A gorgeous building, lots of history, and plenty of artifacts and exhibits - and all for free. The Old Courthouse was completed in 1864 but was the site of the famous Dred Scott case before its completion. One of the more detestable historical facts about the building is that it was used to auction off slaves until 1861.
Are you tired of museums with stern docents who admonish you with every step you take? Then head to the City Museum where touching and playing with the displays is not only allowed but encouraged. Unlike stuffy museums, this one is usually open 7 days a week with extended hours until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. Run through tunnels, climb up a life-sized slinky, or explore a tree house. Nothing is off-limits here!
With the eastern end on Chouteau Island and the western end on the Missouri shoreline this cantilever truss bridge spans the Mississippi River. The bridge is named for the dangerous rapids that made the river difficult to navigate. A dam helped to solve the problem. The natural surroundings such as a park on the Missouri side and elm trees on the Illinois side make the drive a relaxing experience.
A large pink trailer pulled by an equally large pink elephant draws the customers into this antique heaven. It's like an amusement park of antiques - where you can browse through aisles stuffed with old things and then eat lunch at a '50s style diner. There's even a Twistee Treat hut with its ice-cream cone shaped building where you can grab dessert after browsing.
This Burr truss covered bridge is one of five such historic bridges in Illinois - and is the oldest of those five - being built at some point in the mid 1800s. It's not open to vehicle traffic but it is safe enough for people to walk through allowing for nice family photos. The area is some distance from major roads but the bridge is a scenic stop for those looking for a road trip adventure.
We all know Lincoln as the statesman, an accomplished orator who is regarded as one of the greatest presidents of the U.S. As historians delve into his life more, the man behind the greatness is coming more into public view. His house in Springfield, IL is the embodiment of his life as a private man, father, and husband. The only home he ever owned, purchased in 1844, is quite humble by today's standards.
This building, built in 1837, served as the state capitol from 1840 to 1876. A close distance from Abraham Lincoln's home, it is where he served as state legislator before being elected to the presidency. Like many old state capitols, this one became too small for a burgeoning state - and thus became obsolete. Even though matters of legislation are not carried out here the building is still used for ceremonial purposes and festivals.
A.K.A. "The Bunyon Giant" this dude holds a hot dog in a bun which looks like a meal too large even for him. He used to be Cicero's Hot Dog Giant in better days.
The charming red building contains a fabulous collection of memorabilia from the legendary Route 66. License plates, photos, old filling tanks, and even some vintage cars are all stuffed inside. America's Mother Road has been the subject of songs and movies and its history is all gathered here in this Pontiac location.
It's perfectly restored with an old pump and a vintage sign. If you examine the pump carefully, you can see why we call such a contraption a "pump" - even today. Customers would pump the lever by moving it back and forth until the clear receptacle at the top had the amount needed. After the gasoline was pumped it could then be poured into the gas tank. The little shop which is now a visitor's center is open seasonally; it's best to call 815-998-2133 before heading out.
A beautifully restored 1930s Texaco station helped countless travelers finish their journey on Route 66. It was known by two names - Ambler's Texaco and Becker's Marathon Gas Station. It is also known as the longest-running Route 66 station, fittingly in service for 66 years until it closed down in 1999. It is now a visitor's center complete with a potbelly stove, old soda bottles, and a vintage cash register inside.
A nine-foot tall statue of the King of Rock 'n' Roll is molded and painted to resemble this legend in his prime. The mutton-chopped guitar hero stands on a platform outside the Polk-a-Dot Drive In beckoning would-be customers with his crooning visage. The drive-in is a 1950s-themed restaurant on the historic Route 66 serving up hamburgers and malts every day between 11 AM and PM.
One of the more unique Muffler Men, he is suited up like a rocket man who landed on a planet inhabited by tiny Earthlings. Thanks to the innocently creative minds of fifth graders he received his catchy name. His home base is the Launching Pad drive-in restaurant where you can get the usual hot dogs and hamburgers that taste out of this world. Keep up to date with reopening dates on their Facebook page!
Car-towing is never a pleasant experience for the person who is getting a car towed but at least the customer using Dick's Towing will have a nice little surprise waiting back at the service station. Dick's Towing has a cool collection of Route 66 signs and vintage cars including an old police cruiser and two precariously placed vehicles on top of the roof.
One of the best movies in American filmmaking featured John Belushi and Dan Ackroyd as "Joliet" Jake and Elwood Blues. Two statues of this shades-wearing duo is frozen in mid-step atop a nondescript ice cream parlor. While the building itself is not a big deal apparently the ice cream is fabulous.
Is this the beginning or the end? If you were traveling westward, it would have been the beginning. But, if you came from the west, it would have been the end of your journey on Route 66. However, it is mounted so that it is facing travelers coming from the east and driving westward so it's fair to say that this stop is the beginning. Don't forget to stop at the Art Institute of Chicago right across the street which houses priceless works such as American Gothic and Water Lilies.