Meet at Mr. Lincoln’s place. Every child of school age has heard of President Abraham Lincoln so a short stop at his house is worth the time, if only to secure bragging rights for the next history class. The two-story home of Abraham Lincoln, the only home he ever owned is open for tours. It is located within four-block historic neighborhood, now being restored to depict the era much as it may have been when the Lincolns lived on the street. The site has a Junior Ranger booklet available at the Visitor Center that provides useful activities and a badge for completion. There are two theaters that provide an orientation video. Free tour tickets for the Lincoln Home are available at the information desk. Visitor Center is located at 426 South Seventh Street, Springfield. www.nps.gov/liho/index.htm
Find the ancient mounds. Cahokia Mounds Historic Site covers more than 2000 acres and is largest prehistoric Indian mounds complex north of Mexico. A visit to this location puts the history of North America in perspective. At the Interpretive Center provides timeline and displays artifacts from the working site and during the summer excavations are conducted. Designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO Cahokia Mounds was inhabited from about A.D. 700 to 1400. At its peak, from A.D. 1100 to 1200, the city covered nearly six square miles. Tours provide more evidence of the once thriving community but little to solve the mystery of what happened? Located near Collinsville, Illinois 1-(618)-346-5160.
Spoon a shake and eat a donut. The Historic Route 66 is famous for funky food, ideal for kids of all ages. Ted Drewes Frozen Custard is a must stop and a Louis tradition since 1929. Known for heavy-duty shakes (thick, concrete thick) one could be a meal by itself. Just across the street are donuts. What could be better than that? Beyond concrete shakes they also have sundaes, cones, floats, and sodas and will mail the shakes anywhere on the continent. 6726 Chippewa 1(636) 481-2652.
See butterflies whisper. Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House is a place of wonder. Their mission is to nurture a better understanding and appreciation of the uniqueness of our natural world. The Butterfly House is a tranquil stress free facility for humans and a habitat in which butterflies thrive. Visitors will be delighted by close encounters with butterflies. An insider tip from docents, those wearing bright prints or lively colors will likely be most interesting to inquisitive butterflies. More than 2,000 residents in varying life stages inhabit the complex. 15193 Olive Boulevard, Chesterfield, 1-(636)-530-0076 or www.butterflyhouse.org
Call for a wolf. At the Wild Canid Survival & Research Center visitors will find a wealth of information about wolves. Founded by Marlin Perkins the 2,000-acre private reserve provides homes for family wolf packs. It is an internationally recognized captive breeding facility for endangered wolves from Mexico and North America. The center conducts evening educational tours and programs designed to enlighten visitors. From storytelling to wolf calling all ages will be enthralled as myths are unraveled and facts presented. After all the stories are told, everyone walks about one half-mile round trip to an area near the wolf enclosures. The guides attempt to get the wolves to howl by howling singly and in groups. Sometimes it works and sometimes the wolves pat no attention to the impersonations. After the night walk everyone returns to have hot cocoa or cider. I-44 at Beaumont-Antire Road, Eureka. 1-(636)-938-5900, firstname.lastname@example.org or www.endangeredwolfcenter.org
Walk underground. The Missouri section of Route 66 has many outstanding caves to be discovered. Onondaga Cave State Park in Leasburg is dramatic cave because of the abundance and quality stalactites, stalagmite columns, rimstone dams, cave coral, draperies, flowstone, and soda straws. Fisher Cave in Meramec State Park near Sullivan offers a cave excursion with hand-held lanterns. This location has the largest rimstone dam, column and stalactite found in Missouri show cave. Meramec Caverns near Stanton has guided tours led by trained rangers. The pathways are well-lighted walkways. Along the tour there is ancient limestone “wine table” and an entire 5-story mansion. A trip to Fantastic Caverns is conducted by jeep tram. It is the only cave in America large enough for vehicles to drive through. The ancient onyx stalactite and stalagmite formations are uniquely colorful. For a menu of cave options try www.missouricaves.com or www.mocavesandkarst.org
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