With the holidays fast approaching, any outing just naturally has to do with one of three things:
1) Buying gifts.
2) Getting together with friends and family.
3) Getting away from friends, family and gift-buying for a few hours to restore sanity.

With the holidays fast approaching, any outing just naturally has to do with one of three things:
1) Buying gifts.
2) Getting together with friends and family.
3) Getting away from friends, family and gift-buying for a few hours to restore sanity.
This issue we offer a solution to all three.
In honor of the season, we have a garland of suggestions — a circle of five small towns in central Missouri – plus one more that is too much fun to leave out. All of these communities have delicious places to eat and quaint shops, but if you go, you won’t run into yourself coming and going.
And take note: what follows are just a smattering of suggestions. Every community has many more places to shop and eat than we can list.
From Bolivar to Salem and St. James, from Jefferson City to Warsaw, here are our suggestions for holiday season day trips. We finish up with a bit about St. Charles. It’s 100 miles from here, but this historic community does Christmas so well we couldn’t leave it out.
Take a day off, enjoy the drive, the small town ambiance, and let us know how you fare!
Happy Holidays!

Known as the City of Trees, St. James is also the Ozarks’ City of Wine. This time of year the wineries are all open and many have wonderful gift shops. It is also home of the Vacuum Cleaner Museum (3 Industrial Drive). Maramec Spring Park contains one of the largest natural springs in Missouri.

Events not to miss
Dec. 7, 5 p.m.
Christmas parade.

St. James Winery (www.stjameswinery.com), Meramec Winery (www.meramecvineyards.com) and 3 Squirrels Winery (www.threesquirrelswinery.com) all have enticing shops, besides wine and wine-related items on sale.
Sybill’s St. James has an astounding gift shop, especially for grandparents’ shopping. 1100 N. Jefferson, www.sybills.com
Kracker Barrel Antiques offers a wide variety, from collectible to high-priced antiques, 108 N. Jefferson
Leo Cardetti’s Flags & Flagpoles: Unique in the central Ozarks. Has a wide collection of Christmas and holiday flags, plus every other kind. 210 N. Jefferson, www.leocardettisflags.com

Sybill’s is a wonderful get away place to have a more formal luncheon or dinner than is typical in this part of the world. 1100 N. Jefferson, www.sybills.com. Closed Sunday and Monday.
Country Bob’s Café, 1202 N. Jefferson
The Country Café, 17875 Hwy. 8

Known as a center for hikers, campers and Ozark preservationists, Salem is also an arts center, which makes it a great Christmas town.

Events not to miss
Nov. 25-Dec. 24, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday
Trees and Trains Exhibit at the Ozark Natural and Cultural Resource Center. Dozens of sparkling trees decorated by individuals, businesses and organizations. Model railroad settings are included to demonstrate the magic created in 1901 when Joshua Lionel Cowen put a moving model train in the window of J.L. Hudson department store in New York City. For more info: www.oncrc.org or 573-729-0029

Dent County Arts and Crafts Guild Fall/Holiday Show: Multiple crafts made in Missouri. Free. 573-453-2259

Dec. 6, 5-8 p.m., and Dec. 7, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
Spring Creek Artisans Christmas Fest: Shop for handcrafted gifts, seasonal decorations and enjoy hot cider, coffee and cookies.

Gateway to Memories and More: Booths with a variety of treasures, new and old, 403 W. Fourth St.
Designing Ideas Florist and Gifts, 112 W. Fourth St.
US Foods Outlet: A variety of unusual food items and paper goods, 1203 E. Hwy. 32
Fleming’s Variety: An old-time nostalgic variety store dating from 1932, 114 W. Fourth St.
Ken Fieblman’s Antiques & Ozark Heritage Center: History and antiques, 701 S. Main
ONCRC (Ozark Natural and Cultural Resource Center) trees and trains exhibit plus many craft items for sale, 202 South Main Street, www.oncrc.org

Huckleberry’s Diner, 300 W. 3rd St.
Main Street Café, 509 N. Main St.
Red Barn Barbecue, 204 W. 4th St.
Common Grounds Bistro, 300 B. South Main St.
Scoops Central: Ice cream and other treats, 2236 South Main St., at the Crossroads Center.

Officially founded in November 1835, Bolivar was a stop on the Overland Stage route. Tums were invented in Bolivar, and when he was president, Harry S Truman visited the city with Venezuelan President Romulo Galleges to dedicate a statue of South American liberator Simon Bolivar.  
A typical 19th century town with a courthouse square, it’s also home to Southwest Baptist University, and the Dunnegan Gallery, which displays regional and national artists. The gallery is open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, from 1-4 p.m. through Dec. 13. (www.dunnegangallery.org).

Events not to miss
Nov. 29-Dec. 27
Light the Park: Dunnegan Park is decorated with Christmas displays and lights provided by local businesses. Free.
Dec. 8, 6 p.m.
Southwest Baptist University hosts the annual Festival of Christmas in the Pike Auditorium on the SBU Campus. Lots of great music from the community, the Bolivar Schools and SBU, along with a great message from a local minister (www.sbuniv.edu).

