What to Do & See in Rolla, MO...
For a comprehensive list of restaurants, eateries, shops, and retail establishments, please visit http://www.rollachamber.org.
By Scott A. Grahl, Communications Director, City of Rolla, MO
Located in South Central Missouri at the junction of Interstate 44 and Hwy. 63, Rolla (population: 19,555) is located amidst the picturesque 1.5-million-acre Mark Twain National Forest, mid-way between St. Louis and Springfield in the Meramec Valley Region.
Also known throughout the country and many parts of the world as the home of Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T), Rolla is steeped in pre-civil war, railroad and U.S. Route 66 history now showcased in the "Historic Walking Tour of Rolla" in downtown Rolla. Thirty-seven historic custom-made signs are posted throughout Rolla's downtown area that tell the story of our City, and Phelps County (population: 45,000).
For an in-depth overview of Rolla's and Phelps County's history visit the Rolla Area Chamber of Commerce Website. The Rolla Visitor's Center, located at 1301 Kingshighway at the corner of Kingshighway (Business Route 44) and Bridgeschool Road), has a wealth of information and literature about Rolla and Phelps County that they would love to share with you.
So stop by and say hello the next time you're in town, grab a cup of cofee, take a walk on the scenic nature trail behind the Visitor's Center, and view one of the world's largest copy cameras in the world. You can also contact the Chamber at (573) 364-3577 or (888) 809-3817, or via e-mail at email@example.com.
Rolla's Ties to U.S. Route 66 and the Railroad
Long-known as a major stopping off point along the historic 2,000-mile-long U.S. Route 66, Rolla was also the original terminus of the St. Louis and San Francisco Railroad, known locally as the "Frisco Line." Today the BNSF Railway runs directly through town and the impressive Frisco Engine 1501 (also known as the 1501 "Blue Bonnet Special"), is a unique attraction located in Schuman Park, a 15-acre park located at 404 East 16th Street. Group tours are available by calling the Rolla Parks and Recreation Dept. at (573) 364-4278.
The Frisco 1501 Caboose, which houses U.S. Route 66 Train memorabilia, and is available for tours, is also located in the City's Downtown Festival Park at the corner of 9th and Elm Streets, across from Rolla City Hall. The St. Louis and San Francisco Railroad or "Frisco" as it is known by locals, played a significant role in the early development of not only Rolla, but many of the surrounding towns as well.
Parks, walking trails, float trips, and outdoor heaven
If you love the outdoors, expansive multi-acre parks, state-of-the-art recreation facilities, over 13 miles of pedestrian/bike trails (along the ACORN Trail in Rolla), and outstanding hiking and trout fishing, you will be right at home in Rolla.
Rolla Downtown Farmers Market - Open every Saturday (9 a.m. - 2 p.m.) from May through October, the Rolla Downtown Farmers Market, where homegrown and homemade is more than a slogan, is located in the Downtown Festival Park in front of Rolla City Hall at the corner of 9th and Oak Streets. Area musicians are invited to bring their instruments and a bag chair, to "play in". Not-for-profit organizations sell food consessions. For more information, or to register for a free booth at the market, please contact Kristy Rich in the City's Parks and Recreation Department, at (573) 364-4278
Did you know that there are more trout streams in Phelps County than any other county in the state? With such notable rivers as the Gasconade, Little Piney and Meramec right in our backyard, you're just minutes away from some of the best fishing, floating, canoeing, camping, kayaking and hiking in the state.
Lane Springs, which includes scenic hiking trails, pavilions, grills, picnic tables, swimming and camping, is located about seven miles south of Rolla on Hwy. 63 South. One day admission to the park is only $2. For more information, stop by the Mark Twain National Forest headquarters at 401 Fairgrounds Road in Rolla, visit their Website.
For the nature-lover, conservationist or trail hiker, Audubon Trails Nature Center, located north of I-44 in Rolla, is a unique 60-acre reserve dedicated to education, with a commitment to habitat restoration and preservation. The trails are open to the public, dawn to dusk everyday. Earthen trails are designed for foot traffic with benches situated in scenic locations. The wheelchair accessible concrete trail connects to the parking lot.
