The purpose of this post is to highlight some exciting, educational, but, most importantly, affordable travel opportunities for library school students at SLIM. For each activity in this post, I’ll list the associated cost, learning opportunities, and approximate time to expect to spend.

I took this trip from May 9-12 – three nights, four days – and saw four cities, two museums, three libraries, a zoo, and six national historic landmarks (plus attended a conference for two days, but I’ll leave that out of this post, since that opportunity won’t be available to everyone). I’m the kind of person with abundant energy, so doing all this in the same length of time may not be feasible for everyone, but even half of these activities together would make for a great little vacation.

Walt Disney Boyhood Home and Barn

Cost: Free

Time: One Hour

Distance from Kansas City: One Hour


Marceline, MO was the boyhood home of one of the most famous and beloved figures of the 20th century, Walt Disney. Still standing today is the very home where he was raised, the barn where he first entertained his family with shows, and the tree under which he spent his days dreaming of imaginary worlds. While the house is private and closed to the public, the tree and barn are open to the public and free. Before you leave, take the chance to drive down the original “Main Street USA” or walk through the Walt Disney Hometown Museum.

Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum

Cost: $11 for full-tour, can see exteriors of all buildings and sites for free

Time: Two Hours

Distance from Walt Disney Boyhood Home: One & 1/2 Hours


Right on the banks of the Mississippi River in Western Missouri sits Hannibal, the boyhood home of Mark Twain. It is here that you can see the home where little Sammy Clemens was raised, his father’s law practice, the lighthouse, and much more. But the best part is the beautiful, unobstructed view of the Mississippi. You can see how the river become a major inspiration for Twain’s life and writings.

Lincoln Gravesite

Cost: Free

Time: One – Two Hours

Distance from Mark Twain Home: One & ½ Hours


Besides having the opportunity to see the actual tomb in which one of the most widely-known figures in world history is laid to rest, the cemetery itself is immaculate and full of fascinating history. Definitely worth walking around and reading the stories of individuals such as the freed slave who fought in the war and survived repeated gun shots, the orphaned children whose fathers died during the war, and the graves of Revolutionary War soldiers who retired to Springfield (something you don’t see much of in the Midwest).

Lincoln Presidential Museum 

Cost: $9 for Students with ID

Time: Three – Four Hours


Best presidential museum ever! One of the best museums in general, and I’ve seen a lot of them. This museum combines artifacts with detailed recreations of the Lincoln family cabin, scenes from the election trail, and the white house. There are so many wax figures in this place, they must have set up a wax factory for half a century. Absolutely beautiful, something that everyone has to see once in their life.

Lincoln Presidential Library

Cost: Free

Time: One Hour


This is an excellent presidential library, with numerous artifacts from the president, as well as thousands upon thousands of historical volumes on the life of our most famous president. If you ask a librarian on staff, and tell them you’re a library student, you might even manage to get a peek at somethings that are closed to the general public…

Lincoln Neighborhood/ Law Offices/ Courthouse

Cost: Free

Time: Two – Three Hours


It’s great to see how Springfield managed to preserve so many 150+ year old buildings right in among new developments. The entire neighborhood where Lincoln and his family lived before moving to Washington is preserved in its original state, and serves as a stark contrast to the 30 story modern hotel just behind it.

Illinois State Library     

Cost: Free

Time: One Hour


This is definitely the largest state library I’ve ever seen! Located in its own building (unlike its Kansas counterpart) that is five stories in height, with amiable staff that are willing to show you around.

Route 66 Landmarks

Cost: Free, except for food

Time: Two – Three Hours


Springfield was one of the earliest stops along Route 66 after its start in Chicago. The town experienced a revitalization of sorts in the early 20th century thanks to the traffic, which brought industry and innovation. Here you can experience the “world’s first drive-thru,” and the “world’s first corndog.” But definitely the best thing here is the horseshoe, a bun topped with hamburger meat, fries, and cheese sauce. Sorry to say, those from up north, but the horseshoe > poutine.

Gateway Arch

Cost: Free

Time: One Hour

Distance from Springfield: One Hour


With it only being an hour’s drive away, and having a direct road back to KC, how can you resist stopping by STL for the morning?

St. Louis Zoo

Cost: Free

Time: Two Hours


St. Louis has the largest free zoo in the United States. Inside, you’ll find an exhibit built for the 1904 World’s Fair, the walkthrough “birdcage.” Definitely ranks up with the Sedgwick County and Omaha zoos as far as quality, and it’s absolutely free!

St. Louis Public Library           

Cost: Free

Time: One Hour


Nothing special about the collections in particular, but the historic architecture on exterior and interior is quite beautiful.

Distance St. Louis to Kansas City: Four Hours

I managed this trip at a total cost of $150; however my room and dinner for two of those days was covered by my conference’s hosts. I would say you could very easily manage the whole trip on your own for no more than $350, especially if you were willing to skip fast food and pack for a couple of meals. All in all, the journey put right at 1000 miles on my car – not bad considering everything I got to experience! If you haven’t before experienced these attractions, I definitely encourage to get out this summer and see some or all of them!


Charlie Renne – 140 years and still going strong

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