Travel & Tourism
Triskaidekaphobia? Not in Missouri PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Travel & Tourism
Written by Stephen Foutes   
Thursday, 27 December 2012 14:51
Jefferson City, Mo. — Rejoice! It appears the Mayans were, well, all wet. The world did not come to an end Dec. 21. This big projectile we call earth continues its ride through the cosmos—into the future. But how bright can that future be, when the next year ends with 13? Isn’t 13, and thereby 2013, a bad omen and unlucky? That would be … no! 

Triskaidekaphobia does not apply here. In Missouri, 2013 is a time to celebrate and experience the ever-expanding universe of Missouri’s attractions. Although there are tens, if not hundreds of thousands of interesting, fun activities and events in Missouri, we want to introduce you to a sampling of new attractions and events designed to entertain visitors in the Show-Me State.

That in mind, we present (in no particular order): 13 New and Exciting Things to Do in 2013.

Dinosaurs Alive!
A huge predator has taken residence at Worlds of Fun in Kansas City. This gigantic creature, identified as a Tyrannosaurus rex, is part of Dinosaurs Alive!, a multi-sensory, interactive dinosaur park.

The adventure is in a two-acre forested setting, featuring more than 35 life-sized dinosaurs, including the world's largest animatronics dinosaur, the Ruyangosaurus, which stands nearly 40 feet tall and is 72 feet long.

Visitors learn when and where these prehistoric creatures lived, how they protected themselves, and how they adapted to the world between 65 and 245 million years ago. Note: Worlds of Fun and Oceans of Fun are combined in 2013, so one admission ticket gives you access to both parks. An additional $5 ticket is required for Dinosaurs Alive.

Two noteworthy exhibitions open in 2013 at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City.
Journey Through Mountains and Rivers: Chinese Landscapes Ancient and Modern (Feb. 8-April 28, 2013) juxtaposes thousand-year-old Chinese landscape paintings in a dialogue with the monumental landscapes of the contemporary Chinese artist Xu Longsen, ranging from small fan-shaped paintings to a gigantic horizontal scroll.

Frida Kahlo, Diego Revera and the Art of Modern Mexico, from the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection, (May 25-Aug. 18, 2013) displays the passion two Eastern European immigrants felt for their adopted homeland and its extraordinary art.

The exhibit is composed of more than 100 paintings, sculptures, photographs, and art on paper ranging from the figurative to the surreal, the abstract, and the conceptual. With art dating from the 1910s through 2005, visitors experience an exceptional private collection that not only highlights the rich and vibrant artistic traditions of the Mexico of yesterday, but also underscores how those traditions remain inventive and vital today.

Saint Louis Art Museum Expansion
Near the end of June 2013, the new, $150 million, East Building of the Saint Louis Art Museum will open its doors, adding more than 200,000 square feet of space to one of the top attractions in St. Louis.

The East Building provides galleries, public amenities, a cafe, and a 300-car, below-grade parking garage. The expansion has a fully-accessible entrance on Fine Arts Drive, designed to relieve traffic congestion and improve safety.

The museum is adjacent to the St. Louis Zoo, in Forest Park. Admission is free.

St. Louis Science Center Flight Simulator
The St. Louis Science Center is one of the top 10 science centers in the U.S.; top 15 in the world. The new flight simulator ($5) offers high-tech, 3D technology, giving guests a five-minute, exhilarating “flight.”

The first of three to be installed is the eight-seat Morphis ESP, which provides four scenarios: F18 Hornet, with a carrier takeoff and landing; Solar Coaster, a fantasy ride through the solar system; Riding the Wind, an introduction to weather, with an intense ride through a tornado; and Bermuda Triangle, offering an underwater excursion to search for missing planes and ships off the coast of Andros Island. General admission to the Science Center is free; there is a fee for some special activities.

Daniel Boone Monument Village
In the community of Marthasville, located on the Katy Trail, at the Daniel Boone Monument Village, visitors may tour the 200-year-old farm, two log cabins, and school house where Daniel and Rebecca Boone once walked.

