Biking, hiking, quaint restaurants, antique shops, wineries and tree lined views of the Missouri river are what helped to make Rocheport, Missouri one of the “Best Tiny Towns” in America according to Southern Living. Just before Columbia, off I-70, the charming town offers a reprieve for families, couples or girlfriends who want to get away, but not spend hours in the car.
What to Do for Fun in Rocheport, Mo.
The Katy Trail Rocheport section is a shade lover’s dream. Set along the Missouri river, the well-maintained, crushed gravel trail is the spotlight and the major attraction of the town. You’ll see hikers, bikers, dog walkers and families taking advantage of the beautiful scenery and stops along the way. It connects to the MKT off-shoot near Columbia. Use the state-preserved resource to enjoy the outdoors, fit in some exercise and see wildlife. In the spring and summer, the abundance of trees offer respite from the sun, while in the fall the brilliant colors only amplify the trail’s beauty.
Other than biking, Rocheport is proud of its wine tasting opportunities. Stop by the A-Frame Winegarden, The Bistro at Les Bourgeois Vineyards or The Tasting Room for a wine sampling and accoutrements. All operated by the same owner, they strive to produce and serve quality wines in appealing settings. Tours can be arranged ahead of time at The Tasting Room for those interested in a behind the scenes look at Missouri wine making.
If antiques are your jam, several shops can be found on the small main street, along with an ice cream shop, stand alone art galleries and a general store. A quick stroll through their downtown area will allow you to hit all of the stops, talk with the endearing locals and pick out a few treasures.
A few minutes past the Rocehport exit on I-70, you’ll find the bustling town of Columbia. Visitors should walk through the picturesque Mizzou campus, grab a pizza from Shakespeare’s, a spiked frozen beverage from Tropical Liqueurs and check out the shops in the Downtown District.
Warm Springs Ranch is a must stop on your way to or from, conveniently located right off the highway. Here you can view the official breeding facility for the Budweiser Clydesdale horses, take a guided tour and get an up close view of these enormously beautiful animals. Book ahead of time to ensure the facility is open and can accommodate your group.
Where to Eat
Meriwether Cafe is arguably providing the best eats in town. It is locally run and downright delicious. Set practically on the Katy Trail, it’s a mainstay for locals and recreation lovers. Arrive early for some biscuits and gravy or huevos rancheros, then come back mid-day for lunch, a cocktail on their patio and one of their fresh baked treats. Trust me, it is worth the double visit. For patrons wanting to take advantage of the trail, the cafe is also a shop where one can rent bikes and accessories without having to lug them from home.
The Bistro at Les Bourgeois Vineyards is special for a few reasons. One, it is set up high on a bluff, offering great views. Two, outdoor enthusiasts can hike straight up from the Katy Trail and enjoy a great meal without having to ever get in a car. In fact, there is a trailhead sign directing patrons to the entrance of the restaurant from the trail below! Three, it offers wine tastings!
The A-Frame Winegarden also offers tastings, set in a vineyard, offering picnic style snacks, an extensive bar menu and ample patio seating. Live music can often be heard in this seasonally opened restaurant.
Where to Stay in Rocheport
For a small town, there’s a surprising number of lodging options. The trick, however, is to book early. Avid bikers book months ahead during time when weather is mild! The Blufftop at Rocheport Guest Houses are all operated by the owners of Les Bourgeois Vineyards. The most popular choices in town, you’ll need advance planning to secure.
Mount Nebo Inn is a mere 10 steps from the Katy Trail, with a precious outdoor space to relax after a long day outside. Bonus, it is pet friendly!
Suggested Itinerary for an Overnight Stay
Noon. Arrive around lunch time and head straight to Meriweather Cafe for a meal on the patio. Purchase a few extra baked goods to take as fuel for a bike ride or long walk. Enjoy the Katy Trail on foot or bike, making sure to stop for a picture at the former railway tunnel.
5 p.m. Head back to the trail head, lock up bikes and hike up the hill toward the Bistro at Les Bourgeois Vineyards for a wine tasting and early dinner overlooking the Missouri River. No need to change, it is very understanding of bike patrons! They welcome kids and families as well!
7 p.m. Keep the good times rolling, and drive toward the A-Frame Winegarden for dessert and a chance to hear live music.
Start your day with breakfast again from Meriweather Cafe, then mosey around town to look for antiques and art treasures.
10 a.m. Make the short trip to Mizzou campus for a leisurely stroll, a pizza lunch at Shakespeare’s and downtown shopping.
2 p.m. Head out of town with just enough time to stop by Warm Springs Ranch to view the beautiful Budweiser clydesdales.
Do not hesitate to make the two hour drive to Rocheport, Missouri! The small town packs a punch, offering a chance to escape the mundane and enjoy the beauty of the state.