A quaint village nestled among rolling hills and vineyards. Miles of bike and hike trails along a gorgeous river. Nope, you’re not in the South of France: you’re in Washington, Missouri, and it just might be the hidden gem vacation your family is longing for. Read on to find out why we love this little spot in the heart of Missouri for an unexpected, sophisticated family vacation that won’t break the bank.

1. Katy Trail

The Katy Trail is a hike and bike trail created from 240-miles of the former path of the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad. It's known for being the country's longest rail-trail and includes 26 hiking trailheads and four fully restored railroad depots along the way. Bonus tip: Make your way to the section of trail located between Cooper County and St. Charles County, which has been designated as an official segment of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail!

2. Historic Downtown

Washington is home to a lively Historic District with seasonal street festivals, including BBQ and Bluesfest, Art Fair and Winefest and Fall Festival of the Arts and Crafts. For an exciting excursion, play a game of Where's Waldo throughout the neighborhood. Simply obtain a "passport" at participating stores then discover hidden gems along the way in your scavenger hunt adventure. Make a stop at the Iron Spike Model Train Museum and the Washington Firehouse Museumtwo favorites for kids. 

3. Locally Owned Eats & Treats

From pizza and froyo to more sophisticated eateries, you’ll find an array of family-friendly, owner-operated establishments to suit any craving. Want to treat your little ones to a super-sized milkshake? Head to Main Street Creamery for intricate concoctions that are topped with donuts, cookies, cupcakes, brownies and even cotton candy.

4. Local Wineries

Did you know that Central-Eastern Missouri is home to more than forty wineries, all within an hour’s drive of Washington? Move over, Napa! These wineries are never as crowded and feature world-class wines and cuisine. All that's left to do is map out your vino trail!

5. Right on the Amtrak

Washington is conveniently located along the Amtrak Missouri River Runner line, a 283-mile route that runs between St. Louis and Kansas City and makes stops in Kirkwood, Jefferson City and more. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, you can bring your bikes on the train for a car-free adventure your family will never forget. 

6. Unique Family-Friendly Lodging

Sure, you may have explored Washington and absorbed its rich history while on foot, but what about spending a night (or two) in one of its historic homes? There are many historical residences and charming B&Bs you can stay in right downtown. Many of them let you rent out an entire floor or the full home so your family has plenty of space to sprawl. 

7. Parks and Trails for Outdoor Fun

Washington has plenty of parks to explore on bike, including the Riverfront Park, which features an asphalt trail ideal for young riders (and rollerbladers!). You can also explore Lion’s Lake, where you’ll find an All-Abilities Playground and a lovely walking trail around the lake. Our favorite is Busch Creek Disc Golf Course at Burger Park, which features an 18-hole disc golf course that the whole family can try.

If you want a place to visit that is off the beaten path with plenty of fresh air and history, visit Washington, Missouri and book your vacation today!

—Amber Guetebier

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