Several days ago I launched the annual end of the year series profiling a few of our favorite places on Route 66. Today we continue that series with a few plugs for some of the best attractions to be found along Route 66, or with the slightest of detours, in Illinois and Missouri. 
Please note, these are but a few of the places that make our Route 66 adventures so enjoyable. By no means are these selections all that these states have to offer. 
Before a lynch mob forms resultant of what may be perceived as a rude oversight, I should note that Chicago, and Joliet with the Route 66 experience and stunning Rialto Theater, are both cities with a great deal to offer. However, I will need to address the wide array of sites and attractions in these cities another time.
Filling the top ten list of my favorite attractions in Illinois would be all of the Abraham Lincoln related sites in Springfield. Counted among our many blessings are the fact that we have had  opportunities to visit other presidential related sites such as Monticello in Virginia but it is those associated with Lincoln that truly move me.  
A full day can easily be consumed with a visit to his presidential library, home, law office, and burial site. However, if your schedule allows for but one stop my suggestion would be his home and the recreated neighborhood around it. 
A full day of exploration is sure to spark a very healthy appetite. Well, it just so happens that the iconic Cozy Dog is on Route 66 at the south end of town. 
My next suggestion requires the slightest of detours from Route 66. However, I am quite sure the simplistic grandeur of the historic Sugar Creek covered bridge near Chatham (one of five remaining in the state of Illinois), the delightful park that surrounds it, and the wonderful photo opportunities available here will be ample reward for the side trip.
For the young at heart of any age it is tough to beat a stop at Rich Henry’s Rabbit Ranch in Staunton. Rich and Big Red greet every visitor with a warm, welcoming smile. 
Skipping down the road a piece there is another little detour I would like to share. This one, a discovery made on our last adventure, is less than a dozen miles south of St. James in Missouri. 
The beauty of Maramec Springs Park, especially when framed with stunning fall colors, was one of the most beautiful places visited on our October trip. To say it was absolutely stunning would be akin to saying Route 66 is a road. 
Massive remnants from the iron works that dominated the site in the mid 19th century, the clear waters that flow from the submerged cavern, and the shade dappled trails rimmed by weathered and worn Missouri limestone are but a hint of the wonder found here. My suggestion, add this to your travel plans and pack a picnic lunch.
As the lunch hour is over, we will have to continue on Friday when the topic of discussion will be the wonders of Kansas. Stay tuned –  

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