St. Louis is a wonderful city to visit if you are traveling by car across America. It is known as one of the major stopping places for those who want to see the old Route 66, a famous highway that starts in Chicago and ends in in Los Angeles. While most of Route 66 is gone or has been replaced with modern interstate highways, many excellent stopping places still exist.
If you have a day to spend in St. Louis and you are traveling by car, this guide will give you some of the best Route 66 sites in the metro area.
Old Chain of Rocks Bridge, Madison, IL to St. Louis, MO
The Old Chain of Rocks Bridge is one of the original Route 66 bridges that crossed the Mississippi River. While it is now closed to car traffic, you can still travel it by foot or by bike.
When visiting the bridge, start at the Illinois side which begins near Granite City, IL and is located in a small park on Chouteau Island. The bridge includes a beautiful view of the St. Louis skyline, and if you visit in the winter, bring binoculars because you might spot migrating bald eagles.
Along the bridge’s span are several stopping points that include Route 66 history and wildlife information for the area. If you bike, you can also take the trail past the bridge into St. Louis City (along the Mississippi River) or to Alton, IL on the Illinois side of the bridge.
The bridge is also unique because of its bizarre 30-degree turn partway over the river. With that in mind, you can see why it is now closed to car traffic!
Old Chain of Rocks Bridge, West Chain of Rocks Rd. between Riverview Dr. in St. Louis, MO and Illinois Route 3 in Madison County, IL
Macklind Ave. Deli and Ted Drewe’s Frozen Custard
Once you drive into St. Louis along what used to be Route 66, visit the Macklind Ave. Deli. The sandwiches are amazing and represent St. Louis’ best — and they’re affordable.
In addition, the Macklind Ave. Deli has over 300 beers to choose from, including local microbrews. If you have never visited the St. Louis area before, I recommend a classic local beer, the Schlafly Pale Ale. If you live in the area, check out some of the microbrew choices.
After lunch, head down the street to another Route 66 classic location, Ted Drewe’s Frozen Custard. Frozen Custard is a regional favorite similar to ice cream, but creamier and richer in flavour. There are several choices for frozen custard flavours, and Ted Drewe’s site has a lot of Route 66 memorabilia to take in.
Macklind Ave. Deli, 4721 Macklind Avenue, St. Louis, MO
Ted Drewe’s Frozen Custard, 6726 Chippewa, St. Louis, MO
The Museum of Transportation
While traveling the sites of old Route 66, it’s a great idea to stop by The Museum of Transportation. This museum has not only information on Midwest and interstate travel across the US, it has exhibits that explore the history of American railroads and the roads themselves.
The museum also hosts several car shows, including some local car shows. There are always car exhibits no matter the time of year you visit.
The Museum of Transportation, 2967 Barrett Station Road, St. Louis, MO, call 314-965-6885 for more information
Dinner and Evening Activity
Plush St. Louis
After your trip out to see the Museum, have dinner at Plush. This is an eclectic restaurant, and has a blend of fun events, quirky artwork, and evening music. Almost every night, there is something going on, including local and touring artists and musicians.
Plush’s menu is divided between “smalls” (appetizers) and “bigger things” (main dishes). I recommend the Shrimp and Grits or the Vegetarian sandwich if you’re getting dinner. Since St. Louis is known for its beer, Plush offers 20 beers on tap.
After you eat, stick around because Plush is also a great place to end your evening. Not only do they have live music most nights, there are also DJ events. All types of music are represented: bluegrass, dance/electronica, alternative rock, and more. Check ahead of time to see what type of music is on that night, or show up for a surprise.
Plush St. Louis, Midtown, 3224 Locust St., St. Louis, MO
St. Louis is a great place to visit by car, especially if you are touring Route 66 or are interested in roadworthy Americana.