Louisiana, MO – from the Bike

LOUISIANA, MO (from the southwest, south, or southeast)

The first question you may ask is: Why would I want to go to Louisiana, MO?  Well, the only answer I can give is that it’s a cool little town with lots of history, a couple of good places to eat, and a cool historic “Route 66” type motel that sits right on the Mississippi River.  BUT, it’s really the GETTING THERE that is the best part.  And the route I’m mapping out for you below takes you on roads that pass fields and farms and through woods, and through quaint little towns that must be seen.  And sure, you can go up the road another thirty miles to Hannibal, but I’m telling you that you need to stop for the night in Louisiana and stay at this motel, and drive around and look at all the historic buildings, before you head north to Tom Sawyer’s home.

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So, how do you get there?  Well, first of all, DON’T YOU DARE take the interstate through or around St. Louis and then head north.  First of all, there’s nothing to see there, and secondly, the traffic on I-55 and I-270 etc is horrific on weekends, and not fit for man nor motorcycle.  SO…

what you will do is…take off from Washington, MO:

  • Get to Washington, MO, right on the Missouri River. I guess if you have to take the interstate to make time, you can do it, but otherwise cruise Highways 94 or 100 (from the west), 47 (from the south), or 100 or 50 (from the east).
  • NOTE: If you’re coming from the east, you can cruise a good bit along the old Route 66 itself, at least until you turn north toward Washington.

Once you’ve gotten to Washington, get to the historic downtown area (watch the signs carefully, or use your GPS), and cruise around a little and look at the historic Main Street buildings, and the riverfront buildings and park.  Then stop at John G’s Bier Deck (the deck is around back of the main building on Main Street, and you can park back there, too), and sit in the sun or the shade, have a drink or a bite to eat, and enjoy the view of the Missouri River.  Or, you can go down to one of the other establishments along the riverfront, several of which also  have outside decks overlooking the river.  Don’t stay too long in Washington, because there’s plenty more road to cover.  Also, the next stop is pretty close to Washington, so you may want to make it an “instead of Washington” stop rather than an “in addition to”.

Washington, MO to Blumenhof Winery:

  • Next stop: Blumenhof Winery, in Dutzow, MO….right across the river, basically, from Washington.  Get back on Hwy 47 NORTH and take the bridge across the river, and then turn RIGHT onto Hwy 94.
  • Follow that along the sharp right in the middle of Dutzow itself to stay on 94, and then go about a half-mile to the winery.

It’s a beautiful little place set down in the woods, right along the Katy Trail (so you get plenty of the other kinds of “bikers” there, too).  They have delicious wines (and beer, too!), snacks and food available, and live music (all of this in season, of course…I don’t know what you’ll find if you’re doing this in December).  If a winery doesn’t interest you (though this one SHOULD), then make your stop at Washington for food and drink, and skip the winery.  If you like wineries, then still stop in Washington and check out the history and the riverfront, and then cross the river to Blumenhof for your eating and drinking pleasure. Or do both….again, this is about the trip there, not just the destination.

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Foristell to Old Monroe

  • Now it’s time to head north, cross-country style, so saddle up and ride back into Dutzow, and turn NORTH onto Hwy TT.
  • Follow TT until it runs into Hwy T, and turn LEFT (Hwy TT winds through the woods, but Hwy T gets you into more open country, with some nice sweeping curves and long straight stretches past fields and farms).
  • Hwy T will take you north all the way to Foristell, MO (which is on I-70).
  • Once in Foristell, you’ll make a little jig to the right onto Veterans Memorial Pkwy, and an almost immediate jig to the left onto Hwy W, to cross over I-70 and continue north .Hwy W winds north to Hwy 61, a four-lane highway.
  • You’ll get onto Hwy 61 NORTH and stay on it for just over 5 miles, to Moscow Mills, MO.
  • You get off at the Moscow Mills/Hwy C exit, and go RIGHT into Moscow Mills.  No offense to Moscow Mills, but there’s not much to see there, except that you pass over the Cuivre River as you head out of town on Hwy C.  Hwy C is a fairly straight road, past open fields and patches of woods…a nice little 10-mile cruise to Hwy 79 at the town of Old Monroe.
  • BEWARE!….at the end of Hwy C, just before Hwy 79, there are a couple of sharp turns that can catch you unaware after the straight stretch you’ve just been on for the past ten minutes.
  • Once at Old Monroe, I suggest you go into town (Hwy C turns into Pine Street) and turn RIGHT onto Old Hwy 79 (their Main Street).

At the end of this road, the road bridge across the Cuivre River is closed, but the railroad bridge is open…makes for some interesting photography if you’re into that.  There are also some old buildings that might catch a photographer’s eye.

Now, you’ve been on the road for a while, so the Main Street Café in Old Monroe may be a place to stop.  We didn’t stop there, so I can’t make a recommendation, but it appears to have food and drink, so……But if you don’t want to stop here, there are several towns along the route that will have places to eat and drink, including Louisiana itself.

MONROE TO LOUISIANA

  • Once you are done with Old Monroe, you will head NORTH on Hwy 79, and you will stay on Hwy 79 for the next 43 miles to Louisiana.  But there are things to see on the way, so hopefully you won’t choose to just cruise straight up to Louisiana.

