Satisfying an itch to travel doesn’t necessarily mean hopping the next flight to New York City, booking an African safari or boarding a Caribbean cruise. Sometimes you just need to get out of town for a day. Kansas City-based blogger Kimberly Winter Stern (@kimdishes) has just the ticket. The best part? It’s a one-tank trip with romantic appeal—and enough activity on land and the water for an adventurer at heart to tackle in eight hours.
Summer is waning; my three-month bucket list has more must-do’s than checked-off boxes of been there, done that.
So what’s a girl whose middle name is wanderlust to do?
Fill up the tank, pack some snacks, load up the bike and hit the road. Head east on I-70, roll past the K and Arrowhead Stadium and 90 minutes and 116 miles later you’re transported to an entirely different state of mind. Still in Missouri—just Missouri at a slower pace than the bright lights of the big city.
Destination? Rocheport—a tiny, leafy burg in Boone County that’s picturesquely perched on the banks of the Mighty Mo. The Rocheport Historic District, with impossibly charming buildings—some dating from 1830—is on the National Register of Historic Places. There are still brick-lined streets and sidewalks from—well, definitely a different era.
Rocheport isn’t known for its clubbing nightlife nor is it a concentrated culinary hotspot, although its handful of terrific options range from casual fine dining to wood-fired cooking at the Mulberry Grill and Bakery and barbecue at Rocheport Bike & BBQ.
But Rocheport more than makes up for its lack of citified attractions with an irresistibly sleepy come-hither vibe that tempts you to explore.
Which I do—with gusto.
Rocheport has everything an intrepid day tripper desires: an intoxicating mix of outdoor fun like biking, kayaking or canoeing, gourmet food at the lovely Les Bourgeois Vineyards Blufftop Bistro or Abigail’s and soaking in the quaint local flavor with a brew and live music at the Rocheport General Store.
Despite its diminutive size—the census claims Rocheport boasts somewhere around 250 permanent residents—the town has an indescribable undertow that draws you to its epicenter.
For me, that’s the Katy Trail.
Often called the Scenic Gateway to the Katy Trail, Rocheport is near the middle of the nation’s longest rails-to-trails project, which is built on the former corridor of the Missouri-Kansas-Texas (MK&T) Railroad. Rocheport offers a convenient hopping-on point to a pastoral slice of the Show-Me State.
Cycle, hike or stroll it—or just stand there and admire the scenery—because at this stretch of the diverse Katy Trail you get up-close and personal with some darned impressive Missouri River bluffs. There’s ample shade along this juncture of the Katy Trail, too, along with an old MK&T train tunnel and plenty of interesting natural beauty and forests.
But wait—there’s more to do in this marvelous Missouri river town. Take a guided canoe or kayak excursion along the river with Mighty Mo Canoe Rental and relive the days of Lewis & Clark. Climb onto Drew Lemberger’s 17-foot, handmade dory boat for a personalized cruise down the Missouri with Drew’s Guide Service—fish, sightsee at sunrise or sunset, enjoy a meal. Shop at renowned antique stores or browse regional handcrafted items. Take in a concert, wine tasting and a spectacular sunset before heading back to Kansas City at Les Bourgeois Vineyard’s A-Frame.
And next time you come back to Rocheport—because believe me, there will be another sojourn to this little village on the Missouri, plan an overnight stay or a long weekend at one of the elegant bed-and-breakfasts like the award-winning School House or Yates House where hospitality abounds.
But until then, enjoy a day’s romp in Rocheport. Summer is short and we’ve all earned a getaway to a place where it’s easy to find the heart of a good time.