Cruising Route 66
St. Louis is the largest city along Route 66 between Chicago and Los Angeles, and there are a number of sites related to the Mother Road within the region. Some of the streets have new names, but all of these locations are part of the Route 66 journey.
1. Old Chain of Rocks Bridge
Plan to stay: 30 mins – 1 hour
For more information: www.theroadwanderer.net/66Illinois/chain.htm
This bridge is open to pedestrian traffic only, and offers a unique one-mile-plus path for bicyclists, in-line skaters, hikers and power walkers. A great spot for eagle-watching in late winter/early spring, the bridge also offers a great view of the Mighty Mississippi River and the St. Louis skyline.
2. Ted Drewes Frozen Custard
Plan to stay: 15-30 mins.
For more information: www.teddrewes.com
An iconic Route 66 attraction that’s been around since 1941. The specialty here is concrete – edible, of course. Concretes are über-thick milkshakes made from vanilla frozen custard and blended with any number of sweet treats. Try the Cardinal Sin (hot fudge and tart cherries), get All Shook Up (peanut butter and bananas) or make up your own creation.
3. Wayside Motel
Plan to stay: 10-15 mins.
Across the street and down Watson Road a bit is the Wayside Motel, built in 1930. While it’s not nearly as glamorous as the Deco-style Coral Courts, it is one of many vintage motels and buildings representative of the era still standing.
4. The Museum of Transportation
Plan to stay: 1-2 hours
For more information: www.museumoftransport.org
This museum is dedicated to America’s love for life in the fast lane. In addition to the unit of the streamline modern-style Coral Court Motel, the museum features more than 300 moving vehicles on display, including locomotives, streetcars and, of course, automobiles.
5. Route 66 State Park
Plan to stay: 30 mins. – 1.5 hours
For more information: www.mostateparks.com/route66.htm
The park’s visitors center is housed in the former Bridgehead Inn, a 1935 roadhouse, and it features Route 66 memorabilia and tells the story of “The Main Street of America.” Active groups can get their kicks on the seven miles of hiking, bicycling and horseback riding trails or enjoy a driving cruise that traverses the wildlife-filled parkland or enjoy a picnic.
6. Jesse James Wax Museum and Meramec Caverns
Plan to stay: 30 mins- 1 hour
For more information: www.jessejameswaxmuseum.com/ and http://www.americascave.com/
In Stanton, Missouri, don’t miss the Jesse James Museum and Meramec Caverns (www.americascave.com). Veteran travelers of this stretch of Route 66 may recall the plethora of billboards that encouraged travelers to “Visit Meramec Caverns – J Jesse James’ Hideout.” Take a guided tour led by trained rangers and explore the ancient, underground limestone structures. Meramec Caverns is the largest commercial cave in the state of Missouri, and the five-story cave has been wowing visitors since 1935.