Planning Ahead: Route 66 Centennial in 2026

route 66Brace yourselves for an eventful 2026. With major happenings like the centennial celebration of Route 66, the United States Semiquincentennial, and the World Cup, our community is set to be in the spotlight. As travelers flock to the historic Route 66, traversing through our county, we expect a significant increase in visitors. Given the significance of these historical events, 2026 has the potential to attract an even larger number of tourists, creating an unprecedented year for our community. With approximately 2-3 million tourists traveling Route 66 yearly, the influx of visitors is expected to surge, influenced by events and promotions.

Additionally, while not directly on Route 66, nearby Branson serves as a popular tourist destination with its live entertainment, attractions, and scenic beauty. Many travelers pass through or near Branson as part of their Route 66 journey, further enhancing the tourism experience in our region.

The Mother Road

Route 66, affectionately known as "The Mother Road," holds a storied past deeply rooted in American history. Established on November 11, 1926, this legendary highway stretched an impressive 2,448 miles, linking the bustling streets of Chicago to the sun-kissed shores of Los Angeles. As travelers set out on their westward journey from Chicago, they embarked on an iconic cross-country adventure, traversing a diverse tapestry of towns and landscapes.

In Missouri, Route 66 spanned 317 miles, forging vital connections between vibrant cities and quaint towns, all while meandering through rolling hills and verdant valleys. From the lively metropolis of St. Louis to the charming scenery of Cuba, Rolla, Lebanon, Springfield, Carthage, and Joplin, each stop along the route offered a captivating glimpse into the heart and soul of America.

The path of Route 66 in Missouri echoes the footsteps of the Kickapoo, or Osage, Trail—an ancient Indian route that later evolved into the Old Wire Road. Much like other segments of Route 66, its alignment transformed over time, influenced by engineering advancements and the evolving needs of travelers.

Get Involved

These organizations offer a wealth of information, events, and community initiatives centered around preserving and promoting the legacy of this iconic highway. Visit their websites or reach out directly to learn more.

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United States Semiquincentennial

The United States Semiquincentennial in 2026 marks the 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, a pivotal moment in American history. This milestone celebrates the nation's founding principles of freedom, democracy, and equality. The Semiquincentennial serves as an occasion for reflection on America's journey, honoring its rich cultural heritage, diverse communities, and remarkable achievements over two and a half centuries. Through festivities, exhibitions, and educational programs, the nation commemorates its progress while looking ahead to a future of continued growth, innovation, and unity.

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2026 World Cup

In 2026, the World Cup comes to Missouri, hosted at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City. Excitement is palpable as hotels in Springfield and Branson book out in advance, reflecting the event's statewide impact. Anticipation builds for this global sporting event, promising not only thrilling matches but also economic opportunities for our region. Missouri is ready to shine on the world stage during this unforgettable tournament, with the ripple effect felt across the state. As an added excitement, Kansas City will play host to the Quarterfinals, further cementing its place in World Cup history.

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But that's not all!

This year marks another milestone as we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the beloved Pixar classic, 'Cars,' brought to life by the creative minds at Walt Disney Pictures. Get ready to relive the excitement, the friendships, and the unforgettable 'Kachow!' moments that have made Lightning McQueen and his pals a timeless favorite.

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