Whether you are looking for history, culture, nature or a “Gone Girl,” Cape Girardeau offers a variety of attractions for visitors. We participated in a couple of driving tours, as well as visiting attractions over a three-day visit.
The Civil War driving tour was interesting. The visitors bureau can provide a map highlighting key points to check out during the tour.
It all starts on the riverfront, with a view of the Mississippi River and the Missouri Wall of Fame and River Tales. The city proactively participated in an art project by having several murals painted on the flood walls. The paintings depict key historical events, as well as highlighting The Show Me State’s famous citizens.
One attraction on the Civil War tour that we found interesting was the Old Lorimier Cemetery. Several historical figures for Cape Girardeau are buried here, including the Lorimiers, who helped found the city. Civil War officers and key figures are buried here as well.
The cemetery is definitely old, and the ambience can give even the strong of heart a skipped beat or two. I can see this as a place to visit at night or during Halloween season.
The tour has markers at key spots, including the site of the Battle of Cape Girardeau, as well as two of the four forts built.
Fort D actually stands on a bluff overlooking the river. It’s really a replica of the original fort, which was only a few feet away. The current Fort D was built during the Depression as part of the Works Project Administration employment stimulus projects.
Fort D is home to Civil War re-enactments a few times each year. We were fortunate to visit with a couple of the reenactors.
Moving along, Cape Girardeau is home to the Lazy L Safari Park. This is a combination petting zoo and zoo. The small park is located on the northern edge of town.
You can feed several of the animals – from goats to giraffes. A large python welcomes visitors to the barn. I have a strong fear of snakes, so it took some coaxing from Lisa for me to continue our visit in the barn. The barn was home to a few babies – bison, cow, and some deer.
The park has a fun exhibit – Parakeet Jungle. You enter this small aviary and get up close to the birds. You can buy snack sticks for the birds. Once comfortable with you, they will actually fly on to your hand or fingers to eat the treats.
Another interesting spot to visit is the Riverfront Park. This park has a nice walking near the Mississippi River. It also is home to the old bridge monument. An overlook allows people to get a view of the river and the replacement bridge – the Emerson Memorial Bridge. Across the river lies Illinois.
Nearby is the downtown Sculpture Walk. This attraction is in its first year in the city. It is a nice walk along Broadway Street. The Sculpture Walk is about 7 blocks long and features some nice artwork. The sculptures intertwine with the exiting artwork in the area – wall murals on businesses. The newspaper office features two media-related murals made from tile. They were awesome to view.
The artwork walk also allows people to check out the architecture of the area. Downtown Cape has some older buildings in the region.
An attraction that was close to my heart was the Trail of Tears State Park. An area of this park was a part of the Trail of Tears – the forced move of several southeastern Native American tribes to “Indian Territory.” This was mainly Oklahoma.
Thousands of Cherokee made their way through the Cape area. However, during one winter, a few thousand were stranded without food, water or clothing. Several people became ill.
The sister of a Cherokee minister died in the present-day park. Her remains are still in the park. However, any identifying markers of her grave were removed long ago to prevent grave robbers from digging up the body. A memorial stands honoring her at what people thought was her burial site.
In addition to the historical significance, the park offers people camping, fishing, hiking and other recreational activities.
The park is home to a great overlook of the Mississippi River. It stands high on a bluff. You can see for mile and miles. It was a beautiful day to visit.
A new attraction the visitors bureau offers is the “Gone Girl” driving tour. The tour features area locations used in the filming of the movie “Gone Girl.” The movie, based on the book of the same name, was filmed on location in and around Cape Girardeau. I have been ordered by Lisa and our daughters not to blurt out “I’ve been there!” when we recognize scenes during the movie, which premieres nationally Oct. 3rd. It is considered an Oscar contender.
Besides the locations used for filming, some restaurants where the cast and crew dined at are highlighted on the tour. The owner of Muy Bueno, a Mexican restaurant that was a favorite of director David Fincher and star Ben Affleck, showed us where the two sat when they ate there. Fincher thought so highly of the restaurant that he sent an autographed poster to them that hangs near the front.
Speaking of dining, we dined at some excellent places. Brousard’s was a great Cajun place. Regardless of how hungry you feel, order the half-size portion of if you get a combo, share it. We learned the hard way. LOL.
Dexter’s is an excellent barbecue joint. The portions were perfect and the food was delicious. It has a nice ambience. We were able to watch some college football while dining. But, if you didn’t want to watch TV, there were plenty of seats where that would not be an issue.
Speaking of college football, we had lunch at Beef O’Brady’s. It is a family-themed sports restaurant. The national chain actually sponsors a college football bowl of the same name.
It was an OK place to dine. The food was decent. I was a little disappointed in its sports viewing offerings. I asked if they could put the Nebraska football game on a screen near us. The Huskers were playing on the Big Ten Network. I was told they don’t carry the network. Instead, I watch Missouri play on the SEC Network on several screens, some baseball and the Cal-Northwestern game on ESPN. I figured that since the city is across the river from Illinois (a Big Ten school), it would have the Big Ten Network. I am glad we tried Beef O’Brady’s. I’ve seen it advertised during bowl games, but we don’t have one in our area.
We had breakfast and a vanilla latte at Cup ‘n’ Cork with Stacey from the CVB. The company was wonderful, as always. The food was delicious – we each had a variety of a croissant with egg, cheese and another topping.
We got lattes at another great coffee joint downtown on Saturday. Dynamite Coffee makes a vanilla latte that rivals that place in Seattle.
While downtown on a rainy Saturday morning, we checked out the Farmers Market. In addition to buying a couple of gigantic donuts (delicious), we checked out the merchants.
One vendor sold door decorations. “aDOORable doors” was a cute name with some cute products.
Our hotel stay was excellent. The Holiday Inn Express was comfortable. Service was excellent. The breakfast there was outstanding. We even had pancakes made by a machine. You push a button and within a couple of minutes, you have two large pancakes on a plate. Great to share.
A side note to our hotel, two stars from “Gone Girl” stayed there, we were told. Rosamund Pike (the wife in the movie) and Tyler Perry (yes, he of “Madea” fame) were guests during filming.
Since it was our second trip to Cape in six months, we decided to go back and check out Bollinger Mill in Bufordville, about 30 minutes from Cape Girardeau. It was a great visit. In February, we were only able to check out the exterior of the mill and the covered bridge. This time, we took a tour of the mill’s interior and received a great history lesson. Outdoors, we could move around much easier on grass instead of ice. It was worth the revisit.
For a review of our first visit to Cape Girardeau, please visit the story at http://thewalkingtourists.com/cape-girardeau-takes-pride-history/.
Over the next few days, we’d like to share more of our visit to Cape Girardeau. This is a smaller city that is worth spending a few days exploring. The people are extremely nice, and the attractions are fun.
Disclaimer: Thanks to the Cape Girardeau Visitors Bureau for the complimentary tickets to attractions, meals and lodging. However, all opinions and views are ours.