First stop is the nice little railroad/river town of Winfield.  There are places to eat and drink here, and probably an antique store if you’re so inclined.  Also, if you take Hwy N out east of town, you come to the Winfield Lock & Dam on the Mississippi.  There is a day-use area, visitors’ center, overlook, and observation area at the site.

One town on Hwy 79 you’ll go through will be Foley.  Again, no offense to Foley, but I’ve never seen a reason to stop here.  However, at Foley, if you look at your map, OLD Hwy 79 (apparently also known as 925) goes straight north, more through the bottomlands, while NEW Hwy 79 swings slightly more inland.  They re-joing at the south end of the next town, Elsberry.  Up to you if you want to be adventurous…we’ve only stayed on the NEW 79.

Once you reach Elsberry, you’ll have some choices to stop and eat or drink, also.  Hwy 79 is labeled as their “Main Street”, but Broadway Street is their old business district, with some nice old storefronts, and also some places to refresh oneself.  You should at least cruise up and down this drag to see what’s there.  Then hit Hwy 79 and head NORTH once again.

Interesting stop on Hwy 79 N…Clarksville, MO

  • Next stop (and the last before Louisiana) is Clarksville, MO.
  • Cruise up Hwy 79 through town (this is also their N. 2nd Street) and see some of the neat old buildings, but then be sure to
  • turn RIGHT on Mississippi St. (the Visitors’ Center is right there) and go to 1st St., where you’ll
  • make a LEFT and go to the Lock & Dam there.
  • Then cruise back south on 1st St.  They have a nice riverfront park, and some eating/drinking establishments, and some nice old storefronts.
  • You can then make a RIGHT on Main Cross, which will take you back to Hwy 79.
  • Again, head NORTH.

Clarksville, MO, to Louisiana, MO

In 10 miles, you’ll reach Louisiana, MO.  As you pass the riverside industrial park (and Bunge Grain with their long row of HUGE grain silos) just south of town LOOK TO YOUR RIGHT!!

There, you will see an amazing swing-arm railroad bridge that you will rarely find anywhere else.  If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to see the section of the bridge turned perpendicular to the rest of the bridge to allow river traffic to pass by.

Even if it’s not turned, this is a very photogenic railroad bridge!  Stop, get off your bike, and take some photos.  If you don’t want to stop right there, go into town and turn right on Georgia St. about six blocks into town and go down to the riverfront…there is a parking and access area there where you should be able to get some nice shots of the bridge.

If it’s too late in the day for that, make sure you come back the next day when the light is better. Just don’t miss this.

…to the HOTEL!!

Now it’s been a long day of good riding.  Depending on when you got started and how long you stopped here and there, you or the day may be done.  Let’s assume it’s time to check in at the motel.  You’ll be going to the River’s Edge Motel, right where Hwy 54 crosses the Mississippi at the Champ Clark Bridge.

There is a lower and upper section to the motel.  The owner is one of THE NICEST guys you’ll ever meet.  If possible, when you make your reservations, ask for the upstairs corner room of the lower section….amazing views of the river from there!

He’ll give it to you if he can….we didn’t even know about it, and he made sure to offer it to us because of the views.  He will also offer to drive you to and from wherever you’re going to dinner in town that night, so you won’t have to go on your bike!

We didn’t take him up on the offer, but he’s serious about it.  I’ve seen on other reviews that he’s done this for others, too.

Here’s the review I put on TripAdvisor for this motel:  “This is a nice little Route 66-type motel. There is an upper building and a lower building. We stayed in the lower building, upstairs, in the end room (Room 30). First, the owner was SO friendly and accommodating; when he saw we were on a motorcycle, he even offered to drive us to whatever restaurant we were going to for dinner and then come pick us up when we were finished! Now THAT’S service!  (we didn’t take him up on it, as we were fine with taking the bike down the street for dinner transport) He suggested Room 30 as the one with the best view, and he was right. Windows looked out upriver and downriver (beautiful views, both!) and allowed a cross-breeze when open. The room was spotless, with new-looking furnishings and bathroom. Coffee maker, microwave, fridge and wifi provided. The bed was comfy. Plenty of outlets for phones and tablets to recharge. Felt very safe there. Cost was about $70, so while not “cheap”, it’s better than most chains (and you’re missing nothing except maybe a free breakfast – not provided here). You cannot go wrong with this place.”

Now, if you still have daylight left, you can sight see around town to check out all the really cool old houses they have there and the riverfront access park (don’t forget the bridge at the south end of town!), and you can get supper at one of the local restaurants (there is a donut shop/diner, a winery/bistro, and an Italian/pizza place, to name a few).

If it’s too late to sight see the same day, make sure you take an hour or so to look around the next day, for sure.

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From Louisiana, MO, you can head home however you want to get there, or you can head east across the river to Pittsfield, IL, or north to Hannibal and even Quincy, IL.

Just remember….it’s not always about the destination….after all, Louisiana, MO doesn’t have a LOT to offer….but the ride to get there.  Plan ahead, leave early enough to take your time and enjoy your stops, and just cruise the roads.  That’s the way life SHOULD be, on your bike.

-Tim

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