A Route 66 Community & Proud Fort Leonard Wood Neighbor
Waynesville, nestled in a picturesque Ozark valley, has a reputation for its Midwestern hospitality and charming, small-town Americana. Route 66, the Main Street of America, doubles as Waynesville’s main street, leading travelers from around the world to Waynesville throughout the year.
Waynesville is also a proud neighbor of Fort Leonard Wood. The installation is one of the largest training bases for the United States military. Construction began in December 1940, forever changing the face of the community. Waynesville celebrates the diversity that Fort Leonard Wood has brought to the area.
The community was first settled in 1832 when G.W. Gibson made his home near the “Big Spring” on the Kickapoo Trace. That big spring — known today as Roubidoux Spring — inspired the “Spring City” nickname. Roubidoux Spring is an Ozarks gem — the spring is a favorite swimming hole for locals and visitors.
Birthplace of the Byway
Waynesville is proud of its significance to the Route 66 story. On July 10, 1990, then-Gov. John Ashcroft designated Missouri’s Route 66 as a historic district — the first state to do so. The bill was signed during a ceremony on the Waynesville square. That historic legislation helped spur the revival of the Mother Road and cemented Waynesville’s legacy as the Birthplace of the Byway.
Waynesville celebrates its Route 66 roots with numerous roadside stops such as Frog Rock, which has a worldwide fanbase and is reminiscent of the famous gimmicks that once lined the Mother Road.
Explore Waynesville’s History
Vintage buildings surround the historic Waynesville square, offering a glimpse into the city’s storied past. The 1903 Route 66 Courthouse Museum is housed in one of only two remaining period courthouses on the Missouri portion of Route 66. This structure served residents of Pulaski County for more than 80 years and was designed by noted architect Henry H. Hohenschild. The upstairs courtroom is a pristine example of craftsmanship.
The Old Stagecoach Stop Museum crowns the east side of the square. Locals say that it is the oldest “stop” along Route 66 in Missouri. The antebellum structure began in the 1850s and was commandeered by the occupying Union force as a hospital during the Civil War.
Both museums are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Roubidoux Park lies along the banks of the Roubidoux River. This park is home to Little Heroes Playground, an all-accessible play feature and the Fitness Court, featuring 7 functional training zones, thousands of body weight exercises and digital programming for adults of all ages and abilities. The park is host to numerous events and festivals throughout the year, to include the city sponsored events; September’s Route 66 Hogs & Frogs . Take a stroll on the paved walking trail to Laughlin Park to fish or splash in the Roubidoux Spring. Local legend claims if you dip your toes in the cool, clear spring water, you will return to Waynesville. Test the legend yourself!
As you ramble along the trail, towards the Cherokee Encampment, discover the National Park Service interpretive signage depicting the tragic Trail of Tears. The five-span concrete arch bridge built in 1923 will have you reaching for your camera.
ON THE SQUARE
Waynesville’s vibrant, historic downtown is infused with unique boutiques, antiques, relaxing spas, entertainment, great food, culture, and tradition.
Taste the Bavarian Alps or Asian cuisine. Make friends at the local pub featuring 66 draft beers and a Jam Burger that you will brag on. Order a flight of award-winning craft beer inspired by the Ozarks along side fresh hot slices of pizza. Select from over 20 delicious flavors of Missouri made honey ice cream. Shop your way around town and you’ll discover antiques, boutiques, gift shops, and souvenirs. Browse a music store and the only SCUBA dive shop on Route 66! Many merchants will gladly arrange to ship your newfound treasures home for you.
Opportunities continue west of the Roubidoux Bridge. Cozy up with a cup of Jo enjoy delicious meals of German fare, down-home cooking or nationally recognized fast food establishments. Unique shops and boutiques are located along Route 66 and Ichord Avenue. Price Cutter offers a wide selection of groceries and on-the-go salad bar and hot meals. B & B Theater showcases current movie releases at the 12 theater complex which includes a restaurant, bar, and the Grand Screen.
Get Your Steps In
The Pulaski County Tourism Bureau offers a free Waynesville Walking Tour brochure. Ask for one when you order your official Pulaski County Getaway Travel Inspiration Guide! You can also pick one up at many downtown shops, museums, and restaurants.