Missouri Road Trip Guide: 2024 UFL Championship in St. Louis

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The best road trips are MO road trips.

Imagine a summer road trip where everyone gets a taste of what they want. A taste of sports, shopping, history and nature – plus a taste of delicious food, of course. This Road to Missouri itinerary will provide all of that and more. In addition, you’ll cap off the trip with a once-in-a-lifetime chance – being in the crowd at the first annual UFL (United Football League) Championship game.

The UFL season’s final game will be June 16, 2024, hosted at The Dome at America’s Center, home of the St. Louis Battlehawks. There are 3 major Interstates that lead into St. Louis (I-55, I-44 and I-70), and the following itineraries will map out things to do and places to eat along each one.

Driving on I-55

A. Lambert’s Café – Sikeston

Start off your trip with a hearty lunch at Lambert’s Café. About a mile off the Interstate, this homey restaurant is known as “Home of the Throwed Rolls.” They are delicious, and guests can request to catch them via a gentle toss. The restaurant offers generous portions and a constant stream of “pass arounds.” The menu has traditional options and southern classics, like Golden Fried Chicken, Fried Catfish and Pulled Pork Sandwich. Expect to catch some fun and fill your belly.

B. Cape Safari Park – Cape Girardeau

Visit Cape Safari Park, a walk-thru petting zoo that is conveniently located close to the Interstate – approximately 1.5 miles. While at the zoo, you will get a personalized experience you won’t have at other zoos. Some fan favorites include the Petting Zoo and the Parakeet Jungle. The former provides a hands-on experience that adults and children alike will enjoy. The latter features beautiful, colorful parakeets. Hold them and get cheek to beak – it’s an experience that will tickle your fancy and your cheek!

C. Hawn State Park – Ste. Genevieve

Situated about 14 miles southwest of Ste. Genevieve, Hawn State Park is a perfect stop for nature enthusiasts – geology buffs will see the varied rock types; hikers can admire and walk the trails; bird watchers can look to the trees for an array of bird species. It’s a sight to see, whether for an afternoon or overnight stay. For an afternoon, have a picnic beneath the shaded trees at one of the 30 sites. If you opt for overnight, the area has basic and electric campsites for your camping preference and comfort.

D. Mastodon State Historic Site – Imperial

Mastodon State Historic Site is about a mile from I-55 and about 30 minutes south of St. Louis. Guests can learn about the first evidence (discovered in Imperial, MO) that humans and the American mastodon – likely resembling a mammoth or elephant – coexisted during prehistoric times. While at the park, hike one of the three trails, including the one that leads to where the mastodon’s bones were found. The area also features picnic sites, a playground and a wildflower garden where you’re likely to see birds and butterflies.

Coming from I-44

A. Grand Falls – Joplin

Whether stopping for a moment of peace or a social media photo-op, Grand Falls is the perfect place. This wonder is known as Missouri’s largest continuously flowing natural waterfall. The waterfall plunges 12 feet down on solid chert and then peacefully flows downriver. Swimming is allowed, so this place is perfect for a summer cooldown.

B. Jordan Valley Park – Springfield

Outdoor Jordan Valley Park is a 15-acre park in downtown Springfield and close to Hammons Field. It has trails, climbing rock play areas, picnic tables and the Ozarks Stream and Fountain – a popular place to splash and cool off. It also features some large structures, like the Kinetic Man, and features a Springfield Wagon with a slide coming out of it. This park has lots of space and options for play.

C. Public House Brewing Company – Rolla

The Public House Brewing Company is a warm and inviting brewpub located in downtown Rolla, Missouri. They offer craft beers “that are balanced and consistent with innovative techniques,” as well as seasonal beers. The adorable downtown location also offers menu items that are sure to satisfy your palate – start off your meal with a creamy Pimento Cheese Dip or the popular Pub Pretzels and choose a panini or pizza for your entrée.

D. Route 66 Rocker – Cuba

In September 2008, the Guinness Book of World Records awarded Dan and Carolyn Sanazaro’s 42’1″ steel rocker the title of World’s Largest Rocking Chair. A little over a mile off the Interstate, the giant rocking chair sits next to the Fanning 66 Outpost. Though it has been surpassed as the largest in the world, it’s still a sight to see! Stop by for a quick photo and then check out the outpost for souvenirs, candy and popcorn.

