A Route 66 highway journey is likely one of the nice highway journeys in America. Known as The Mother Road and the Main Street of America, Route 66 was the primary thoroughfare via the United States for many years. This historic route runs from downtown Chicago, Illinois to Santa Monica, California, masking a complete distance of about 2,400 miles (3,900 km). The Mother Road was one of many unique highways throughout the U.S. Highway System and have become an iconic image of American tradition and cross-country highway journeys.
final route 66 Road Trip Guide
Built in 1926, Route 66 was a highway of desires passing via eight states all the way in which to the west coast. John Steinbeck gave Route 66 its identify “The Mother Road” within the Grapes of Wrath following the Joad household as they traveled west alongside Route 66 after being pushed from their dwelling. Along the way in which, they found that The Mother Road was crowded with different migrants. Read extra about highway journeys at 25 Best Road Trips within the World
Dust Bowl, Depression, and War
During the Great Depression, Route 66 was full of folks dreaming of a greater life within the West as they escaped the drought-stricken southern plains often known as the Dust Bowl. Route 66 was a highway of misplaced desires but in addition hope as folks drove to Santa Monica taking the shortest distance between Chicago and Los Angeles on the lookout for a greater future.
During World War II troopers and army automobiles used this highway extensively because it was probably the most direct route via the nation from Chicago to Los Angeles.
Route 66 Hey Day
As the melancholy pale away, households flocked to Route 66 to take their summer season holidays to see the Grand Canyon and different iconic websites in California and Arizona from the Fifties to the Nineteen Eighties.
Soon the Mother Road grew to become often known as the Main Street of America full of neon indicators, reward retailers, fuel stations and enjoyable memorabilia. Route 66 was a rip-roaring good time via the 50s to the 70s. In 1984 the final section of the freeway was decommissioned and the previous route of Route 66 was not. People have been now in a rush driving the Interstates to their locations.
Businesses alongside Route 66 closed and the historic buildings fell into damage.
Where does Route 66 Start?
Starting in Chicago, Route 66 passes via eight states. The states of Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and ending California. There are loads of issues to see alongside the driving route as every part passes via a number of main cities and small-town America alongside the way in which.
The unique place to begin was downtown Chicago at Jackson Boulevard and Michigan Avenue in 1926. In 1933 it was modified to Jackson Boulevard and Lake Shore Drive alongside the shores of Lake Michigan.
Where Does Route 66 End?
The official ending level of Route 66 is at Lincoln and Olympic Boulevards in Santa Monica. Highway 1 ends at these boulevards subsequently, that’s the place the route formally ends. Santa Monica Pier is only a mile away and the official End of Trail signal was erected right here in 2009 to commemorate the religious ending of route 66. I imply who wouldn’t need to go all the way in which to the Pacific Ocean proper when driving route 66 proper?
Since that signal was erected, Santa Monica erected official indicators at Olympic and Lincoln Boulevards making it one other enjoyable place to go earlier than heading to Santa Monica Pier for enjoyable and festivities.
Things To See On Route 66
If you aren’t planning on driving your entire previous route 66 to Santa Monica Pier on the Pacific Ocean, now we have damaged down the perfect issues to see alongside the Mother Road by part.
Car leases may be booked a method for those who don’t have your personal. So there isn’t any excuse to not drive this historic freeway if you end up in America. (Or not less than a portion or two). Since it spans throughout America, there’s a superb likelihood you can be someplace near Route 66 throughout your United States travels.
1. Route 66 Illinois
Route 66 begins in downtown Chicago at Lake Michigan and there’s a signal indicating the unique historic route begins on the nook of West Adams Street and Michigan Ave the place 78-98 E Adams St, Chicago, IL 60603, United States.
If you might be driving the opposite means, you’ll discover the Route 66, Historic Route Ends signal on the nook of Jackson Boulevard and Lake Shore Drive.