Dec. 14, 2 p.m.
Christmas parade.
Downtown on the square:
Fired Up Pottery and Art
The Printed Page Bookstore
The Lily Pad Boutique, children’s and women’s clothing.
The Country Hearth and Tea Garden Café, gift shop and delicious tea room
Miller’s Jewelry.

The Bean: A coffee shop on the square.
The Country Hearth and Tea Garden Café: A local favorite on the square.
Brenda’s Café: Breakfast and brunch. 115 W. Broadway
Kathy’s Pasta: Homemade Italian dishes. 329 S. Main
Boone’s BBQ: In a big red barn. 5260 Scenic Ave.
The Main Street Mediterranean Restaurant: The Turkish owner offers a variety of cuisines, from falafel to baklava. 107 N. Main

Our state Capitol really dresses up for the holidays, and the community isn’t far behind. If you haven’t been inside the capitol to see the Thomas Hart Benton murals, visit the state history museum, or just gawk at the lovely architecture, give yourself an hour or two and visit the stately building that belongs to all Missourians. If you’re just going for the shopping and eating, see below or for more about what’s happening go to www.visitjeffersoncity.com/event-calendar/december/

Events not to miss
Dec. 5, 6 p.m.
Christmas tree lighting with refreshments, entertainment and a visit from Santa. Rotary Park on Bolivar St. Free. 573-632-2820

Dec. 6   
Living Windows, downtown. This 20-year tradition is wonderful fun. Storefronts and windows throughout downtown are alive with dancers, singers, religious and holiday themes. Carolers, hay rides and Santa Claus are also part of the party.

Dec. 6, 6:30-9 p.m. and Dec. 7, 2-4 p.m.
Candlelight tours of the Missouri Governor’s Mansion. Meet the governor and his wife and tour the decorated mansion.

Dec. 7, 4:30 p.m.
Christmas parade.

Dec. 10, 7-10 p.m.
Caroling at the Capitol. Missouri State Capitol Rotunda. Free. 573-632-2820

Carrie’s Hallmark (117 East High St.) and Southbank Gift Company (110 E. High St.) both have good selections of unique items for people of all ages.
Downtown Book & Toy, 125 E. High Street, www.bookandtoy.net
The Art Bazaar: Clay and sculpture, fiber and wearable art, two dimensional art, metal, mixed media, wood and photography by local and regional artists. 114 E. High St., www.theartbazaar.org

Capitol City Cork & Provisions
Grand Café
Madison’s Café: A longtime favorite
Arris Pizza: Part of the family owned mid-Missouri chain that also has a place in Osage Beach.   

Warsaw is always a fun place to visit and never more so than during the holidays. It’s an eclectic place with an art gallery, a pottery, a woodworker and an art glass supply and homemade fudge shop.
Lights are a big thing during the holidays at Warsaw. They are all over the downtown buildings, at the harbor, and on the swinging bridge.

Events not to miss
Dec. 6-7
Kaysinger Christmas: The Kaysinger Bluff Heritage Association is celebrating a 19th century Christmas with hay wagons, carols, hot chocolate, luminaries and a newly refurbished General (Christmas) Store. Call 660-438-6968 or check out Warsaw Heritage Days by Kaysinger Bluff Pioneer Heritage Assoc. on Facebook

Dec. 7
Warsaw Lighting Ceremony (downtown and the harbor), Christmas tree lighting, Christmas parade and Santa Day. Many shops will stay open until 8 p.m. on this festive day.

Salt Box Primitive Woolens: Handcrafted rugs and materials for rug making. www.saltboxprimitivewoolens.com
The Woodshed: Handcrafted red cedar furniture and novelties from coasters to shingle art to bird houses, 13913 Hwy. 7 N, www.ozarkwoodshed.com
Kaysinger Bluff Visitor’s Center (Harry S. Truman visitors Center at Kaysinger bluff) is a history museum with a spectacular view of the Osage River and Truman Lake, and a historic village with a brand new General Store ready for Christmas, 29027 Visitor Center Road, 660-438-7371, www.welcometowarsaw.com  
The Pig’s Tale: Antiques and gifts, 303 Seminary
The Persimmon Tree: Antiques, 20224 Benton House Avenue
Wooden Wagon: Bedding and linens, 242 West Main St.

Common Ground Café, 145 Main St.
Hummingbird Tea Room, 245 West Main St.
Smoke Shack BBQ, 1601 E. Main
Cow Patties, 604 E. Main St.

Missouri’s first state capital revels in its history and at no time of year is that more fun than during the holidays.

Events not to miss
Nov. 29-Dec. 24, noon-5 p.m. plus Sunday, Wednesday and Friday evenings
Christmas Traditions Festival along Historic Main Street includes victorian carolers, fife and drum corps, carriage rides, wonderful shopping and eating. www.historicstcharles.com

Is everywhere: Historic Main Street includes a wide variety of art, antiques, collectibles, stained glass, clothing, seasonings and other shops. Late-night shopping and dining during the Christmas Traditions Festival.
Just a few blocks further north along the Missouri River is the Frenchtown District, where antiques are the treasures offered.

The Historic Main Street area offers a variety of eating opportunities from French and German to Greek, Irish pubs, Italian and American classics.