A Day to Get Away

By Jenna Allen

Within a short drive of Columbia, day trip destinations await

If you have free time and a form of transportation, day trips are a great way to escape the hustle and bustle of Columbia — at least for a few hours. Whether your goal is to see what another mid-Missouri town has to offer or to just enjoy time off somewhere else, there are plenty of places to consider for a daytime getaway.


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A mere 20-minute drive from downtown Columbia, Rocheport makes wine tasting and fine dining within reach at Les Bourgeois Vineyards and Winery. Lounge on picnic tables and sip on one-of-a-kind wines while admiring views of the Missouri River Valley, or catch a meal at Blufftop Bistro while watching the sun set on the river’s glittering waves.

Rocheport is also home to dozens of unique shops and art galleries, perfect for casual shoppers looking for home décor, clothing, local art and more. Stockton Mercantile, housed on Central Street in the old Bysfield building, is a charming local shop with more than 4,000 square feet of retail space, featuring antiques, home decor, gifts, collectables and other uncommon finds.


About a half hour’s drive from Columbia, Fulton gives off a small-town vibe with numerous places to visit, most of which would please art- and history-lovers passing through.

The Art House on Court Street offers rotating exhibits in its gallery as well as painting, ceramics, jewelry-making and drawing classes and more. Almost every Friday, the Art House hosts “Fun Art Fridays,” which combine music, drinks and creating art. Looking for a place for lunch or dinner? Try Beks, which sits in the same Historic Brick District downtown. Fulton’s two wineries — Serenity Valley Winery and Canterbury Hill Winery — are worth a visit as well.

Fulton also houses two universities, William Woods University and Westminster College, both of which have their own respective campuses and attractions. Westminster features the National Churchill Museum honoring British statesman William Churchill, who gave his famous “Iron Curtain” speech at the school. If you want to see another piece of history at Westminster, visit the reconstructed St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury, rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren in the 17thcentury. The church was disassembled, brought to the campus and built back up starting in 1966.

Off campus, Fulton offers other museums — including the Auto World Museum and a museum put on by the Kingdom of Callaway Historical Society — as well as a memorial to Missouri firefighters and various Civil War tours.



You’ll have countless activities and attractions to choose from if you decide to spend your day off in Boonville. A half hour’s drive from Columbia, Boonville offers many places to shop, eat and sightsee for those looking to spend more time at their destination than on the road.

One popular attraction in Boonville is Warm Springs Ranch, the breeding facility of the famous Budweiser Clydesdales, where dozens of horses can be seen frolicking and lounging around on the grounds. Make a reservation for a guided tour of the facility.

Also in Boonville, the Isle of Capri Casino Hotel is great for older day-trippers looking for a one-stop shop for entertainment and dining. The casino has a buffet, bistro and marketplace, so when you’ve hit your limit on table games, slot machines and video poker, you have options to satiate your appetite. The casino also books concerts, so check out their calendar to see what acts are coming to town.

Arrow Rock

A village that has been named a National Historic Landmark for its significance to Native Americans, explorers and travelers, Arrow Rock is a 45-minute drive from Columbia. This village offers auctions, theater productions, lectures, festivals and more. Take a walking or driving tour through Arrow Rock, and appreciate its historic nature.

Stops on the Katy Trail

If you’re looking to spend a day trip in the great outdoors, consider biking, hiking, running or just meandering down the Katy Trail, a 237-mile trail that stretches across Missouri. A majority of the trail follows the path Lewis and Clark took up the Missouri River, so history-lovers can get their fix here while admiring the raw Missouri landscape. Stops along the trail include Columbia, Hartsburg, Jefferson City and Boonville, among more than 30 other towns.

From Here to There

• Columbia to Rocheport: 14.3 miles

• Columbia to Fulton: 31.1 miles

• Columbia to Boonville: 25.3 miles

• Columbia to Arrow Rock: 42.8 miles