7 Stops Along Your Trip Through Missouri’s Route 66

Get a snapshot of the must-see stops along Route 66 right here in Missouri. We’ve rounded up the most intriguing road-side attractions from St. Louis to Joplin.

by Ettie Berneking

Jun 01 2022 at 8 a.m.

Even if you’re not into cars, you’ve heard of Route 66. And even if you don’t know much about the historic highway, you’ve likely heard a song or two about it. References to Route 66 have made it into lyrics sung by Nat King Cole, Depeche Mode, The Rolling Stones, Chuck Berry, The Cheetah Girls, Van Morrison… the list goes on. You probably also know that Springfield is considered the birthplace of this much-talked about highway.

Thanks to this historical designation, tour groups and visitors from all across the country make a pitstop in Springfield to soak up some car-themed history, and one of their first stops while in town is at the Route 66 Car Museum. Here, they can see owner Guy Mace’s collection of 100-plus vintage cars, and they can pick up an illustrated map of Route 66 that will help guide them on their drive.

To get a snapshot of the must-see stops along Route 66 here in Missouri, we’ve rounded up the most intriguing road-side attractions from St. Louis to Joplin.

Route 66 Car Museum

1. Chain of Rocks Bridge

If you’re starting your drive in St. Louis, this will be your very first stop along the way. The historic bridge used to connect Route 66 from Illinois to Missouri, and it became a well-known spot on the route thanks to the bridge’s intense curve that happens in the middle of the structure. Today, the bridge is only accessible to pedestrians and cyclists, and it connects to trails on either end. It officially opened up as a pedestrian bridge in 1999 as part of the Route 66 Bikeway. Additional fun fact: the bridge was also used by a film crew when director John Carpenter used the bridge in his film Escape From New York.

Meramec Caverns in Sullivan, Missouri
Photo courtesy Meramec CavernsMeramec Caverns in Sullivan, Missouri, is one of Missouri’s most-visited caves.

2. Meramec Caverns

Most people think of Meramec Caverns as Missouri’s most popular cave, but it’s also one of the most popular stops along Route 66. It might be thanks to the cave’s role as one of the hideouts used by Jesse James, or it could be the impressive rock formations, but either way, this is a Route 66 must.

The replica of the historic Sinclair gas station in Missouri.
Photo courtesy the Gay Parita Facebook groupThe replica of the historic Sinclair gas station is a popular stop for motorists looking for Route 66 Americana.

3. Route 66 Gay Parita Gas Station

If you love true slices of Americana, then be sure to plan a stop at Gay Parita’s gas station. This popular spot is a replica of the original gas station and convenience store that was built back in the 1930s. All the classics are here including, as rumor has it, free watermelon slices and cold sodas for visitors. There are tons of photo-worthy sights at this small stop, plus a covered picnic area to unwind and get out of the sun. To find the historic replica, head to 21118 Old Route 66, Ash Grove, Missouri.

Route 66 Car Museum
Photo courtesy Route 66 Car MuseumThe Route 66 Car Museum is a privately owned museum that has 100-plus vintage cars and plenty of Route 66 history to enjoy.

4. Route 66 Car Museum

Obviously, if you’re passing through Springfield, Missouri you need to stop at the car museum itself and talk shop with Guy. If you’re a car-fanatic, there’s plenty to see. Plus, you can grab lunch at the College Street Cafe diner next door.

5. Route 66 Drive-In Theater

Finding a drive-in theater these days is no small task, but luckily, you can find one in Carthage along Old Route 66 Boulevard. The Route 66 Drive-In returns each spring, and it’s cash-only at the front gate. Once you’re inside, the concession stand accepts credit and debit. You’re welcome to bring your own snack if you want, and you can find the list of upcoming films on the theater’s website.

Boots Motel
Photo courtesy Route 66 Car Museum

6. Boots Motel

Driving across Missouri can take all day, so why not spend the night in a historic motel with roots in Route 66? The historic Boots Court Motel is currently under preservation, but it is scheduled to open in mid June. It will have 13 rooms, so just look for the bright green neon, and take a load off for the night.

Route 66 Mural Park in Joplin MO
Photo courtesy JoplinThe Route 66 Mural Park was designed by artists Chris Auckerman and Jon White.

7. Route 66 Mural Park

To end your Route 66 journey through Missouri, swing by the Route 66 Mural Park in Joplin, Missouri. There’s actually lots to do in Joplin since the city’s downtown is part of the historic highway, but if you’re looking for the perfect photo op, head to 619 S. Main Street, to find the mural park. There are two murals to pose with plus a replica 1964 red Corvette.

Route 66 Car Museum


The Route 66 Car Museum is a little slice of motor heaven that sits on the original Route 66 in Springfield, Missouri. The museum is a privately owned car collection located on West College Street in Springfield that was started by Guy Mace. Guy started collecting in 1990 when he bought his first Jaguar. Today, the museum welcomes visitors and tour group who are interested in seeing 100-plus vintage cars and learning about Route 66.