Pros: wine, booze, hotels, food, adult video stores, billboards
Cons: trucks, Sunday drivers, wine, booze, hotels, food, adult video stores, billboards
The five or six hour drive from Kansas City to St. Louis, Missouri, is something Ive only experienced a couple of times. Most recently, I traveled from my home (not Kansas City) down the route to a wedding reception in St. Louis. Perhaps it was delirium or a hangover, but along the route I kept thinking of what an interesting route I-70 through Missouri really is. For those who are considering driving east or west on I-70 through Missouri, this review should give a good starting point for all the sinful temptations along the route.
Along I-70 through Missouri, one can find plenty of local and chain restaurants. Because the drive is a common route for truckers, as well as people traveling to the University of Missouri from both St. Louis and from Kansas City, there are plenty of places for the glutton. One can find fast food places everywhere along the route, and I mean everywhere. The most gluttonous of the I-70 drivers might want to stop closer to the major cities at the world famous breakfast joints (i.e., Waffle House, Dennys and IHOP). I didnt have to stop once for food on my return drive because I was so full from two waffles and a bowl of grits that I had at breakfast.
Many of the restaurants share space with gas stations, and most are easily located right off of the interstate. While the local restaurants are nothing impressive in most places, I would suggest considering many of the local eateries right off of the road in Columbia. Traveling south on HWY 163 (North Providence) off of I-70, one will intersect with Broadway Avenue. There are tons of restaurants in this area, ranging from sandwich shops to the Flat Branch Pub and Brewing Company (http://www.flatbranch.com). Flat Branch serves lunch and dinner, including pizza and pasta specials. And of course, they have locally brewed beer including my favorite kind of beer (an Indian Pale Ale), as well as a Green Chili Beer (sounds interesting, but I cannot attest to it).
Right off the Interstate in Columbia (i.e., right next to it) are also several restaurants ranging from the fattening pit of lardy, gluttonous goodness that is Waffle House to Mexican food and a steakhouse (http://www.everettssteakhouse.com/). Beyond Columbia, expect mostly fast food except close to both Kansas City and St. Louis (Columbia is a perfect midpoint). The glutton will have no trouble finding plenty of food to stuff their mouths along this route.
Never, in my life, have I seen so many sex shops and adult video stores as I noticed along I-70 through Missouriand that includes Vegas. I know that an adult video store in the state recently won a federal court of appeals decision allowing them to display their scantily clad girls on signs near the interstate despite the fact that little children may burst into flames for seeing such sights (or whatever the person complaining tried to argue). At the time, besides thinking, What kind of idiot cares about this, I also wondered, Is this really a problem? While I still wouldnt call it a problem, it would be pretty hard to not see a few signs advertising one of the many shops along the road.
One of my favorite was in the middle of nowhere between Columbia and Kansas City. Right along the side of the interstate all by its lonesome was what looked to me like a barn in a state of complete chaos, and spray painted on the side were the words LIVE NUDE GIRLS 24/7 and XXX and VIDEOS and ARCADE. I am not sure what the latter has to do with the the theme, but I would imagine there is no Pac-Man in the arcade. Plus, you see the infamous billboards advertising Passions Video store (you can learn more about the hilarious waste of taxpayer money here: http://www.ca8.uscourts.gov/opndir/06/08/053847P.pdf). According to a Google Maps search, there are approximately 8 adult video stores along I-70 between St. Louis and Kansas City, and plenty more right off of the interstate in both cities.
If experiencing Lust is on the to do list without experiencing dirty XXX truck-stops, an I-70 driver may consider Anns Bra Shop, which has a location in OFallon, Missouri right near the interstate. The billboards advertising this place kept me awake during the drive, with the slogan Got a bra problem? Anns Bra Shop offers a variety of bras and swimsuits both in their physical store and online (http://www.brashop.com). Interestingly, another store also offers lingerie on the route with another great slogan, We have lingerie for all shapes and sizes. Yum.
Ok, so Im not Biblical scholar and people probably would argue this part should merge with gluttony. Well, it wont, mostly because I couldnt think of anything better to put in the greed section. Anyway, the greedy wine drinkers will appreciate the multitude of local wineries/vineyards (and breweries) off of I-70 in Missouri. At least one has a tasting shop right off of the interstate.
Les Bourgeois Vineyard is located in Rocheport (also a good place for greedy antique hunters), just west of Columbia. According to the companys website (http://www.missouriwine.com), the vineyard is consistently voted Boone Countys Best Place to Take Out-of-Town Guests. (On a side note, my house is consistently voted Neighborhoods Best Place to Find a Cajun Guy. Everyone aspires for something). The vineyard offers an $8 (per person) wine tasting that includes a souvenir glass. There are plenty of other vineyards near the I-70 closer to Kansas City and to St. Louis, and for those adventurous enough to get off of the interstate a bit, there are several within a short drive from I-70 throughout the region. For more on the areas wineries and vineyards, see http://www.missouriwine.org/frame_wineries.html or http://www.missouriwinecountry.com/.
