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Best of the Midwest Jul/Aug 2012 Issue
Market Street

St. Louis CVC photo

“Best” is a powerful adjective. It must be thoughtfully applied when describing anything.

Which is why our annual Best of the Midwest poll is special. Our magazine’s readers voice their opinions as to what is great about the Midwest.

The results have been tabulated and are presented to you. Editors thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and vote for what you love in the Midwest. We hope this will inspire you to revisit an old favorite or to try something new. Enjoy.

Best Large City for Weekend Getaway St. Louis • For the third year in a row, St. Louis is selected by readers as the best large city for a getaway weekend. We love The Lou’s music, restaurants, festivals, and attractions, including Union Station and the Gateway Arch pictured at right. St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission, (800) 916-0040,

Best Small City for Weekend Getaway Hermann, Mo. • This quaint German town is an easy drive from St. Louis (90 minutes via state Highway 100), but it seems like a world away from the big city; probably what our readers love about Hermann. Welcoming inns, great wineries, restaurants, shops, and a calendar filled with festivals appeal to travelers. This year, Hermann observes its 175th anniversary, with the official observance weekend slated for Aug. 26–28. German music, dancing, and food, plus wine and beer tents, will keep the fun rolling. Everybody polka! Hermann Chamber of Commerce, (800) 932-8687,

Best Large Hotel The Lodge of Four Seasons • The Lodge repeats its 2010 best hotel honor this year. The Lodge of Four Seasons at the Lake of the Ozarks is a full-service resort that offers a marina, championship golf, a spa (also loved by our readers), indoor and outdoor pools, tennis, and excellent restaurants. When it’s time to rest, choose from guestrooms, suites, or luxury condos. Even the family dog is welcome. We guess you could rough it at the lake, but why would you want to? The Lodge of Four Seasons, (888) 265-5500,

Best Small Hotel Moonrise Hotel • For the second year in a row, readers award the Moonrise Hotel in St. Louis, the best small hotel honor. This boutique beauty is oh-so-hip, and the view from the rooftop bar is to die for. Dine in the restaurant, Eclipse, or the Rooftop Terrace Bar. A space-age theme carries through the AAA Four Diamond hotel, and as anyone who’s visited can tell you, it’s an out-of-this-world experience. Moonrise Hotel, (314) 721-1111,

Best Bed & Breakfast Hermann Hill Vineyard and Inn • The majority of our poll respondents chose Hermann Hill as their favorite B&B, and with good reason. Eight suites are at Hermann Hill Inn near downtown Hermann–readers’ favorite small town–while Hermann Hill Village, a fine collection of luxury cottages, is at the town’s entrance on state Highway 100. Either way, guests can enjoy romantic accommodations that include whirlpool tubs, signature breakfasts, homemade cookies, and the Hermann Hill Port Chocolate Sauce with ice cream. Hermann Hill Vineyard and Inn, (573) 486-4455,

Best Fall Color Spot Missouri Ozarks • From national forests to protected rivers, the Ozarks are rife with autumn vistas that will leave a traveler breathless. It was, by a huge margin, our readers’ favorite spot for great fall color. Popular resort areas–like Springfield, Branson or Lake of the Ozarks–are packed with autumn festivals and visitors. Photograph one of several historical mills in Missouri, including Alley Spring Grist Mill near Eminence. Spend a day at Taum Sauk Mountain, Missouri’s highest point, in Ironton and challenge yourself with a hike in the gorgeous St. Francois Mountains. Missouri Division of Tourism,


In Talequah, the Cherokee Heritage Center hosts an annual Trail of Tears art show. Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department photo

Best Heritage Trail Trail of Tears • This National Historic Trail remembers more than 15,000 Cherokee people who were forced in 1838–39 to march across nine states into Oklahoma. Today’s trail encompasses museums, parks, forts, and more to help interpret the story. In Missouri, visit Trail of Tears State Park in Jackson. The Cherokee Heritage Center is in Talequah, Okla. Trail of Tears National Historic Trail,

Best Day Tour from Evansville, Ind. French Lick, In. • Springs in southern Indiana have attracted travelers for more than a century, and this resort town hasn’t lost its allure. Two historical hotels, a casino, great golf, a scenic railway, shops, and galleries make French Lick and West Baden a great getaway for one day, a weekend, or longer. Orange County Convention and Visitors Bureau, (866) 309-9139,

Best Day Tour from Kansas City, Mo. Independence, Mo. • Harry S. Truman called this charming town on the western side of Missouri home; our readers call it the perfect day tour. A quaint historical square bulges with interesting shops and eateries. Take a wagon tour and hear about some of the history. If tracing your family’s tree has taken root in your mind, check out the new Midwest Genealogy Center in Independence, the largest public genealogy library in the nation. Independence Convention and Visitors Bureau, (800) 748-7323,

Best Day Tour from St. Louis, Mo. Hermann, Mo. • Shop, tour Deutscheim State Historic Site, buy some Missouri wine to take home and enjoy and you’ll have a full day visiting Hermann. If you’d rather drink in the scenery instead of driving, Amtrak runs daily trains from St. Louis to Hermann that are part of the Missouri River Runner service.

