Brace yourself to go through a time tunnel through the heart of American history along the Route 66 popularly known as the “Mother Road”. Here’s a guide to this iconic strip of USA for Route 66 tours self-drive with some must-see sights along the way. Over this long stretch passing through so many US states, there’s way too much to explore when it comes to languages and tourist sights. Get your Avis rental car from Chicago and make a worthwhile road trip across the USA. Happy Travels!
Route 66 details-
Passes from east to west in United States, North America
Total Distance – 3455 km
Total hours to cover the Route 66 stretch – 30 hr
The recommended time to spend – Two Weeks
An Iconic route from Chicago to Santa Monica.
Crossing 8 states: Illinois – Missouri – Kansas – Oklahoma – Texas – New Mexico – Arizona – California
Ever-changing landscapes and innumerable cultural sights.
ABOUT THE ROUTE 66
The Route 66 map shall take you across the skyscrapers of Chicago in Illinois, the prairies in Missouri, the Indian Territory of Oklahoma, Texas cowboys, old stones of New Mexico, the arid landscapes of Arizona, to the final destination of the mythical California border. There’s so much to see along Route 66 that you could spend months here. It would be super easy to take diversions to small towns that are off the beaten tracks with your Avis rental car. Some of the major natural sights include the Grand Canyon, the Mississippi River, Arizona’s Painted Desert, Petrified Forest National Park, and the Pacific beaches of Santa Monica.
Here’s all that you need to know about the 8 states that fall under the Route 66 in the USA
It is in Illinois where the first completely paved section of Route 66 was laid. It is the traditional starting point lying beside the shore of Lake Michigan and its oceanic airs. Illinois is famous for “Muffler Men” which are gentle giants on roadsides ahead of tourist shops, garages or restaurants and service stations. Tall Paul is the most iconic giant holding a giant hot dog. Chicago is a city full of skyscrapers. The “Willis Tower” is the tallest building in America and the pride of Chicago. While “Magnificent Mile” is a shopping paradise considered one of the leading contemporary architecture.
Attractions in Illinois
Lou Mitchell’s Restaurant: This restaurant is one of the historical places to visit in Illinois which welcomes travellers providing them with heavy breakfast and Greek-inspired American cuisine.
The Route 66 Hall of Fame Museum- This museum in Pontiac known as the “City of Murals” holds a giant mural honouring the Mother Road on the facade of the Museum.
Route 66 Chapel of Lincoln- It is a dilapidated tiny chapel set back in an abandoned and crumbling setting which always remains open to travellers passing by.
The house and law office of Abraham Lincoln is a notable place to visit in Illinois where the famous President of United States of America who abolished slavery lived in Springfield, the state capital. Obama displayed his political stature here as a candidate for the Presidency.
source: States at Risk
The second stop along the Route 66 is Missouri. Missouri exhibits an open-air museum that continues to remain abandoned along Route 66. When one visits this city the first thing that comes to attention is the most emblematic buildings of the United States known as “Gateway Arch” It symbolizes the time when Missouri was the last one before the long journey towards west. It is believed that even today when one leaves Illinois, one enters a different world altogether consisting of a rural and simplistic lifestyle with more conservative attitudes. Because of this, the region is also called the “Bible Belt”.
Tourist attractions in Missouri
The Gateway Arch in St. Louis; It stands on the shores of Mississippi boasting its sleek construction that symbolizes the gateway to the mythical American Midwest.
Twin water towers of St.Clair; Considered a ridiculous practical joke of the municipality which erected two water towers instead of a single one and labelled them a “hot” and “cold”.
The Devil’s Elbow Bridge It is a century old abandoned bridge that had caused numerous accidents with the onset of the morning mist some of which were fatal.
It is funny that the Route 66 barely touches extreme south-eastern Kansas, covering 13 miles passing three small towns: Galena, Riverton and Baxter Springs. After moving past hilly Missouri, your Avis car rental in Kansas takes you through upcoming gigantic landscapes awaiting American mid-west. You will find vast plains of wheat extending horizons that is sure to steal your heart away.
Famous Places in Kansas
Cars on the Route was formerly “4 Women on the Route” in Galena, located in an old gas station in front of an abandoned warehouse. Outside, the rusty tow truck and its eyes under the windshield will surely seem to come alive.
Nelson’s Old Riverton Store It is a fun-filled bric-a-brac that brings its groceries, souvenir and an antique museum at one place making it cosy with flowers.
The Marsh Arch Bridge, nicknamed “Rainbow Bridge”, has an unusual architecture which has been restored but it is still closed to public traffic.
The Visitor Center in the Philips 66 station where speaking with knowledgeable enthusiasts and finding out more about the restored beautiful station of the grand “Philips 66” are some of the things to do in Kansas.
source: The Crazy Tourist
Oklahoma holds a record of the maximum distance travelled on the legendary track of Route 66 which is some 430 miles. Cyrus Avery who is popularly known as “Father of the Route” designed this “Mother road” considered Oklahoma as his hometown thus diverting the route from a straight line so that it barely passed through Kansas and went across his hometown resulting in an economic boom for Oklahoma when Route 66 became a success.
Famous Places in Oklahoma
The world’s former largest McDonald’s DO pay a visit to the fast food giant. Its logo respects the old spirit of holding their restaurant at the amazing structure built in 1957. Notice the giant yellow arch spanning the highway.
The first oil well in Oklahoma It was built in Chelsea that kicked-off a short epic that left an indelible imprint on the face of the state. Compared to the monsters built today (up to 30,000 ft. deep) the wells dug in Chelsea in 1889 were very modest.
Totem Pole Park near Foyil is the work of a woodcarver whose work resulted in a park that featured many totems inspired by Native American art.