The property includes the Bryan log cabin, built in 1799; the Dickhaus-Stemme home, built in the 1860s; the Mellien log cabin; and the 1850s Devereaux schoolhouse. The village offers tours, school field trips, dinner programs, living-history demonstrations, workshops, encampments, and other events.

Call 636-359-6175 for information.

Discover the Children of Titanic
Learn the stories of the 133 children aboard the Titanic. Discover the Children of Titanic–the first and only world tribute to Titanic’s littlest heroes–is a new gallery aboard the Titanic Museum Attraction in Branson.

What the children saw, heard and felt from the moment they boarded the ship has been documented and visualized for the first time anywhere. This year-long exhibit, running Jan. 18 thru year’s end, is a celebration of those children, whose bravery, innocence and faith should be an inspiration to us all.

Please note the Titanic Museum Attraction does not allow cameras or video inside.

Harry S. Truman Courtroom and Office
In July 2013, the historic Truman Courthouse, located on Independence Square, will re-open after undergoing a major, multimillion-dollar renovation.

The iconic Courthouse includes the circa 1930s Truman Courtroom, the Brady Courtroom, the George Caleb Bingham art gallery, and the Jackson County Historical Society artifacts gallery.

Also, the building will house the Independence Tourism Department, as well as a Welcome Center.

Big Shoal Heritage Area
Scheduled to open in the spring, the Big Shoal Heritage Area in Gladstone includes the Atkins-Johnson Farm and Museum, as well as the Big Shoal Historic Cemetery. The area was the jumping-off point near the edge of what was considered “civilized country.”

Atkins-Johnson Farm and Museum, originally a two-story log cabin, built in 1834, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The museum displays period artifacts. A heritage garden gives visitors a feeling for the amount of labor it took to meet basic food needs.

Big Shoal Historic Cemetery was established in 1824; it is the final resting place for veterans from the Blackhawk Indian Wars, the War of 1812, and the Civil War. A self-guided tour provides an explanation of markers within the cemetery.

Two new, extremely exciting roller coasters begin thrilling brave riders in Missouri for 2013. Both are unlike anything found before in Missouri, and each offers a different experience.

Outlaw Run — Silver Dollar City

This spring, Outlaw Run, the world’s most daring wood roller coaster, zooms through Silver Dollar City theme park in Branson.

What’s so special about Outlaw Run? The ride includes the steepest drop for a wood coaster anywhere on earth (162 feet almost straight down—81 degrees); it includes a double barrel-roll, making it the only wood coaster in the world to get you upside-down; and, reaching a top speed of 68 mph, it is the second fastest wood roller coaster on the planet.

Boomerang — Six Flags St. Louis

At Six Flags, Boomerang is a gravity-defying, nerve-racking, stomach-crunching steel roller coaster that rockets you through a combination of sensations.

First, Boomerang slowly pulls you backward, 125-feet into the air; after a short pause, you are released to rocket along 1,650-feet of twisting steel track, at speeds reaching 50 mph, through a half loop, a right half-corkscrew, a left half-corkscrew, another half loop, and a full loop before climbing a second hill, where you pause in mid-air before reversing the trip, full circle — backwards.

Isle Casino
The new Isle Casino, in downtown Cape Girardeau, contains 42,000 square feet of gaming space and five restaurants – all overlooking the mighty Mississippi River. It opened in late 2012, so 2013 marks its first full year in operation.

The on-site event center offers nearly 6,324 square feet of space. The casino is open 24 hours daily, except Wednesdays, when it is closed 5 a.m.-6 a.m. There is free live entertainment at The Lone Wolf restaurant and lounge every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night.

Apple Creek Vineyard and Winery
Opened November 2012, Apple Creek Vineyard and Winery, in Friedheim, affords visitors pleasant views of Apple Creek, showcasing each season. Apple Creek’s arrival on the Missouri winery scene brings the state’s total to 118 wineries!

