Follow along on our Route 66 Road Trip turn by turn along the Mother Road from Chicago to Los Angeles! Day 3 took us from St. Louis, Missouri to Lebanon, Missouri and included some frozen custard for breakfast at Ted Drewes Frozen Custard, the Mason-Dixon Line Flea Market, the Riverside Wildlife Center, the World’s Largest Rocking Chair, and the Mule Trading Post before stopping for the night at the Munger Moss Motel. Oh, vintage signs. Lots and lots of vintage signs.
Route 66 Road Trip Day 3: St. Louis to Lebanon
On day 3, we could not get out of St. Louis fast enough. We tried to visit the Gateway Arch, but based on what we experienced and saw in St. Louis (and the reviews I read), we didn’t want to leave our car packed full of luggage in the pay-to-park garage. We tried driving around to the other side of the arch so I could photograph it, but Google kept giving us bad directions. At one point, Google wanted us to turn up a street that was so torn up and full of rubble and trash that I had to point out to my husband that he had missed the turn! He did not believe me that it was still considered a street!
So we learned that the best way to see the Gateway Arch … is in the rear view mirror.
So, our first stop for the day was for some breakfast frozen custard at Ted Drewes Frozen Custard. It might be the best thing about St. Louis.
Then we hit the road and came across a bunch of awesome vintage neon motel signs.
Then, we stopped at the Mason-Dixon Line Flea Market. I bought an old, green, glass bottle from a character who showed us his “found diamond” and his “found spoon.” The spoon was actually pretty cool!
And next was a stop at the Riverside Wildlife Center. Back when Route 66 was the main artery there were several wildlife centers to stop at for families with kids. So we decided to stop and check it out.
The place smells. Like reptile. And meat. It’s so bad. But I sucked it up and luckily, half of the tour is outside. They say that they are an animal refuge center and take in exotic animals that were formerly pets. We saw several alligators, goats, tigers, a lion, bobcats, and a wolf. Inside the center we took a tour of their reptile room which houses several snakes, turtles, baby alligators, and caimans. We got to hold an alligator!
I didn’t love this stop. It felt gross. The animals cages are too small and they deserve better. But I did enjoy experiencing something hopefully similar to what thousands of other travelers might have experienced when driving the Mother Road back in the early days.
The Riverside Animal Center is along the way to Meramac Caverns. And you can’t miss Meramac Caverns because they have a million billboards and painted barns alerting you to its location. We didn’t visit the caverns because we had visited Carlsbad Caverns on our trip east, but if we hadn’t just seen a bunch of stalactites and stalagmites, then we definitely would have stopped and to be honest part of me is disappointed we didn’t just go anyway!
Next up was a water tower full of bourbon, Bette Davis in Cuba, Missouri, and an awesome-looking motel. We probably should have stayed the night at the Wagon Wheel Motel instead of stopping in St. Louis, but if we had done that, then we might have missed out on Ted Drewes custard and holding alligators …
We then saw the World’s Largest Rocking Chair.
We stopped at the Mule Trading Post and saw the old Hillbilly sign. Unfortunately his arms do not windmill anymore.
After that was the amazing sign at Totem Pole antiques and we probably should have stopped for dinner at the Sirloin Stockade. The mid-west will put a fiberglass cow or horse on anything!
And the drive into Lebanon had several more signs including a restaurant, fried chicken, and a bowling alley next to an adult superstore.
We checked into the Munger Moss Motel and met the owner, Ramona. She is a character! All of the small motel owners are characters which is part of the charm of Route 66. She and my husband discussed healthcare in America and shopping “made in America.”
We stayed in the Route 66 themed room which is decorated with photos of the Munger Moss and other motels along the Mother Road.
And the neon is amazing!
The Munger Moss has been put up for sale in the past. Although not still on the market, I think Ramona and her husband Bob would like to retire. The asking price when the motel was on the market was $995,000.
For dinner, we had the choice between BBQ and Applebee’s. And we decided to go with Applebee’s. It felt very Friday Night Lights-ish and authentic for that part of Missouri. It was located on the route, and there were locals eating there, so why not. Besides, the BBQ restaurant in town looked like it had just changed names, and I’m not a fan of trying a restaurant when it has recently changed owners.
Stay: Munger Moss Motel, 1336 Historic U.S. 66, Lebanon, MO 65536, (417) 532-3111
Want to follow along on the rest of our Route 66 Road Trip? Check out the other days here: