Missouri – The Musical Tour of a Lifetime

Travel across this U.S. State from the Blues to Jazz along the world’s most iconic road. Peter Morrell reports.

The City Museum St Louis

The City Museum St Louis

The Gateway Arch

The Gateway Arch

Munger Moss Motel

Munger Moss Motel

Gas Station on Route 66

Gas Station on Route 66

Sight and Sound Theatre Branson

Sight and Sound Theatre Branson

Kauffman Centre for Performing Arts

Kauffman Centre for Performing Arts

American Jazz Museum

American Jazz Museum

St Louis

Missouri is all about music but there is a whole lot more with the legendary Route 66 running through the state and other attractions like golf, good food and outdoor pursuits.

A two week road trip in the State would be a memorable experience starting in St Louis. Access from the UK a short connecting flight via Chicago, Dallas or Atlanta. When you arrive in St Louis head to the newly opened National Blues Museum which describes the history of the music genre that is the bedrock of modern rock and pop. If listening to all your favourite artists makes you hungry then pop next door to the Sugarfire Smoke House for their highly rated BBQ food.

For an eclectic cultural experience pay a visit to the City Museum. Founded by artist Bob Cassilly in 1997 and located in an old shoe factory. It’s a melange of quirky exhibits including re-purposed industrial and architectural artefacts and its collection is ever-growing.

Before leaving the city a must visit is the Gateway Arch a 630 foot, stainless steel clad monument to commemorate the westward expansion of the United States. Completed in 1965 it sits on the west bank of the Mississippi River, the area surrounding the arch has just been the subject of a major $400 million dollar restoration.

Route 66

It’s time to get your kicks on Route 66 and the section which passes through Missouri has been very well preserved. You will be heading south-west and many of the gas stations and road houses still exist, passing through Lebanon is one of the Route’s most popular motels, the Munger Moss built in 1946.

Staying on Route 66 you will pass through St James, location of the Vacuum Cleaner Museum before arriving at the historic town of Springfield, it’s known as the birthplace of Route 66 as it was here in 1926 that officials first proposed the name of the new Chicago-to-Los Angeles highway. The town was the site of two major battles in the American Civil War and in 1865 the Town Square was the place where a “quick draw” duel took place between Wild Bill Hickok and Davis Tutt.

Less than an hour’s drive due south of Springfield is the town of Branson. Its big claim to fame is its 40+ music theatres, the list of celebrities and musicians who appear in the town is a roll-call of America’s most popular entertainers from crooners to country and western stars.

Branson and the Ozarks

Branson is very well positioned for a journey back into nature, the nearby Ozark mountains are where you can bike and hike the trails. One of the places to visit in the area is Dogwood Canyon, a 10,000 acre wildlife resort where you can experience the outdoor life with jeep and tram safaris and in the evening enjoy a traditional chuck wagon dinner. You can stay in at the nearby Big Cedar Lodge which features the region’s top golf course, Buffalo Ridge.

The drive back north from here up State towards Kansas City will take you via the town of Joplin where on Oak Ridge Drive Bonnie and Clyde and the Barrow gang hid after a series of robberies.

Kansas City

Arriving in Kansas City you will again be immersed in music but this time jazz. There are more than 40 clubs dedicated to it and the city is known as the cradle of jazz. And as St Louis has a Blues Museum Kansas City has a Jazz Museum. The culture doesn’t end there, the world famous Nelson Atkins Museum will please art lovers and the Kauffman Centre for Performing Arts offers ballet, opera and music. If you are interested in natural phenomena then Kansas City is right on the path of the next solar eclipse which will occur on 18th August 2017.

For Wild West fan about an hour’s drive north of Kansas City is St Joseph, the home of Pony Express and now the location of a museum dedicated to the world’s first courier service.

Other Attractions

If your holiday time is limited then you can take the more direct east to west route between St Louis and Kansas City. About half of the journey is through the Missouri River Valley and was the destination for many German settlers who brought wine growing from Europe. The area is known as the Missouri Rhineland and on its eastern edge is the State Capital, Jefferson City. About a 30 minute drive from Jefferson is Fulton and it was at Westminster College in the town that Winston Churchill made is famous ‘Iron Curtain’ speech in 1946, a museum commemorates both the speech and Churchill himself. Symbolically it was here that Mikhail Gorbachev appeared in 1992 to announce the end of the cold war.

This interesting U.S. State is relatively unknown in the U.K. but visitors will find the real American experience during their stay

Several tour operators offer packages to the State, for more information go to
www.visitmo.com

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