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Road Trip Ready on Route 66

Follow the cross-country route known as the “Mother Road” and the “Main Street of America” for 480 kilometers across Missouri from St. Louis to Joplin. Soak up nostalgia at motor courts, mom-and-pop shops, retro diners, roadside attractions, colorful murals and history museums. Take in views from Gateway Arch National Park, the tallest monument in the USA. Learn about the heyday of Route 66 at the History Museum on the Square in Springfield. The USA’s most famous highway will mark its 100th anniversary in 2026 – and Missouri is gearing up for the celebration.

 

A Musical Destination

The soundtrack of the Show-Me State spans many genres. In Kansas City, it’s all about jazz. Head to the 18th & Vine historic jazz district where interactive exhibits at the American Jazz Museum feature Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Kansas City native Charlie Parker and other greats. Then spend an evening at one of the city’s legendary jazz clubs. In St. Louis, the National Blues Museum traces the development of the blues – considered the foundation of all modern American music. Blueberry Hill restaurant and music club pays tribute to St. Louis native Chuck Berry, who blended blues, jazz and gospel to create the groundbreaking sounds of rock and roll. Fans of country, rock and pop music will want to visit Branson, known for its high-energy, family-friendly shows. Catch a Broadway-style musical in St. Louis at The Fabulous Fox Theatre or The Muny, the oldest outdoor theater in the USA.

 

Outdoor Adventure

With more than 80,000 hectares of public green space, Missouri is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts. Hiking, biking, horseback riding, fishing and camping are popular pursuits at more than 50 state parks. Known as the “Cave State,” Missouri is home to some 6,400 caverns – more than 20 offer public tours. For a quintessential Ozark experience, paddle down a crystal-clear river in a canoe, kayak or raft. Water sports enthusiasts are never far from a lake for boating, skiing and swimming. Resorts at the state’s two largest lakes, Table Rock and Lake of the Ozarks, feature world-class golf courses designed by some of the sport’s top players.

 

Delectable Dishes

You’ll find cuisine from around the world in Missouri, but the state is best known for its barbecue – cuts of meat cooked “low and slow,” infused with the flavor of wood smoke and often slathered in tangy sauce. With more than 100 barbecue restaurants, Kansas City has been the epicenter of Missouri barbecue for decades, but you can savor great barbecue in every corner of the state. Don’t overlook the sides: Baked beans, macaroni and cheese, coleslaw and cornbread are local favorites.

 

Land of Champions

Missouri loves professional sports, especially football, baseball, hockey and soccer. Since 2014, Show-Me State teams have brought home Super Bowl, World Series and Stanley Cup trophies. Take in a game to see some of the USA’s top athletes in action. In 2026, Kansas City will welcome soccer fans from across the globe for the FIFA World Cup. The city is one of 16 locations in North America hosting the famed championship.

 

Fun Fact

A neon sign recognizing Springfield, Missouri, as the birthplace of Route 66
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Springfield is recognized as the official birthplace of Route 66, thanks to a 1926 telegram sent from the city’s Colonial Hotel officially accepting the name “Route 66” for the cross-country highway.

Performers and spectators at Dolly Parton’s Stampede in Branson, Missouri
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Featuring music, magic, comedy and more, Branson is home to more theater seats than the Broadway Theater District in New York City.

Photo: Explore Branson

Aerial view of Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri
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Spectators at the 2026 FIFA World Cup games in Kansas City will see the loudest stadium in the world. Arrowhead Stadium, home of the Kansas City Chiefs, set the Guinness World Record in 2014.

Must see places

A unique, bird’s-eye view of the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri
Explore St. Louis

Gateway Arch National Park

Ride a tram to the top of this 192-meter-high monument on the bank of the Mississippi River. Tour the park’s history museum with exhibits providing insights into westward expansion, Native Americans and early explorers. Take a riverboat cruise at sunset for impressive views of the gleaming archway and the St. Louis skyline.

