Last weekend I decided to take road trip to Kimmswick, Missouri. I saw a sign for the town a couple months ago when I was driving down to Taum Sauk Mountain but I brushed it off as a tourist trap. Then someone told me about a restaurant there that specializes in giant homemade pies. Sold, I thought.
Pulling up to Kimmswick kind of feels like showing up waaay early to a party. I got to town at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday and some of the shops were still closed. The streets were empty and the only people I saw were two old women sitting at a snow cone stand by the side of the road.
I was still charmed because the exteriors of the buildings were historic and bright. There’s also a peaceful, laid-back vibe that invites you to stroll around at your own pace.
I went into one store that was open to buy some local honey. Then the shop owner started pointing out everything else in the shop, describing where it came from and who made it. I ended up buying some strawberry rhubarb preserves from a local Amish farm. On my way out, the owner told me to come back soon. Even though I’m (mostly) used to this kind of friendliness again after moving back from the East Coast, sometimes it still surprises me.
After I browsed around town for a while, I went to the Blue Owl for lunch. The Blue Owl is known for its “levee high apple pie,” a pie with apples stacked inside so it forms a dome, and a layer of caramel on the outside to keep everything in place.
I ordered a turkey club for lunch and a slice of their strawberry rhubarb pie for dessert. The club sandwich was delicious but the real standout was the pie. The crust was buttery and flaky, the turbinado sugar on top was crunchy and sweet, and the strawberry rhubarb filling was tart and flavorful. Next time I visit Kimmswick, I’m going to get a whole pie to go because one slice isn’t enough.
My favorite thing to do in small towns like Kimmswick is go off the grid. That might freak some people out but to me, it’s the only way to get a sense of the town. The main street is usually filled with more touristy attractions.
I wandered over old Windsor Harbor Road Bridge and saw a woman pointing out the Mississippi River to her grandkids. “There it is,” she said, pointing to a triangle of brown water far off in the distance. I figured if I walked under the bridge and took a small road leading in that direction, eventually I’d find it.
After I passed some stables and a horse farm, I got to the river. I walked through the sand to get down to Hoppies Marina, a small dock that’s technically in Imperial, Missouri, but I’ll call it Kimmswick for the purposes of this blog post.
When I got to the dock, a couple was about to take their yacht out. They looked at me suspiciously but I pretended like I was waiting for someone on a picnic bench. After they left, I stretched out on the dock and read for a while. It was one of those situations where I wasn’t sure if I was allowed to be there, but I stayed anyway.
I watched birds flying over the water. They looked so free, gliding down, touching the water with their wings, and swooping up again. I could feel their joy and watching them made me happy.
If you’re in St. Louis or visiting and you’re looking for a quick day trip, I’d highly recommend Kimmswick. It oozes charm and basically has everything one needs, including pie, friendly locals, quirky shops, and law enforcement that lets people like me trespass on their docks and spend the day reading and sunbathing.