Last year’s psychological thriller “Gone Girl,” based on the 2012 book by Gillian Flynn, thrust the town of Cape Girardeau, Missouri into the spotlight. Dubbed “the Cape” by locals (and named North Carthage in Flynn’s book), the town of 77,000 lies along the banks of the Mississippi River. Here are the must-do experiences in this small town, including sites from the film.
The Bar: Whether you pull into this corner tavern for Sunday brunch buffet, or a pint of beer with braised brussels sprouts, the vibe is comfy. At the buffet, $15.95 gets you unlimited helpings of dishes like waffles, fried chicken wings, omelets to order, and biscuits and gravy. Heartier entrees include a 12-ounce grilled rib-eye, shepherd’s pie, and bacon-wrapped meatloaf. If you’ve seen “Gone Girl,” you may recognize this establishment as the bar that Nick co-owned. Tip: Don’t order off of the items scrawled on a mirror, since it’s merely a leftover film prop.
Andy’s Frozen Custard: This regional ice-cream diner flaunts Mid-century Modern appeal and a huge parking lot for mingling with the locals. It’s famous for its concretes, which are thick shakes packed with your choice of ingredients. (A local favorite is peanut butter, hot fudge, and marshmallow.) The only things missing here are sock hops and vintage cars.
Antique shopping: As Cape Girardeau is a historic district, the main drag of Spanish Street is lined with antique stores. Among the best is Early Era Shoppe, next door to The Bar. Owned by the same folks for the last eight years, it’s a well-curated stash — and some items here pop up in “Gone Girl,” too, including the silver sugar tongs at Nick’s bar. Another quality antique shop is Brick Street Gallery Antiques, sporting a shabby-chic vibe and selling a solid stock of rehabbed furnishings. Look (and listen) for the homemade chimes clanging out front: they’re crafted from antique silver spoons.
Cape Girardeau’s Riverfront: To work off the frozen custard, commit to a short 1.5-mile hike along a marked trail, where murals — including the historic Coca-Cola mural — are in abundance. The trail is accessible from Water Street and Broadway.
Cape’s Cream of the Crust & Spanish Street Mercantile: Tin ceilings, a vintage car in the window, and an old Greyhound sign suspended from the ceiling are among the eye candy at Cape’s Cream of the Crust. Here, ice cream sundaes are served in heavy glass dishes for a retro twist. In the connecting Spanish Street Mercantile next store, you’ll find tidy booths hawking everything from rotary-dial phones to antique furnishings.
Common Pleas Courthouse: Fans of the film will easily recognize the gazebo where Nick hosted a press conference shortly after his wife Amy goes missing. This National Register of Historic Places site is across the street from The Bar, and up a flight of stairs from the street level. Here, history buffs can access an audio tour via cell phone, covering the building’s 161 years of history, during which the building functioned as everything from a council meeting space to a jail.
More filming sites: Want to see more of “Gone Girl”? Drive past the exteriors of Nick and Amy’s residence, a posh McMansion tucked into a subdivision at 3014 Keystone. The neighbors won’t mind if you snap a selfie, as the home is perfectly located at the bottom of a small hill. Another now-famous residence is that of Nick’s twin sister, Margo, at 2404 Albert Rasche. It’s a subdued ranch, so nothing terribly exciting, but it’s still fun for photo opp if you’re a cinema lover.
Yet another filming site — serving as the command center during the search for Amy — this 139-room hotel includes a free hot breakfast, WiFi, parking, an hour’s worth of long-distance phone calls, and a daily 5:30 p.m. food buffet with drinks. There’s also an outdoor pool. Rates this summer start at $89.99.