Best Weekend Getaway - 2006
Mississippi River Hills
Readers' Choice: Lake of the Ozarks
A group of winemakers and small farmers looking to put Missouri on the world map for its specialty food products christened Mississippi River Hills in 2003. The pastoral eco-region begins south of Arnold and ends around Benton in Scott County, crossing six county lines. (Check out the abovementioned Web site for a detailed map, as it's not yet listed in official atlases.) The riverside expanse includes nine wineries that produce dry and sweet wines and are open to visitors. One boasts a huge natural cave; another, a microbrewery. At least two feature local-foods restaurants, one of which stuffs its grill drawers with grapevine prunings. The Little Hills Express limousine service will carry you between your bed-and-breakfast and the wineries, not to mention the plethora of antique shops popping up across the region. Ste. Genevieve, at the region's heart, boasts several old-time pubs that dish out some curious (but delicious) regional specialties, including chicken-liver dumplings. If you're tired of all that indigenousity, before you leave you can stop off at the National Tiger Sanctuary in Bloomsdale for a behind-the-scenes peek at a tiger feeding.