It was a Eureka moment of sorts in the early 1880s for the Missouri Pacific Railroad builders coming around the bend from the east and looking westward at the level land with few rocks to move. They screamed “Eureka” out of pure joy. The name stuck.

Located 20 minutes west of downtown St. Louis, and conveniently located along Interstate 44, Eureka is a respite unto itself — a popular staycation for St. Louisans, and vacation for visitors alike. Often referred to as the Gateway to the Missouri Ozarks because of its rolling hills and status as an expansion city for the early setters, Eureka provides a stunning array of citywide nature trails, paths and waterways located throughout more than 164 acres of parks and public land, including a state park — Route 66 State Park, and four conservation areas. Remember to check out the Endangered Wolf Sanctuary where you can tour the facility and feed the rescues. Bring your camera – an expert guide will escort you through multiple habitats for close-up encounters.

Download the city’s mobile app, Eureka Parks App, to obtain up to date info about the city’s parks and recreation news, or visit

Six Flags Boomerang roller coaster

While modern day explorers might prefer the death-defying heights of some of the country’s fastest rollercoasters at Six Flags, located two minutes from Eureka’s Old Town Business District, others might prefer a bonfire and campsite at Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park, located across from Six Flags, or the Route 66 KOA Campground. Rent a cabin, or cottage, bring your tent or RV and hunker down for night under the stars. Or, hike through Rockwood Reservation, a 1,843-acre state forest and conservation area established in 1938, one of the oldest in the state.

Artifacts from the original Shawnee Indians, who resided on the banks of the Meramec River, can still be found by treasure hunters hiking and canoeing along its path. And speaking of the Meramec, it’s a water lover’s paradise. Rent canoes, kayaks and rafts at Brookdale Farms and enjoy a day on the scenic river. If you bring your own canoes, Eureka offers three river access areas: Route 66 State Park, Pacific Palisades and the Allenton Conservation Area.

And what about those Eureka railroad tracks? They still run through the heart of the historic and walkable three-block Business District, buttressed on either side by a variety of shops tucked inside vintage buildings that date back to the 1880s, and cater to both the old and the new. Literally.

For example, horse owners in need of new shoes for their steeds can find them at the Golden Hardshoe Tack shop. Just steps away, stylish   accessories and chic dresses line the shelves and racks at TCL West Boutique. Antique milk jugs, a tractor tabletop, and bike frames from the 1950s are displayed next to modern Christmas decorations at the Gracefully Aged Antique store. Hungry pets? Visit the Eureka Feed Station, an open barnlike structure that carries food for two- and four-legged animals, big and small. Order some and the workers will personally carry it out to your car.

Sample the beers and play board games at Flat Creek Beer, named for the Great Rivers Greenway trail, located just steps from its doorway. The Flat Creek trail, which runs from Legion Park to Route 66 State Park, eventually ties into the Meramec Greenway trail system. Or, sit on the porch, or under the twinkling lights of the wine garden at the Eureka Wine House, whose structure dates to 1870. You’re even allowed to bring your own food to nosh on as you sample the wine.

And there’s plenty of food to choose from: Michelle’s Café, a quaint bistro;  Joe Boccardi’s Italian Restaurant; and Sarah’s on Central, a café and dessert destination unto itself, offers everything from breakfast tacos and quiche to Cheesecake Bombes and Death by Chocolate Cake that will unfairly tease your taste buds. Across the street, you can sit by the outdoor fire pit while eating authentic Mexican fare at El Nopal, gorge on more than 15 chicken wing selections at Chick-n-Elly’s, and then wash it down with a choice of more than 80 varieties of bottled beer at Odell’s Irish Pub and Ale House.

Unique festivals are sprinkled throughout the Eureka annual calendar. These include: Get Your Licks BBQ Blast (August), Eureka Days (September); the Eureka Scarecrow Festival (October), which invites artists and the general public to create and display through the month lifelike scarecrows themed to movies, songs and everything in between; Brookdale Farm’s fall festival, which includes from a corn maze to wagon rides; Santa’s Magical Kingdom light display at Jellystone Park (December); Holiday Lights at Six Flags (December). Also, each March, more than 15,000 treasure hunters descend on the Eureka Garage Sale & Swap Meet, held on the Six Flags parking lot. Here you’ll find everything from vintage furniture, clothes and knick-knacks to old car parts from the more than 700 vendors assembled.

Old, new, indoor or outdoors, and everything in between – discover your Eureka moment.

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