For those who prefer beer, there are multiple breweries in Kansas City and in St. Louis. I love Boulevard Brewing Companys beers. Their beers are a favorite in the Midwest and beyond. Both the Boulevard Pale Ale and the Bully! Porter are to die for; and they have great seasonal beers. While not directly off of I-70, the Boulevard brewery is off of I-70s Kansas City loopy cousin, I-670. Who wants to drive through the city anyway? The brewery offers tours, which I would recommend, and beer tastings (which are a MUST).
In St. Louis, there are several smaller breweries, but the bigger (and more popular choice) is the Anheuser-Busch brewery. Feel free to go there and make sure you use their toiletsafter all, thats basically what their beer tastes like. On the Budweiser tour, tour-goers visit all the sites including the packing area and the stables with the famous Clydesdale hitch. And at the end, those who are old enough can taste the beers. Those who are under 21 are thankful they dont have to. And, as already mentioned, there is a microbrewery right off of I-70 in Columbia. Enjoy, but dont be too greedy; drinking and driving isnt a good idea.
Everyone needs sleep. Apparently someone at some time thought this was a bad thing, but along I-70 there are great stops for the sloth in everyone. Nicer hotels are located in Kansas City, Columbia, and in St. Louis; as are chain hotels right off of the interstate. There are several hotels in the smaller areas, too, including a hotel in Odessa (east of Kansas City), Boonville (between Kansas City and Columbia), and Warrenton (about 30 miles west of St. Louis).
For those who want something besides a chain hotel, consider Hotel Phillips in downtown Kansas City, or even a bed and breakfast along the route. For those who are a bit too greedy in Rocheport, they can then be sloth-y there as well. The Yates House Bed and Breakfast consists of eight rooms and serves a variety of fine meals. There are also places for the slothful to camp, but those are discussed below.
Well, wrath may be stretching it a bit, but traffic near Kansas City, St. Louis, and sometimes even Columbia can make a suburban dweller like myself go into a fit rage. However, along I-70 traffic flows pretty well, even in the cities, as long as the bigger cities are avoided during rush hour. Even then, traffic along the area only will lead to wrathful thoughts and behaviors in rare circumstances like an accident. Give me Kansas City traffic or St. Louis traffic over Dallas, Houston, or New Orleans rush hour traffic any day of the week.
On the flip-side, the more empty areas of I-70 through Missouri also have wrath potential. First, the area is full of big trucks. Most of the truckers are friendly, courteous, and great drivers. In fact, I usually prefer driving on an interstate full of truckers than anything else. However, there are the occasional truckers who just got booted from the adult arcade or had one two many wines at the winery, and this stretch of interstate is no exception. Because there are many truckers along the route, it is likely that a driver will end up on the side of a left-drifting truck at some point on the journeywrath indeed. Second, the country atmosphere seems to bring out those drivers who think they are on a gravel road in the middle of nowhere; they drive leisurely in the PASSING LANE. On multiple instances, I ran into (not literally, though I thought about it) people who were absolutely dangerous driving slowly in the passing lane while truckers were trying to pass on the right. Scary; I directed my wrath in their direction. Some of these individuals also may have been intoxicatedguess thats the bad thing about interstate wineries.
I felt envious during my drive down I-70 because people who live close to the area have such beautiful scenery. The Ozark Mountains certainly pale in comparison to the Rockies in sheer size, but the dense trees, caves, and streams make the Ozark Mountains worth visiting. The scenery from the interstate is not all that impressive, but short drives off of the route lead the wary traveler to some of the most beautiful areas in the Midwest.
From the town of Boonville, the beautiful Lake of the Ozarks State Park is only a 2 hour drive. Visitors to the park will envy those in the area who live near the clear lake, amazing forest, and the Ozark Caverns. In addition to over 200 campsites, the park also has several primitive cabins tucked in the trees. (http://www.mostateparks.com/lakeozark.htm).
Those who want to demonstrate envy closer to the I-70 route may prefer the less-exciting, but still beautiful, Finger Lakes State Park (http://www.mostateparks.com/fingerlakes.htm) or the sandstone cave at Graham Cave State Park (http://www.mostateparks.com/grahamcave.htm). Otherwise, consider just pulling over at one of the multiple rest stops and take time to look around. When your view isnt blocked by an adult video store and live nude girls, the I-70 area of Missouri is breathtaking.
Im not proud that I cant really figure out a good way to tie pride into this review. Sorry.
So instead, I will proudly sum up my opinion of Missouri along I-70. Whether Missouri is a final destination, a stopover along a road-trip, or just an area to pass through heading east or west, the I-70 route has something for everyone. There are hotels, wineries, live nude girls, arcades, and two wonderful cities as well as a culturally interesting college town. While I probably wouldnt suggest driving down I-70 just for the sake of doing so, if in the area there is no reason to avoid it, either.