It’s time for post seven in our photo essay series covering our Route 66 trip from California to Chicago, with Missouri being the seventh state on our adventure.
We followed as closely as we could the original route, and saw a lot along the way, from the high desert scenery of the west through to more rural scenery in the mid and eastern parts of the USA.
We’ve got some resources at the end to help you plan your own Route 66 road trip, but for now, lets focus on some of our favourite sights along Route 66 in Missouri.
I also have many of these photos available for purchase in my online Route 66 photo gallery here if you’re interested in having a memory of your Route 66 trip to hang on your wall.
Table of Contents
Route 66 in Missouri – Highlights
In no particular order, here are some of our highlights from our time driving Route 66 through Missouri.
Drive-In Movie Theatre, Brooklyn Heights
No Route 66 adventure would be complete without a drive-in movie theatre. We passed a few of these on our adventures, and stopped at one in Oklahoma for a double-bill. Definitely a must if you’re driving the route! The image above is of the 66 Drive-In theatre in Brooklyn Heights.
Wall Murals, Cuba
We also loved all the murals along the Route. These were in the town of Cuba, also known as mural city (thank to Scott in the comments for that!), where there are all sorts of murals depicting scenes from the past.
Boots Court Motel, Carthage
Boots Court in Carthage is a classic old Route 66 motel that has recently been lovingly restored to how it would have been during its heyday in 1949. We weren’t able to stay the night here, but we were given a full tour. If you get the chance, we highly recommend you stay over.
If you’re looking for accommodation along the route and want to stay in motels like this, see our full guide to Route 66 era hotels and motels here.
Route 66 Bowling
Bowling was (and still is!) a popular way to spend an evening on Route 66, so stopping at one of the many bowling alleys along the way is a great option. The one in the image, Route 66 Bowl, was in Joplin, but has since been turned into a gym.
Route 66 Diners
I couldn’t do a Route 66 post without a photo of some diner food.
And the inside of a diner. Love these old style locations! This is in Carthage.
Abandoned Motel, Villa Ridge
Like every state, not all the businesses in Missouri have survived the coming of the interstates and the decline in Route 66 traffic, with plenty of abandoned buildings and properties to photograph.
Here, this motel in Villa Ridge seems to be not much more than a sign.
Hillbilly Sign, Rolla
Route 66 is all about quirky road side attractions, like this giant statue of a hillbilly. This is originally from the Hillbilly store, found along the route from the 1950’s through to the 1980’s (thanks to Angela in the comments for this information!). It’s now found in Rolla.
Giant Rocking Chair, Cuba
And this giant rocking chair found in Cuba!
One of Missouri’s most famous attractions are the Meramec Caverns, a huge cave complex near Stanton.
The caverns were advertised all across middle America, primarily on barns, and they have now become a classic part of the Route 66 legend. A few still survive on the route, so keep an eye out.
And of course, once you’ve seen the barns, you’ll want to check out the caverns themselves!
Of course, no Route 66 photo essay would be complete without some more motel sign photos. The above is of Rest Haven Court in Springfield Missouri.
We stayed in this one in Lebanon, Mungers Moss Motel, so managed to get some photos of that Route 66 neon!
Red Oak II Ghost Town, Carthage
This vintage car is part of the Red Oak II ghost town in Carthage, MO.
It’s not strictly a ghost town, rather, all the buildings have been brought here from around the country, to be restored and looked after. It’s a really cool place to visit, and we loved wandering around. The next two pictures are also from Red Oak II.
Gateway Arch, St. Louis
The city of St Louis is particularly known for its Gateway Arch, signifying how this was the gateway to America’s West. The arch is 192 metres high, making it the world’s tallest arch, as well as the largest man-made monument in the western hemisphere.
Speaking of man made monuments, we also came across this scale replica of Stonehenge in the town of Rolla.
Ted Drewes Frozen Custard, St. Louis
Every state on Route 66 seems to have a must-try food stuff. In Missouri, that’s frozen custard. You’ll find it at Ted Drewes Frozen Custard in St. Louis. We tried it of course, and it was delicious.
