As a milestone anniversary approaches for America’s “Mother Road” – I’m traveling across the country taking photos, gathering video, and finding the best things to do on Route 66 in Missouri. 2026 will mark 100 years since the birth of the cross-country highway that’s become part of our heritage, a fascination to visitors from afar, and memorialized in a catchy little tune that’s instantly recognizable when you hear it.
Missouri has its fair share of interesting and quirky stops along or near Route 66. Starting with the iconic Chain of Rocks Bridge that features its iconic 22-degree angle turn. When the bridge first opened in1929, drivers were charged a toll to cross the Mississippi River. These days it’s a free attraction for pedestrians searching for nostalgia.
As you travel throughout the state, you’ll find some unique, perhaps even bizarre attractions that can be found on a Route 66 road trip. The Precious Moments Chapel and Museum is located in the town of Carthage in southwest Missouri. If you grew up in the 1980s, you may remember someone that had these little statues displayed around their house. Carthage also has an historic motor lodge known as The Boots Court. After falling into disrepair, the motel is being completely renovated and its 13 rooms are back open for travelers. The town also has one of the few remaining drive-in theaters in the midwest.
No attraction along Route 66 generates more laughs than the faux town of “Uranus” near St. Robert, Missouri. In addition to selling themed items in its gift store, along with homemade fudge, it’s also home to the world’s largest belt buckle. Speaking of world’s largest, a former title holder in the town of Fanning is still a popular roadside attraction for Route 66 travelers. The once “world’s largest rocking chair” stands 42.4 feet high and weighs more than 27,000 pounds. It lost its title in 2015, but still remains the “largest rocker on Route 66”!
There are plenty of fun photo ops for travelers on Route 66 in Missouri. Cuba has named itself “Mural City” as more than a dozen themed murals are on display around town. Joplin has a downtown mural tour which leads visitors to various public artwork. One spot not to miss in Joplin is the Route 66 Mural Park where you’ll find a cool 3-D painting with a ’64 Corvette replica that extends from the wall.
Springfield, which claims to be the birthplace of Route 66 in Missouri, has plenty of things to see and do even beyond the historic highway. A stop at the local visitor center is a must for Route 66 themed gifts and guidance. Springfield’s top attraction, Wonders of Wildlife is absolutely incredible and located within the country’s first Bass Pro Shop. Other popular things to enjoy include Fantastic Caverns, a Route 66 Car Museum, and the Springfield Cardinals – a minor league affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team.
Lebanon has a Route 66 museum and research center that travelers can explore. It’s also home to the Munger Moss Motel, a gem of a throwback to the historic road’s early days. Wrink’s Market gets an honorable mention as well. It’s been around since the 1950s.
The Show Me State also includes some must-visit spots for food and sweet treats! Ted Drewes, easily the most notable dessert spot in St. Louis, is definitely one of the best things to do on Route 66 in Missouri! It’s won numerous awards over the years, even for best ice cream in the world! A Slice of Pie in Rolla has been a hot spot for travelers looking for a delicious dessert for over 30 years! Missouri Hick Bar-B-Que may be the best barbecue joint along the entirety of the mother road! Located in Cuba, the owner is not only a master of the grill, he even made the tables you’ll eat on!
Though Route 66 may stretch more 2,400 miles from Chicago to L.A. – Missouri should be proud of its 317 miles and all of the interesting and amusing things to see and do while on the road!