Family-friendly roller coaster at Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri

Silver Dollar City

This 1880s-inspired theme park in the Ozark Mountains near Branson boasts thrill rides, including Time Traveler – billed as the world’s fastest, steepest and tallest spinning roller coaster. Watch craftsmen demonstrate fading art forms like blacksmithing, glassblowing, pottery and wood carving. In summer, enjoy the slides, wave pool and lazy river at White Water, Silver Dollar City’s water park. Top it off with a dinner cruise on the Showboat Branson Belle, featuring live performances and views of Table Rock Lake.

An exhibit at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Missouri

Negro Leagues Baseball Museum

Explore an often-overlooked chapter of professional sports history, Negro Leagues Baseball, and the rich history of Black Americans in baseball. Located in Kansas City’s historic 18th & Vine Jazz District, the museum highlights some of the greatest athletes to ever play the game, including Jackie Robinson and Satchel Paige. Exhibits examine the USA’s segregated past and how baseball helped break down racial barriers.

Family exploring an exhibit at the Wonders of Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium in Springfield, Missouri
Wonders of Wildlife

Wonders of Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium

Learn about animals from around the world at this immersive museum in Springfield. See detailed dioramas depicting some of the globe’s most extreme habitats, and marvel at marine life in the expansive aquarium. For an additional cost, reserve a spot on the Out to Sea Feeding Frenzy dive experience to share the water with sharks, barracudas and goliath grouper.

Exhibits inside the Walt Disney Hometown Museum in Marceline, Missouri

The Way of American Genius

Stretching across the northern part of Missouri, Highway 36 is known as The Way of American Genius. The route connects individuals and inventions that embody creativity, innovation and ingenuity. Visit the Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum in Hannibal, the Walt Disney Hometown Museum in Marceline, the Pony Express National Museum in St. Joseph and more.

Family cycling down a path in Katy Trail State Park in Missouri

Katy Trail State Park

Bike or hike along the Missouri River through historic wine country and past trailside towns on the longest developed rail-trail in the USA. Twenty-six trailheads and four restored depots provide easy access to the 386-kilometer route. Enjoy bed-and-breakfast accommodations, restaurants, wineries and breweries along the way.

Couple relaxing by the fire and their glamping tent at Camp Long Creek at Big Cedar Lodge in Ridgedale, Missouri
Big Cedar Lodge

Big Cedar Lodge

Immerse yourself in nature at Big Cedar Lodge, a wilderness resort deep in the Ozark Mountains. Choose from various accommodation options like lodge rooms, log cabins, cottages, camping cabins and glamping tents. Explore the property’s incredible amenities and attractions including multiple restaurants, a spa, four heated saltwater pools, the Lost Canyon Cave & Nature Trail, the Ancient Ozarks Natural History Museum, and five golf courses – including one designed by Tiger Woods.

A sampling of smoked meats plus sides and drinks at Arthur Bryant’s Barbeque in Kansas City, Missouri

Arthur Bryant’s Barbeque

This legendary Kansas City barbecue spot built by Arthur Bryant, nicknamed the “King of Ribs,” dates to 1930. Whether you’re craving sliced pork, beef brisket, burnt ends or ribs, the meat served here is smoked to perfection over hickory and oak. Be sure to top it off with some of Arthur Bryant’s famous sauce. Bonus: You can buy a bottle (or several) to take home.

Viewing exhibits at the National Blues Museum in St. Louis, Missouri

National Blues Museum

Trace the story of the blues, a distinctly American music genre with deep roots in St. Louis. See interactive exhibits and one-of-a-kind blues artifacts, and time your visit to enjoy live music, films, lectures and other special programs.

Couple enjoying beers at the Anheuser-Busch Brewery in St. Louis, Missouri

Anheuser-Busch Brewery

The iconic St. Louis brewery, founded in the 1850s, is a piece of living U.S. history. Take a beermaster tour, visit the famous Clydesdale horses and sample its signature beers straight from the finishing cellars.