The reserve consists of five distinct ecosystems, including a dolomite glade, tall-grass prairie, oak savannah, upland oak forest with two stands of short leaf pine, and a spring-fed riparian zone. To access the reserve, which is free and open to the public, access the University Drive exit at I-44 (Exit 185) to White Columns Drive at the traffic circle and turn right on Meriweather Court and go to the end of the road where there is a parking lot at the bottom of the hill. For a detailed map and more information, visit the Ozark Rivers Chapter of the National Audubon Society's Website.
Fitness & Fun at The Centre, & SplashZone
The Centre, Rolla's Health and Recreation complex, located at 1200 North Holloway Street, includes a 4,000-squre-foot fitness center, two gymnasiums, walking track, child care facility, and aquatics center with an Olympic-size pool, 3-story water slide, lazy-river, and vortex. There are alsonumerous fitness and recreational programs, activities and athletic tournaments such as basketball and volleyball held throughout the year at The Centre. This state-of-the-art facility is open to the public seven days a week. For more information and hours of operation, please visit http://www.rollacity.org/centre.
During the summer months from late May through Labor Day, SplashZone – Rolla's outdoor water park, is open to the public Monday through Friday (noon-7 p.m.) and Saturday and Sunday (noon-6 p.m.). It is located in Ber Juan Park next to The Centre at 14th and Holloway Streets.
Where to stay – overnight lodging
Numerous hotels, motels and Bed & Breakfasts, all available at affordable prices, are conveniently located along the I-44 corridor in Rolla on Martin Springs Drive, Hwy. 63 and Kingshighway (Business Route 44). Stops at Lane Springs (scenic hiking trails, pavilions, grills, picnic tables, swimming and camping), located about 7 miles south of Rolla on Hwy. 63 South, Lions Club Park on Hwy. 63 South. For a complete list of hotels and motels in the Rolla area, please visit the Rolla Area Chamber of Commerce Website.
Arts and Culture
Arts and culture also abound in the Rolla and Meramec Valley region, including the Ozark Actor's Theatre (OAT) at the Cedar Street Center for the Arts, Leach Theatre in Castelman Hall Performing Arts Center on the Missouri S&T campus, the Lyric Live Theatre in historic Newburg, just a few miles west of Rolla off I-44.
A wide assortment of artwork and photography provided by Arts Rolla also is on display and can be viewed by the public at The Centre, Rolla's Health and Recreation Complex, located at 1200 North Holloway Street, and at Rolla City Hall (901 North Elm Street).
Dining and Shopping…Midwest style
When it comes to dining and shopping, Rolla has a surprisingly wide variety of affordable and unique dining and shopping venues to choose from. High quality home-style, family restaurants – especially steak houses, Chinese, Mexican, Japanese, and barbecue - and both national and local retail establishments and shops, abound in the Rolla area. Nearly every imaginable national fast-food restaurant can also be easily found in Rolla along Hwy. 63 (Bishop Avenue) and Kingshighway (Business 44).
A quick list, (but by no means all inclusive), of shopping opportunities mostly located off Hwy. 63 (Bishop Highway) and Hwy. 72 in Rolla include: Wal-Mart, Walgreens, Hibbett Sports, Fashion Bug and Great Clips (all located in the Wal-Mart shopping center) off Hwy. 63. Across the street from Wal-Mart and about a mile or so south on Hwy. 63 South you will also find STAPLES, Hallmark Cards, Payless Shoes, J.C. Penney's, Goody's, K-Mart and Big Lots.
There are several restaurants along Hwy. 63 as well, including Applebee's, Ray J's Chicago Taste Authority, Kyoto Japanese Restaurant, Gordoz Steakhouse, Great Wall Chinese Restaurant, Panera Bread Co., Colton's Steakhouse and Grill, G&D Steakhouse, Imo's Pizza, Pryor's Pizza, Mandarin Garden, Subway, and Sonics, just to name a few. Several more family-style restaurants such as Maid Rite, Penelope’s Pizza & Steakhouse, Pizza Inn, and Pizza Hut are located on Kingshighway (Business 44), which intersects with Hwy. 63 where Blockbuster Video and Papa John's Pizza is located. More popular steak houses and family-style restaurants such as Sirloin Stockade, Shoney's, Zeno's Hotel and Restaurant, and Bandana's BAR-B-Q are located on Martin Springs Drive near the Kingshighway (Business 44)/I-44 Interchange.
