Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Ste. Genevieve, MO

  • Published 2022/12/02

Ste. Genevieve is a city in Missouri and the county seat of Ste. Genevieve County.

A very small city with a population of no more than 6,000 since its 2020 census, Ste. Genevieve is a quaint and humble place perfect for a laid-back vacation.

It’s also a haven for history buffs, as the city has a rich heritage dating back to the early 1700s when many French-Canadian settlers pioneered the creation of Ste. Genevieve.

Because of its unique characteristics, Ste. Genevieve is home to sprawling historical sites, all under the Ste. Genevieve National Historic Park.

You can see various historic French homes here and artifacts and relics preserved in their multiple museums.

Because it’s situated along the Mississippi River, several natural wonders are also found in the city.

To get started on your itinerary, here’s a list of the best things to do in Ste. Genevieve, Missouri.

Tour The Center for French Colonial Life and Budoc House

Entrance to Center for French Colonial Life

RozenskiP /

As mentioned earlier, Ste. Genevieve has a historic district that’s home to several ancestral homes.

The Center for French Colonial Life and Budoc House is part of this historic district, just a few blocks east of Ste. Genevieve Museum along Market Street.

Many of the houses, including this one, are best appreciated via tour, where you can catch a glimpse of the old lifestyles of French-Canadian settlers from the 1700s to the 1800s.

Lots of old furniture and architecture are preserved in The Center for French Colonial Life and Budoc House.

You can also explore its backyard and gardens, where many equipment from past centuries are preserved to this day.

Spot Wildlife at Levee Wildlife Refuge

The Levee Wildlife Refuge is one of the biggest areas that cover a good chunk of Ste. Genevieve’s territory.

It’s located along the banks of the Mississippi River, featuring wetlands that make it an attractive place for birds and other animals.

This makes the Levee Wildlife Refuge a perfect destination for wildlife enthusiasts, especially if you plan to do wildlife photography along the iconic river.

You can see many animals here, including eagles, herons, meadowlarks, deer, and possums.

There are also tons of flora, such as cypress trees, cottonwoods, and oak trees.

Visit Levee Wildlife Refuge for an authentic immersion with Ste. Genevieve’s wildlife and outdoors.

Visit the Felix Valle State House

View of Felix Valle State House

Malachi Jacobs /

Another historic house you might want to see in Ste. Genevieve is the Felix Valle State House.

While a lot smaller than The Center for French Colonial Life and Budoc House, this historic area has a rustic appeal.

You can see a lot of weathered fixtures and furniture here, showing the authenticity of this vintage house.

Street view of Felix Valle State House

Andrew Balet, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Similarly, it’s best to appreciate this with a guided tour, so you can see all the interiors and learn the story behind the house.

Felix Valle State House is on Merchant Street, parallel to Market Street.

Canoe at Felix Valle State House

Malachi Jacobs /

Visit the Ste. Genevieve Welcome Center

Before you begin your urban exploration of Ste. Genevieve, it’s highly recommended you visit the Ste. Genevieve Welcome Center first.

Manned by a passionate and friendly group of tourism professionals, you can get an overview of the city’s historic districts.

There are also displays here of some historic homes, making the Ste. Genevieve Welcome Center a destination on its own.

Besides dioramas and miniatures, you can also see several paintings and artifacts relevant to the city’s culture in this welcome center.

Ste. Genevieve Welcome Center is located at Main Street.

See the Dinosaurs at St. Genevieve Museum

St. Genevieve Museum is one of the top attractions in the heart of the city, along Market Street.

The museum is home to exhibits showcasing Missouri’s rich history and cultural heritage.

Perhaps the most iconic exhibit here is the dinosaur exhibit, an integral part of the natural history of Missouri as it’s home to several dinosaur fossils.

You can see beautifully created dioramas and replicas of the dinosaurs here, along with ancient fossils.

Other prehistoric creatures, such as the wooly mammoth and other reptilian creatures from the Triassic Period, can also be seen here.

St. Genevieve Museum also has a lot of displays about anthropology, with a broad collection of artifacts such as radios, weaponry, and pottery from past centuries.

Learn History at Guibourd-Valle House

Exterior view of Guibourd-Valle House

Andrew Balet, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Guibourd-Valle House is also a historic house in the same district, offering a unique perspective about a certain settler during the 1800s.

Jacques Guibourd has an interesting story, as he was a secretary for a wealthy plantation magnate.

When a slave rebellion broke out in the city, Guibourd escaped the United States with the help of his slave, named Moros.

This story of Guibourd and Moros can be seen in the Guibourd-Valle House, which has slave quarters that also serve as a kitchen.

Beyond that, the house is also a haven of information for architecture buffs, known for its poteaux-sur-solle style.

Explore Ste. Genevieve Art Center and Museum

Just a few minutes’ walk from Ste. Genevieve Museum lies Ste. Genevieve Art Center and Museum.

It’s home to several paintings and artworks from the city’s art guild—Ste. Genvieve’s collective of local artists.

The museum isn’t particularly big, as it’s a former courthouse square that also acts as a beautiful historic site.

There are various art mediums here, particularly paintings, woodwork, ceramics, fiber art, and more.

It also acts as the city’s workshop for kids and teenagers to hone their skills.

You can also find souvenirs at Ste. Genevieve Art Center and Museum as it has a mini gift shop made from various artworks of their guild.

Enjoy Recreational Activities at Pere Marquette City Park

Pere Marquette City Park is the largest park in Ste. Genevieve—an ideal place to do all sorts of fun activities.

