Columbus Day, declared a national holiday in 1934 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, commemorates the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the Bahamas on Oct. 12, 1492 and the start of European exploration in the Americas. St. Charles, Mo., located along the Missouri River near St. Louis, was the departure point for explorers Lewis and Clark to find a route to the Pacific Ocean. On Columbus Day weekend, St. Charles and surrounding areas host celebrations of Columbus' exploration and Italian heritage and offer opportunities for cyclists, hikers and seekers of local food and fall foliage.
Columbus Day Parade
The Columbus Day Parade and Festival in nearby St. Louis commemorates Christopher Columbus's arrival in the Americas and celebrates Italian heritage. The Fratellanza Society started the parade and festival, which is now conducted by the Columbus Day Corporation, in 1867. The Hill, an Italian neighborhood featuring Italian restaurants, delicatessens, bakeries and the St. Ambrose Church, hosts the parade, which ends in Berra Park.
Ride the Rivers Century Bicycle Ride
Starting in St. Charles, the Ride the Rivers Century Bicycle Ride, takes a 100-mile path through Missouri and Illinois along paved roads and trails. Bicyclists travel on flat, rolling and hilly terrain and pass such landmarks as St. Louis' Gateway Arch, the Great Rivers and historic "Route 66," or U.S. Highway 66. Trailnet sponsors this annual ride.
O'Fallon Farmer's and Artist's Market
The O'Fallon Farmer's and Artist's Market (ofallonfarmersmarket.com) is a non-profit, "producer-only" market. Visitors can purchase locally grown meat, eggs and produce and locally made art, flowers and specialty items. O'Fallon is located in St. Charles County. As of August 2011, the market opens each Saturday from mid-April to the week after Columbus Day.
St. Charles County offers trails and roadways for viewing fall colors in October. Highway 94, known as the "The Wine Road," or Weinstrasse, passes by vineyards, villages and fall foliage. Katy Trail State Park is a path for pedestrians and cyclists.
- City of Saint Charles, Missouri: About St. Charles
- Library of Congress: American Memory: Today in History: October 12: Columbus Day
- Columbus Day Stl: 2009 Columbus Day Corporation
- Trailnet: Events: Ride the Rivers Century Ride
- O'Fallon Farmer's and Artist's Market: Home
- Great River Road: Best Views for Fall Foilage: Alton/Twin Rivers Area
- Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images