While in Chicago there are many issues to see and do, and we propose spending not less than 2 days within the metropolis earlier than beginning your drive alongside route 66. Make certain to go to Navy Pier so as to say your Route 66 journey went from Pier to Pier. Navy Pier to Santa Monica Pier provides the last word bragging rights. Who wouldn’t wan to drive from Lake Michigan and drove all the way in which to the Pacific Ocean. Read extra at: 21 of the Best Things to Do in Chicago
Things to See on Route 66 in Illinois
You can’t miss visiting the capital of Illinoise Springfield and there are many historic websites to see on this metropolis. So make a a day of it.
Springfield Illinois can also be the place you’ll discover the house of Abraham Lincoln that has been restored. It can also be free to enter and you may go to the Lincoln Tomb, Abraham Lincoln’s closing resting place. Don’t neglect to cease in to see the Capitol Building in Springfield.
The Cozy Dog Drive In can also be positioned in Springfield Illinois a route 66 icon that has been in operation since 1949. It’s dwelling to the unique scorching canine on a stick.
Illinois can also be dwelling to three muffler males statues. On your route ensure to cease in Wilmington, Atlanta and sure, Springfield to see these giants. In its heyday, route 66 noticed large statues strewn alongside the route promoting companies similar to tcar restore retailers and eating places alongside the historic route.
Route 66 Hall of Fame Museum in Pontiac is price a cease the place you’ll be able to peruse its 1000’s of Route 66 artifacts and memorabilia.
In Pontiac, Illinois, there’s the Illinois Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum showcasing the historical past of route 66.
Odell Station in Odell Illinois is likely one of the historic locations to cease alongside the route. This service station has been restored and you may cease in to speak to the volunteers concerning the drive forward.
2. Route 66 Missouri
The primary metropolis in Missouri is St. Louis and it’ll welcome you with its gateway arch. Missouri is the biggest metropolis on Route 66 between Chicago and downtown Los Angeles.
In Missouri, you’ll be crossing the Chain Rocks Bridge as you cross the mighty Mississippi River. The historic bridge connects Illinois and Missouri on route 66.
The Meramec Caverns are limestone caves that you will need to cease at. They usually are not solely one of many common roadside sights alongside historic route 66, however they’re additionally probably the most common sights in Missouri.
In Springfield Missouri, there’s a automotive museum the place you’ll be able to see classic automobiles that drove this route faithfully. There is one other Route 66 Museum in Lebanon.
Did you understand there’s a Cuba within the United States? Cuba Missouri was named after the Caribbean Island and is positioned in Missouri. It is formally designated Route 66 Mural City depicting scenes from the Route 66 heyday.
And lastly, you’ll be passing via Joplin Missouri since route 66 goes immediately via its downtown. Its historic buildings will take you again in time transporting you to the times of the Mother Road. Stop at its murals for some nice photograph alternatives
3. Route 66 – Kansas
Kansas is the shortest part of Route 66 with solely 13 miles of the Mother Road chopping via the southern portion of the state.
If you’re a fan of the Pixar film, Cars, cease at Cars on the Route, and the previous fuel station and reward store that sells snacks, and film memorabilia. I didn’t see Cars, however apparently, a few of it came about on route 66.
If you could have youngsters, they’ll acknowledge the tow truck Tow Tater from the film. Besides the tow truck, there’s an previous jalopy and a fireplace truck, so ensure to cease there.
Baxter Springs has the Coopers Dry Goods Store and diner courting again to 1865 and the historic Bush Creek Bridge. There are the standard previous fuel station, nook shops, and museums alongside Route 66.
4. Route 66 – Oklahoma
The reverse of Kansas, Oklahoma has the longest part of Route 66 with 400 miles of the Mother Road slicing via the state.
In Oklahoma, you’ll go via the cities of Tulsa and Oklahoma City alongside the historic route. But there are numerous roadside sights and historic websites to see as properly. Tulsa metropolis is certainly pleased with its route 66 heritage and as you drive alongside the primary road of America, its East Gateway welcomes you to a locations that actually embraces its historical past.
The Blue Whale of Catoosa is likely one of the most well-known sights on route 66. This large blue whale marks a well-liked swimming gap for folks driving route 66 within the Seventies and within the 2000s in was restored to its former glory.
