Lucky No. 13

The weekend is almost here, and while it starts on a somewhat ominous sounding note – and one feared by those with triskaidekaphobia (don’t go to dictionary.com; it means fear of the number 13) – there’s no reason to sequester yourself indoors all weekend.

Instead, get out and see the sights. There’s plenty to do in Missouri on a fall weekend, but consider these tips for a good time. In honor of Friday the 13th, you’ll find a lucky batch of 13 suggestions:

13. The forecast is calling for sunny skies on Friday the 13th. Get out and enjoy one of Missouri’s fantastic state parks or historic sites. Take a walk around the massive formations at Elephant Rocks State Park or down a winding path to Blue Spring. Don’t worry; you won’t see anyone wearing a hockey mask.

12. Don’t have time for a long drive? Well, you’re probably close to a winery. Spend the evening sitting outdoors at one of Missouri’s beautiful wineries and reconnect with an old friend or that special someone. If you’re going to be near Platte City on Saturday or Sunday, stop by Jowler Creek Winery, which is celebrating the release of its 2008 Chambourcin.

11. Too hot for November? Cool off in the capital. Try some amazing ice cream at Jefferson City’s Central Dairy, then make your way to the Capitol for a tour and to see the murals, Hall of Famous Missourians and the Missouri State Museum. To the east of the Capitol, you’ll find the Lewis and Clark Trailhead Plaza, the Jefferson Landing State Historic Site and the Missouri Governor’s Mansion.

10. Take a drive down Route 66. Start at the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge in St. Louis (which is now a pedestrian bridge) and travel down the Mother Road, which spans more than 300 miles across the Show-Me State. Make a weekend out of it and you’ll see several sites in St. Louis; Meramec Caverns in Stanton; Onondaga Cave near Leasburg; the World’s Largest Rocking Chair in Cuba; Devil’s Elbow, a steel-truss bridge over the Big Piney River; and other interesting places in St. James, Rolla, Lebanon, Springfield, Republic, Diamond, Carthage, Webb City and Joplin. Whew, this ought to count for more than one idea!

9. Take advantage of the sunshine. The forecast for Southeast Missouri looks great this weekend. Why not take a fall float while the weather’s nice? The water’s the same temperature year-round on the Current River, but you may not want to jump in. Still, a relaxing float down one of Missouri’s scenic rivers is always great.

8. Let’s eat! Everyone loves a home-cooked meal, but sometimes, it’s great just to get out and try new things. How about making dinner a destination Saturday night? Hop in the car, drive 50 or more miles to that restaurant everyone’s been talking about and taste for yourself. Don’t want to drive? There’s bound to be a unique spot near you that you haven’t tried just yet. So, what are you waiting for?

7. Visit a small town. Missouri is known for its great small-town hospitality, so take time to get away from the interstate; you just might find a hidden treasure in places like Clarksville, known for its arts community; Marceline, the boyhood home of Walt Disney; or Bloomfield, home to the Stars and Stripes Museum.

6. Grab the guys and get in the game. The Missouri Tigers men’s basketball team will host Northwest Missouri State in an exhibition game at 7 p.m. Friday at Mizzou Arena in Columbia, while the Missouri women’s basketball team hosts Northern Iowa at 5 p.m. Sunday. For football fans, the St. Louis Rams host the New Orleans Saints at noon Sunday at the Edward Jones Dome. It’s also state high school football playoff time in Missouri, and your “home team” might need your support Friday or Saturday.

5. Christmas comes early in Branson, so get there soon. You’ll find a variety of holiday-themed shows and events are underway in Branson, including An Old Time Christmas at Silver Dollar City. For those with kids, you might check out Branson Scenic Railway’s Polar Express Train Ride. Kids are encouraged to wear pajamas to help recreate the story of the Polar Express, and Santa will make an appearance. Call 800-287-2462 for more details, as reservations are highly recommended.

4. It’s a fine time for the fine arts. You’ll always find talented people performing on stages around Missouri, especially at its music capital in Branson. But you can also find a variety of shows and events in places like Kansas City, St. Louis, Columbia and Springfield. You might even find a community theater show being performed in your home town!

3. Go from east to west on Missouri 36. Along this route, you’ll find Mark Twain’s hometown of Hannibal, the home of sliced bread in Chillicothe, and the city of St. Joseph, which retains its ties to the Wild West with the Pony Express National Museum and the Jesse James Home Museum, where the legendary outlaw was shot and killed.

2. Get a bird’s-eye view of St. Louis. The Gateway Arch is one of the most iconic symbols of America and is globally recognized as a marvel of engineering. Take a tram ride to the top of this 630-foot structure and see St. Louis and the Mississippi River from a viewpoint that’s unparalleled.

1. Shop, shop, shop. The holidays are approaching, so get out before the post-Thanksgiving madness begins. You’ll find major shopping districts in the state’s larger metro areas and, of course, the Premium Outlets at Osage Beach near the Lake of the Ozarks. Looking for a unique gift, don’t forget the mom-and-pop stores that populate the Show-Me State’s small towns.

I hope you found something to plan your weekend with. Whatever you choose to do, be safe and have fun!

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