Less than 90 minutes from St. Louis, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum houses the world’s largest collection of original Lincoln artifacts, complete with the Gettysburg Address. A life-size replica of Lincoln’s log cabin set back in a forest of artificial trees stands 40 feet tall just like the President’s iconic top hat. The museum also houses a re-creation of the Presidential Box at Ford’s Theatre, where the president was assassinated, and the state-of-the-art Union Theater, which projects films such as Lincoln’s Eyes, a broad overview of Lincoln’s personal and political life with a special focus on slavery. In the Ghosts of the Library exhibit, transparent phantoms of Lincoln and his contemporaries drift around powered by Holavision technology. Youngsters, supervised by parents, can try on period dress, pose for photos with life-size cutouts of young Abe, or reenact historic scenes in the Lincoln Home dollhouse located in Mrs. Lincoln’s attic, the hands-on learning center. Before heading home, patrons can browse the museum store—more than 3,500 square feet of artifact replicas and Lincoln-themed merchandise.
The Winery at Shale Lake sprawls over 212 acres of verdant terrain, with a 10-acre vineyard producing a menu of eight original wines for enjoyment in an array of charming settings. Spin around the 24-acre lake during a 30-minute bike ride aboard any of the Surrey cycles available for rent, or hike the scenic trail to slowly experience nature and the soothing melodies of Bigfoot quartets. Sip on up to five complimentary varieties of wine in the tasting room, built into the barn for a fine equine view through the picture window, and chow on gastronome goodies, including baked brie with raspberry sauce ($6), or white garlic and sausage pizza ($9). Kick back in the winter loft during colder months, playing pool and swirling sippers such as the Fifth Dimension, a sweet red foch wine, and the Beginners Luck, a semisweet chambourcin (all $4.50 by the glass). Live performers burst into song roughly twice a month, so thirst quenchers can enjoy sweet sounds while tickling their taste buds and their friends' bellies on Saturday evenings.
The "Amara" in Amara Yoga & Arts is a shortened version of "Amaranth," which alludes to a mythological flower that never dies. Studio co-owners Theresa Brandabur and Kathryn Fitzgerald believe that yoga brings people a step closer to that immortal flower, healing their bodies and restoring peace to their minds.
Their students tend to agree. Natural light filters in through the tall windows of the Urbana studio, illuminating these students as they work through challenging Vinyasa poses and gentler Hatha movements. Amara Yoga & Arts also offers a revolving calendar of yoga classes, including restorative, gentle, Hot and Power Flow, as well as Ashtanga.
Looking for a fresh turn in their respective careers, Joe and Dawn Taylor planted the first grapes at Sleepy Creek Vineyards in 2002. In 2007 they opened the winery, where they sell their wines and swap stories with visitors. Amid 10 acres of expansive grapevines, a timber-frame barn houses the winery and tasting room. While sipping Sleepy Creek's varietals, guests can browse the gift shop, peruse the upstairs art gallery, and sample local cheeses from Ludwig Farmstead Creamery and Ropp Jersey Cheese. Above the winery, bed-and-breakfast-style accommodations allow visitors to relax amid the countryside and eavesdrop on rumors spreading through the grapevines outside.
To the sounds of rollicking live piano music, Ragin Cajun Piano Bar celebrates the cuisine and culture of Louisiana with a tempting menu of crayfish, bourbon-glazed steaks, juicy burgers, and spicy andouille. Bowls of crayfish étouffée in a creamy roux and chicken wings slathered in a piquant voodoo sauce evoke images of the sunny South, and an open-air balcony and a second-story patio frame stunning views of a river town that shares the Mississippi with New Orleans. On weekends, live piano players bang out popular rock and pop tunes as patrons sing and dance along, contrasting with somber weekday lectures on the differences between English common law and Napoleonic code.