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Can’t Miss Photo Ops on Missouri’s Route 66

Can’t Miss Photo Ops on Missouri’s Route 66

I road-tripped through Springfield, Missouri, known as the “Birthplace of Route 66”, to explore its captivating sights. With its notable presence in the international business market and a touch of sophistication, Springfield also embraces the nostalgic ambiance of Route 66. Capture these can’t-miss photo ops on Missouri’s Route 66 along the way, and remember to include yourself in the frames!


Enhance your road trip experience by visiting the Route 66 Springfield Visitor Center. Obtain maps and literature about the area’s attractions to optimize your itinerary. Additionally, the Visitor Center itself provides a charming photo opportunity.

A Brief Route 66 History

Missouri’s Route 66 spans 300+ miles, boasting picturesque scenery. Known as the Mother Road, Will Rogers Highway, or the Main Street of America, this iconic slice of Americana attracts millions of visitors annually. The retro highway, commissioned in the 1920s, evokes nostalgia and offers fun with its neon-lit motels, quirky restaurants, and roadside attractions.


We have many other fun things to do in Springfield, MO, in this post.

Route 66 Car Museum

Experience the ultimate Missouri Route 66 journey by exploring the vintage vehicles that grace its iconic roads. Springfield’s renowned Route 66 Car Museum, spanning 20,000 square feet, is the prime destination for this captivating spectacle. Over 70 cars await discovery, including notable film stars, exquisite sports vehicles, and whimsical delights. 


Owner Guy Mace has meticulously curated an impressive collection of American and European automobiles, which debuted to the public in 2016. During my own memorable Route 66 expedition, Guy and his delightful daughter, Dacy, chauffeured my companions and me along Springfield’s Route 66 in two magnificent automobiles: a metallic golden beige 1967 Austin Healey and a Rolls Royce Silver Shadow Sedan.

The sheer splendor of cruising Route 66 in a sophisticated Rolls Royce left an indelible impression.


Following our breathtaking drive, we immersed ourselves in the museum’s captivating display, delving into the stories behind each vehicle. Ensure adequate time for this extraordinary stop; its allure is boundless.

Capture a timeless retro photo of yourself against one of these automotive masterpieces, though choosing a favorite may prove challenging!

Admission is $15 and $5 for children 10 and under.


Best Western Route 66 Rail Haven Motel

Experience the charm of the vintage Best Western Route 66 Rail Haven Motel, adorned with whimsical memorabilia. Check in at the traditional motor lodge front desk, collect your key to the Rail Haven Motel rooms, and savor a complimentary continental breakfast. For an absolute blast from the past, opt for the room 409, once occupied by Elvis Presley. 

The Rail Haven Motel features tastefully furnished, modernized rooms adorned with comfortable décor. Outside, a swimming pool and spa beckon, surrounded by neon signs. Car enthusiasts, travelers, and fans of Route 66 are drawn to this iconic motel, which has thrived for 75 years.


Pro Tip: Request a souvenir card with the original logo and pose with it in front of the vintage automobile stationed outside for an Insta-worthy photo. Don’t forget to capture a shot beneath Missouri’s Route 66 birthplace sign near the highway, as shown below. The vintage cars on the property provide additional photo opportunities.

Fun Fact: Missouri’s Route 66 Rail Haven is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


Springfield’s Route 66 Museum

The Springfield History Museum on the Square, also known as the Route 66 Museum, provides insight into the significance of road trip travel since its establishment in 1926. Admission costs $16 for adults and $10 for children. Visit the attraction website for a map of free parking locations.


Inside the museum, I enjoyed exploring drive-in restaurant menus, gas station attendants’ uniforms, logbooks from travelers, and various cool signs. Missouri’s Route 66 passed directly through Springfield Square, further highlighting the importance of this road. In the 1930s and 40s, the journey itself was the vacation, resulting in the paving of gravel roads and the emergence of businesses to cater to the growing number of motorists.

With the advent of the interstate, many of these businesses closed due to decreased traffic.

Notably, the museum is only steps away from the site where “Wild Bill” Hickok and Davis K. Tutt engaged in the first one-on-one quick draw duel in 1865, providing another excellent opportunity for historical photography.


Boots Court Motel

Boots Court Motel, situated at the intersection of Old Route 66 and Highway 71 in Carthage, Missouri, is a renowned landmark completed in the 1940s. Famously referred to as the “Crossroads of America,” it was a popular stopover for motorists during the golden era of family vacations in the 1940s and 50s.

