Friday, July 21, 2006

Visiting St. Charles

I was reading a recent article about St. Louis in a local newspaper and it made me think about my last visit to the area. The article encouraged the reader to realize there are things other than ball games in the area. There's a professional sports team there? Really? I must have forgotten...

For this trip, I was traveling with my parents and husband and we stayed in St. Charles, Missouri, located just across the Missouri River. It's a charming town that has a wonderful riverfront district full of unique shops and restaurants. The area has a historical feel without being overtly a tourist trap. A casual stroll down the sidewalks of Main Street will leave you relaxed and not absorb every dime from your wallet.

When it's time to dine you'll find a large range of choices, and we weren't disappointed with any meal. We had dinner at Lewis & Clark's the first night; the view and atmosphere was excellent, the food was good but not worth noting. Also during the trip we had lunch at Mother-In-Law House, which had great outdoor seating and very good sandwiches. The best meal of the trip was at Little Hills Winery Restaurant, which was fantastic. The chicken and Brie is a house specialty and worth the calories, the chicken nachos are also delicious, and portions are generous enough to share. If you're looking for the night scene, there's a number of small pubs and coffee houses with live bands to tap your toes to well into the night.

I was very pleased with our hotel accommodations. We stayed at the Country Inns & Suites, and I've often paid far more for far less of a hotel. The hotel is situated at one end of the historical district, within a short walk of the shops. Some parking is covered, and a full hot breakfast is included daily. The rooms are quiet and clean, with decor that is appropriate for the area.

If you're staying in the St. Charles area, it's worth your time for a day trip to the St. Louis Zoo. Admission is free, but to park within a reasonable distance, plan to pay for parking. The penguin exhibit is exceptionally nice, as is the majority of the zoo. For less crowds, visit on Monday through Thursday; Friday is known as "school day," when area schools arrive for field trips.

Just a little note: I have been pleased with the value for the money when I've stayed at Country Inns & Suites in several other locations. The hotel chain is usually moderately priced but with overall accommodations that are superior in to what you would find at a similarly priced hotel.

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