When traveling across the Show-Me State, don’t limit your stops to fuel fill-ups and fast-food breaks. Take some time to stretch your legs – and your imagination – at some of Missouri’s memorable roadside attractions.
The old saying “the greatest thing since sliced bread” comes to life in Chillicothe where a mural pays tribute to the town’s claim to fame as the home of sliced bread. In 1928, Chillicothe became the first place in the world to sell machine-sliced loaves – and sandwich making has never been the same. The sliced-bread mural is one of more than two dozen outdoor works of arts that decorate the historic downtown.
In Marshall, explore the life of Jim the Wonder Dog whose powers of prediction were legendary. A bronze statue of the Llewellyn setter is the centerpiece of the Jim the Wonder Dog Museum & Garden. The cunning canine puzzled psychologists with his abilities to pick the winners of the Kentucky Derby, correctly guess the sex of unborn babies and other amazing feats. In 2017, state lawmakers passed legislation recognizing Jim as “Missouri’s Wonder Dog.”
Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! Odditorium in Branson proudly displays the World’s Largest Ball of Twine – although the title is up for debate. Nonetheless, the ball of twine – with a circumference surpassing 41 feet – is a sight to see, along with hundreds of other entertaining oddities.
Recall one of Mark Twain’s most famous stories at the spot where Tom Sawyer cleverly convinced his friends to whitewash a fence. The Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum in Hannibal includes six historic buildings and two museums featuring Missouri’s most famous author. Visit Riverview Park to see a stately statue of Samuel Clemens overlooking the Mississippi River.
A young Walt Disney spent countless days dreaming beneath a large cottonwood tree near his boyhood home in Marceline. Years later, many of the animated characters he created were inspired by his time at the Dreaming Tree. The tree died in 2015, but a decade earlier, Disney’s grandson planted a sapling grown from a seed harvested from the original tree. Now the Son of Dreaming Tree carries on the legacy at the Disney Farm. Visitors are invited to write messages to Disney inside a nearby barn, where he put on his first production.
The Patee House Museum in St. Joseph, features the home where Jesse James – one of Missouri’s most infamous outlaws – was murdered in 1882 by fellow gang member Bob Ford. The house includes artifacts from Jesse James’ life as well as items from Frank James and the Ford brothers.
A larger-than-life bronze statue in St. Charles pays tribute to two of the most famous explorers to set foot in Missouri. Meriwether Lewis and William Clark met in the city – known then as Les Petites Cotes – in 1804 to gather final supplies before embarking on their expedition into the Louisiana Purchase territory. The monument sits along the Missouri Riverfront in Frontier Park.
Take a walk through ancient history at Graham Cave State Park, near Danville, where artifacts dating back to more than 10,000 years ago have been unearthed. View exhibits that explain the cultural and natural significance of the site and enter the mouth of the cave.
One of the most colorful spots in Kansas City is a parking garage for the Central Branch of the Kansas City Public Library. When the structure was built in 2006, area residents were asked for beautification ideas, and the Community Bookshelf was born. The façade features a “row of books” 25 feet tall with titles that include Charlotte’s Web, the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Truman and The Lord of the Rings.
At just over 42 feet tall and 27,500 pounds, the giant rocking chair near Cuba was once certified by the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest in the world. But records are made to be broken. The rocker, known to many people as the Route 66 Rocker, now ranks number two.
Catch a glimpse of the heyday of Route 66 at Gary’s Gay Parita in Ash Grove. The re-creation of a 1930s Sinclair gas station includes the original gas pumps and other memorabilia from the “Mother Road.”
These attractions – and many more – await along Missouri’s roadways. Find more information at VisitMO.com.