By Jim Winnerman

If you enjoy discovering uncrowded destinations and attractions, eating in one-of-a-kind restaurants and meeting the friendly people living in small towns, consider a minivacation within a few hours of your backyard. Add in a locally owned boutique inn or bed-and-breakfast, and the ingredients for a memorable weekend are all there.

Many such opportunities surround the St. Louis metropolitan area, and we have paired several able to be visited in a two-day weekend. We have included suggestions for where to eat, sleep and some “under-the-radar” attractions at each destination. For a comprehensive list of what to do in each town, visit the website or call the number listed at the end of each section.

Paducah, Ky., and Metropolis, Ill.

Travel time: Two hours and 40 minutes from St. Louis via Interstate 64 east, to Interstate 57 south to Interstate 24 East.

If this area is good enough to be the home of Superman, it certainly is worth a visit. Just do not plan on visiting in April when the National Quilt Show in Paducah attracts 30,000-plus quilters and guest rooms are hard to find.

Hidden gem • Plan a visit around the impressive schedule of live performances scheduled at the 1899-seat Carson Center in Paducah.

Where to eat • Visitors can “menu-shop” at a dozen locally owned restaurants in Paducah’s Historic Downtown, and then pick a different eatery for appetizers, dinner and dessert.

Where to stay

The newly opened, 10-room 1857 Hotel is housed in a renovated red-brick antebellum building centrally located in downtown Paducah. Unique furnishings and a rotating art collection, soaring windows and ceilings along with exposed brick define 10 individually designed rooms.

More info • or 618-524-5025; or call 1-800-723-8224

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