic arts and crafts, traditional music, historically prepared food and cider, and more. In Branson, Silver Dollar City hosts the famous National Crafts & Cowboy Festival, which includes demonstrations from craftsmen, chuck wagon cooking and a barn dance. For more modern experiences, there’s Still Water Resort’s first annual Harvest Festival in Branson, hayrides through Faust Park near Chesterfield, Pumpkin Palooza in Washington, the Old Orchard Barn Sale in Sikeston, the Hartville Fall Festival, and more.
If you’re more into ghouls and goblins than pumpkin spice and barn dances, there are plenty of chances to experience Halloween-style hauntings throughout the fall. Take your campfire ghost stories to the next level at the Halloween Campout at Watkins Woolen Mill State Historic Site by Lawson, the Campground Halloween Event at Onondaga Cave State Park near Leasburg, the Halloween Spooktacular at Cuivre River State Park near Troy, HallowFest at Knob Noster State Park or the Haunting at the Mill in Montauk State Park near Salem. Do your best zombie impression at the Zombie Night Live street party in downtown Jefferson City. Also in Jefferson City, grab a jacket and a lawn chair to watch the outdoor showing at at Ellis-Porter Riverside Amphitheater of “Hocus Pocus,” a cinematic staple for Halloween-lovers everywhere, then stay for the Return of Scary Tales at the Missouri State Museum. Take a tour of a historic cemetery — guided by the “ghost” of Gov. Frederick Bates, at An Evening in the Cemetery at St. Louis County Faust Park near Chesterfield. Or solve a mystery and survive a Nightmare in the Corn at Beaufort’s own haunted corn maze.
Pop a Cork
For wine lovers, savor the season by traveling one of Missouri’s 11 wine trails. Fall-flavored events include the Hollister Grape & Fall Festival, which includes a 5K run, food and craft vendors, and the famous “grape stomp.” For more of that, Jowler Creek Vineyard & Winery in Platte City hosts an annual Grape Stomp, where you can join others in squishing grapes beneath your feet. Jowler Creek also offers winetasting hayrides, for those who like to nestle into a hay bale with a glass of wine in hand. Stroll through Chillicothe for the Downtown Wine Walk, and sample some of Missouri’s finest wines.
Still have questions? We’d love to help! Contact us here.