This One Of A Kind Road Trip Adventure Through Missouri Will Take You Off The Beaten Path
Adventure’s never hard to find in Missouri, even if we have just a single day to get out and explore. However, deciding
where to road trip for the day can pose quite the challenge when we have so many thrilling natural and manmade destinations across the state. One of the longest roads in Missouri, I-44 boasts a plethora of attractions, from sprawling state parks to breathtaking caves, which makes it ideal for a day on the road exploring. Just fill your tank with gas; pack a cooler with goodies, and hit the road for a road trip adventure through Missouri that offers surprises around every corner.
Get ready for an epic adventure that will take you along a portion of I-44, which approximates the iconic Route 66. While the interstate traverses 293 miles from Joplin to St. Louis, the road trip will take you just 139 miles, making it easy to complete in a single day.
Drive time clocks in at just over 2.5 hours. Keep in mind, however, that the total trip time will likely be considerably longer, depending on how much time you decide to spend at each destination.
Let’s kick off this road trip with a delicious treat as we stroll back in time at Soda & Scoops on Route 66 in Rolla. A throwback to yesteryear, the soda foundation boasts an impressive menu of goodies made with rich homemade Wisconsin ice cream.
Choose from such classics as ice cream sodas, floats, and sundaes, or dig into a scoop or two of ice cream – birthday cake or rocky road, perhaps? Don’t forget to check out the candy, too.
Soda & Scoops works hard to honor the rich heritage of Rolla while providing the community with a comfortable, friendly place to relax and to enjoy a treat. The charming soda fountain hires a variety of community members, including those with developmental disabilities.
Soda & Scoops, 819 N Pine St, Rolla, MO 65401, USA
Settle into your vehicle – maybe turn up the tunes and roll down the windows – for the leisurely 45-minute drive to Overlook Pavilion in Sullivan. Expertly maneuver your Nissan as you wind your way to the Unnamed Road. Tucked in Meramec State Park, it leads straight to the Overlook Pavilion.
The Overlook Pavilion showcases sweeping views of the state park. The views are particularly striking during the warmer months when the foliage is a lush green and during the autumn when the landscape is painted in brilliant colors. The area also features picnic tables.
Overlook Pavilion, Unnamed Road, Sullivan, MO 63080, USA
Our next stop will take us underground at Meramec Caverns. Carve out at least 1.5 hours for the tour that spans over a mile. Comfy shoes and a jacket are musts on the tour. A camera is highly recommended.
With more than 6,000 caves, Missouri has rightfully earned the moniker "The Cave State." While you can tour numerous commercial caves, including Fantastic Caverns in Springfield, you’ll also discover an abundance of caves in state parks and along hiking trails throughout Missouri.
Follow a seasoned tour guide through the limestone caverns that date back 400 million years. Colorful lights will illuminate your path as you explore the caves that measure seven stories high. If you’re up for more adventure after your tour, go ziplining or attempt the climbing wall. Grab a bite to eat at the restaurant at the caverns; stock up on goodies at the candy shop, and check out the gift shop, too.
Meramec Caverns, 1135 Hwy W, Sullivan, MO 63080, USA
We’ll head back outdoors at our next stop – Route 66 State Park in Eureka, about a 45-minute drive from Meramec Caverns. At just 419 acres, the cozy state park pays homage to Route 66, “The Mother Road.” Delve into the route’s rich history at the Visitor Center, filled with memorabilia and fascinating displays. It even features a gift shop that’s brimming with Route 66-themed souvenirs.
Outdoors, you’ll find quite a bit to do, too. Explore some of the park on one of the four hiking trails, the shortest of which spans just a half of a mile. The W Trail, highlighted by yellow blazes, will lead you down a dirt path and to the ghost town of Times Beach.
Route 66 State Park offers a full menu of activities, including trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding; boating on the Meramec River, and plenty of spots to enjoy a picnic.
Route 66 State Park, 97 N Outer Rd, Eureka, MO 63025, USA
Our final destination takes us to one of the most unique bridges in the United States – the one-mile-long Old Chain of Rocks Bridge along Route 66 in St. Louis. The famous bridge, now open only to pedestrians and bikers, connects Missouri and Illinois and has one incredibly unique feature – a 30-degree turn halfway along the bridge.
Find parking near Old Chain of Rocks Bridge. There have been instances of break-ins in the past, so officials recommend not leaving valuables in your vehicle. You can also cross into Illinois for additional parking.
Perched more than 60 feet above the Mississippi River, the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge attracts both hikers and bikers. Because little has changed with the bridge over the decades, it provides a fascinating glimpse into the past and absolutely gorgeous views of the St. Louis skyline.
The Old Chain of Rocks Bridge, part of the Route 66 Bikeway, earned a spot on the National Register of Historic Places in 2006.
Old Chain of Rocks Bridge, 10820 Riverview Dr, St. Louis, MO 63137, USA
Can you think of a better way to spend a day than behind the wheel of your Nissan, driving along one of Missouri’s most famous roads, and stopping at one-of-a-kind destinations? Before you set off on this epic road trip adventure through Missouri, discover other
stops along the famous Historic Route 66.
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