Relax and enjoy a glass or bottle of the estate-bottled wines in the spacious tasting room, on the wrap-around deck, and under the trees along the creek.

The Creek Bank Cafe serves appetizers and fresh-made pizzas. Small weddings and other private events are welcome. Open Thursday thru Sunday (hours vary); other days by appointment.

This is by no means a complete list of what’s new in Missouri in 2013; it is intended merely to convey the scope of new and exciting things to do in Missouri.

About the Missouri Division of Tourism
The Missouri Division of Tourism (MDT) is the official tourism office for the state of Missouri dedicated to marketing Missouri as a premier travel destination. Established in 1967, the Missouri Division of Tourism has worked hard to develop the tourism industry in Missouri to what it is today, an $11.2 billion industry supporting more than 279,000 jobs and generating $627 million in state taxes in Fiscal Year 2011. For every dollar spent on marketing Missouri as a travel destination in FY11, $57.76 was returned in visitor expenditures. For more information on Missouri tourism, go to

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Governor Quinn Praises Federal Approval That Clears the Way for High-Speed Rail PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Travel & Tourism
Written by Erin Wilson   
Wednesday, 19 December 2012 08:24

Federal Railroad Administration Issues Decision to Allow Full Build-out of Chicago-St. Louis High Speed Rail; Includes 10th Street Corridor in Springfield


CHICAGO – December 18, 2012. Governor Pat Quinn today praised action by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) that clears the way for the full build-out of the Chicago-St. Louis high-speed rail corridor, including a consolidated route along 10th Street in Springfield. The FRA today issued a Record of Decision that provides final environmental approval and positions the project for future federal funding that will create thousands of jobs and lead to improved passenger rail speeds, frequencies and reliability.

“Today’s historic decision means Illinois will continue to lead the Midwest in the implementation of high-speed rail and 21st century transportation infrastructure,” Governor Quinn said. “The decision shows that Illinois is a national model for how states and local municipalities can collaborate with the federal government and private rail partners to upgrade our transportation network, protect our environment and lay the groundwork for long-term job creation and economic prosperity. This achievement would not have been possible without the close cooperation and leadership of Senator Dick Durbin and U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.”

“Three years ago, we arranged a meeting with federal, state and local officials in Springfield to identify a path forward on rail consolidation. Today’s decision is the culmination of that effort,” said U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL).  “Tenth Street is the right decision for Springfield residents and Illinois travelers.  I will continue working with Mayor Houston, Chairman Van Meter, Governor Quinn and the Department of Transportation to make certain our effort progresses.”

In addition to selecting the consolidated route along 10th Street in Springfield, the FRA selected the Rock Island Corridor as the most efficient route between Joliet and Chicago. The decision will lead to new trains and improved frequencies, which will help improve on-time performance and will ultimately reduce travel time between Chicago and St. Louis to less than four hours. The decision concurs with the recommendations included in the Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that was submitted to FRA in November.

Through the leadership of Senator Durbin and Governor Quinn, Illinois has received more than $1.4 billion in federal funding to develop high-speed service between Chicago and St. Louis, which is expected to reduce travel times between the two cities and create about 6,200 direct and indirect jobs. The governor’s Illinois Jobs Now! capital program has contributed $42 million toward construction. The first trains traveling at 110 mph made their successful debut on a stretch between Dwight and Pontiac during a demonstration run in October and began service for daily passengers Thanksgiving week. The project will deliver 110 mile per hour rail service between Dwight and Alton by 2015 and between Dwight and Joliet by 2017.

The FRA’s Record of Decision is the final step that permits future high-speed rail design and construction work to begin once funding is available. The full build-out is estimated to carry a price tag of approximately $5 billion.

“IDOT is thrilled with this decision which marks a major milestone in our efforts to create a more modern and efficient transportation system for Illinois,” Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann L. Schneider said. “This achievement would not have been possible without close cooperation involving state and local governments, along with our federal and private rail partners.”

