Everyone knows they can get their kicks on Route 66; they may not know about the fun on Route 61. From North to South, this scenic route - also known as the The Blues Highway - has family fun and adventure aplenty. Note that Route 61 overlaps other highways in this region of Missouri.
Start your trek on Route 61 south in Ste. Genevieve, one of the most historic cities in Missouri. Here you find homes such as The Louis Bolduc House, a National Historic Landmark built circa 1792, when Missouri was governed by Spain. Visit this vertical log house, gardens, and discover what life in 18th century Ste. Genevieve was like.
125 S. Main St., Ste. Genevieve MO 63670, 573-883-3105
Hours: Mon.-Thur., 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Fri., 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sat., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sun., noon-4 p.m.
The next stop on your south-bound adventure is beautiful and ornate. Saint Mary's of the Barrens Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1995. It was founded in 1818 and the church was started in 1827. The Shrine was built in 1929 to honor our Lady of the Miraculous Medal. The church is modeled after the Vincentian Motherhouse chapel in Rome, Monte Citorio. Tours are available.
1805 W. Saint Joseph St., Perryville MO 63775, 573-547-8343
Hours: Mon.-Fri., 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sat.-Sun., noon.-4 p.m.
As you continue south, you find things get wild at Cape Girardeau, home of Lazy L Safari Park. Perched on the banks of a slow-moving creek, Lazy L offers a self-guided experience. Walk through the main barn, petting zoo, animal nursery, and park grounds. Stroll along the creek while gazing into the fields to watch zebras or antelope.
2763 County Road 618, Cape Girardeau MO 63701, 573-243-7862
Hours: 10 a.m.-7 p.m. (No admission after 6 p.m.)
Stop for lunch at Cup N Cork, which has a menu of soups, salads, and hot and cold sandwiches. It's also popular for its homemade pies and Cheesecake Factory Cheesecakes.
46 N. Main St., Cape Girardeau MO 63701, 573-651-5282
Hours: Mon.-Thur., 7 a.m.-8 p.m.; Fri., 7 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sat., 9 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sun., 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
If you'd rather drive farther for a taste of southern cooking, head to Sikeston and the Lambert's Cafe. Known as the home of the "Throwed Rolls," you can catch some fun, and rolls, at one of America's most entertaining restaurants.
2305 E. Malone Ave., Sikeston MO 63801, 573-471-4261
Hours: Daily: 10:30 a.m.-9 p.m.
If you arrive in New Madrid in the late afternoon, visit this mansion, built in 1859. It is typical of pre-Civil War Mississippi River plantations. The Hunter property was said to have been used by Union troops during the Civil War.
312 Dawson Road, New Madrid MO 63869, 573-748-5340
Hours: March-November, Mon.-Fri., 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m., Sat., 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sun., noon-4 p.m.; December-February, Tue.-Sat., 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m., Sat., 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
In New Madrid, be sure to stop at this point of interest. Eight panoramic miles of the Mississippi River are visible from this 120-foot-long observation deck, including the New Madrid Bend, a point of strategic significance during the Civil War.
1 Main St., New Madrid MO 63869, 877-748-5300
Hours: Open 24 hours
If you'd like to find more information about your travels in Southeast Missouri, stop at this Official Missouri Welcome Center. Here you find tourism brochures, maps and highway information. The staff is very knowledgeable about the area and the state.
55 Welcome Center Drive (I-55 at Mile Marker 20), Hayti MO 63851, 573-359-0330
Hours: April 1-Oct. 31: Open daily, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.; Nov. 1-March 31: Open Mon.-Sat., 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
End your day by trying your luck at Lady Luck Casino. Inside you find slots, poker, and table games; there also are dining options, along with entertainment every weekend at The Lone Wolf.
777 E. 3rd St., Caruthersville MO 63830, 800-679-4945
Hours: Mon.-Thurs., 9 a.m.-3 a.m.; Open 24-hours starting at 9 a.m. Fridays through 3 a.m. Mondays