There are also numerous dining options offering huge plates of great value food.
Sinclair Gas Station (Gary’s Gay Parita), Ash Grove
Finally, our photo essay of the highlights of Route 66 in Missouri concludes with this wonderful old gas station, found in Ash Grove MO.
As you can see, Missouri has no shortage of photogenic locations along Route 66, and we loved driving through the state and exploring all of them.
Hopefully, this series has inspired you to want to do your own Route 66 adventure – if so, read on for our:
Tips for Planning your own Route 66 Adventure
If you’re planning your own historic Route 66 adventure, we’ve got a bit of reading for you!
- First, be inspired by photos from all the states we visited, by checking our photos highlights from each Route 66 state: California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri & Illinois
- Next, check out Jess’s comprehensive guide to planning a Route 66 trip
- Then, take a look out our incredibly detailed day by day Route 66 itinerary, which covers all the sights you want to see, route tips, lodging options and places to eat.
- If you’re looking for lodging, see our guide to all the best motels and hotels on Route 66
- If you’re new to driving in the US, check out my tips for driving in the US to get you started
- Not sure how much it’s all going to cost? We’ve got you covered with our guide to travel costs in the USA
- Finally, take a look at this book – the best way in our opinion to successfully navigate the entire length of Route 66 as faithfully as you can. We followed it the whole way, and even met the author, and couldn’t have done without it!
Enjoy your Route 66 trip, and let us know which has been your favourite state so far in the comments below!
There are 8 comments on this post
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Scott Wiggins says
I caught what I’m quite sure is a honest mistake in your article here. The mural in that picture is in Cuba, MO, the town my wife and I live in. It’s referred to as mural city on 66 and has quite a few beautiful ones in the historical district of town. Hopefully y’all got to check out the wagon wheel motel on your way through Cuba as well.
Laurence Norah says
Hi Scott! Thanks for noticing that and letting me know, that’s much appreciated. I’ve updated the post and added another mural too – we loved them 🙂 We did indeed get to see the Wagon Wheel motel as well, although we didn’t get to spend the night unfortunately.
Thanks again for taking the time to help out!
Scott Wiggins says
You’re very welcome. Thank you for the shout out in the article. My wife and I plan on driving the entirety of Route 66 eventually to see the history of it outside of just Missouri and there are places in this article we haven’t been able to visit in Missouri yet either. Thank you for writing this article and sharing the beauty of Route 66 and the history of it. I wish it was still alive and traveled like it once was decades ago.
Laurence Norah says
It’s my pleasure! I think there is definitely a resurgence in popularity for the route, and we definitely hear from readers regularly about their experiences driving it. Certainly not like the hey day, but it’s nice to know people are still interested. I hope you guys get to travel it all soon!
Angela Kay says
“”Route 66 is all about quirky road side attractions, like this giant statue of a pirate”.
That’s not a pirate it is the Hillbilly from the Hillbilly store on 66 in and around the 50 threw the 80s.
It was a child hood treet to go there n get a grab bag for .25/.50/1.$
I miss it!
Laurence Norah says
Hey Angela – thanks for the information! I have updated the post with your correction 😀 Thanks for sharing your experience too!
Joseph E. Long says
In the summer of 1945 a couple of friends and I went on a trip from Kentucky to California. We hitchhiked and rode freight trains, worked along the way, horse farm in Missouri, wheat harvest in Kansas etc.. we probably traveled a lot of Route 66 before we ended up in Los Angeles. The pictures are a good reminder of what it looked like then. Route 66 was not famous then, just another road. Just before the Interstate hiways took over, old 66 was dangerous, too many cars on two lane roads.
Laurence Norah says
Hey Joseph – wow, what an experience that must have been. My dad actually did something similar, except he went to Australia, and did a lot of the physical type work you are describing – from rounding up sheep on horse back to stacking peanuts!
I can imagine it would have been very different back then to how it is now. Thanks so much for sharing your experience 😀