The old mulberry tree at the top of Noboleis Vineyards—the same creature that graces the estate's wine labels—symbolizes the endurance of Robert and Lou Ann Nolan in pursuing their dream to own a vineyard. After purchasing a 74-acre expanse of Augusta farmland in 2005, the Nolans planted their first grapes: chambourcin, traminette, norton, and vignoles. Initial growth indicated high yields, but a late frost in 2007 claimed most of the chambourcin crop. Adversity struck again in 2011, when a tornado tore through part of the vineyards and lifted sections of roof off of the winery.
But between these setbacks, the Nolans built a steady string of accomplishments. Their first vintages claimed multiple awards at the 2010 Missouri Governor's Cup, and what had started as plain farmland grew into an estate encompassing an onsite winery, tasting room, cafe, and wine shop. The Nolans now lead tours and host tastings so that visitors can get an up-close look at how Noboleis's wines—such as the barrel-fermented vidal blanc—are produced without tickling the grapes. The indoor and outdoor grounds also regularly host events that range from weddings to live music performances.
In the pantheon of American explorers, there are few names as revered as Lewis and Clark. After securing the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, President Thomas Jefferson needed someone to map out the newly doubled national borders. The two U.S. Army officers were the men for the job. They set out into the great unknown in May of 1804, and except for the one Cracker Barrel they stopped at mid-journey, St. Charles was the last familiar piece of America they knew until their return trip in 1806.
As a testament to their momentous voyage, the Lewis & Clark Boat House & Nature Center houses full-scale replicas of the explorers' boats, half-scale 18th and 19th century buildings, and displays about the Native Americans that Lewis and Clark met along the way. Outside its walls, the museum also gives visitors a glimpse into the ecosystems that the pair explored. Visitors can walk on trails through the woods and wetlands to find herons, deer, and indigenous plants.
Interactive bumper cars, 80 arcade games, and the tubes, tunnels, and slides of a soft playground all nestle within the 12,000-square-foot Swing-A-Round Fun Town facility in Fenton. Outside, waterfalls and fountains surround three professionally designed outdoor mini golf courses, and a mammoth pond accommodates 15 colliding bumper boats. The fun continues at the kiddie kart track for youngsters 3?8 years old or the more than 1,100-foot adult track, where kids can join a parent in a double-seat go-kart whose second steering wheel allows tykes to pretend drive and practice ignoring hitchhikers. Elsewhere, nine batting cages test players' homerun hitting skills with softball slow and fast pitches or baseballs flung at 35?80 mph. Swing-A-Round Fun Town's St. Charles location hosts nine batting cages as well, plus two 18-hole miniature golf courses and an arcade.
The pedal pioneers at Boschertown Grand Prix Racing have been facilitating high-speed adventures on one of the largest tracks in the Midwest for more than half a century. In the early days of racing, the course served as a venue for the homemade karts of avid individuals, but now houses a herd of go-karts, sprint-karts, and super-karts that eliminate the possibility of unfair home upgrades such as engines outfitted with nitrous or the flux-capacitor of a 1981 DeLorean. Drivers as young as 10 reach speeds of up to 17 mph in a standard kart; racers 16 or older helm 24 mph sprint-karts; and drivers 18 or older take control of 28 mph super-karts. Wheels roll over hairpin turns, banked corners, straightaways, and opponents' rights to call themselves "Greased Lightning" as drivers dominate laps around the 5/8-mile track.
After a decade getting her hands dirty with clay, artist Donna Schreiter swung open the doors of The Painted Pot in 2001, determined to bring the art of ceramic creation to all ages and skill levels. Inside the open studio, adults, kids, and families dabble raw bisques with glaze-soaked sponges, assemble mosaic works, and shape wet clay on spinning wheels. Kids' classes guide little hands to shape and paint their own pieces, and grown-ups-only evenings throw in margaritas for sipping and instructions for weaving baskets out of old utilities bills.
The clatter of pins and rumble of bowling balls echoes across 32 gleaming rollways at St. Charles Lanes, and mingles with the robust aromas of homemade pizzas from the snack bar. During glow-bowl sessions, the glossy alleys drape themselves in the same delightfully disorienting shades of neon that strobe lights flash just after the Supreme Court announces a ruling. Waves of free WiFi and light from the overhead electric-scoring machines cascade over live musicians, whom guests can emulate during karaoke every Friday night.