This post is sponsored by Kansas Tourism. Opinions belong to the writer.
If you are looking for a fun summer adventure for your family, I have the perfect one for you. Less than 3 hours from Kansas City is the Kansas portion of US Route 66. US Route 66, also known as the Mother Road, was established in 1926 and was one of the original highways in the United States and quickly became one of the most famous roads in the country.
The Kansas part of the Mother Road is only 13.2 miles long, but your family will find plenty of things to do and see. You can do this trip as a day trip or if you want to have more time, stay overnight! If you decide to stay, there are several B&Bs along the route or you can do like us and drive a bit and stay in Pittsburg, Kan.
Things to Do Along Route 66
We drove directly to Monarch Pharmacy to try some of their delicious, sweet treats. The Pharmacy closes at noon on Saturdays and is not open on Sundays, so make sure you get there on time. Monarch Pharmacy is in Baxter Springs and is a working pharmacy that sells homemade ice cream, snow cones and vintage sodas. Relax in their seating area, check out the vintage pharmacy tools they have on display and strike some poses with the outside murals they have on both sides of their building
Weston’s Route 66 Cafe
Down the street from Monarch Pharmacy, you will find Weston’s Route 66 Café, stop here and try their delicious pies. Our family shared the strawberry rhubarb and the apple pie, and they were so good and only $1 a slice! The cafe is very popular among locals, and it was very crowded when we were there. They serve breakfast and lunch here too. While there, make sure you find the picture of Mickey Mantle when he was 17 years old with his baseball team.
Marsh Arch Bridge
Just 3.5 miles north from Baxter Springs is the Marsh Arch Bridge, also known as the Rainbow Bridge. The Rainbow bridges were once almost synonymous with a Route 66 drive, but this one, is now the only drivable one left on Route 66. Park your car in a small lot they have next to the bridge and soak in the fresh air and enjoy the area.
Our daughter’s favorite part of the trip was finding all the Cars friends. We stopped at Cars on the Route, where the original Tow Mater is. This is the actual truck that inspired the character in Cars the movie. You can also see a fire truck and a vintage gas station, if you are hungry, you can grab a burger in the inside store. From here you can walk to Luigi’s Pit Stop and find the replicas of Lighting McQueen and the Sheriff. The search for Cars friends should not end up here, head to Gearhead Curious to see Doc Hudson, another cool vintage gas station and a unique license plate mural.
Mom Tip: If your kids haven’t watched the Cars movie have them do it before the trip, it will be much more exciting for them.
Schermerhorn Park and Southeast Kansas Nature Center
Another thing not to miss while in Galena is the Schermerhorn Park. The park has a playground, sand box, gazebos that are ideal for a picnic and bathrooms. We absolutely loved the stream area but watch out your kids may jump in like our daughter did. So, it’s a good idea to have an extra outfit for the kids.
This park is the home to the Southeast Kansas Nature Center, a fun stop especially if you are with kids. The first thing they told us when we got there was that our daughter Isabella could open the drawers, touch, and play with everything. The person in charge was extra nice, she explained everything, answered all our questions and let Isabella pet a small snake they have. This awesome place is free of charge for the whole family.
Nelson’s Old Riverton Store has been operating since 1925 and is listed on the National Registry of historic places on Route 66. The store runs as grocery and a deli which is very popular among locals. You can also buy your route 66 memorabilia and enjoy antiques they have displayed. Be on the lookout for the floor and find a cute little road with a Route 66 sign.
Following the advice of a local, we bought one of their frozen pies. We chose the blueberry one, came home and baked it and it was delicious. So do yourself a favor and get a pie here too.
Where to Eat Along Route 66
While we were in downtown Galena, we decided to try Mi Torito Mexican Restaurant, and it was very good. In Baxter Springs, we tried Bricks & Brew-Woodfire Grill and Pub, and the pizza was yummy. There’s many other local restaurants you can try. Before making the trip, my suggestion is to check the hours as many places seem to have limited hours on the weekend. For a quick bite you will find the classics like Sonic, Pizza Hut and some others that will suit your family taste.
My favorite part of this trip was the people we met along the way. I was charmed with their kindness, friendliness and their willingness to help and tell you a little bit of the history of their town. It reminded me my hometown back in Puerto Rico.
Go explore Kansas Route 66, and let us know all about your experience!
If you are looking for some more ideas on road trips from Kansas City click here.