There are a few museums alongside this route – The Oklahoma Route 66 Museum in Clinton, Oklahoma and the National Route 66 Transport Museum in Elk City exhibiting artifacts celebrating the spirit and historical past of route 66.
Be certain to see the previous vaudeville theater, the Colman Theatre in Miami, Oklahoma. And ensure to Grab a basic soda pop at POPS in Arcadia.
Other Route 66 Attractions in Oklahoma
Oklahoma has carried out an awesome job restoring its historic websites and buildings and there are a number of stops you could take pleasure in alongside this stretch. Some of the quirkier roadside sights embrace.
The Round Barn in Arcadia courting again to 1898 Pops in Arcadia that stands out with its enormous landmark, a neon soda pop bottle standing tall out entrance. The World’s Largest concrete totem pole in Chelsea Afton Station is one other good cease that may be a restored service station that has a present store the place you should purchase memorabilia and a few good maps and books about route 66.
5. Route 66 – Texas
Once you enter the Lone Star State there are many issues to see on Route 66. The 200 mile stretch of the Mother Road provides one thing for everybody. Read subsequent: 29 Best Things to do in Austin, Texas
The Cadillac Ranch is likely one of the most iconic stops on route 66. Located in Amarillo the Cadillac Ranch is common as a consequence of its 10 Cadillacs standing nostril down which might be coated in graffiti. If there’s one landmark to see in Texas, it’s the Cadillac Ranch.
Plus for those who just like the artwork set up on the Cadillac Ranch, you will need to go to the VW Slug Bug Ranch that performs homage to the well-known attraction. The VW Slug Bug Ranch options 5 VWs buried nostril deep into the bottom identical to the Cadillac ranch however .
While visiting the Cadillac Ranch, cease into Amarillo for a day or two to benefit from the metropolis. This is the place you’ll find a classic motel and get your kick on route 66 for the evening.
The Big Texan Steak Ranch is one other iconic cease on Route 66. Feeding 500 thousand folks a yr (principally coming from a Rout 66 drive) the Big Texan Steak Ranch is known for its 72 ounce steak dinner problem. Are you up for it?
Other Texas Route 66 Attractions
Mid Pointe Cafe in Adrian. Did you understand that when driving route 66 in Texas, you could have made it midway from Chicago to Los Angeles? Grab lunch on the Midpoint Cafe which is the oldest repeatedly working cafe on the route. Snap a photograph as you’ve pushed 1139 miles already and you’ve got 1139 to go!
Devil’s Rope Museum in McLean will take you thru a photographic journey of the historical past of the Dust Bowl. This museum showcases classic memorabilia from the Mother Road together with classic fuel pumps and a museum devoted to barbed wire. You heard me appropriately, barbed wire was referred to as Devil’s Rope and also you’ll discover a full assortment of barbed wire (I by no means knew there was earlier than) and fencing instruments.
The Conoco Tower Station is a neon-lit, Art Deco Tower that dates again to the Nineteen Thirties and maintain a watch out for the leaning water tower in Groom
Check out extra Texas Travel
6. Route 66 – New Mexico
The main metropolis in New Mexico is Albuquerque. Albuquerque, New Mexico has loads of historic sights and you could need to spend the evening right here as there’s a classic motel that’s nonetheless in operation. The El Camino Motel will certainly take you again in time. Read extra: The Very Best Historic Sites in New Mexico
Things to see in New Mexico – Route 66
Tucumcari has a superb portion of Route 66 sights in New Mexico with a dinosaur museum, roadside motels, and previous fuel stations. The Teepee Curios fuel station in Tucumcari has a big concrete teepee out entrance and as you cruise via New Mexico, you’ll be able to cease right here to browse its reward store.
It is in Tucumcari that you just’ll additionally discover the Route 66 Monument. The basic Cadillac fin is a well-liked photograph cease on route 66 in New Mexico.
Santa Rosa has the Route 66 Auto Museum of New Mexico. It is free to enter with a donation and showcases classic automobiles, and scenes from the Mother Road.
