TRAVEL TREASURE: Christmas Country Church Tour celebrates rich Heartland history

A countryside adventure

Each year, hundreds step back in time for the Christmas Country Church Tour through Bollinger, Cape Girardeau, Perry and, Ste. Genevieve counties in Missouri and Kaskaskia, Ill.

church tourThe countryside adventure invites people from all over to take in the area’s rich history.

The 2019 tour will take place on December 12 and 13 from 2-9 p.m.

Voted in 2015 by AAA Magazine as a “Travel Treasure,” this annual tour features 100-year-old, one-room wooden clad buildings, as well as brick and mortar masterpieces.

Now in its 15th year, the goal of the tour remains the same: inspire and delight people even across state lines with the true holiday spirit.

Each church is draped in holiday decorations reflecting their traditions and culture from Roman Catholic English, Scotch-Irish Presbyterian, German Lutherans and others.

This decor brings to life the charm, grace and old-fashioned hospitality of rural America.

You may also enjoy a nativity collection at the St. Mary’s of the Barren, Christmas tree collection featuring over fifty themed trees at the Lutheran Heritage Center & Museum and a drive-thru live Nativity depicting the birth of Christ at the Saxon Lutheran Memorial.

Step Back in Time

Heartland Weekend traveled up a gravel road to Pleasant Grove Baptist Church in rural Perry County, one of the many churches along the self-guided tour.

It was built in 1904, and now the one-room building stands as a reminder of what life was like more than 100 years ago.

“The uniqueness of our church here at Pleasant Grove is our chairs,” said Trish Erzfeld, the Perry County Heritage Tourism Director. “We have chairs instead of the traditional pews. The chairs were ordered from a catalog and shipped by the Mississippi River.”

How does the church tour work?

It’s a completely self-guided tour.

“It has been described as a Holiday Treasure Hunt!” Erzfeld said.

CLICK HERE to print out the map.

Visitors are encouraged to visit as many churches as they want. You don’t have to follow a certain route.

The tour is entirely free. A free-will donation may be given at each church for its charity.

“We want to open up our churches during the times of hustle and bustle. People just really want to slow down,” said Erzfeld. “They’re just enchanted with the thought of going back into time and seeing some of these places. And we really do bring something really special to the reason of the season. We’re able to tap into that.”