Covid crushed all of our vacation plans. We found ways to be entertained at home, cooking dinner together, always talking, and playing Trivial Pursuit and Scrabble. We hang out more with family. It’s been a time for connecting deeply. This feels great, but we get the itch to drive somewhere beyond our front door. Bill’s birthday is the perfect excuse to find a safe, affordable and quick weekend trip. We have a short list of romantic close escapes. I lucked out, finding a last minute room cancellation. So we packed an over-night bag and headed north to the small picturesque town of Weston, Missouri.
A little bit about Weston
The land that became Weston was part of the 1803 Louisiana Purchase. A Main Street sign marks the Lewis & Clarke encampment. Weston grew into a flourishing riverboat town on the Missouri River, a supply depot for settlers heading into the western wilderness. Weston’s prospects sputtered with a fire in 1855, a flood in 1858 and the Civil War. The final blow came in 1881, when the Missouri River rerouted into a channel 2 miles away from the town. Weston’s big city aspirations dried up.
The picturesque town survived under the radar. In 1972, Weston was designated a National Historic District due to it’s collection of Antebellum and Victorian buildings. Today visitors come for antiques, live music, orchards, pubs, wineries, a distillery and snow skiing. You can read more in-depth about Weston history here https://www.westonmo.com/
Wineries and a Brewery
Most Kansas City travelers know Weston as an area for wine, beer and whiskey . Nothing like some beverage tastings to warm the winter doldrums! The personal attention you get in winter makes up for the stark scenery, and there are still many things to do and see despite being off season. Most places have adapted to Covid guidelines, but if you are planning a trip, check for hours of operation and potential restrictions.
1. Riverwood Winery
Our first stop is a converted farmstead just outside of Weston. Due to Covid, Riverwood’s service takes place in an outside patio pavilion warmed by mobile gas heaters, and a firepit is lit every weekend. We are dying for our first tasting. By my hands’ appearance, I look like I picked my own grapes! This is what happens when you paint for a living, use really good staining products and refuse to wear gloves. You’d think all the hand sanitizer would help. You can see that doesn’t.
Bill samples the bold, dryer Syrah with flavors of plum and black pepper. This is a genuine table wine, full bodied enough to hold up well against big food flavors. I tried the Sweet Tempered Red, which is fruity and approachable. I imagine enjoying this wine on a nice summer evening. You can read more about Riverwood here: https://www.riverwoodwinery.com/
2. American Bowman Restaurant & Weston Brewery
We take advantage of a short window before afternoon check-in at our bed & breakfast, and drive into Weston for lunch. Our choice is the American Bowman Restaurant, part of the Weston Brewing Company. The décor is Rustic Americana with lots of historic memorabilia from the town’s founding. The real gas lamps on each table are a charming alternative to candles.
The menu is built around pub fare and extends into a handful of Irish specialties, but we are truly here for tasting number two – the local brew! I am a newbie to craft beer and rarely venture beyond my beloved Blue Moon. Bill, on the other hand, is very knowledgeable about most adult beverages. I guess he paid attention during those restaurant management years. It’s a good thing, because I’m never disappointed with his picks. I try the Rip Van Winkle doppelbock. It has an appealing reddish-orange color with a malty flavor combo of caramel and bread – like cinnamon roll beer. Bill goes for O’Malley’s Stout, which has a robust flavor reminiscent of chocolate and coffee. Not a bad way to enjoy lunch. Check out the menu here: https://westonirish.com/america-bowman-restaurant/
We would have loved to tour the Brewery, but it is currently closed to the public – another reminder of the things we have lost to this pandemic. Nevertheless, we had a blast, and it gives us a reason to schedule another visit in the future. Learn about the Brewery here: https://westonirish.com/weston-brewery/
3. Pirtle Winery
The next stop is Pirtle Winery, the perfect spot to end our day. The place is all ours, and we relax into our tasting. Bill is a longstanding fan of Pirtle, so I asked him to share his knowledge and impression of the experience.
“I learned about Pirtle from my annual trips to the Kansas City Renaissance Festival, where their mead is a unique crowd favorite. We made our way up the front steps of what was once a Lutheran Evangelical Church before it was converted in 1978 into the tasting room. Bex and I originally planned on tasting five wines, but Pirtle’s hospitality and product quality entertained us through ten selections. We exited with an armful – two shirts and three delightful wines. Here’s a bit more about our bottles.
1. Effervescent Mead: Originally made from fermented water and honey, mead is the eldest known alcoholic beverage. Pirtle has resurrected that tradition using orange blossom honey infused with various fruits. Their meads are internationally recognized and gold medal recipients at various competitions. Bex and I loved our effervescent mead, the bubbly and celebratory version of the famous original.
2. Alhambra: This is the owner’s favorite dry red and was Bex’s first choice as well. She loved it with her homemade pasta.
3. Premium Port: A sweet fortified red wine, this port pairs beautifully with chocolate. I served it after our Valentines’ Day dinner with mixed berries and homemade whipped cream.”
