Route 66 in the News

Visit Missouri's Route 66

2010-05-09 21:28:01

Set your busy fast-lane life on cruise control with a getaway along Missouri's Route 66. Missourians have a special claim to the double-digit thruway: we named it. State highway officials meeting in Springfield in 1926 requested the number "66" be assigned to the transcontinental roadway.

Missouri's homestretch of Route 66 starts rolling in the "Gateway to the West" -- St. Louis. The Old Chain of Rocks Bridge is the route's original Mississippi River crossing. Cars no longer run across the bridge, but you can. Take in views of the mighty river and glistening Gateway Arch from the deck of the mile-long pedestrian/cycling bridge - one of the longest hiking bridges in the world.

Continue west across nearly 300 miles of the Show Me State to discover classic Route 66 motor courts, diners and trading posts. A neon glow signals that a comfy bed awaits at original retreats like Smith's Historic Route 66 Inn and the Munger-Moss Motel in Lebanon, Missouri. The Wagon Wheel Motel in Cuba offers cozy rooms and sage advice: "Come sleep at our wheel instead of yours." You can't check in, but you can check out a unit from the infamous Coral Court Motel, the art deco-style star of the Route 66 exhibit at the Museum of Transportation in Kirkwood where you'll also find an impressive collection of classic cars.

Interstate 44, which cuts a swath across Missouri, is the modern replacement for Route 66. Take exit 266 to Route 66 State Park in Eureka to see its memorabilia-laden visitor center. In Cuba, Bob's Gasoline Alley houses a slick 66 collection. A mother lode of Mother Road displays and info is parked within Joplin, Missouri's exceptional Route 66 Museum and Research Center.

America's fast food culture took root on Route 66. A now shuttered Springfield hamburger shop, Red's Giant Hamburg, was the first restaurant with a drive-thru window. Fill your tank at tasty roadside spots including the Circle Inn Malt Shop in Bourbon, Cuba's Route 66 Caf?and the landmark Crossroads Caf?between Springfield and Carthage. Get your licks on 66 at Ted Drewes Frozen Custard or cruise into the 1957-vintage Chuck-A-Burger in St. Louis. In Brentwood, the 16 counter stools at Carl's Drive In rotate faster than wheels. Cooks at Granny Shaffer's Family Restaurant in Joplin tout that their fare "tastes homemade 'cause it is." At Skippy's Route 66 Inn in Leasburg, the name and the burgers make you smile. Barbecue is king of the road at smokin' joints along the route, including Cuba's Missouri Hick Bar B Q, Super Smokers in Eureka, Elbow Inn Bar & BBQ in Devil's Elbow, Joplin's Sultan of Smoke, Gary Dowd's in Lebanon and St. Robert's Sweetwater Bar-B-Que. Thirsty travelers will find award-winning wineries as Route 66 and I-44 pour through the Ozark wine region towns of St. James, Steelville, Seymour, Carthage, Westphalia and Mount Vernon.

Hollywood intersects the highway at 66 Drive-In, the lovingly restored outdoor movie theatre in Carthage. Drama queen Bette Davis eyes you from one of 11 vivid outdoor paintings in Cuba -- Route 66 Mural City. Sleep like a star in Springfield in the Marilyn Monroe or Elvis-themed suites at the Best Western Route 66 Rail Haven.

Cave in to the iconic billboard message and "Visit Meramec Caverns" in Stanton, known as Route 66's first tourist attraction. Rock along to more underground wonders at breathtaking Onondaga Cave in Leasburg and Onyx Mountain Caverns near St. Robert. Eat like the Flintstones by dining inside a cave at Pulaski County's Caveman Barbecue and Steakhouse and head down under on an Experimental Mines tour at Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla. "Leave the driving to us" could be the motto for Springfield's Fantastic Caverns where Jeep-drawn trams transport visitors through a geologic gem. The view from the steel-truss bridge at Devil's Elbow holds claim as the most scenic on Missouri 66.

Man-made wonders also tempt travelers to pull over for a better look: Webb City's 100-ton Praying Hands sculpture; the World's Largest Rocking Chair in Fanning and Stanton's Jesse James Wax Museum. In Waynesville, W.H. Croaker, a big, green frog-painted rock welcomes you. A 1/4-scale replica of the Hubble Telescope graces the courthouse lawn in Marshfield to honor native son, astronomer Edwin Hubble. Diamond, Missouri salutes its famous scientist at the George Washington Carver National Monument. Engineering students in Rolla have re-created Stonehenge and in nearby Waynesville, the 1850's Old Stagecoach Stop still stands from the days when horse power was fueled with hay instead of oil.

Get your "66" kicks from thrill rides, go-karts and games along 66/I-44 at Six Flags St. Louis and Joplin's Route 66 Carousel Park. Brake for animals in metro St. Louis where the Grant's Farm animal preserve and Purina Farms are located near the route along with the World Bird Sanctuary and Wild Canid Survival and Research Center in Eureka. In Springfield, talk to the animals at Dickerson Park Zoo and marvel at Bass Pro Shop's Outdoor World animal exhibits. The kitschy Reptile Ranch in Stanton is the ultimate retro roadside stop or you can keep moving at the drive-thru Animal Paradise Family Fun Park in Strafford. Residents of Reptile World Zoo in Joplin include gators, snakes, turtles and their human caretakers.

~Missouri Div. of Tourism, via Taiwan News


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