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  • Checking out the details on a vintage car at the Museum of Transportation in St. Louis
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    St. Louis: Classic Stops among Big City Icons

  • Navigating the underground tunnels at Meramec Caverns in Missouri
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    Meramec Caverns: Underground Adventure

  • The first completed mural in the Viva Cuba Murals Project
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    Cuba: Taking in the Mural City

Route 66 memorabilia on display at Bob’s Gasoline Alley in Cuba
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Cruising Missouri’s Route 66: Classic Sites and Family Adventure

  • Route distance:
    280.00 km
  • Suggested Time:
    2 days

Missouri is located in the heart of the midwestern USA and boasts tons of memorable attractions including historic sites, iconic landmarks and beautiful countryside.

It’s also home to a large stretch of Route 66, one of the most famous roads in the U.S. Nicknamed “the Mother Road,” Route 66 opened in 1926 as a route linking rural communities with larger cities across the country. Attractions and businesses sprang up to serve travelers, and the quintessential American road trip was born. Route 66 is no longer an official highway, but road-trippers and pop culture fans haven’t forgotten this cultural icon. See scenic overlooks, vintage motor courts and nostalgic memorabilia on this bucket-list adventure along Missouri’s Route 66.

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Checking out the details on a vintage car at the Museum of Transportation in St. Louis
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St. Louis: Classic Stops among Big City Icons

Enter Missouri’s Route 66 gateway city by catching a flight into St. Louis Lambert International Airport (STL), where car rentals are readily available to begin your journey. The first stop is at the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge. Opened in 1929, the bridge served as one of the original crossings of Route 66 over the Mississippi River, but was repurposed as the Route 66 Bikeway in 1999. Park the car and walk or bike across this unique and picturesque bridge. Drive south to Eads Bridge at Laclede’s Landing, a historic riverfront district of locally owned shops and restaurants. Eads Bridge, a fascinating structure dating back to 1874, is just a stone’s throw from the famous Gateway Arch. Take the indoor tram to the top of the Arch for amazing panoramic views. Stop for a concrete – a mix of sweet toppings and frozen custard so thick, you can hold it upside down – at the legendary Ted Drewes Frozen Custard, then explore car and train history at the Museum of Transportation. Your final stop is in the Maplewood neighborhood, where two blocks of Manchester Avenue have sidewalk plaques dedicated to local merchants that made their business in the heyday of Route 66.

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103 km
1 hour by car
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Navigating the underground tunnels at Meramec Caverns in Missouri
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Meramec Caverns: Underground Adventure

Traveling southwest from St. Louis, Historic Route 66 passes through small towns and rural landscapes, parallel to I-44 – the area’s modern highway. Between the towns of St. Clair and Stanton, pull over to take a picture (something you certainly can’t do on the busy freeway next door) of the painted barn advertising your next stop, Meramec Caverns. These famous painted ads used to be on dozens of barns across multiple states, helping to attract visitors to Missouri’s largest public cave. This barn sign is one of the few remaining ones. Once at Meramec Caverns, take a guided tour of the ancient limestone caverns that were first traveled by Osage Indians, then used as a saltpeter mine (for gunpowder) and later, as a hideout for famous outlaw Jesse James. The fantastic variety of natural formations inspired the unique names of each underground “room,” including the wine room, the ballroom and the theater room. Meramec Caverns also offers riverboat rides, zipline tours, camping and gold panning.

42 km
0.5 hours by car
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The first completed mural in the Viva Cuba Murals Project
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Cuba: Taking in the Mural City

Enjoy the peaceful scenery on the short drive to Cuba, Missouri, a hamlet known as the “Route 66 Mural City.” Stop by the Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center to pick up a walking tour brochure, then follow Cuba’s history through the colorful murals and accompanying plaques that decorate its downtown streets. In addition to the 12 officially commissioned murals through the Viva Cuba Murals Project, there are many other paintings both inside and outside the local shops and restaurants – keep your camera ready to take pictures. There are several noteworthy historical stops in this small town. Just off Route 66, Bob’s Gasoline Alley has an astounding display of Route 66 memorabilia – old gas pumps, quirky statues and mannequins, antique cars and signs galore. You can take pictures outside the multiple buildings, but you’ll need an appointment to see the amazing collection inside. Taste the locally famous ribs, brisket or pulled pork at Missouri Hick BBQ, notable for its Old West décor and its delicious barbecue. Stay overnight at the Wagon Wheel Motel. With more than 80 years in business, the Wagon Wheel is the longest continuously-running motel on Route 66. After this memorable American road trip, you’ll have no complaints backtracking up Route 66 to return your rental at St. Louis Lambert International Airport (STL).

Official Missouri Travel Site