Best Civil War Battlefield Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield • An impressive repository of Civil War history is located just outside Springfield, Mo., at this well -preserved site where the second major battle of the Civil War took place on Aug. 10, 1861. The Civil War Museum currently is closed, but will return to public display with new exhibits at the visitor center in 2013. Be sure to take the audio-enhanced driving tour that winds six miles through the site. The visitor center offers a movie, a few exhibits, and a research library. Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield, (417) 732-2662,

Best Golf Weekend Lake of the Ozarks • It’s close, convenient, and has a course for just about any level of golfer. Central Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks Golf Trail is the hands-down favorite with our readers. Thirteen courses are packaged with selected resorts, so with just one call, you can create a weekend golf getaway for you and a few friends. And when the game is finished, Lake of the Ozarks has excellent dining, shopping, and other recreational opportunities. Lake of the Ozarks Golf Trail, (800) 490-8474,


Sand Island Sea Caves, Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. Wisconsin Department of Tourism photo

Best Vacation State Wisconsin • Other than their home states, readers chose Wisconsin as the best place for a vacation. Wisconsin Dells and Door County are perennial favorites, but there’s also opportunity to get off the beaten path. Check out Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, featuring 21 Lake Superior islands and almost unlimited outdoor recreational opportunity. The visitor center is in Bayfield, Wis. Wisconsin Department of Tourism, (800) 432-8747,

Best Attraction The Gateway Arch, St. Louis • Part of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, visiting the Arch is so much more than the 630-foot monument. Sure, take a ride to the top, but save time to explore the Museum of Westward Expansion. With a Core of Discovery pass, visitors can add a riverboat ride, bike rentals, and more to make it a full day of downtown exploration. Gateway Arch, (877) 982-1410,

Best Spa Destination Spa Shiki, Lake Ozark, Mo. • When they are ready to relax, readers like to unwind at The Lodge of Four Seasons’ Spa Shiki. The 15,000-square-foot spa has a large menu of wellness and pampering treatments within a tranquil Asian setting. “Shiki,” in fact, is Japanese for “four seasons.” Spa Shiki, (800) 843-5253,

Best Brunch Lambert’s Cafe • Interestingly, there’s no breakfast served at our readers’ choice for brunch, but for 70 years, travelers have known Lambert’s as a place to pull off the road and fill up on simple Southern-style meals. From fried chicken to pulled pork, beans and ham to generous hamburgers–plus the famous throwed rolls and plentiful “pass around” sides–nobody leaves this restaurant hungry. Missouri locations are in Sikeston and Ozark (near Branson); the third location is in Foley, Ala. Lambert’s,

Best Fine Dining Restaurant Tony’s • A dining landmark, Tony’s is St. Louis’ most decorated restaurant. For 12 years, Tony’s has earned the esteemed AAA Four Diamond award, and for two years in a row, readers have named it as their favorite fine dining establishment. It’s where you go to celebrate a birthday, anniversary, or to propose marriage. And it’s the only place to go for the signature dish, Lobster Albanello. Tony’s, (314) 231-7007,

Here’s how your other favorites stacked up in this year’s voting.

Best Large City
Chicago, Ill., second
Kansas City, Mo., third

Best Small City
Branson, Mo., second
Lake of the Ozarks, Mo., third

Best Large Hotel
The Chase Park Plaza, second;
The Drake Hotel, third

Best Small Hotel
Chateau Avalon, second
New Harmony Inn, third

Best B&B
The Inn at Aberdeen, second;
The Flower Patch, third

Best Fall Color
Michigan’s UP, second
Indiana’s Parke County, third

Best Day Tour/Evansville
Santa Claus, Ind., second
New Harmony, Ind., third

Best Day Tour/Kansas City
St. Joseph, Mo., second
Fort Scott, Kan., third

Best Day Tour/St. Louis
Hannibal, Mo., second
Augusta, Mo., third

Best Civil War Battlefield
Mine Creek, Pleasanton, Kan., second
Corydon Civil War, Corydon, Ind., third

Best Golf Weekend
Michigan’s UP, second

Best Heritage Trail
Santa Fe, second
Lincoln Heritage, third

Best Vacation State
Michigan, second
Nebraska, third

Best Attraction
Country Club Plaza, Kansas City, Mo., second
Lincoln sites, Springfield, Ill., third

Best Spa
French Lick Resort, Ind., second

Best Brunch
On the Rise, Osage Beach, Mo., second
Red Geranium, New Harmony, Ind., third

Best Fine Dining Restaurant
HK’s Steakhouse, Lake Ozark, Mo., second
Jasper’s, Kansas City, Mo., third
View 3 Recipes from Jasper’s restaurant in Kansas City, these summer-ready recipes make use of the garden’s freshest ingredients, while the ice cream dessert cools on the hottest day.

Congratulations to these readers • Kathy M. of Farmington, Mo., will receive a family ticket (four) pack to Silver Dollar City in Branson, Mo. • Vitilas R. of St. Charles, Mo., will receive a $50 gift card. • Alice S. of New Harmony, Ind., will receive a AAA Atlas. Thanks to all our readers who voted in the 2012 Best of the Midwest poll.


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