Cedar Creek Resort in New Haven offers reunion planners a variety of activities and accommodation choices. A replica Western town adds a touch of whimsy.

Families looking for a taste of the Old West can satisfy their inner cowboy at a 200-acre estate in the rolling hills of Missouri’s wine country, just an hour outside of St. Louis.

No, it’s not a dude ranch, but Cedar Creek Resort centers around a replica of a weathered old Western town, complete with boardwalks, rail fences and wooden buildings that resemble a Hollywood movie set. Old-time signs—Wells Fargo & Co., Charlie’s Saloon and Tex’s Barber Shop—invoke visions of yesteryear. A covered wagon stands at the entrance to the village, which forms the heart of the resort.

While the feel is rustic and the oldest building on the property dates to 1860,  amenities at Cedar Creek are 21st century. During the pandemic, resort owners took advantage of the lull and made $3 million worth of improvements.

Why a Western outpost in Missouri wine country?

In 1953 Pat and Charles Vatterott, who had a St. Louis construction company, purchased the property for their large family—they had 17 children—and owned it until 1965. The Western town was built to entertain the kids and provided them with good memories of summers in the country.

With those happy days in mind, their son, John Vatterott, and his wife, Joan, purchased the land in 1978, bringing it back into the family. They have invested significantly in updating and restoring Cedar Creek while maintaining its historic character. Some of their children are involved in running the resort.

Western Town near Cedar Creek Resort

Western Town near Cedar Creek Resort

Cedar Creek hosts family reunions, weddings, corporate meetings and individuals looking for a country-style vacation. The resort is a short drive from the Missouri River town of New Haven and not far from Hermann, the unofficial capital of Missouri wine country.

Cedar Creek Resort Features

The variety of accommodations ranges from a hotel-style lodge to the Manor House, a pre-Civil War residence with five bedrooms, each with a bathroom. Sleeping up to 18, the house has a kitchen, dining room and multiple living spaces. Recent renovations included replacing the columns that were added in 1931 by then-owner Burleigh Grimes, a Hall of Fame pitcher who played for the St. Louis Cardinals and other teams.

Manor House - Cedar Creek Resort

Manor House

Manor House - Cedar Creek Resort

Manor House

Cedar Lodge, the centerpiece of the Cedar Creek property, features 30 guest rooms, a recreation room, billiards room, exercise room, guest office center, and multiple meeting and conference rooms. Two-story suites in the new cottages can accommodate up to six guests, while the one-story suites have room for three. Another lodging option: three Gate House cottages across from the Manor House.

Gate House Cottage Cedar Creek Resort

Gate House Cottage

Aside from Manor House improvements, recent upgrades at Cedar Creek have included a major landscaping overhaul of the nine-hole, par-3 golf course, widening the Blue Bird hiking trail and building a music performance stage for concerts, special events and group activities.

Next to the lodge, the Swiss Chalet, reminiscent of a Swiss ski lodge with wood-beam ceilings, stone fireplace and leather couches, is being expanded with a covered patio for a seasonal beer garden and a wedding venue (in addition to the 300-person Barn banquet facility for wedding receptions and other events).

Swiss Chalet Breakfast

Swiss Chalet Breakfast

The resort plans to have an on-site brewery in 2022. In addition, it is establishing an orchard and a garden, and an apiary is in the works.

In the Western village, the straight-from-the-movies Town Hall Restaurant features beautiful woodwork, a decorative tin ceiling and a bar that would not look out of place in Dodge City. A picture of John Wayne hangs over the piano, and by the pool table is a photo of Burleigh Grimes. Across from the Town Hall, the Saloon may be reserved for private events (banquet capacity of 30).

Town Hall Restaurant

Town Hall Restaurant

Lodging rates at Cedar Creek include the restaurant’s buffet breakfast. The Town Hall also is open Sundays from noon to 5 p.m.

Cedar Creek also boasts a saltwater swimming pool (open Memorial Day to Labor Day) and a seven-acre fishing lake stocked with bass and bluegill. Guests can take out canoes or kayaks.

Volunteers from the Eastern Missouri Dark Sky Observers come out to Cedar Creek for star-gazing sessions on selected Friday and Saturday nights in summer. The club just finished installing a second telescope at the resort’s Big Blue Observatory and rebuilding the shelters.

Near Cedar Creek Resort – Exploring New Haven and Hermann

New Haven, once a rail center and steamboat stop, is good for a few hours of exploration. Paralleling the train tracks on Front Street in the historic downtown are 19th century buildings with shops offering home decor, wood crafts, art glass and antiques. Take a break from shopping at Northstar Coffeehouse. Around the corner, by the New Haven post office, Pinckney Bend Distillery serves gin and other hand-crafted spirits on the patio and in the tasting room.

A nice walking path follows the Missouri River, and there are informational panels on the river’s history. The riverfront has benches, picnic tables and a boat ramp. There’s a small museum in the visitor center, which is open from May to October.

New Haven is home to Robller Winery, one of seven family-owned wineries on the Hermann Wine Trail, which meanders along the Missouri River for about 20 miles between New Haven and Hermann.

Hermann is a storybook 19th century village where clock towers and church steeples rise above sturdy red-brick buildings. It abounds with specialty shops, not to mention restaurants, wine cellars, breweries and distilleries. A walk around town reveals four murals painted from 2014-2016 by the Walldogs, a group of mural artists that travels to small towns and portrays their history on the walls of old buildings.

Hermann mural

Hermann Mural

Several museums and other historical attractions pay tribute to the town’s German heritage. Immigrants from Germany planted the first vineyards in the 1830s, and by the end of the century Hermann was one of the largest wine-producing regions in the world. For tastes of the Old World, schedule a meal at Hermann Wurst Haus, famed for its house-made sausages and German side dishes.

Families enjoy the tram tour at Hermann Farm Museum, a 200-acre farmstead that showcases the home and business of one of the area’s pioneer vintners. White Missouri mules and Shire draft horses graze in the pastures, and native wildflowers and prairie grasses line the roadways.

The tranquility of Missouri’s wine country seems light years from the bustle of St. Louis, making it a prime destination for family reunions.

For information on Cedar Creek Resort, call 573-237-3672 or visit www. visitcedarcreek.com.

By Randy Mink, Senior Editor