The Blue Hole in Santa Rosa is price stopping at when driving via New Mexico. The crystal clear waters of this blue pool make it a well-liked diving vacation spot.
Santa Fe, New Mexico was a well-liked cease on the sooner Route 66 alignments and has a number of issues to see together with the La Fonda Hotel, one of many oldest accommodations within the United States. Read extra: The Very Best Historic Sites in New Mexico
7. Route 66 – Arizona
Arizona has lots of Route 66 Attractions which might be properly preserved and is certainly price a cease as you drive the primary road of America. Read our full Arizona Road Trip
Williams, Arizona, is taken into account the perfect preserved stretch of Route 66 and right here it feels as if time has stood nonetheless. It has historic fuel stations, quirky cafes and historic buildings.
Jack Rabbit Trading Post is positioned in Joseph City and has been a Route 66 staple since 1949. Original proprietor Jim Taylor put a statue of a black rabbit in a black convertible and the Jack Rabbit Trading Post was born.
Winslow Arizona – I can’t imagine we didn’t make it to Winslow Arizona. I like the Eagles and I’m all the time singing “Standin’ on the corner of Winslow Arizona…” from Take it Easy.
If you might be on the lookout for a novel place to remain in Arizona, make your option to the Wigwam Motel in Holbrook. During the migration west alongside the Mother Road, the Wigwam Motel chain was a outstanding chain. Today, solely three survive and two are positioned alongside Route 66. One is in Holbrook and the opposite Wigwam Motel is in California.
The Grand Canyon shouldn’t be on the unique Route 66 however it’s positioned simply north of Main Street America and is well worth the detour to see this pure canyon clocking in 277 miles (455 km) lengthy, a mile (1.6 km) deep. It lives as much as the hype. In reality, it was throughout the Fifties that households made their means alongside route 66 to see the Grand Canyon that was shaped by the Colorado River slicing via and eroding the canyon for 1000’s of years.. When we visited the Grand Canyon, we stayed in Williams Arizona and took day journeys to the Grand Canyon.
To plan extra to your Grand Canyon journey learn our guides:
Detour to Las Vegas – Route 66
Las Vegas could not formally be on Route 66 however how will you not pop into the town when you’re so shut? Many folks go to the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas, so after you could have spent a few days exploring this pure surprise, make your option to the mom of neon lights Las Vegas. It’s the right praise to a drive alongside America’s primary road. Read extra: Off the Strip – Things to do Outside Las Vegas
Route 66 – California
The closing cease on the good American highway journey. This is the place dreamers ended their journey alongside the Mother Road in Santa Monica in quest of the American Dream. Let’s undergo a number of the websites to see that are particular to Route 66 in California. Read extra: 16 Best Cities in California
The Wigwam motel chain was constructed within the Nineteen Thirties and Nineteen Forties. Today of the three surviving motels are positioned on historic U.S. Route 66. You’ll discover one Wigwam Hotel in Holbrook, Arizona, and the opposite between Rialto and San Bernardino, If you might be on the lookout for a novel place to remain, the Wigwam Motel is a good alternative.
What highway journey would miss stopping at McDonalds and whereas in San Bernardino you’ll be able to hit up one other common route 66 attraction? The McDonald’s museum is positioned in San Bernardino and is a free museum you could discover.
Bottle Tree Ranch is a unusual murals in Helendale that was a well-liked cease on route 66. Unfortunately, it’s now closed as its proprietor handed away, however hopefully it’ll reopen sooner or later.
Calico Ghost Town within the Mojave Desert. This previous mining city within the Mojave Desert dates again to 1881. It was an enormous silver mine and right now you’ll be able to take a mining tour watch previous west exhibits and benefit from the views of the encircling desert.
The Mother Road Museum in Barstow has shows concerning the Mother Road historical past.
Hollywood – It’s now time to spend a number of days exploring Los Angeles Check out – 25 Best Things to Do in Los Angeles – Hollywood, Hikes, And More
Santa Monica – End of the Trail
Santa Monica Pier that is the religious finish of Route 66 as a result of you’ll be able to dip your toes within the Pacific Ocean. There is an indication there that claims Route 66 End of Trail and a mile in from Santa Monica pier at Highway 1 close to Mels Diner.