“We have persevered though many long meetings, discussions and studies and have successfully convinced the federal government that the 10th street approach is clearly the best approach with the least detrimental impact on the city. It is the best solution we could have hoped for with the new high-speed rail system,” Springfield Mayor Mike Houston said. “I am proud to have championed this effort which saves the city from a Third Street solution that will have torn the city apart. Springfield is now positioned to lobby for hundreds of millions of dollars in infrastructure money from the federal government, and Springfield’s residents, local businesses and workforce will be major beneficiaries of those funds.”

“This is an incredibly significant day, as we move closer to the long held community goal of rail consolidation,” Sangamon County Board Chairman Andy Van Meter said. “I want to thank our state and federal officials, including Senator Dick Durbin, Governor Pat Quinn and IDOT Secretary Ann Schneider, for making this study a top priority, and for diligently working in the best interests of the public safety and economic development of our community. With the recommendation of the 10th Street corridor now official, I look forward to continuing to work with state and federal officials so that we can secure the funding to make this recommendation a reality.”

The issuance of environmental approval through a Record of Decision is required under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for federal projects that might significantly affect the environment. The EIS is required to complete the full build-out of the project, including double-tracking and route improvements between Joliet and Chicago, through the city of Springfield and from Alton to St. Louis.

The Record of Decision focuses on double-tracking the entire line, as well as 10th Street as the choice for carrying high-speed trains through Springfield. The decision also confirms that the preferred corridor for the Chicago-Joliet route is the Rock Island Corridor (RIC) instead of the existing Heritage Corridor. The estimated $1 billion cost for upgrading the RIC is $500 million less than for the Heritage, mainly because fewer grade separations would be needed.


Christmas Spirit Glows in Hermann Rectory PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Travel & Tourism
Written by Tom Uhlenbrock   
Tuesday, 18 December 2012 13:41
Hermann, Mo. — If there was an award for Christmas decorations inside a home, Father Bill’s residence would win hands-down.

The Rev. William Debo lives in the rectory adjoining Hermann's St. George Catholic Church, whose bell tower stands high above this quaint river town in the hills of the Missouri River Valley. Every Christmas, the 21 rooms inside the three-story red brick building are decorated, top to bottom, in a prodigious labor of love by a group of dedicated town residents.

“Everybody says, when they come here, that it’s the best they’ve ever seen,” Father Bill said.

There are no prancing reindeer, no animated Santas, no overbearing music. Each decoration is carefully planned, and artfully executed. The visitors who go through on tours are overwhelmed by twinkling lights, pine boughs and trees, and vintage ornaments, carolers and manger scenes. There are 31 trees, 7-foot or taller, this year.

“We started decorating in mid-October with a core group of about 20 volunteers,” Father Bill said. “Numerous people pop in and out, people in the community who know we need help. We opened Saturday, Dec. 1. Since then, there have been bus tours kind of non-stop.”

The tours are free, but donations are welcomed. The event raised some $10,000 last year; money was distributed to the needy by Hermann-area churches. Tours are by appointment; call 573-486-2723.

The Franciscan Friars served St. George Parish until 2002, when Father Bill was appointed the first diocesan priest for the parish. He brought with him his art degree and Christmas spirit. This is his 10th year decorating the rectory.

“A representative of the Chamber of Commerce wanted us to be on the house tour, but I was afraid they weren’t going to get enough bang for the buck,” Father Bill said. “She stood in the foyer here and said, ‘I assure you, there’s more in this room than we’ll see in all the other houses combined.’”

Carrying J.P., his white Maltese, Father Bill began a tour of the home in the parlor.

“This is the Victorian tree that started all the madness,” he said. “These are hand-dried flowers out of my garden, vintage ornaments, hand-strung beads. I hand-dipped the lights to get that shade of pink.”

