While I’ve traveled quite a bit, it isn’t until recently that I’ve been able to explore more of what Missouri has to offer. My 20s were filled with travels throughout the U.S., plus plenty of European travel where, naturally, I didn’t pay quite enough attention to how much it really cost. But being in my 30s, with an actual budget, real responsibilities and a couple of kids means that my travel is a little less worldly, but it doesn’t mean the desire is gone.
Since I still live for taking trips — planning them, researching them, going on them, and then planning the next one as soon as my suitcase is unpacked — I’ve been looking a lot more at places to explore in my own backyard, and Hermann was at the top of my list. When my mother’s 60th birthday rolled around this year, we decided to celebrate big (but a local-ish!) and a trip on the train to Hermann, the cute little German town in mid-Missouri along the river with a wealth of wineries, was just the ticket for the perfect girls’ weekend.
Traveling with 8 other women, we caught the train from Union Station on Saturday at 8:15 a.m. to Hermann. You can actually do the train just on a day trip if you want to arrive at noon and return to Kansas City the same day on the 5:25 p.m. train, but we stayed overnight and took the 5:25 p.m. train home on Sunday. It was the perfect amount of time in this cute river town — the Rhineland of Missouri!
You can certainly drive to Hermann, too. Amtrak tickets are about $90 roundtrip, and driving is a bit faster — 3 hours versus 4 by train. But we loved the idea of getting on a train and having fun together on the way down. All of the Hermann passengers were put on the same train car, and it was filled with birthday groups and bachelorette parties, which created a bit of a party atmosphere.
There is an abundance of accommodation options in Hermann — plenty of boutique hotel rooms and bed and breakfasts. The Hermann welcome catalog alone has two pages of accommodations, and I counted 119 places to stay in the booklet. We opted for a Vrbo that could comfortably house our whole group, the Historic District Inn, which was only a block from the train station and had a great backyard for our morning coffee.
The historic downtown area of Hermann is about 10 blocks, so it’s easily walkable. We spent our first day perusing the local shops between lunch and dinner.
A few of us love antiquing, so we hit a few of the antique shops on the main drag. I really enjoyed Antiques Unlimited, which I thought was priced very well, and even bought a painting that was definitely a little annoying to bring on the train — but worth it, in my opinion! Maybe next time I’ll drive to accommodate more antique shopping.
Our group of women had fun exploring the boutiques in the historic district. We tried on hats at The Vine Boutique and shopped for jeans at Rachel’s Rustic Room & Boutique. I especially loved the snack selection at Fancy Pheasant, an upscale grocer that had definite Rose Apothecary vibes.
Frankly, we were in town more for drinks than we were for eating, but not seeking out food when you’re hopping around at a bunch of wineries is a recipe for disaster.
On Saturday, we had lunch at the Tin Mill Restaurant right after arriving on the train — a gorgeous tavern with German fare and killer sauerkraut. That night, we ordered 4th Street Pizza to take back to the Vrbo, and though the wait was long, it was worth it.
The next morning, we fed our hangover with donuts from Sugar & Spice and coffee from Stomp’n Grounds Espresso Bar — and it did the trick. And while we ate at some of the wineries in the afternoon, we made a stop at Doxie Slush before we loaded back on the train. They serve alcohol slushes, which definitely brought me back to my college days, but they also have a really surprising menu, with items like chowder poutine, pork belly fried rice, and peanut butter miso wings. It’s great hangover food, or just great regular food — it was one of my favorite places in Hermann.
There isn’t a ton of nightlife in Hermann — there are only a handful of bars. However, a lot of the distilleries and breweries have live music, like the Tin Mill Brewing Co. and the 1837 Cellar Bar, but they’re more for a chill patio hang during the day. We’re not much for the bar scene anyway, but there was one place we set our sights on — the eponymous Piano Bar. Apparently, so did everyone else, because the bar was too full to enter when we arrived at 9:15 p.m., so we waited it out around the corner at a dive bar called Loose Caboose Saloon. When we did finally get into The Piano Bar, we had a great time in the small space, shouting out favorite piano bar favorites until we were ready to turn in and start the next day with some wineries.
Wineries and Distilleries
Now for the reason we’re all here — the wineries. Exploring the wineries in Hermann is super easy (and safe!) if you hop on the trolley. What I really loved was that by taking the Amtrak to Hermann, walking the historic district, and taking the trolley to wineries, we absolutely never had to drive or worry about a designated driver, meaning we could all imbibe.
Tickets for the Hermann Trolley are $20 (cash only) and get you unlimited rides to all of the Hermann wineries for the whole day. They’ll even pick you up and drop you off at your accommodations. To get on, whether you’re getting on for the first ride or need to head to the next winery, you just call them and they’ll let you know how long until they get there. This way, we were able to visit all the wineries, and even a distillery or two. They’re all worth a visit (and it’s easy to hit them all), but I loved Hermannhof Winery the most — it’s very historic, and you can even tour the cellar while you’re there, plus they have a yummy deli and a lovely patio. I also loved the views at Oak Glenn Vineyards, the wine slushes at Adam Puchta Winery, and doing the whiskey flight at Black Shire Distillery Tasting Room.
When to Visit
We visited in March — just at the beginning of the tourist season when places were opening again, and we lucked out on some really nice weather. Spring is a great time to visit, and Hermann has a few festivals, such as Wurstfest in late March, or Maifest during the third weekend of May. You also can’t beat spending the fall along the river in Missouri, especially if you’re going during Oktoberfest, since it is a little German town, after all — but book accommodations early!