Planning a fun getaway from the Gateway City for a weekend or a short road trip is a piece of cake. There are plenty of destinations in any direction from downtown St. Louis with plenty of things to see and do along the way!
Road Trip #1 – Milwaukee
To Do: Milwaukee is full of incredible history, with beautiful old buildings and fun attractions. Tour the Harley-Davidson Museum, watch a baseball game at Miller Park or check out the spy-themed bar called The Safe House. Each June, the city is home to SummerFest – the world’s largest musical festival. But, don’t worry, there are festivals year round! They love to celebrate!
To Eat: CHEESE! Be sure to try fresh cheese curds! (And the fried ones!)
Along The Way: Stop in Springfield, IL to see the only home Abraham Lincoln ever owned as well as his Presidential Library & Museum down the street. Or if you’re going through Chicago – consider checking out a museum you may not have heard about. The Museum of Broadcast Communications tells the story of television, with great exhibits like their current presentation on the history of Saturday Night Live!
Bill’s Pick: The Milwaukee Art Museum has giant wings that open and close at the start, and end of the day. It takes about five minutes for the 90 ton, 217-foot long structure to move into place. It’s really cool!
Read this recent story on QUIRKY THINGS TO DO IN MILWAUKEE
Road Trip #2 – Nashville
To Do: Nashville has become one of the most popular destinations in the south. Broadway is a constant hustle and bustle with honky tonks and shops. The Country Music Hall of Fame underwent a multi-million dollar renovation and is certainly worthy of a visit. The Ryman Auditorium, also downtown, is the former home of the Grand Ole Opry and a beautiful venue for a backstage tour or a show. The Grand Ole Opry House, home of the world’s longest running radio show, is a short drive from downtown.
But, there’s more to Nashville than drinking and country music. Check out a real life replica of the Parthenon in Centennial Park, or tour the Lane Motor Museum – full of European classic cars.
To Eat: Nashville is famous for “hot chicken” – which can certainly be found all over town. The original spot however, is Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack. Don’t forget to pop into the Goo Goo Cluster Shop across from the Johnny Cash Museum downtown! Try the peanut butter ones!!
Along The Way: Metropolis, Illinois is just west of the Kentucky border and is home to Superman! Take a slight detour to see the world’s tallest Superman statue. If you want to stay on track – the town of Paducah has the National Quilt Museum, which contains award winning quilts that look like paintings.
Bill’s Pick: President Andrew Jackson’s estate is called The Hermitage. Tour the historic plantation which includes the mansion the Johnson family lived in until 1845. The property is beautiful and you’ll learn quite a bit about the time period. Be sure to do the short nature walk behind the mansion.
Road Trip #3 – Indianapolis
To Do: Indy is one of my favorite mid-west cities. Take a tour of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway – home to the largest single day sporting event in the world, or spend a day at the incredible Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. Explore White River State Park and take a walk along the Indiana Canal. For a unique experience – hop on over to the Fountain Square neighborhood and try your hand at Duckpin Bowling. Be sure to visit Monument Circle and of course, try to find the “Indy” sign downtown and pose as the “I”.
To Eat: St. Elmo’s Steakhouse is known for having the spiciest shrimp cocktail in the world.
Along The Way: Stop in Casey, Illinois – the small town full of big things! Casey is home to the world’s largest rocking chair, wind chime, golf tee, pitch fork and mailbox! Located right along interstate 70 just about halfway between Indy and St. Louis.
Bill’s Pick: Take a ride in a street legal Indy Car! The Dallara Indycar Factory offers the experience to visitors as well as racing simulators.
Road Trip #4 – Little Rock
To Do: Little Rock is full of southern hospitality and one of the most underrated southern cities. Take a stroll along the sculpture walk by the Arkansas River, and stay close to watch the sunset and then see the pedestrian bridges light up at night. The Clinton Presidential Library is at one end of downtown, with great stops like the Museum of Discovery and the Little Rock River Market down the street.
To Eat: Ranked as one of the best new “foodie cities” in America by numerous magazines and websites – Little Rock has plenty to offer for all tastes. Check out a fun diner called “@ (At) The Corner” for breakfast or lunch.
Along The Way: Coming down highway 55, check out the boyhood home of Johnny Cash in Dyess, Arkansas. It’s about seven miles off the highway, in the middle of nowhere. Recently restored to the days when the Cash family lived there after the Great Depression. You’ll recognize the scenery that was replicated in the film Walk The Line.
Bill’s Pick: Go just across the river from downtown and take a tour of the U.S.S. Razorback – the WWII submarine that now sits in the river. It’s a really interesting experience – and you’ll have huge respect for the men and women that work in them!
Road Trip #5 – Cincinnati
To Do: See the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame, or take a bridge walk over to the Kentucky side of the Ohio river. Fans of comics will recognize the Cincinnati Museum as the inspiration for the Justice League Hall of Justice. Don’t miss visiting the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood.
To Eat: The local claim to fame is Skyline Chili – which I personally think is awful. (But, hey what do I know?) I much prefer Graeter’s Ice Cream, which is based in Cincy and so delicious! For a multitude of food options, visit in May during Taste Of Cincinnati.
Along The Way: Louisville, KY. Check out the Louisville Slugger Museum, or the Mohammad Ali Center downtown. For a quirky stop – Col Sanders grave site is a short drive from downtown.
Bill’s Pick: Visit one of my favorite museums in the U.S. – the American Sign Museum. This place is amazing! Over 300 signs, many large and neon from America’s highways and byways. The visuals are almost overwhelming as you walk through, on a tour of the early days of American cross country travel.
Road Trip #6 – Wichita
Oops! Turns out I either drive really fast or just assumed Wichita was closer. Turns out Wichita is actually about 7 hours from Saint Louis – but definitely still worth the road trip! Such a great town!
To Do: After a visit to Wichita, you’ll no longer say “there’s nothing to do in Kansas!” This hip, mid-west town is full of kind people and lots of interesting things to check out. You can visit the new Pizza Hut Museum, which is housed in the original Pizza Hut store. Be sure to visit Old Cowtown for a realistic “old west” experience. At night, don’t miss the Keeper Of The Plains statue which is surrounded by a ring of fire.
To Eat: Hands down, my favorite food stop in Wichita is the Old Mill Tasty Shop! It’s a step back in time, with homemade favorites and incredible milkshakes! Public At The Brickyard is a close second. Good food and ambiance.
Along The Way: You’ll probably come up I-70 from St. Louis and pass a handful of interesting stops. Set up a tour of Warm Springs Ranch, the breeding facility of the Budweiser Clydesdales in Boonville. Fulton has the National Churchill Museum and a lot of great restaurants a short drive off the interstate. And, of course, you’ll pass through Kansas City – which is loaded with fun options. Check out my favorite KC museum – the National Museum of Toys & Miniatures!
Bill’s Pick: Stop in to Hatman Jack’s and meet the man that has made hats for all kinds of famous people! He even picked out and fitted a hat for yours truly the last time I was in town!
Want more road trip ideas from St. Louis? Check out this in-depth list of TOP 20 ROAD TRIPS FROM ST. LOUIS.