Several of the decorated rooms have themes. The dining room is all white and silver, with poinsettias, a tiered cake and seven donated dresses on forms, representing a vintage wedding. There is a Mardi Gras room with masks, beads and clowns; a Wizard of Oz room with Father Bill’s collection of memorabilia; and a military room decorated with uniforms, helmets, medals and photos of soldiers, young and old.

“Every year we get more photos and uniforms,” Father Bill said. “People want to memorialize their friends and family.”

The attic is Santa’s workshop, with a seated Mr. and Mrs. Claus taking a well-deserved rest. The basement wine cellar is decorated for the first time; tiny white lights and pine boughs hang from the pipes and rafters. Hermann is in Missouri’s wine country, and the wine racks are full of local vintages received as gifts.

“We’ll leave it all up until mid-January,” Father Bill said. “We take our time taking it down.”

Tom Uhlenbrock is a staff writer for the Missouri Division of Tourism.

About the Missouri Division of Tourism
The Missouri Division of Tourism (MDT) is the official tourism office for the state of Missouri dedicated to marketing Missouri as a premier travel destination. Established in 1967, the Missouri Division of Tourism has worked hard to develop the tourism industry in Missouri to what it is today, an $11.2 billion industry supporting more than 279,000 jobs and generating $627 million in state taxes in Fiscal Year 2011. For every dollar spent on marketing Missouri as a travel destination in FY11, $57.76 was returned in visitor expenditures. For more information on Missouri tourism, go to

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“The Loop Runs Special Hours on New Year's Eve” PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Travel & Tourism
Written by Becky Passman   
Tuesday, 18 December 2012 13:32

The Loop riverfront circulator will operate special hours on Monday, December 31 to accommodate New Year's Eve festivities.  The service will run its regular route beginning at 6PM and will end with the last stop in Bettendorf  at 2:45AM.  Four buses will be in operation that evening -- two traveling in a clockwise direction and two running the route in a counter-clockwise direction each hour -- giving riders more frequent service and increased capacity for the busy night.

The Loop riverfront circulator gives riders easy access to downtown attractions in Bettendorf, the Village of East Davenport, Davenport, The District in Rock Island, and Moline.  It is a safe and enjoyable way to travel among popular venues and enjoy local festivities.  The brightly colored orange retro-style buses – with stadium seating, huge windows, full glass ceilings, and friendly drivers –  are easy to spot and comfortable to ride.  Buses may be boarded either at a designated "Loop Stop" or by flagging the bus down in "The Loop Zone", which is anywhere along the route in the downtown areas.  Please note that all downtown hotels are on The Loop route, making it extra easy to bring in the New Year safely.

Cost: $1 per trip or $3 for a day-pass, 50 cents for those over 60, the disabled and those with a Medicare card.  Additional information about The Loop bus service, including downloadable .pdf's of the New Year's Eve schedule and The 2012-2013 Loop Rider's Guide, may be found at


2013 Brings New Sights, Sounds and Events to St. Louis PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Travel & Tourism
Written by Donna Andrews   
Monday, 17 December 2012 15:11

ST. LOUIS -- December 14, 2012 -- Here’s a New Year’s resolution that’s fun to keep: resolve to visit St. Louis to enjoy what’s new in 2013.

Each year brings big surprises to the St. Louis scene. During Lucky ’13, visitors can experience new sights, sounds and events at some of the Gateway City’s famed attractions.

Greet 2013 by saying buh-bye to 2012 at the artsy, family fun celebration called “First Night® Saint Louis.” This year’s theme, “A Traveling Circus,” brings acrobats, clowns and jugglers to entertain revelers in St. Louis’ Grand Center arts and entertainment district. The creative fete rings in the New Year on Monday, December 31 from 6 pm to midnight. Revelers of all ages can take in 60 performances at more than 12 venues, two free fantastic firework displays and free outdoor shows throughout the evening. Admission on site is $12 for adults and $6 for kids. Discount admission is available in advance for $10 and $5 at

