Route 66 is one of the most iconic drives in the US, and for good reason. It’s appeared in everything from books and memoirs to the big screen. Embodying the ideal that a good trip should be about the road and not just the destination, there’s plenty to do and see. The historic Route 66 stretches from Chicago, Illinois to Santa Monica, California. Traveling along those 2400 miles, you can get a real feel for the differences in culture and the landscape as it changes.
Sightseeing On Route 66
If you want to get a picture with the official ‘Begin US 66’ sign, you’ll find it on East Adams Street in Chicago. It’s the perfect way to start your journey headed West out of one of America’s largest metropolitan cities.
You can travel back in time with an evening at the 66 Drive-In Theatre in Missouri. Catch a showing of a fun new film while chowing down on chili dogs and popcorn in your car. There aren’t many of these drive-ins anymore, so take advantage of the experience while they’re still around. Speaking of old attractions, snap a picture of the Milk Bottle Grocery in Oklahoma City. Built in 1930, the little red brick store is dwarfed by the truly enormous milk bottle on top. You couldn’t miss seeing it even if you tried.
For lovers of eccentric art, Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas has an interesting history. You’ll find 10 Cadillac cars buried nose deep in the ground, but the oddities don’t end there. Over time, visitors have graffitied the automobiles, adding their own artistic touches.
Where To Stay
Vintage motels abound on Route 66. The Munger Moss Motel in Lebanon, Missouri is a great place to start. You can pick up your souvenirs and get a picture in front of their iconic neon sign. Arizona, with its large portion of Native American reservations and rich cultural history, offers a unique opportunity. The Wigwam Motel in Holbrook is just as it sounds. Guests can sleep in individual wigwams, which look like cone-shaped tents used by the Algonquian tribes of the Northeastern US. It’s not an exact historical match, given that the major tribes of the area -- such as the Hopi and Navajo -- generally built adobe houses known as pueblos. However, it can be a fun and interesting experience.
Eating Along Route 66
Each state in the US often has food that they’re known for. Illinois has their Chicago-style deep dish pizza. Missouri and Kansas both love their Kansas City BBQ, named for a city that straddles the line between both. For Oklahoma, it’s fried okra (and fried everything else, really). Texas has its own, and entirely separate, style of BBQ. New Mexico loves making every kind of dish with its famous chiles. Arizona offers the best true Mexican food in the country. And last but not least, California has the infamous and well-loved In-N-Out Burger.
Cattleman’s Steakhouse in Oklahoma will show you why eating steak in the heart of cattle country is an experience not to be missed. The Turquoise Room in Winslow, Arizona offers a great option for a nice meal, with the added bonus of being attached to La Posada Hotel. Ending your trip at the Santa Monica Pier means you have infinite options for lodging in one of America’s most beautiful coastal cities.