Bed & Breakfast Lodging
I love design, especially vintage homes. The upcycling of old furniture and found items is a particular passion. Paired with Bill’s background in hospitality, we eagerly looked forward to our stay at the Steamboat Inn Bed & Breakfast. We were not disappointed.
4. Weston Steamboat Inn
The Federal style Steamboat Inn was built by Captain R.N. Traver in 1845. The original beautiful brick façade building greets us, perched high on a bluff above town. Our gracious hosts, Rob and Glenna Nance, welcome us to happy hour in their well-appointed kitchen. As we enjoy wine and conversation, they provide information on the home’s history and character. I could live in the cozy kitchen, with its blonde natural wood ten-foot island and clever design appointments. I note the patterned black and white tile backsplash and the quirky overhead fixtures made from metal hatchery lights – so fun! A walk to the back reveals a bold fully concrete porch where the rolling view of Weston stretches out below.
We thank our guests and prepare to retreat to our quarters. Time to prepare for a special dining experience. Glenna breaks away and escorts us to the Admiral room. The space has a sitting area, bedroom and bathroom. The king size bed is incredibly comfortable and the robes insanely soft. Humming by the bathroom door is a cute electric fireplace.
Truthfully, it’s the bathroom that sold me on this room. That claw foot tub! I wish I could carry it home with me. Such a beautiful mix – new marble tile, modern amenities like a towel warmer by the tub and an upcycled wood vanity. I love the original plaster and brick spread across the bedroom and water closet. I paint lots of faux brick, but nothing matches the natural patina of the real thing. To find out more or make a reservation please check out the link here https://www.westonsteamboatinn.com/
We could hang out here all evening, but a special dinner to awaits. It is, after all, my man’s birthday. I researched several restaurants in Weston and surprisingly, for a small town, there are a handful of notable dining venues.
5. Noah’s Cupboard
This quaint farm to table restaurant is striking from the outset. Only five tables – it is a picture of intimacy. The menu evolves with the season, featuring locally sourced ingredients. Classically trained Chef Nick prepares every course right in front of you in his open kitchen. But their story takes this deeper. A young couple returning home to put their dream in motion, they opened Noah’s Cupboard in 2018. I can only imagine what it has taken to keep it going given the events over the past year. They were so gracious when I contacted them about reservations, offering us a special table right next to the cooking area.
We decide on the four course pre fixe menu, making our way delightfully through offerings of Spanish Octopus, Steamed PEI Mussels and Roasted Duck. Dessert stood out, with a brilliant version of sticky toffee pudding and a whimsical take on cookies and cream that featured a rich ginger snap and steamed milk. Overcome by the food, my company, and the general feeling of love, my eyes well up. Our sweet server hopes I shed “tears of happiness.” Yes, of course. To make a reservation at Noah’s Cupboard click the link here: https://www.eatnoahscupboard.com/
6. O’Malley’s Pub
Our night ends at this 1842 Iris Pub curiosity. The entrance is little more than an extended hut with bathrooms and a mysterious stairway leading underground. Once inside, you descend past two smaller bar tiers before reaching the barrel vaulted and balconied cellar room. Irish banners and crests adorn the concrete walls. I’ve never been in a place like this before and can imagine how vibrant it would be with a full crowd. Luckily, we were entertained by a Irish singer and a few enthusiastic dancers. For more information go here: https://westonirish.com/omalleys-1842-pub-weston-mo/
The next morning we enjoy a delicious breakfast of custard-infused French toast, scrambled eggs, fruit and bacon. We chat with our hosts Glenna and Rob at length, before checking out to make our last stop. The snow began to fall as we walk downtown, hand in hand.
7. The Celtic Ranch
A little bit of Ireland in Missouri. The Celtic Ranch houses three distinct areas. The ground floor features authentic clothing and gifts from England and Ireland. They offer beautiful wool sweaters, tweed vests and yes, kilts. The back room is the Whiskey Snug which carries the Midwest region’s largest selection of Irish Whiskeys, Single Malt Scotches, unusual Bourbons, and Ryes. We climbed the spiral staircase to The Upper Snug to enjoy a curated flight of whiskey.
The presentation is striking, with our selections cradled in a moose antler. I am not a whiskey drinker, so I enjoy a Guinness while taking in the charming rustic décor. You can find out more here: https://celticranch.com/
We visited a few antique and local shops before heading back to Kansas City. I thought we would daydream about owning a loft someday with exposed brick and worn beams, but other things were on our minds.
“What did you think of our conversations with the Inn Keepers last night and this morning?” Bill asks. He is driving us home. I smile and reflect on our discussion, remembering the moment I catch Bill’s eye after breakfast. He leans against that kitchen island I covet. I’m sitting by the fire next to Glenna. Bill comes over and leans into me, kissing my hair. It is an “Aha” moment. Rob drapes his arm over his wife’s chair and, for an instant, we are coupled bookends, reflecting each other. I take Bill’s hand now in the car, watching the snow fall over the empty fields and say, “It’s interesting how a romantic escape can lead you on the adventure of a lifetime.”
Note: We take pictures without masks, but always follow the guidelines for social distancing, wearing face coverings and washing hands. We encourage others to do the same as we try to support local business and keep others healthy.