The Gateway City’s nightspots and hotels host spectacular New Year’s Eve parties to greet 2K13. They’re going to party like it’s 1929 at the Fountain on Locust. The Art Deco-style dining and luxe dessert establishment presents a Speakeasy Spectacular and Prohibition Bootleggers’ Ball. An over-the-top soiree, complete with an extravagant laser light show, lights up Three Sixty. Located atop the St. Louis Hilton at the Ballpark, the sky-high venue features spectacular 360-degree views of Downtown St. Louis and was named one of the Top Ten Rooftop Bars in the World. You’ll be “Puttin’ on the Ritz” by dancing in the New Year at the Lobby Lounge party at the Ritz-Carlton, St. Louis. For information about these events and special New Year’s hotel packages throughout St. Louis, click on the St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission’s website at

St. Louis’ Forest Park is always a “go to” location for visitors and will have even more to offer in 2013. The New Year brings an expansion to the Saint Louis Art Museum, new habitats at the Saint Louis Zoo, and popular outdoor theatre offerings.

See more of the world-class collection at the Saint Louis Art Museum when its highly anticipated expansion opens with a two-day-long festival on June 29 and 30, 2013. New galleries, an underground parking facility, a café and restaurant are just the beginning of the 200,000 square foot addition. The $162 million project means visitors will now be able to view more works from the museum’s collection that places it among the top 10 comprehensive art museums in the nation. Founded in 1879, the museum’s existing building was designed by architect Cass Gilbert and used as the Fine Arts Palace for the 1904 World’s Fair. Admission to the Saint Louis Art Museum is always free.

Also in Forest Park, you can now come face-to-face with some of the Saint Louis Zoo’s most popular animal residents. Visitors can’t get enough of the newest wet and wild exhibit, Sea Lion Sound. Rising over the central hub of the zoo in Forest Park, the 1.5-acre, $18 million habitat includes a 35-foot-long underwater viewing tunnel -- the first in North America -- where visitors will see the animals swimming around them. Marine mammal residents include 11 California sea lions and four harbor seals. An 811-seat arena offers shows where the marine mammals will display their natural swimming, diving, balancing and sliding behaviors daily during the summer and in weekend shows in the spring and fall. Daily sea lion feedings and keeper chats also get visitors close to the sleek and powerful animals. Admission to the Saint Louis Zoo is always free.

Spotlights shine in Forest Park when The Muny, the nation's largest outdoor theatre, kicks off its 95th summer season in 2013. The seven musicals, four of which are Muny premiere, included Les Misérables, Mary Poppins, Nunsense, Shrek—The Musical, South Pacific, Monty Python's Spamalot and West Side Story. The massive park also is home to the Shakespeare Festival St. Louis which brings the comedy Twelfth Night to life this May 24 through June 16.  Free performances are held nightly, except Tuesdays, in Shakespeare Glen near the Saint Louis Art Museum.

During 2013, thrill seekers will pilgrimage to Six Flags St. Louis, a Mecca for Midwest rollercoasters, for the inaugural season of Boomerang.  The new, 125-feet-tall steel coaster will have brave riders twist, turn and shout during a 50 miles-per-hour, heart-pounding ride along 1,650 feet of twisting, corkscrew, looping track.  Boomerang is the ninth coaster at Six Flags St. Louis which is home to more roller coasters than any other theme park in Missouri.

The Magic School Bus® rolls into The Magic House, St. Louis Children’s Museum and parks its Kicks Up A Storm exhibit there from February 9 through May 27, 2013. This electrifying exhibit features three interactive and hands-on Magic School Bus environments, in which parents and children will have a great time learning about different types of weather and weather prediction. Visitors will get an in-depth and behind the scenes look at scientific weather measurements, weather tools, maps, graphs and the various natural indicators we can use to understand and predict weather patterns.

For details on these events and everything that’s happening in St. Louis during 2013, check out the detailed Calendar of Events at the St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission’s user-friendly website at


Follow St. Louis on Twitter and Facebook for all the latest information on what's happening in the Gateway City.;


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