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December 23, 2006 1:36 PM   Subscribe

Route/restaurant/attraction recommendations for a mid-20s couple on their first mini-road trip, which will be from home in Chicago to a wedding in Kansas City?

The trip might be a straight shot, though we're also considering doing it in two days. Bonus points to off-the-beaten-path curiosities.
posted by asuprenant to Travel & Transportation (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Take the straight shot, you'll want to after 6 hours of the same terrain. I have friends who take this route rather frequently and never stop. After you get out of Chicago you shouldn't have any traffic until maybe STL on I-70.
posted by geoff. at 1:49 PM on December 23, 2006

The Bowling Hall of Fame in St. Louis!

Seriously, not a lot of great stuff on the drive down, but Kansas City has a lot of charms like The Nelson (art museum), Lydia's (italian rest. with a $25 all you can eat pasta prix fixe) and, of course, great barbeque and blues music.

You could also stop in Lawrence, KS. It's not on the way, but it has a really cool college town vibe, good cheap food and interesting independent shopping. Check out the Free State Brewery, Hobbes and Waxman's candles if you go!
posted by B-squared at 1:52 PM on December 23, 2006

Best answer: Springfield, IL makes a good stop: the Dana-Thomas House, an early Frank Lloyd Wright house; tons of Lincolniana; and the Cozy Dog, where the corn dog was invented. Right before St. Louis you can stop and see the ancient city of Cahokia, at its peak the largest American city north of Mexico.
posted by escabeche at 2:01 PM on December 23, 2006

If you're going through St. Louis you'll kick yourselves if you don't stop off at the City Museum.
posted by MsMolly at 2:43 PM on December 23, 2006

There's a small brewery in Saint Louis that gives free tours...and free beer.
posted by Exchequer at 3:07 PM on December 23, 2006

If going out in KC: I should add you might feel a bit more comfortable in midtown or downtown than the traditional going out places like Plaza and Westport. Unless getting hit on by a bunch of Midwestern young professionals who live in the suburbs is your thing, stay away from those places. Plaza and Westport are a bit tricky for non-locals as it is way too easy to get stuck into the post-collegiate meat market crowd.
posted by geoff. at 4:03 PM on December 23, 2006

Oh in KC, I would go to a few places. First, La Bodega has really really good tapas. Second, Genghis Khan has really really good Mongolian barbecue. Go for lunch. It's cheaper. Finally, Adis Ababba right around the corner from Genghis Khan (on 37th I believe) is really good Ethiopian food.

Oh yeah, can't believe I almost forgot Jerusalem Cafe on Westport. Great Middle-Eastern food. Try the kunafa for dessert. And Broadway Cafe, right around the corner, is right next door to a Starbucks, has been for years, and is still going strong. Best espresso I've ever had. Finally, there's this really good ice cream shop right off of Westport. Can't remember what it's called. It's in this little shopping area about a block off of Westport, right across from some clothes resale shops.
posted by geekhorde at 4:19 PM on December 23, 2006

Oh, Jerusalem Cafe. And La Bodega. Genghis Khan.

And Addis Abbaba is on 39th, not 37th.

And the ice cream shop is Murray's Ice Cream.

Broadway Cafe.
posted by geekhorde at 4:27 PM on December 23, 2006

If you like art and in particular outdoor sculpture, check out Laumeier Park
(Conveniently located near the intersection of 2 interstates (44 & 270)
posted by allelopath at 4:32 PM on December 23, 2006

In KC, not off the path, but famous and classic:
Arthur Bryants BBQ
posted by allelopath at 4:40 PM on December 23, 2006

Response by poster: Wow, bowling halls of fame, corn dogs, best espresso, free beer, outdoor art, and Frank Lloyd Wright? Outstanding.

Thanks for the tips! Aside from Geoff, does anyone have strong opinions about routes?
posted by asuprenant at 7:50 PM on December 23, 2006

Go to Lawrence and hit Mass street. Its only 30-40 minutes West of KC and has tons of great shops and restaurants. Papa Keno's pizza, the Mad Greek Rudy's pizzeria. etc etc. Its much cooler than anywhere in KC.
posted by jlowen at 7:55 PM on December 23, 2006

I grew up in KC, and I'd give you the opposite of geoff's advice. The Plaza and Westport are the two best things about KC, and there are plenty of good bars that aren't meat markets (not to mention shops and restaurants, and the fact that they're both pedestrian-friendly).

Also, check out Pitch.
posted by bingo at 7:14 AM on December 24, 2006

Oh, if you're actually sightseeing in KC, and if you like baseball at all, certainly see the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum; in fact there's a whole thread a few rows up from you with stuff to do in Kansas City....
posted by escabeche at 7:15 AM on December 24, 2006

If you want to experience the best hamburger you'll ever eat, stop at Booches in Columbia, Missouri. You'll drive through Columbia if you take I-70.

Their burgers have been named some of the best in the country, and the restaurant itself has a great, old-school vibe. Downtown Columbia is pretty cool, too -- a college town similar to Lawrence, Kansas, which other people have suggested.

Speaking of Lawrence, don't bother driving there just to go to Waxman Candles, as there's a second Waxman location in your hometown of Chicago (Lincoln Ave.). For a fellow Chicagoan, I'd say the only essentials in Lawrence are Sylas and Maddy's Ice Cream (if it's not too cold out) and Vermont Street Barbecue, both of which are on Massachussetts Street (the downtown area). Mass St. is definitely worth walking down.

(My frame of reference: I've lived in Columbia *and* Lawrence, and I live in Chicago now.)
posted by adrian_h at 10:10 AM on December 24, 2006

Best answer: You can probably pick up some old Route 66 maps at the Cozy Dog, and get off the interstate every so often to see what 66 has to offer. Or check it out before you leave Chicago, since 66 technically starts there.
posted by printchick at 10:03 AM on December 26, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks for all the advice - the trip was great. We went to the Frank Lloyd Wright house, which was inspirational and probably the best place for a house party I've seen.

Cozy Dog was closed for the holidays when we came by. However, not only did we get some great pictures out of it, but the stop also prompted some debates with Texans at the wedding over the actual origins of the corn dog.

We also got a lot of Route 66 in, which was a relaxing way to see some interesting towns that used to be on the beaten path. Thanks again!
posted by asuprenant at 1:58 PM on January 3, 2007

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