Belles on Location

Pastoral Beauty on the Mississippi River in Missouri

About an hour outside of St. Louis, MO, along a country road, you’ll reach a town on the Mississippi River that resonates with the soul of Mark Twain. Clarksville, Missouri, may not be a place where you’d expect gourmet meals and first class accommodations, but let me clear that up for you.

With Nathalie Pettus, the proprietor of Overlook Farm, you will be in good hands.

Nathalie inherited this sprawling property on the rolling hills and bluffs that overlook the mighty Mississippi River and has taken great pains to see it restored to its original glory. Originally a vast orchard, the farmstead – a gift to her great-great-great- grandfather from the King of Spain – once supplied produce to the White House.

The property has been entirely remodeled in exquisite period furnishings…

….and the grounds include reflecting ponds, a Victorian-style garden, an oversized outdoor chess set,

and an open-air seating area and firepit situated on a bluff high over the river valley.

The farm also boasts a first-class restaurant, and in the hands of award-winning chef Timothy Grandinetti, diners are treated to delicacies such as duck flatbread, Missouri lamb ragout, roasted baby beet salad and a menu that showcases sustainable seasonal ingredients.

Clarksville is also home to a number of antique and specialty shops. After a sumptuous brunch at Overlook Farm (I like Nathalie’s Scramble with basil and cream cheese), take a go-cup of coffee and wander down Howard Street. There you’ll find craftsmen turning wood on a lathe to create a stunning array of Windsor chairs, and the Bent Tree Gallery, which sells exquisite bent willow tables, baskets and handmade leather goods.

After you’ve purchased that one-of-a kind coffee table and loaded it into the car, head on down to River Front Park. There you can watch locals angling for catfish, sink your feet into the world-famous Mississippi mud and maybe, if you look closely, catch a glimpse of Mark Twain’s ghost.

Amanda Summer is a writer and archaeologist who excavates in Greece. She has written for the New York Times, Islands, Archaeology and The Best Travel Writing. When not digging, she lives in St. Louis, Missouri, with her family and Airedale terrier. For more stories, visit her website, Travels with Persephone.

This article has 10 comments

  1. Ann Yoklavich

    Wonderful article with great writing and lovely photos! We will make it a point to stop in Clarksville on our next trip to Missouri.

  2. amanda

    Thanks, Ann!

    It’s exciting to discover great places like this in one’s own back yard, where you don’t have to travel far to experience excellent cuisine and accommodations! I recommend this as a perfect spot for a weekend getaway.

  3. Amy Summer

    Amanda-looks like a gem of a retreat-when did you guys go there?

  4. Margo Millure

    It looks fabulous, Amanda! Thanks for teaching me something about a part of the country I know almost nothing about. Would love to get there someday!

  5. Debbie Ferm

    I stayed in a resort in Missouri last year called Big Cedar Wilderness Club, and it was truly one of the best resorts I’ve ever been to. Missouri was surprisingly beautiful! Who knew?

  6. amanda

    Amy – We visited Clarksville in August for an anniversary celebration, and it ended up being a great place for a romantic weekend~

    Margo – Most people think primarily of Chicago when they think of the Midwest, but this area of the country has so much more to offer!

    Debbie – I’ve made a note to check out Big Cedar Wilderness Club – thanks for the suggestion!

  7. Elena

    Great story – I loved the pictures, too. Looks like you truly found a treasure on your weekend getaway! Makes me miss Missouri and the Great Mississippi.

  8. Rosa Rojas

    I had the pleasure of having lunch there Wednesday October 6 2010. I went to visit the town where a dear friend of mine and his family used to live for many years, ( Doctor Jackson’s Family ) it was a lovely trip.
    The scenery was amazing, the people were very friendly and helpful, we did a lot of shopping in the antique shops. It was truly a rewarding experience. Looking forward to maybe buying some property in this nice location. Rosa Rojas, Texas.

  9. amanda

    Elena, Thank you for reading! Overlook Farm is a great find and I hope you might be able to visit there sometime soon!

  10. amanda

    Rosa, You had a lovely week weather-wise to visit! The surrounding land is stunning so I wish you luck with your property hunt — and the next time you visit perhaps consider an overnight stay and have breakfast, which is scrumptious!

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