Route 66 in Missouri: #TrippinWithFamily

Are you following along? If you have been, you’ll see that Missouri is the next state along our Route 66 journey and the state right after trekking through Illinois’ 301 miles. You enter the city through St. Louis, and of course, the symbol of St. Louis sprawls across the sky welcoming visitors heading west with the faintest of glints from the sun. 

We pulled into the city just as the sun was setting and settled down for the evening so that we could explore a little more the next day. Because St. Louis is so big, we went ahead and explored more of the city off the route, so you’ll see mention of museums that aren’t on Route 66, and those are the ones that you should stop in if you have extra time to spare. We did make time to stop at the St. Louis Science Center – which is completely free – and spend a couple of hours there. The kids were greeted by a very affectionate bee before we even got into the door, and that set the tone for the day. Great vibes all around! 

Driving through Missouri on Route 66 is a 317 mile trip through history. From neon signs, to museums with libraries attached - you'll find something to love.
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What we saw 

Driving through Missouri on Route 66 is a 317 mile trip through history. From neon signs, to museums with libraries attached - you'll find something to love.
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The Gateway Arch – 11. N. 4th Street St. Louis, MO 63102

The Gateway Arch reflects St. Louis’ role in the Westward Expansion of the United States during the nineteenth century. The park is a memorial to Thomas Jefferson’s role in opening the West, to the pioneers who helped shape its history, and to Dred Scott who sued for his freedom in the Old Courthouse.

I’m going to let you know right now that going into the Old Courthouse is both amazing and enraging. There is a LOT about the Dred Scott case, and the reasons that his case was so important in US history. For some (like me) it’s a stark reminder that we still have quite a way to go when it comes to seeing everyone in the world as a human being. 

The Gateway Arch is a sight to behold up close and personal. You can even take a pod up to the top to see the entire city, but I opted out, because -heights. I’m not ashamed to say that I am quite afraid of heights and will marvel at this attraction with my feet planted firmly on the ground.

Driving through Missouri on Route 66 is a 317 mile trip through history. From neon signs, to museums with libraries attached - you'll find something to love.
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Standing outside the historical frozen custard shack at Ted Drewes 

Ted Drewes Frozen Custard – 6726 Chippewa St. Louis, MO 63109

Given the fact that they have been selling frozen custard for more than 80 years, Ted Drewes is a St. Louis staple and conveniently located right on Route 66 for your custard loving pleasure. There were 12 windows open when we drove up, but because the day was considered a bit too chilly for the enjoyment of concretes – which Ted Drewes is famous for – we were able to walk straight to a window and order with a very patient worker.

Driving through Missouri on Route 66 is a 317 mile trip through history. From neon signs, to museums with libraries attached - you'll find something to love.
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On the corner of Chippewa and Prather Ted Drewes is a Route 66 must 

My children stuck with what they knew – although Lil Miss did decide to order a Root 66 to commemorate her first time visiting. I stuck with a Turtle concrete and may have flipped a little when they served it to me upside down. I worked in an ice cream shop while I was in undergrad, and these types of flourishes always make me nostalgic. Don’t worry about getting more than you can eat. The sizes start at micro and go to large – so you can control the sugar ingestion of your troop. 

Driving through Missouri on Route 66 is a 317 mile trip through history. From neon signs, to museums with libraries attached - you'll find something to love.
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Route 66 State Park – 96 N Outer Rd, Eureka, MO 63025

Driving through Missouri on Route 66 is a 317 mile trip through history. From neon signs, to museums with libraries attached - you'll find something to love.
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If you haven’t figured it out already, each state has it’s own Route 66 Museum and more probable than not, each city does too. Eureka, MO was a quaint little town that we stopped in because it’s a State Park and I figured I could get a State Park stamp in my National Park Passport Book. I’ve been getting stamps in my National Parks Passport because I’m on a mission. Blame Theodore Roosevelt National Park in Medora, North Dakota for creating this monster. 

Driving through Missouri on Route 66 is a 317 mile trip through history. From neon signs, to museums with libraries attached - you'll find something to love.
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The State Park’s visitor center used to be Bridgehead Inn, a 1935 roadhouse that sat on the original Route 66. It is now a museum of several Route 66 artifacts including this sweet bike that waits for you at the bottom of a stairwell. 

Driving through Missouri on Route 66 is a 317 mile trip through history. From neon signs, to museums with libraries attached - you'll find something to love.
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The park’s location, close to metro St. Louis, provides visitors with a quick getaway to nature. More than 40 types of birds have been identified in the park and picnic sites and trails are sprinkled throughout the park. So if you have time to spare, and hiking shoes on, I would suggest a meander through the space. 

Driving through Missouri on Route 66 is a 317 mile trip through history. From neon signs, to museums with libraries attached - you'll find something to love.
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Route 66 Museum – 915 S Jefferson Ave, Lebanon, MO 65536

Driving through Missouri on Route 66 is a 317 mile trip through history. From neon signs, to museums with libraries attached - you'll find something to love.
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This space was a gem that we found on our way back home. Housed in an old Kmart store the Route 66 Museum also holds a library and a gift shop called Kinderhook Treasures. It was a great spot to do several things. Restroom stops, shopping, history, and light reading. The kids were able to sit in the library while I chatted up the gift shop salesperson, and they were happy to be around books (this was a recurring theme for each state we stopped in – the kids wanting to stop at libraries) and I walked away with an amazing teapot and extra large mug from Kinderhook Treasures. The museum is free, and the gift shop is tax free because it’s housed within a library. Remember though, your donations help keep gems like this open on the mother road, so throw a couple of dollars into the donation box on your way into the museum. 

Driving through Missouri on Route 66 is a 317 mile trip through history. From neon signs, to museums with libraries attached - you'll find something to love.
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You can walk through the museum in an hour or so, if you’re reading everything. There’s a gas station set-up, a diner, and a room from one of the local inns on the Route. My aunt even found an old switchboard and told the kids about how she used to operate one back in college. 

We don’t have a where to eat or where to stay portion of this post because to be honest we ate quite a bit in our car after grocery shopping and hitting the road. Stopping in these three cities extended what should have been a five hour drive to nine, and I was quite tired. Even on the way back. Plus, we visited Nathaniel on our way back home and veered from the route for a couple of hours. 

Tune in tomorrow for our trip through Oklahoma and a couple of extra special posts about some special stops we took in Oklahoma City. 

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