So, now you could have pushed the entire route 66 from Chicago to Santa Monica Read More: The Ultimate California Road Trip Itinerary
About The Mother Road
Route 66 was a busy and thrilling historic route via America that noticed folks touring commonly to the west coast from center America. But that every one modified in 1985 when the necessity for pace was on the high of individuals’s lists. As the interstates got here in, the previous roads connecting the east to west coast, went out.
Those days are lengthy gone and right now, the 3940 km (2448 miles) route is a shadow of its former self with solely pockets nonetheless clinging to a bygone period. Read: The 17 Best Hikes in Arizona
What Happened to Route 66?
Why did Route 66 crumble? In the Nineteen Eighties, the freeway system was constructed bypassing many of the cities positioned alongside the route. With vacationers driving on to the vacationer sights of Arizona and California quick and effectively on Interstates as an alternative of the sluggish backroads of Route 66, most cities alongside the historic Route 66 fell into disarray.
But through the years, some started to rebuild and pockets of nostalgia have cropped up all through the route. The attract of the highway journey nonetheless holds robust and it’s on the high of many individuals’s bucket lists to take this driving tour throughout America.
The Joliet Area Historical Museum and Route 66 Welcome Center is devoted to preserving the spirit of Route 66, describing the attract of the Mother Road and what makes Route 66 price preserving. Make certain to see the statues of the Muffler Men that have been used to advertise automotive restore retailers alongside the historic route.
And for those who spend the evening on this portion of Route 66, make sure you catch a film on the Skyview Drive In Theatre in Litchfield. It’s one of many final remaining unique drive ins on Route 66.
Quirky Roadside Attractions
Bloomington, Atlanta and Lincoln – Along this route you’ll discover the bizarre Paul Bunyon scorching canine statue, the world’s largest coated wagon, and Abe Lincoln holding an ax. There are soda retailers and diners.
How lengthy Does it Take to Drive Route 66?
You can drive your entire route 66 and it’ll take about 2 weeks (three weeks for those who actually need to take your time which we suggest). But you are able to do parts of Route 66 as properly. There are many parts you could drive. As we stated, route 66 passes via 8 states with a lot to discover in every.
It’s not simple to navigate Route 66 with simply Google Maps however there are apps and information books that will help you out.
It’s good to have that additional safety as a result of at occasions, we felt utterly remoted. There have been moments the place we barely noticed one other automotive on the route. We drove it on the finish of summer season throughout shoulder season so that could be the case. We typically we questioned if we had taken a flawed flip, however fortunately, quirky indicators would all the time pop as much as tell us we have been getting in the suitable immediately.
If you might be “driving west” just like the Nat King Cole track, you’ll begin in Chicago, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and at last finish in Santa Monica, California.
Choosing Your Route 66 Transportation
Being Canadian, we simply bounce in our automotive and head southwest to drive route 66. But for those who don’t have the posh of driving to a place to begin, you’ll be able to take a look at automotive rental firms and even determine on an RV rental to take pleasure in this historic driving route. Some folks have it on their bucket checklist to drive basic automobiles throughout the unique route and there are basic automotive leases that cater to this dream. You also can ebook a method leases from Chicago to Santa Barbara. Compare costs at CarLeases.com
Another nice concept is to lease an RV to expertise the mom highway. Cruise America provides RV leases and can assist you intend the right highway journey itinerary.
If you don’t have your personal automotive and have to fly into the place to begin, there are many automotive rental firms all alongside the route the place you’ll be able to lease the whole lot from basic automobiles to convertibles.
Stops on Route 66
We have created a map of the stops on route 66 that will help you determine. My brother referred to as me an really determined that he was going to drive to Chicago to start his highway journey and begin driving West to see how far they may make it.
You could also be flying into Arizona to see the Grand Canyon, or perhaps visting buddies in Oklahoma City or New Mexico and easily need to drive a particular portion. Whichever a part of route 66 you select, you’ll discover a lot to see alongside the previous route and we’ve highlighted the perfect issues to see on route 66.
