From LAX to Kansas City, Mo., the nearest airport to St. Joseph, Mo., Midwest and Southwest provide nonstop service and Southwest, Frontier, American and United provide connecting service (change of plane). Restricted round-trip fares begin at $254.
From LAX to Sacramento, Southwest and United provide nonstop service, and United, Delta, Southwest and US Airways provide connecting service (change of plane). Restricted round-trip fares begin at $182.
WHERE TO STAY
In St. Joseph:
Museum Hill Bed & Breakfast, 1102 Felix St., St.; (816) 387-9663, http://www.museumhill.com. Four bedrooms in an 1880s home. Historic neighborhood. Doubles begin at $85.
Holiday Inn St. Joseph Riverfront, 102 S. 3rd St.; (816) 279-8000, http://www.holidayinn.com. Downtown location. Indoor pool. Doubles begin at $94.
In Salt Lake City:
University Park Marriott, 480 Wakara Way; (801) 581-1000, http://www.marriott.com. Fifteen miles from the airport, next to the University of Utah, a mile from This Is the Place Heritage Park. Doubles at the 189-room hotel begin at $89. Busiest on weekdays.
Hotel Monaco, 15 West 200 South; (800) 805-1801, http://www.monaco-saltlakecity.com. Trendy restaurant, 225 stylish rooms. Doubles begin at $119. Often busier on weekdays.
Where to stay in Sacramento:
Delta King Hotel, 1000 Front St.; (916) 444-5464, http://www.deltaking.com. Forty-four rooms on a permanently moored 1927 sternwheeler. Two restaurants. Low ceilings, small rooms (but there are a few large enough for a rollaway bed). Probably a bigger thrill for kids than for grown-ups. Rooms begin at $101.
Embassy Suites Hotel Sacramento — Riverfront Promenade, 100 Capitol Mall; (916) 326-5000, embassysuites1.hilton.com. Next to Old Sacramento and Tower Bridge, this makes good sense for families. Breakfast included. Indoor pool. Doubles begin at $129.
WHERE TO EAT
In St. Joseph, Mo.:
Bougainvillea Café, Buffet, Bar & Lounge, Terrible's St. Jo Frontier Casino, 777 Winners Circle; (800) 888-2946, http://www.terriblesstjofrontier.com. Barbecue, Mexican, Italian, Chinese — it's all here. Lunch buffet $7.99. Dinner buffet $11.99-$15.99.
In Salt Lake City:
Lamb's Grill Cafe, 169 S. Main St.; (801) 364-7166, http://www.lambsgrill.com. Basic coffee shop, within steps of a Pony Express stop. Dates to 1919 and claims to be Utah's oldest restaurant. Dinner entrees up to $21 (steak and shrimp), but at breakfast time, it's known for its Greek feta cheese omelet and eggs Benedict, both less than $7.
Ten22, 1022 2nd St; (916) 441-2211, http://www.ten22oldsac.com. A new, sophisticated place in Old Sac with big wine and beer lists. American cuisine, modern twists, pizza. Main dishes $11.95-$23.95.
TO LEARN MORE
National Pony Express Assn.: http://www.xphomestation.com
Pony Express National Museum, St. Joseph: http://www.ponyexpress.org
Patee House Museum, St. Joseph, Mo.: http://www.ponyexpressjessejames.com
This is the Place Heritage Park, Salt Lake City: http://www.thisistheplace.org
Old Sacramento: http://www.oldsacramento.com