The park has plenty of fields that you can use to play baseball, soccer, or an 18-hole disc golf game.

Smaller children can enjoy the park, as it has a playground and a pavilion that can be handy for families who want to have a picnic.

The clear pathways and scenic woodlands make Pere Marquette City Park a great place to relax.

Pere Marquette Park is along White Sands Road near the Mississippi River.

Tour the Mississippi River with the Modoc River Ferry

Modoc River Ferry in Mississippi river

matthew Munsell /

The Mississippi River is one of the best natural wonders in Ste. Genevieve, so it’s a no-brainer to try and experience the city’s Modoc River Ferry.

Fondly called by locals as The French Connection, the Modoc River Ferry is a link between southern Illinois which lies across the Mississippi River.

By taking this ferry, you can do two things at once—enjoy the scenic river while also getting access to several well-known establishments and tourist destinations near Ste. Genevieve.

There are plenty of well-known nearby destinations you can reach faster via this ferry, such as Fort Kaskaskia State Historic Park and Fort de Cartes.

Beyond that, the Modoc River Ferry is simply a fun and beautiful way to experience the tranquil beauty of the river.

You can learn about its operation hours through Ste. Genevieve Learning Center; its docks are located by Little Rock Road, a few walks from Pere Marquette Park.

Celebrate the French Heritage Festival

If there’s one renowned annual event that many locals anticipate in Ste. Genevieve, it’s without question the French Heritage Festival.

Typically held in late spring during the second week of June, the French Heritage Festival is a two-day celebration of the French origins of the culture and civilization at Ste. Genevieve.

It’s a fun and family-oriented festival where you can experience various French influences in food, arts, and architecture.

You’d want to see the parade here, full of locals showcasing all sorts of French-inspired attires and live music.

This celebration, rooted in 300 years of heritage, is an experience like no other in Ste. Genevieve; it’s typically held in the historic district along Market Street.

Shop for Colonial Antiques at Sassafras Creek Originals

Sassafras Creek Originals is your best option if you’re searching for a cool souvenir in Ste. Genevieve.

It’s a quaint and aesthetically pleasing cabin-style shop full of unique vintage and French-inspired items.

Because of its unique and charming aesthetic, Sassafras Creek Originals is a destination on its own and worth the trip for your Instagram.

While many items change throughout the year, you can typically see some handcrafted bags, greeting cards, tote bags, teas, textiles, and other knick-knacks.

Sassafras Creek Originals is located along St. Mary’s Road.

Have a Blast at River Rapids Waterpark

Bird's eye view of River Rapids Waterpark

MaccreaMurphy, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

is located in the southwestern area of the city, along Progress Parkway.

It’s a great addition to your itinerary if you plan to go during the warmer months.

Locals highly rate it, as it offers a fuss-free way to cool down and amazing amenities like waterslides and a lazy river.

The park is spacious, too, and has lots of lifeguards around, making it ideal for families with small children.

River Rapids Waterpark is also home to some fantastic food concessionaires.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Trek Hawn State Park

Tall trees at Hawn State Park

Kbh3rd, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Just a 25-minute drive from Ste. Genevieve lies Hawn State Park in New Offenburg, south of Ste. Genevieve.

Hawn State Park is a massive land full of wilderness, sprawling 5,000 acres.

You can spot a lot of wildlife here while enjoying various terrains that feature woodlands, creeks, and stunning vistas.

View of Hawn State Park

Kbh3rd, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Camping is a famous activity here, but you can also do a day trip and explore its many scenic trails.

You can access Hawn State Park via Missouri Route 32, which directly connects Ste. Genevieve with New Offenburg.

Creek flowing through the Hawn State Park

Kevin Saff from Minneapolis, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Explore Hickory Canyons Natural Area

On the other side of Missouri Route 32, just a few miles from Hawn State Park, is Hickory Canyons Natural Area, a 25-minute drive from Ste. Genevieve.

Also a New Offenburg attraction, Hickory Canyons Natural Area is much smaller but offers various natural wonders in its deep forests.

One of the most famous ones you can see here is the waterfall.

Located along a canyon, the waterfall majestically drops at the height of 40 feet, giving it a beautiful and serene charm.

The trails are also relatively quicker to explore than in Hawn State Park, offering two options: a full mile or a half-mile walk.

See Ancient Rock Formations at Pickle Springs Natural Area

View of Pickle Springs Natural Area

Debby Ford /

Also in New Offenburg, Pickle Springs Natural Area is just a few miles outside Hawn State Park, a 29-minute drive from Ste. Genevieve.

This is unique compared to the previous two natural parks because it’s home to many ancient rock formations.

Because of this, you can expect a lot of spelunking and bouldering here, as it’s rich in caves and canyons.

There are also some interesting waterfalls and creeks that accentuate the beauty of Pickle Springs Natural Area.

This is a must-visit if you’re a seasoned and passionate outdoor adventurer.

Gear up, as bouldering and hiking can be quite challenging.

Final Thoughts

With over 300 years of French cultural heritage, Ste. Genevieve is brimming with interesting stories.

Any traveler looking to learn more about the French influences in the United States during the 1700s to 1800s will have an amazing time at Ste. Genevieve.

Even if you’re not a history enthusiast, the historic homes and outdoor attractions here make it an attractive option for a laidback vacation, free from the hustle and bustle of city life.

You’ll also have great access to several natural wonders in New Offenburg.

When you’re convinced to go, revisit this list of the best things to do in Ste. Genevieve, Missouri, for a seamless adventure.

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