This article is presented in partnership with Missouri Division of Tourism.

Greetings fellow travel enthusiasts, it’s me Road Trip Mo. It’s time to hit the open road—windows down, wind in your hair. There’s nothing quite like traveling down Route 66. As one of the original highways in the U.S. Highway System, Route 66 is considered the quintessential road trip filled with nostalgic stops, mom-and-pop shops and quirky roadside attractions. Sample all three along a stretch of the highway in southwest Missouri from Springfield to Joplin. The Mother Road runs through eight states, from Illinois to California, but Missouri is where the route got its famous name. Federal officials, meeting in Springfield in 1926, approved 66 as the highway’s official number.

A 66-foot-long exhibit at the History Museum on the Square in downtown Springfield displays a colorful timeline and vintage signs from popular stops along the route. The museum’s six galleries use innovative technologies and “voices of history” to tell the stories of the area and its people. In addition to Route 66, exhibits feature the Civil War in Springfield, Wild Bill Hickok and the American West. Other Route 66 spots in Springfield include the Best Western Route 66 Rail Haven, which offers the Elvis suite, the Route 66 Car Museum and a 1962 Steak ‘n Shake with its vintage neon sign.

It’s easy to imagine 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. Nothing says nostalgia like a drive-in movie theater. Located in Carthage, the 66 Drive-In with its original neon sign is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The theater opened in 1949 and had a 34-year run before shutting down. Renovated and reopened in 1998, the drive-in shows double features Thursday through Sunday, spring through fall.

Historic Route 66 brought travelers through the heart of Joplin and the city became a popular stop. Today, Route 66 Mural Park pays tribute to the nostalgic era with two large tile murals, Cruisin’ into Joplin and The American Ribbon. A life-size sculpture of a 1964 Corvette, located just below the murals, provides a perfect photo opp.

Stop in at Joplin City Hall to see the mural, Route 66—Joplin, Missouri, painted by Anthony Benton Gude. The painting depicts the city in the mid-1900s, during the height of Route 66’s popularity.

While you’re there, don’t miss the mural, Joplin at the Turn of the Century, painted by Gude’s famous grandfather, renowned Missouri artist Thomas Hart Benton. It was his last signed largescale work.

The colorful glow of one of the largest neon signs in Missouri welcomes you to Wilder’s Steakhouse in Joplin. Housed in a historic building that showcases fine craftsmanship from the early 1900s and featuring an art deco-style bar, the restaurant takes you back to an earlier era. The retro roof-top sign had been dark for 20 years when it was brought to life again in 2018. The restaurant offers hand-cut steaks, fresh seafood and more.

Take a short detour off Route 66 in Joplin to see Grand Falls, Missouri’s largest continuously flowing waterfall. Located on Shoal Creek—a few miles downstream from Wildcat Park—the falls plunge 12 feet over a 163-foot-wide solid chert ledge before crashing into the jagged crags below.