Just getting there is part of the fun, as the hilly, winding highway is one of the “most scenic drives in America,” according to Reader’s Digest. During the fall, the colorful foliage along the route is itself reason enough for the drive.
For those used to the hustle and bustle of city life, a day or weekend in Augusta is a return to small-town America. The old-fashioned town square includes playground equipment, picnic tables and shade trees. You can walk from the square to most points in town. Your first stop should be the Augusta Visitor Center, across from the park, where you can pick up brochures and maps and explore the exhibits. The free Historic Walking Tour pamphlet will introduce you to the town’s German heritage in the National Historic Register Architectural District. Stop at the Augusta Historic Museum, open on Sunday afternoons, to learn more.
Pick of the Crop
As autumn arrives, two kid-friendly Augusta attractions -- Centennial Farms and Aholt Farms -- go into high gear.
Centennial Farms offers fruits and vegetables throughout the growing season. Apple-picking in September and the pumpkin patch in October top the list of things to do with kids. The market in the century-old timber-framed barn carries apple butter, preserves and honey – all produced on site. Bob and Ellen Knoernschild are the fourth generation to operate the farm, which has been in their family for more than 150 years. Your family will enjoy a taste of history along with the seasonal produce.
The farm transforms itself into Pumpkin Fantasyland in October; on weekends, the farm-theme playground will be open with activities geared to children ages 3 to 12. Admission fees apply.
Aholt Farms celebrates its Season of Fun on weekends from Sept. 17 through Oct. 31, 2011. Willie and Kathy Aholt open their family farm, which overlooks the Missouri River bottomland, to visitors seeking an autumn outing. Pumpkins, gourds, apple butter, crafts, hayrides, haunted house, corn maze, straw tunnel, petting zoo and more offer hours of family entertainment. Admission is $10 for ages 2-13; $7 for ages 14-59; $4.50 for ages 60 and older; and free for toddlers and infants 1 and younger.
Blaze a Trail
If your family enjoys biking or hiking, the Katy Trail is made to order. It runs right past Augusta, along the river bottomland. There’s a trailhead just below town, and another just east of town at Klondike Park, a 250-acre park that offers cabins, campsites, nature trails, picnic areas, a playground, fishing lake and a Missouri River boat ramp.
Celebrate a Frontier Hero
In nearby Defiance, the historic Daniel Boone Home and Boonesfield Village offers a look into life on the frontier. Tour the four-story, 200-year-old Boone home, which is furnished in period style. The living history village includes more than a dozen 19th-century structures.
Wine and Dine
All this exploring is sure to work up an appetite, and there are several eateries, from tea rooms to winery cafes. The wineries and breweries are family-friendly, with plenty of soft drink choices for the kids, including Missouri grape juice. The views of the river valley from the patios at Montelle Winery and Mount Pleasant Winery are spectacular, making them a scenic choice for a family meal.
When you go:
Augusta Visitor Center, 5577 Walnut Street, Augusta, Mo., 63332, 636-228-4005, Open 12-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, and by chance. For Augusta info, visit www.augusta-chamber.org and www.augusta-missouri.com.
Augusta History Museum, 275 Webster Street, Augusta, Mo., 63332. Open 1-4 p.m. Sunday or by appointment. For appointments, call Anita Mallinckrodt at 636-228-4821.
Centennial Farms and Orchard, 199 Jackson Street, Augusta, Mo., 63332, 636-228-4338, www.centennialfarms.biz
Aholt Farms, 6133 Augusta Bottom Road, Augusta, Mo., 63332, 636-228-4896, www.aholtfarms.com
Klondike Park, Highway 94, Augusta, Mo., St. Charles County Parks and Recreation, 636-949-7535; parks.sccmo.org
Katy Trail State Park, www.katytrailstatepark.com
Daniel Boone Home, 1868 Highway F, Defiance, 63341; 636-798-2005; www.lindenwood.edu/boone
Montelle Winery, 201 Montelle Drive, Augusta, Mo., 63332, 636-228-4464, www.montelle.com
Mount Pleasant Winery, 5634 High St., Augusta, Mo., 63332, 800-467-WINE, www.mountpleasant.com
Story originally published September 2010.