E. Meramec Caverns – Stanton

Meramec Caverns has something for everyone. It's just 4 miles off I-44 and is about an hour outside of St. Louis. Go on a guided tour of the seven-level natural wonder, rumored to be a hideout for Jesse James and his gang. Outside of the cave, visitors can zipline across the Meramec River or defy gravity on the rock-climbing wall. Children can pan for fool’s gold while parents wander the shop at the Mine Store. If you decide to stay overnight, you can choose from camping or lodging options. The onsite restaurant is an ideal spot to grab a bite for dinner.

Traveling Down I-70

A. The College Basketball Experience (The CBE) – Kansas City

This facility offers unique, realistic experiences for its visitors. Purchase tickets online or at the T-Mobile Center Main Lobby, located right outside The CBE entrance. Once inside, walk through the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame and learn about college basketball legends. On the “experience” side, try to make a game-winning shot at “Beat the Clock” or make as many free-throws as you can in a challenging arena. This place isn’t simply a museum. It’s an interactive place where casual or hardcore fans – of any age – can experience the game as a college player.

B. Warm Springs Ranch – Boonville

Meet the Anheuser-Busch Clydesdale stallions at Warm Springs Ranch. The property is 300 acres with more than 70 Clydesdales. Only about a mile from I-70, the establishment has tours for a variety of interests. Clydesdales & Cheers offers time with a Budweiser Clydesdale while enjoying appetizers and drinks. Outside, hop aboard a wooden vehicle and cruise through pastures to admire the majestic animals in their natural environment. History buffs can join the History & Horses tour to learn about the horses. These behind-the-scenes adventures will become unforgettable memories.

C. Glenn’s Cafe – Columbia

Stop for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner at Glenn’s Café and experience charm and history. This restaurant began in 1943 as a small gas station diner, and it is now operating at The Tiger Hotel. Choose from a menu that contains Cajun, Creole and American food options. If you go during lunch, try Glenn’s Famous Cornbread or Crawfish Popcorn. Finish off your meal with one of the Southern Sweets items. Another great thing about this location is that they offer a good selection of gluten-free and vegan options.

D. Missouri Bluffs Golf Club – St. Charles

This golf course has a serene setting and is 20 minutes south of Interstate 70. Missouri Bluffs Golf Club is close to St. Louis (about 30 minutes), so visitors can revel in an afternoon outing or spend all day out on the green with a quick drive back to the city. Opened in 1995, this course was designed by legendary golf course architect, Tom Fazio. The site’s Pro Shop is a full-service golfing headquarters, and the restaurant offers appetizers, sandwiches and wraps during on-season and concession items during off-season.

Near the Stadium in St. Louis

A. The Gateway Arch – St. Louis

Completed in 1965, the Gateway Arch has taken millions of visitors to new heights – 630 feet in the air to be exact. Book a ticket for the tram to the top or book a cruise on the Mighty Mississippi – the riverboat will glide along the water and the monument will shine in its pristine glory. While there are sights to see from above, there are stories to be told below. Situated under the St. Louis Arch, the Museum at Gateway Arch National Park has free admission and will tell the city’s storied past.

B. Cardinals Nation – St. Louis

This venue sits near Busch Stadium. Spanning three levels, the atmosphere at Cardinals Nation is electric. Enjoy sports-inspired dishes on the rooftop deck or sit inside and catch the action on one of the flat-screen TVs. After, check out the Hall of Fame and Museum. Learn about the team’s rich history, hold an authentic bat and call some plays in “The Broadcast Booth.” Whether you’re there for sports history, food or the rooftop view, you’ll leave Cardinals Nation feeling your time was a grand slam.

C. Sugarfire Smokehouse – St. Louis

Surround yourself with the mouthwatering smells of barbecue at Sugarfire Smokehouse in downtown St. Louis. The establishment has created a St. Louis style, award-winning barbecue: baby back ribs, juicy pulled pork and delicious beef brisket. Start out with Pork Belly Hush Puppies or Fried Green Tomatoes and choose one of their savory specials for an entrée. End your meal with a house-made milkshake or float. The restaurant offers takeout and delivery – so no matter where you are, you can get a taste of Sugarfire.

D. National Blues Museum – St. Louis

The National Blues Museum explores the blues, the root of all American music, and their mission is “to show you just how deep those roots go.” The museum is full of vibrant exhibits (you could create a blues tone of you own) and hosts live shows in the Legends Room. The National Blues Museum isn’t just about blues – it’s about all types of music. This foundation has preserved and continues to promote a genre that has given a voice to generations of musical artists.