How to plan Your Route 66 Road Trip Itinerary
Planning a highway journey alongside Route 66 may be an thrilling journey, but it surely additionally requires cautious preparation. Here are some steps that will help you plan your journey:
Determine Your Route
There are a number of doable itineraries for driving Route 66, so it’s best to select one which fits your pursuits and schedule. Consider the gap you need to cowl every day and the stops you need to make alongside the way in which.
Check highway circumstances: Some sections of Route 66 could also be closed or have restricted entry, so it’s essential to examine the most recent highway circumstances earlier than you go. Think about time of yr – Route 66 is a protracted highway journey and temperatures and terrain modifications drastically. In Arizona and the encircling desert it could actually develop into extraordinarily scorching within the summertime however nice within the winter. In the northeast, winter snow could be a actual issue and have an effect on your route 66 travels. Make reservations: If you’re touring throughout peak season, it’s a good suggestion to make lodge or campground reservations prematurely to make sure you have a spot to remain every evening. A classic motel on route 66 will promote out shortly so plan accordingly. Plan your price range: Establish a price range to your journey, together with the price of gasoline, meals, lodging, and actions. Prepare your automobile: Make certain your automobile is in good situation earlier than you go, and take into account bringing a spare tire, jack, and primary instruments in case of an emergency. You can lease a automotive to drive a portion or select a method leases and drop it off once you get to your vacation spot. Compare costs at RentalCars.com Pack good: Pack garments and kit appropriate for the climate circumstances, in addition to a map or GPS machine, a digital camera, and another necessities you may want. Make a listing of must-see sights: Research the sights and sights alongside Route 66 that you just don’t need to miss. We have given some nice concepts for what to see on route 66, however with a freeway spanning 2400 miles, we couldn’t cowl the whole lot.
By following these steps, you’ll be able to make sure that your Route 66 highway journey is secure, snug, and memorable.
Route 66 Signs And Quriky Roadside Attractions
As Americans migrated west on the lookout for work, it captured the creativeness of the nation. Luckily, lots of the indicators, quirky roadside sights, and memorabilia have been preserved. One of the perfect issues about driving Route 66 is to drive with no plans.
Go with the stream and cease once you see one thing nostalgic or historic. You’ll discover lots of roadside sights alongside the route 66 and as vacationers and Americans journey extra to revisit an easier previous, extra sights are opening up.
All alongside the route from Chicago to California cities cling to a not so distant previous and some vacationers who got down to recreate their very own American Dream by driving alongside the long-lasting route making it the last word highway journey.
The cities that have been bypassed by the Interstates refuse to give up and appeal to guests from around the globe desirous to catch a glimpse of America’s glory days.
There are previous automobiles on show, a soda store and 50’s model fuel stations, a colourful downtown and naturally Route 66 indicators and neon indicators leftover adverts from its heyday.
There are previous motor accommodations, The Road Kill Cafe, a Texaco Gas Station, and the previous common retailer. If you’re going to purchase any souvenirs, purchase them in Seligman as a result of they’ve the whole lot highlighting the historic Route 66.
It actually is an incredible journey. The picturesque panorama with cows grazing within the distance and rolling hills surrounding our lonely stretch of highway takes you again to a time when folks didn’t stare at their telephones and when household was in the beginning.
My favorite have been the adverts for Burma Shave. These quirky indicators lined up in teams of 5 instructed a bit story with a foolish punchline on the finish, punctuated by a closing signal promoting “Burma Shave”
Plenty of occasions you’ll come throughout run down buildings and ghost cities. If it could actually’t appeal to vacationers, cities utterly shut down.
National Parks Along Route 66
Route 66 travels via a few of America’s most lovely surroundings. You’ll need to take your time and make some detours to see the National Parks alongside the route. Here is a listing you could need to take into account.
We beloved driving the historic Route 66. There has by no means been a greater time to take a highway journey throughout America. While folks plan on staying nearer to dwelling, this can be a excellent place to begin.