Travel Guide Route 66
Travel guide route 66 is known far and wide for its mom-and-pop motels, drive-ins and quirky roadside attractions. From Texas to California, this legendary highway has been a staple of American culture for decades.
Most travelers choose to follow the route westbound, following in the footsteps of those seeking a better life.
1. Start in Chicago
The Mother Road starts in Chicago (or ends here, depending on your direction). The first leg is full of classic motel neon, vintage filling stations, and roadside giants. Check out Joliet’s Dick’s on 66 and its Muffler Man, or drive through Wilmington to see the Polka Dot Drive-In and its statues of Americana favorites. Then hit Amarillo to visit RUSSELL’S CAR MUSEUM and its aluminum-and-chrome diners. Finally, don’t miss Cadillac Ranch, a quirky art installation that features 10 half-buried Cadillacs.
The wide-open spaces of western New Mexico are a welcome change from the busy streets of the Big City. But even in this tiny town, there are lots of Route 66-inspired stops to discover, including the Big Texan Steak Ranch, which has billboards advertising free 72oz steaks stretching hundreds of miles in either direction.
2. Explore the Windy City
The Windy City is a vibrant cultural hub. Art lovers can marvel at the world-class collection of the Art Institute of Chicago, whilst foodies can have their mind blown by more than just deep dish pizza.
A river cruise is a great way to get orientated in this city of epic architecture, with your guide enlightening you on the stunning buildings and their storied histories. There is also plenty of shopping to be done here, with department store mainstays like Macy’s enthralling visitors with their massive multi-floor emporiums.
A trip to the Painted Desert National Park is also a must, where you can find a number of fun and quirky Route 66 landmarks, including the Holbrook Wigwam Motel (giant concrete tepee motels) and Stewart’s Petrified Wood Shop.
3. Hit the Road
Many people choose to tour Route 66 in their own car, but you can also take guided bus tours or rent an RV or motor home from companies like Cruise America. Motorcycle rentals are available as well.
The best time to travel on the Mother Road is from late April through early October. However, there are remnants of ice and snow in some areas until late November or early December.
It’s important to plan your trip carefully, as this iconic highway is dotted with mom-and-pop motels, neon lights, drive-ins, and quirky roadside attractions. You’ll want to make sure you have plenty of time to wander around historic downtowns, sip root beer floats at soda fountains, and sleep in retro-cool hotels with flashing neon signs.
4. Spend Some Time in Los Angeles
Many small towns on Route 66 were bypassed when the highway system was built and now struggle to stay open. However, as tourists flock to the road trip dream seeking a simpler past these places are beginning to thrive again.
This is particularly true of Holbrook where you can visit the Cadillac Ranch – an art installation featuring upended car bodies that dates back to 1974, or tuck into a steak dinner at the Big Texan Steak Ranch. The town is also home to some quirky roadside attractions, including the Wigwam Motel with its large concrete teepees and Pops 66 Soda Ranch which serves up over 700 flavours of soda!
If you’re interested in hiring a RV to tour Route 66, companies such as Cruise America and El Monte offer a variety of rental plans. But you can also choose to book a guided bus tour or simply drive your own vehicle.
5. Finish in Santa Monica
You can’t truly finish your Route 66 adventure until you dip your toes into the Pacific Ocean at Santa Monica Pier. It’s the spiritual end of the road, and it has a sign to prove it!
This is also a good time to stop at the kitschy Red Oak 2 roadside attraction. It’s a fun and kitschy collection of old buildings that is partly an art installation, but it’s also a great place to grab some Route 66 souvenirs.
Then, you can catch a double feature at the 66 Drive-In or get a night of rest and relaxation at Boots Court motel which has been lovingly restored to 1940’s glory. It’s the perfect place to enjoy a cheesy double feature with a soda fountain, a period jukebox and plenty of nostalgia!