Route 66 is one of the most iconic highways in the United States. It spans 2,448 miles from Chicago, Illinois, to Santa Monica, California, and is often referred to as the “Main Street of America.” The road was established in 1926 and served as a major route for travelers and commerce for several decades. Today, Route 66 is a beloved tourist destination, with travelers from all over the world embarking on the road trip of a lifetime to experience the charm and nostalgia of this historic route.
Planning Your Route 66 Road Trip
Before embarking on your Route 66 road trip, it’s essential to plan out your route and stops along the way. There are several resources available online that can help you plan your trip, including maps, guidebooks, and travel blogs. It’s essential to plan out your route based on your interests and time constraints, as the entire Route 66 road trip can take anywhere from two weeks to a month or more.
The Route 66 Experience: Illinois
Illinois is where the Route 66 road trip begins, and there are several must-visit attractions along the way. Some of the highlights include the Route 66 Association Hall of Fame and Museum in Pontiac, the Gemini Giant in Wilmington, and the Chain of Rocks Bridge in Madison. Illinois is also home to several excellent diners and restaurants that are sure to satisfy your hunger and fuel you up for the rest of the journey.
The Route 66 Experience: Missouri
As you enter Missouri, the scenery begins to change, and the road trip becomes even more exciting. Some of the highlights of Missouri include the Meramec Caverns, the World’s Largest Rocking Chair in Fanning, and the Jesse James Museum in Stanton. Missouri is also home to several quirky roadside attractions, including the Mule Trading Post in Rolla and the Totem Pole Trading Post in St. Robert.
The Route 66 Experience: Kansas
Kansas is a relatively short stretch of Route 66, but it’s still worth stopping to explore. Some of the highlights include the Rainbow Bridge in Baxter Springs, the Eisler Brothers Store in Riverton, and the Cars on the Route museum in Galena. Kansas is also known for its fantastic barbecue, so be sure to stop at one of the many barbecue joints along the way.
The Route 66 Experience: Oklahoma
Oklahoma is home to some of the most iconic Route 66 attractions, including the Blue Whale of Catoosa, the Round Barn in Arcadia, and the Coleman Theater in Miami. There are also several ghost towns and abandoned buildings along the way, adding to the allure and nostalgia of the route.
The Route 66 Experience: Texas
Texas is a massive state, and the Route 66 stretch is relatively short, but there are still several must-visit attractions. Some of the highlights include the Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, the Midpoint Cafe in Adrian, and the Devil’s Rope Museum in McLean. Texas is also known for its steak, so be sure to stop at one of the many steakhouses along the way.
The Route 66 Experience: New Mexico
New Mexico is home to some of the most diverse scenery along the Route 66 road trip, including deserts, mountains, and canyons. Some of the highlights include the Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari, the Route 66 Auto Museum in Santa Rosa, and the historic La Posada hotel in Winslow. New Mexico is also known for its excellent Mexican cuisine, so be sure to stop at one of the many authentic Mexican restaurants along the way.
The Route 66 Experience: Arizona
Arizona is where the Route 66 road trip really starts to heat up, with some of the most iconic attractions along the way. Some of the highlights include the Wigwam Motel in Holbrook, the Petrified Forest National Park, and the iconic Painted Desert. Arizona is also home to several excellent diners and cafes, so be sure to stop and grab a bite to eat along the way.
The Route 66 Experience: California
Finally, the Route 66 road trip ends in Santa Monica, California, with several must-visit attractions along the way. Some of the highlights include the Mojave Desert, the Route 66 Museum in Barstow, and the Santa Monica Pier. California is also home to several excellent seafood restaurants, so be sure to stop and enjoy some fresh seafood before ending your journey in Santa Monica.
Tips for a Successful Route 66 Road Trip
Embarking on a Route 66 road trip can be an adventure of a lifetime, but there are several tips to keep in mind to ensure a successful trip. First, be sure to plan out your route and stops in advance, as this will help you make the most of your time on the road. Second, be sure to budget for gas, food, and lodging, as these expenses can quickly add up. Finally, be sure to pack for the trip, including comfortable clothing and shoes, as well as any necessary gear for outdoor activities and sightseeing.
Some additional details and interesting facts about the Route 66 road trip:
- The road was originally commissioned as a way to improve the transportation infrastructure in the United States and connect small rural communities with larger cities.
- Route 66 is often referred to as the “Mother Road” and has been immortalized in literature, music, and film.
- The road was officially decommissioned in 1985, but many sections of the route are still drivable today, and several communities have preserved and restored historic Route 66 landmarks and attractions.
- One of the most iconic landmarks along Route 66 is the Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas. The public art installation features ten classic Cadillac cars half-buried nose-first in the ground.
- Another famous landmark is the Wigwam Motel in Holbrook, Arizona, which features 15 concrete teepees that guests can stay in overnight.
- Route 66 has been the subject of several popular songs, including “Get Your Kicks on Route 66” by Bobby Troup and “Route 66” by Chuck Berry.
- Several Hollywood films have also featured Route 66, including “The Grapes of Wrath” and “Cars.”
- In addition to the many roadside attractions and historic landmarks, the Route 66 road trip offers some of the most breathtaking natural scenery in the United States, including the Grand Canyon, the Ozark Mountains, and the California coastline.
- Along the way, travelers can also experience some of the best regional cuisine in the United States, including Texas BBQ, New Mexico chilies, and California seafood.
- Finally, embarking on a Route 66 road trip offers travelers the chance to connect with the history and culture of the United States and experience a sense of nostalgia for a bygone era of American travel and exploration.
Embarking on a Route 66 road trip is an adventure of a lifetime, filled with nostalgia, charm, and Americana. From the rolling hills of Illinois to the sandy beaches of Santa Monica, the Route 66 road trip offers a glimpse into the history and culture of the United States. With proper planning, budgeting, and packing, you can embark on the journey of a lifetime and experience the magic of Route 66. So, grab your car keys, buckle up, and hit the open road to experience the Main Street of America.