Christmas is a week away. With all the last minute stress all you really want for Christmas is a quick getaway.
Even though time is short there’s still time to getaway locally to recharge your holiday spirits. My recommendation: Grab a gingerbread getaway via an afternoon walkabout or a gingerbread house dinner and overnight escape.
Afternoon Gingerbread Walking Tours
Don’t have must time. Then pick a day and squeeze out a few hours take a trip across the Missouri or Mississippi Rivers to St Charles, Missouri or Bellville, Illinois.
St Charles Main Street Chapel’s Gingerbread Village (116 North Main Street) is now in its second year as a featured attraction during Historic St Charles Christmas Traditions. On display are 40 plus gingerbread houses, which were entries from its annual area gingerbread house contest. According to Main Street Chapel’s Gingerbread Contest Coordinator Jeff Breneman, making gingerbread houses is an intergenerational activity and can bring a community together.
“ The whole family can get together to build them,” said Breneman. “We felt the gingerbread house contest and gingerbread village display was a great way to involve families, contribute to the community and St. Charles’ Christmas Traditions.”
Main Street Chapel’s Gingerbread Village will be on display during festival hours throughout St Charles Historic Christmas Traditions, which runs through December 24.
Reflecting its century old German heritage, Bellville embraces the tradition of gingerbread houses. Belleville’s Annual Gingerbread House Contest and Gingerbread Walk has been a Main Street tradition sine 1990.
“ In the past we’ve had up to 80 gingerbread houses and creations that have been entered the contest. Not all the gingerbread is made into houses that’s why we call them creations,” said Anne Davis, spokesperson for Belleville’s annual Gingerbread Walk.
After Belleville’s contest is judged the gingerbread creations are distributed for placement in business storefront windows along both sides of Belleville’s Main Street until New years. Walk can stretch for six to eight blocks, depending on the number of creations. Bellville’s Main Street is also an opportunity to experience a little Christmas past of the 1950’s. The street is decorated mid-century retro-style accented with vintage electric holiday lights.
Gingerbread Dine-in and Sleep Over
If you’re searching for a little holiday R&R consider River City Casino and Hotel, home to one of the largest gingerbreads in the country. This marks the second year River City’s team of pastry chefs have constructed a life-size gingerbread house large to dine in.
“It took almost 400 pounds of gingerbread, 300 pounds of royal icing and 400 cookies to complete both houses,” said Executive Pastry Chef Stephen Schubert, whose architectural designs reflects the gingerbread houses he knew as a child in Germany. “We’ve even decorated the inside of the houses with little Christmas trees and lights.
Anyone can reserve the table inside the Gingerbread house for a $20 donation, which reserves a 45-minute dining slot. 100 percent of the donation goes to support the “Not So Silent Night” fundraiser for the Center for Hearing and Speech, an organization that provides hearing aids for children and seniors.
A special pre-fixed menu is offered along with the option of ordering from the Lewy Nine’s menu. Lewy Nine’s, located inside the River City Casino and Hotel’s atrium is where the gingerbread house stands. Gingerbread diners also have the opportunity to expand their experience by taking advantage of the gingerbread discount. To get the hotel discount just make your gingerbread house dinner reservation discount. Rooms are lavishly appointed with pillow-top mattresses, 42-inch HD TVs, WIFI, overhead rain showers and claw foot soaking tubs - perfect for melting holiday tension away. But don’t wait. Gingerbread House dining and gingerbread hotel discounts are only available until December 24.