Travel is an opportunity to escape the city we live in and to see new destinations with fresh eyes. 2020 has certainly presented an array of challenges to traveling, but not complete barriers. We are learning ways to enjoy the adventures we have grown to love while keeping ourselves and others safe. This is important for all travelers to remember, as it is our duty to be wise ambassadors wherever we may roam. With so much uncertainty swirling around, we have rethought our approach to travel for the immediate future. Our focus will be on less densely populated regions. This will offer all of the education and recreational stops that we crave, with smaller crowds. A perfect example of this was a day trip to nearby Weston, Missouri.
Located along the western edge of the state, Weston retains its river-port charm. In the mid-1800s, this growing town had become the second-largest port on the Missouri River. At one point, the population had swelled to nearly 5000 citizens. That made it larger than St. Joseph or Kansas City, at that time. A series of floods, fires, and the Civil War dwindled the number to just over 1000. The railroad soon surpassed river travel as the main way to move freight, and Weston would never regain its economic stronghold. Fortunately, it has been able to retain its antebellum charm, and a major portion of the downtown is on the National Register of Historic Places.
These days people are drawn to Weston for a variety of recreational options. The gently rolling hills are the perfect choice for a scenic bike tour. A variety of historic sites are the perfect addition to a walking tour of the city. A collection of orchards and wineries offer tempting tastes for all ages. Weston has a large draw during the Fall season when families make their way to the nearby farms for seasonal produce. Of course, one of our favorite pastimes is shopping, which is also prevalent in downtown Weston. There is plenty of reason to escape the city for a day of relaxed enjoyment.
This particular day trip included plenty of time set aside for perusing the local shops. Since most are family owned and operated, you can easily begin to feel a connection with the community. In downtown Weston, you won’t find any big box stores, but instead, you’ll experience boutique-style shopping. The shops hold a wide range of merchandise, so eventually, you’ll find something for everyone in the family. We loved exploring each shop, and the shopkeepers were extremely inviting. With the lockdown still progressing, this was one of the first weekends for the shops to be back open. It was obvious that, while being wary, the return of shoppers was a welcome sight for the area. We appreciated the extra steps that everyone was taking to help make our experience safe and enjoyable.
When we go shopping it is hard to say what we will bring home. I’m sure that a lot of you may have this same issue. (I will not call it a problem.) As we wandered from shop to shop, we collected a small sampling of trinkets along the way. It was at Beverlin’s Statuary where this took a major turn. With the whole pandemic shutdown, we had refocused our efforts on home beautification, much like most American homeowners. Our backyard was the main area of attention, and we have adopted an Asian theme. As we wandered around the statuary shop, most of what we found was country or English Garden. In the back, we happened upon a pagoda piece that was a perfect fit for one of our landscape beds. This is why we try to wander through every shop we find open. You just never know what treasure you will discover.
National Silk Art Museum
It is almost embarrassing to say that we overlook hidden treasures as much as anyone else. We cannot say how many times we have walked the main drag of Weston. On each previous visit, we have failed to recognize the gem hiding just beyond this storefront. It finally dawned on us, and we stepped inside the National Silk Art Museum for a gander. Once inside, we were treated to an introduction to the world of silk art from the museum’s founder. As we wandered through the galleries, we were amazed at the amount of detail to be found in these works of art. Even when we escape the city, we find ways to learn new things.
You all know that we rarely visit a destination without making at least one culinary stop. What kind of foodies would we be if we failed to check out the local cuisine? Don’t worry, there are plenty of options in Weston, so our biggest challenge was picking just one. Fortunately, we located the perfect spot right on Main Street. Avalon Cafe is an American cuisine dining destination housed in a 170-year-old home. With so much character and charm, we were anxious to check it out. A meal on their elevated outdoor deck offered us a chance to enjoy the fresh air and wonderful views. It was the perfect break during a day of exploring.
While Weston has a history dating back to the mid-1800s, there are other eras to visit during your time in town. While it is not an actual museum, Hiatt Motors has constructed a small shrine to the 1950s-era filling stations. Being fans of Route 66, the old-fashioned facade caught our attention, as we meandered down Main Street. The bright orange Phillips 66 logo and gas pumps are hard to miss. Outside the storefront we discovered a couple of guys just hanging out, enjoying the beautiful weather. Everything about this place spoke of days gone by.
Step Back in Time
We asked the gentlemen if we could check out the interior and discovered them to be extremely welcoming. Once we stepped through the door, we were whisked back to our youths. The interior was chocked full of artifacts from the glory days of full-service gas stations. Everything about this place reminded us of road trips with our families. They even had an old pinball machine and some cool neon signs. It took a second and even third look to catch all of the memorabilia contained in this small space.
As we were heading out of downtown, we decided to make a short stop at Green Dirt Farm. As we pulled into the parking lot, we noticed guests enjoying a mid-afternoon snack in the shaded area out front. The casual atmosphere of Weston extends itself to this business and makes a stop even more inviting. It certainly appeared to be a popular stop, so we were excited to find out what made it such a draw. The countryside around Weston is filled with farms and orchards that make great destinations for a day trip to escape the city.
This locally owned creamery produces a variety of cheeses made with cow, goat, and sheep milk. Each version has its own characteristics, which are imparted in the final product. Green Dirt Farm doesn’t just sell cheese. Behind the counter we found the staff working on preparing sandwiches, pizzas, and even ice cream treats for customers. In a nearby alcove, wine tastings were taking place. If we had not already had lunch, this would have been a perfect place to get the making for a charcuterie board picnic.
Weston Bend State Park
After leaving Weston proper, we still had one more stop in mind. Weston Bend State Park offers over 10 miles of hiking trails designed to entertain all skill levels. The thought of shaded paths that skirt the river’s path sounded extremely inviting. While we were limited to our time in the park, we still enjoyed hiking one of the most popular trails. We also ended up discovering a spot with an amazing view of the Missouri River Valley.
Get Away for the Day
Even though we have made many day trips to Weston, we still enjoy visiting. Each time we go we can feel the busy pace of the city fade away. Our pace slows and we find ourselves relishing the tranquil moments. Conversations flow easily with the shopkeepers and locals who are proud to call Weston home. While there are shops in Kansas City that offer comparable merchandise, the atmosphere of this river town is unmatched in the metro. Perhaps it’s time for you to plan a day trip to escape the city and enjoy some time in Weston, Missouri.