Things to Do on Columbus Day Weekend in St. Charles, Missouri

by Christopher Raines

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.

Fall Colors

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.

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