Distinguished by its distinctive art deco/modern aesthetic, the renovated Boots Court retains its original allure and charm, mirroring its yesteryear ambiance. The exterior has remained virtually unchanged since its inception, with the notable black Carrara glass accents gracing its structure.


Inside, each room offers a glimpse into the past with chenille bedspreads, needlepoint chairs, monogrammed towels, and radios, all meticulously preserved for visitors to relish. Moreover, each room is complemented by its very own covered carport.

For photography enthusiasts, a nighttime visit to Boots Court is essential to capture the mesmerizing neon sign. Even if not lodging at the motel, the owners may still allow a glimpse inside the rooms, creating excellent opportunities for classic Missouri Route 66 photographs. Notably, the iconic Boots Court hosted the legendary Clark Gable twice.


Red Oak II

Red Oak II in Carthage, Missouri, is an open-air museum featuring art installations, houses, and various buildings. This expansive complex, created by artist Lowell Davis, showcases a charming blend of vintage cars and hand-painted birdhouses. 


As you stroll through the village, you’ll be transported to the past, immersed in incredible art displays crafted from salvaged items. Take advantage of the captivating jail with its calaboose and an authentic jail cell. Other notable structures include Hooker Tavern, a general store, blacksmith shop, town hall, diner, 1884 schoolhouse, and 1920’s Phillips 66 gas station.

Every corner of Red Oak II offers unique backdrops and exciting photo opportunities.


Gary’s Gay Parita

Gary’s Gay Parita is a renovated 1930s Sinclair Gas station in Ash Grove, Missouri. It showcases original gas pumps and memorabilia from the heyday of Route 66. The eye-catching signage, souvenirs, refreshing beverages, and snacks make it a must-visit spot. Remember to explore the diverse vintage car collection and see the charming postcard selection.

Tip: Gary’s gas station with the dinosaur sign is a great photo-op, plus it mentions Route 66 in the signage. A plethora of cars and jalopies also scream, “Take my picture!”.


Steak ‘n Shake

The Route 66 Steak ‘n Shake in Springfield has become a cherished tradition, harkening back to the heyday of the iconic Route 66. Visitors are drawn to savor the renowned steakburgers, fries, and delectable hand-dipped milkshakes while immersing themselves in the nostalgia of the historic Route 66 era.

With its quaint diner ambiance and retro aesthetics, Steak ‘n Shake provides a welcoming environment to reminisce about the past. The Springfield location has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 2012.


Get Your Kicks on Springfield, Missouri’s Route 66

Springfield and its nearby towns proved an exceptional city for my first Route 66 experience. They offered valuable insights into the fascinating road-tripping lifestyle and the iconic highways that shaped America. Enjoy exploring the area and capturing excellent photo ops.

Check out our other Missouri posts:

St. Louis


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Nicole McGinnis

Tuesday 23rd of October 2018

You should’ve gone a little further down the road to Lebanon Missouri and visited our section of the route! From the Munger Moss Motel, to the historic Manor House Inn, Route original Wrinks Market and our free Route 66 Museum, there’s lots to see here!


Thursday 25th of October 2018

Darn! I would have loved that! Thanks for sharing. I'll definitely remember that for any future trips.

Priscilla @shescookin

Thursday 4th of October 2018

What fun! Great pixs, Melody! I really wish I could have joined you all...


Saturday 6th of October 2018

Me, too. Will you be going to NY in the spring? We should try to get on the same tour.

carrie @ frugal foodie mama

Thursday 4th of October 2018

I may have become slightly obsessed with Route 66 after my visit to Amarillo, Texas last fall. ;) I hope to do the whole thing one day.


Saturday 6th of October 2018

That would be epic! I loved following along on your trip last year. ;)


Wednesday 3rd of October 2018

It really is just so iconic. I love how untouched the hotel rooms are in Boots Court. How long would you say this "iconic" stretch is?


Saturday 6th of October 2018

It is 2278 miles across the country but only 313 of those are in Missouri. The road I traveled went from Springfield to Eureka Springs, Arkansas.


Wednesday 3rd of October 2018

Wow that really was a slice of old Americana. Such awesome photos but for some reason, the one of you in jail stuck out lol. I did not know this was the birthplace of route 66. I did a bit of it but in Arizona and Nevada.


Saturday 6th of October 2018

That is awesome! I hope to see some of it in Arizona this fall. Yep, I'm a jailbird. LOL

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