St. Louis is a perfect place for a couple of stressed-out parents to find romance. Thanks to amazing restaurants, great entertainment and award-winning hotels, including one ranked 19th out of the top 50 hotels in the U.S. by Travel & Leisure, a hometown hideaway is within budget and in reach.
But what if you want to escape the city for a little piece and quiet? And by quiet, I mean sans kids. Thankfully, there are plenty of great spots for a little romance on my side of the river (and plenty in Missouri or course – I’ll hit on those later).
So call in sick to work one Friday, drop the kiddos off at grandpa’s and grandma’s, and see where you can rediscover love in one weekend and on one tank of gas.
The Shawnee Hills Wine Trail – Missouri has amazing wineries, and believe me, I love them all (which you can tell from our wine cooler). But for a change of pace, try the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail outside Carbondale. Every fall, the Mister and I travel the trail to soak in its excellent wines and entertainment.
Said Kate Sensmeier of StarView Vineyards in Cobden, “When you have small children and don't want to go too far from home you can take a short trip to the Illinois Wine country and feel like you have gone to another country. The setting is so peaceful, relaxing and romantic, but you are really just a couple hours from home. The wines that are made in the Shawnee Hills in Illinois are world-class wines, so you can have a world-class experience without having to get on an airplane.”
In addition, you can explore the region’s orchards, antique stores and art studios or take a hike or horseback ride in Giant City State Park. Lodging options are plentiful, whether you try Giant City Lodge or one of the area’s numerous bed and breakfast options.
Firefly Grill – It’s been named the No. 2 eco-friendly restaurant in the U.S. by Bon Appétit, the No. 2 restaurant in St. Louis by The Riverfront Times and the No. 1 American cuisine restaurant in Chicago by OpenTable. And it’s smack-dab in the middle of Central Illinois.
Firefly Grill, located in my hometown of Effingham, offers incredible dining in a one-of-a-kind environment. “Eating at the Firefly is a culinary experience, a journey of tastes and flavors beautifully presented and always fresh,” said Kristie Campbell of the Firefly. “The beauty of the Firefly is not only the meal, but being able to take the time to savor every morsel in a beautiful, relaxed setting that is a world away from home but only a couple of hours away.”
Select a meal from the Firefly menu, which changes on a daily basis and uses locally sourced ingredients as well as herbs and vegetables from the next-door garden, and relax afterwards on the porch with a martini to watch the sunset. It really doesn’t get much better than that.
Carlyle Lake Region – Beach. Wine. Chocolate. The trifecta for a perfect weekend. And you can find all three within 60 miles of downtown. Head to beautiful Carlyle Lake for a day of relaxing on one of its beaches while watching the sailboats glide by and then afterwards, head to Hidden Lake Winery in Aviston for a glass (or two or three) of wine and a meal in its Barrel Room Grill and Smokehouse.
You need a place to stay at course, so why not choose a place that goes beyond placing a mint on your pillow and instead lulls you into a chocolate coma? The Chocolate Affair in Highland has both a candy store and a three-room bed and breakfast on site. Walk through the B&B doors and you’ll be treated to chocolate chip cookies at arrival and a chocolate gift basket in your room. In the morning, enjoy a continental breakfast that includes Triple Chocolate Mess Cake and chocolate-covered strawberries.
“I think a nice thing for couples is they can relax and indulge in the chocolate in a comfortable atmosphere,” said Jen Flath of The Chocolate Affair. “They get to enjoy and have access to the whole house while here, and of course feel like a kid in a candy store! I also have massages available, and there are several restaurants and other entertainment within walking distance of the house.”
Every couple needs a getaway to recharge and reconnect. Unfortunately, the finances rarely allow for a quick jog over to Venice (Italy, not Illinois). However, with $40 in gas and a hunger for great food and wine, you can create a weekend to remember.
So until I revisit some Missouri getaways, do you have any romantic spots you absolutely love?
By Nicole Plegge, Lifestyle Blogger for SmartParenting