Fill my many hours of driving with anticipation
June 28, 2011 8:30 PM   Subscribe

Cross-country road trip diversions that transform boredom into anticipation. City roll call: Nashville, St Louis, Kansas City, Lincoln, Laramie, Salt Lake City, Reno, and points between.

Okay, so I already have one for Nashville-- a trip to the recently opened Jeni's ice cream shop. But I want more! I'm looking for diversions that
-take less than an hour to visit
-can accommodate a dog (and 2 adults)
-involve elements of sheer wonder and delight

I like college towns and parks and books and crafts and noteworthy displays of imagination. I also like food, with an emphasis on ice creams and fancy baked goods or maybe a nice farmers' market.

Any suggestions?
posted by dino might to Travel & Transportation (9 answers total)
City Museum in St Louis.
posted by scruss at 8:40 PM on June 28, 2011

Giant City State Park is in Southern Illinois and is quite awesome.

You could jog over to Carbondale between Nashville and St. Louis and check out the campus of Southern Illinois University.

City Museum in St. Louis definitely hits the wonder and delight, but isn't dog-friendly (that I'm aware of). I suggest CityGarden downtown as a dog-friendly alternate. Other choices might be Forest Park or the riverfront and Arch.

St. Louis food:

For ice cream, there's Crown Candy Kitchen north of downtown, a fantastic old-fashioned soda fountain/candy kitchen/ice cream emporium. Lunch is good there too. Alternates could be Ted Drewes Frozen Custard (two locations in south city, one on old Route 66) or The Fountain on Locust in Midtown.

For fancy baked goods, there's Jilly's Cupcake Bar which just won on an episode of Food Network's Cupcake Wars tonight. Also a cupcake place called The Cup in the Central West End. Other choices would be Nadoz Café (one location in Midtown, another out west of town near The Galleria mall) or, off-beat choice, Café Ventana (Midtown/Central West End) that has honest to goodness New Orleans-style beignets. Also St. Louis has a proliferation of donut joints.

For farmers markets, there's the Soulard Market open Wed.-Sat. and housed in a 1929 building. There are others on weekends, one I'm aware of is in Tower Grove Park in the south half of the city.
posted by brentajones at 9:11 PM on June 28, 2011

Lincoln: The National Museum of Roller Skating. Also the Capitol (there's a sower-man on the dome and a nice mural on the ceiling of the top floor). The Sunken Gardens are beautiful, but you'll have to ask a local for directions to the hidden, tiny, wrought-iron-gated Hazel Abel Park (S. 18th and E).
posted by Prairie at 9:29 PM on June 28, 2011

Oops, missed the dog part. The dog will love the parks anyway.
posted by Prairie at 9:30 PM on June 28, 2011

Laumeier Sculpture Park in St. Louis! Giant outdoor sculptures! Dog-friendly.

Lincoln: Sunken Gardens are beautiful. Be sure to check out the exit between Omaha and Lincoln with all of the attractions. You could stay in Mahoney State Park or Platte River State Park (both allow dogs in the cabins) and the take short little trips from there. The Air and Space Museum is amazing and there's also a drive-through animal park affiliated with the zoo.
posted by Ostara at 10:15 PM on June 28, 2011

How far off of the direct path are you willing to travel?
posted by deezil at 6:07 AM on June 29, 2011

Nashville: Centennial Park - you can gaze upon the Parthenon and walk around the little pond. Then head over to Hog Heaven (just on the edge of the park by McDonald's) for some BBQ.
posted by dawkins_7 at 7:56 AM on June 29, 2011

In Kansas City, the Toy and Miniature Museum is pretty delightful to me.

As far as ice cream goes, chocolatier Christopher Elbow opened his artisanal ice cream shop Glace last summer. The ice cream is overall pretty good, but the fleur de sel caramel ice cream is delicious. So is the watermelon sorbet.

For baked goods, you might like Big Momma's in Crown Center. They're known for their cinnamon rolls, but it's Donnell's caramel pecan cake that made me cheat on my low-carb food plan. It's pretty dang great.

Do you like BBQ? Because it doesn't make sense to come to Kansas City and not go to LC's. Plenty of folks will try to steer you toward Oklahoma Joe's, Arthur Bryant's, or Gates. Fine choices all (except Bryant's which has sucked ever since the founder passed away), but you can't beat LC's brisket and beans. You might even run into LC himself, lording over the dining room.
posted by S'Tella Fabula at 8:26 AM on June 29, 2011

If you love ice cream and are in Lincoln, stop at the Dairy Store on the East Campus of the University of Nebraska. If you call ahead, they will even give you a tour (they make the ice cream on campus).

I really enjoyed the Steamboat Arabia Museum when visiting Kansas City. Although I think it takes a bit longer than an hour to get through. It was pretty cool to see all the jars of food from 1856 that were salvaged when they brought up the wreck. Rivermarket, where the museum is located has a lot of little shops and food places that might be neat to explore.

Are you going on this trip in the near future? If so, be aware that stretches of I-29 between Kansas City and Omaha are closed due to flooding of the Missouri River.
posted by weathergal at 9:02 PM on June 29, 2011

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