The J.M. Davis Gun Museum in Claremore has the largest private collection of weapons in the world.
source: Texas Public Radio
Texas has had a conservative, proud, of deep-rooted republican outlook. It has given America two Presidents from the Bush family who belonged to this city. Texans are extremely friendly and always up for an engaging conversation but they definitely are a bit touchy about their political convictions. Route 66 crosses it from side to side covering 90 miles from which 150 miles are entirely passable making it an ultimate Texas road trip.
Amarillo is the only real town on Route 66 in Texas. An important stopover for travellers of Texas road trip routes since its early days, it was a relatively small town before the opening of the first transcontinental route in the world.
Famous Places in Texas
The former U-Drop Inn service station in Shamrock built in 1936 still goes on to be one of the most beautiful buildings of this time along Route 66. It is recognized from afar by its two towers.
The Devil’s Rope and Route 66 Museum in McLean share the same building. The first focuses on barbed wire, which played a key role in the expansion of cattle ranching in Texas. The second focuses on road trip route in Texas and its major attractions in the state.
The Giant Cross Giant Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ is visible for tens of miles around. With its 190 ft, it dominates the plains of eastern Texas, like a sparkling white mirage in the middle of nowhere.
The Cadillac Ranch was erected in 1974 by a group of artists which is undoubtedly the most famous work of art along Route 66 in Amarillo. It consists of ten Cadillac vehicles nose-driven into the ground in the same orientation as the pyramids of Egypt.
source: My Grand Canyon park
New Mexico is a land of extremes and contrasts. Your road trip in New Mexico will take you through mountains on the rise and desert plateaus, large cities and small towns that blend the culture of Indian, Spanish and Mexican traditions.
The men who engineered this Route 66 along the high capped mountains found themselves performing engineering feats. Motorists started fearing mountain passes in the twentieth century. They often found themselves stranded. Enjoy the road trip in your Avis car rental in New Mexico over interesting topography.
Famous Places in New Mexico
The Blue Swallow Motel: The Blue Swallow has been serving travellers along the Mother Road since 1939. You will still be pleasantly reminded of the travelling across the USA in the “good old days.” Unlike the big corporately-owned chains, this is family owned and operated.
The Santa Fe Plaza: It forms the main square of the capital of New Mexico, covered by ravishing, small adobe buildings in the Spanish pueblo style. Every morning at 8, there is a market for Indian handicrafts.
The 66 Diner of Albuquerque is possibly the most beautiful building in “streamline-style”, typical of the 1940s along Route 66. It houses the headquarters of the Route 66 Association in New Mexico.
Travelling along the historic Route 66 through Arizona road trip is bound to convert you into a die-hard fan off Route 66. The high-speed freeway gives quick access to some of the best surviving stretches of the old road, and these are some of the most captivating parts of Route 66. Between the red-rock mesas of New Mexico and the arid desert along the Colorado River, the route runs past dozens of remarkable old highway towns along some of the oldest and longest still drive-able stretches of the Mother Road.
Famous Places in Arizona
Grand Canyon National Park is located a few miles from Flagstaff and Williams. These two localities, right on the edge of Route 66 are the main gateways to the mythical Grand Canyon and offer restaurants, hotels, shops and tourist services.
The Painted Desert is in the north of Petrified Forest National Park featuring layers of eroded rocks that are stained with iron, manganese and other minerals. It is adorned with a thousand colours it gets emphasized at sunrise and sunset.
Meteor Crater in Meteor City bears a brutal impact of a meteorite 50000 years ago the left a deep scar creating a 570 ft deep and 4000 ft wide chasm on the earth. It is a common tourist place in Arizona.
source: Finding the universe
Historic Route 66 through California shall take you through every type of Southern California landscape there is. Following this classic road trip passes through the demanding Mojave Desert, over mountains and through lush inland valleys, to the beautiful beaches of Santa Monica. These are some of the best tourist attractions in California.
The old road is intact almost all the way across the state covering a distance of 315 miles. Across the Mojave Desert, the route is also marked as the National Old Trails Highway titled before the national numbering system which was put into effect in the late 1920s.
Famous places in California
Needles, the hottest city in the United States, opens the doors to the extreme Mojave Desert. It owes its name to the needle-like mountains surrounding it.
The Amboy Crater is a volcanic crater located around Amboy, ghost town since the late 1940s, which once had its airport, church, school, cemetery, coffee shop, garage, etc.
Bagdad Cafe in Newberry Springs is located in the Mojave Desert, whose name is derived from the film which sees the confrontation of a lost German tourist and the bitter owner of this little cafe-motel-gas station.
Places to Eat
No matter what part of Route 66 you’re on, you’re sure to find somewhere to quench your thirst and satisfy your hunger. You’ll find countless diners – cheap, simple eateries like roadside cafes that you’ll have seen in lots of movies and TV shows.
While you are on the epic road trip along the Route 66 you can indulge in traditional Texan dishes with Mexican ones that cook things like chilli con carne, quesadillas, fajitas, and more.
Places to Rest
Route 66 is meant mostly for the trip along the road with little time spent on the attractions. But if you want to pack lots of sight-seeing along the way, we recommend a two-week trip for travel where you shall need plenty of stops to rest along the way. But don’t worry! There’s no shortage of resting places. There are motels (Formed by combining motels and hotels that cater to motorists) with plenty of parking space. The rooms are typically small, basic and cheap meant for people to stay for a night or two before they hit the road again.
To sum up, Route 22 in the US is an ultimate road trip that is filled with attractions, historical buildings, vintage roadside diners, museums, natural wonders, and so much more. Don’t let anything stop you from taking this trip at least once in your lifetime. With Avis as your travel partner, it is guaranteed to be full of life, fun and adventure.