Benton Square, which was originally the Ward School and later Benton School where thousands of students attended school, includes a restaurant and lounge, floral and gift shop, salon and spa, and fashion boutique. Benton Square iis located at 400 East 6th Street in Rolla's new Arts and Entertainment District right down the street from Ozark Actors Theatre and Cedar Street Center.
A Slice of Pie, located at 601 Kingshighway in downtown Rolla, one block from the Kingshighw/Hwy. 63 intersection, has won numerous regional and state awards for their mouth-watering home-made pies, and is a favorite among locals and visitors alike. Alex’s Pizza Palace, located in downtown Rolla at 122 West 8th Street, and is yet another iconic Rolla establishment. Also popular on Pine Street are Leonna’s Kitchen and the award-winning Reader’s Corner at the corner of 9th and Pine.
The Family Center, which is a cross between country hardware and 'Urban Cowboy,' is a very unique, authentic hardware/clothing/accessories store that has an impressive line of western wear (cowboy boots, cowboy hats, rustic accessories, etc.). It is located on Hwy. 72 about two miles east of the Hwy. 72/Hwy. 63 intersection. Lowe's is located on Hwy. 63 North about ½ mile north of I-44 near Steak ‘n Shake Restaurant.
Fuel and Service Stations for all your travel needs...
Along with possibly more pizza establishments, Chinese restaurants, steak houses, and fine-dinning establishments than most cities in South Central Missouri, there is also no shortage of fuel and service stations (that serve Diesel as well) in the Rolla area. Fuel, hot and cold beverages, ice, snacks and just about anything you may need for your next road trip or weekend vacation, is readily available at the numerous gas and service stations located along Hwy. 63, Kingshighway, and Hwy. 72.
Love's Truck Stop located at Hwy. V on I-44 just east of the Hwy. 63 Interchange, is also a very convenient and popular stop-off. In addition to petro, diesel and oil, Love's also includes a Subway, McDonalds and large convenience store. Parking is ample, and it's not uncommon to see numerous trucks of all sizes parked at all times of the day. You shouldn't have a problem finding petro or diesel fuel anywhere along Hwy. 63, 72, Kingshighway, and all four of Rolla's interchanges.
There's much more to see and talk about in Rolla, including Stonehenge, inspired by the famous Stonehenge monument in England. Often referred to as one of the most interesting and heavily visited attractions in Rolla, Stonehenge is located on North Bishop Highway (Hwy. 63 North) on the Missouri S&T campus adjacent to the Great Wall of China restaurant. Stop by anytime to marvel and take pictures of this impressive man-made scientific work of art.
St. James – Maramec Spring Park and world-class wineries
You may also consider spending time visiting other historic Phelps County towns such as the friendly historic U.S. Route 66 City of St. James (population, 4,050), (located 8 miles east of Rolla along I-44) where beautiful Maramec Spring Park, and some of the best trout fishing, wineries and nature gazing in the state can be experienced.
Quaint shops, boutiques and restaurants line the historic main street in St. James where you can get hand-dipped ice cream cones, bakery items and plenty of down-home, country-style cooking. For more information, please visit http://stjamesmissouri.org.
Newburg's Lyric Live Theatre
The town of Newburg located near the Little Piney River, about 5 miles west of Rolla off I-44, is home to the Lyric Live Theatre – now in its 26th season - where theatrical and musical performances are held throughout the year. The Lyric is located at 117 First Street in Newburg. Take I-44 west to Exit 179 and turn south. For more information, visit them on the Web.
Meramec Valley Region
Float trips, canoeing, kayaking, swimming, hiking, camping, trout fishing, bird watching and picnicking are also popular pastimes throughout the Meramec Valley Region. So when you are planning your next weekend get-away or vacation, you won't have to look very far or very hard to find something fun and memorable to do right here in Rolla, St. James, Newburg and the Meramec Valley region.
You can also contact the Rolla Chamber and Visitor's Center at (573) 364-3577 or (888) 809-3817, or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stop by sometime soon and see why Rolla is consistently ranked among the top cities and towns to live in America.