1. Adams Street in Chicago, IL
You are here - the Official Starting Point of Route 66
2. The Launching Pad in Wilmington, IL
Featuring the Gemini Giant, one of the last remaining fiberglass giants in the US
3. The Ariston Cafe in Litchfield, IL
Order up a slice of apple pie and you won't be sorry
4. The Cozy Dog Drive-In in Springfield, IL
Home of the "famous hot dog on a stick" and the cutest sign you've ever seen
5. World's Largest Covered Wagon in Lincoln, IL
Driven by none other than Abraham Lincoln, stovepipe hat and all
6. Funk's Maple Sirup in Funk's Grove, IL
Take a detour off the beaten path for this official Roadside Attraction
7. Henry's Route 66 Rabbit Ranch in Staunton, IL
You'll find both the hopping and the driving kind of rabbits here
8. Soulsby Service Station in Mount Olive, IL
One of the most well-preserved stations on the route
9. Burma Shave signs in Pontiac, IL
An iconic symbol of Route 66 - and fun to read!
10. Route 66 Experience in Joliet, IL
For fans of Route 66 and the Blues Brothers
Imagine that you’re driving down the highway on your way from Chicago out west to California. Maybe you have the top down. Maybe you’re rapping “Going Back to Cali” into your Diet Coke. Maybe Ryan Gosling is riding shotgun and you’re making him read every “Hey Girl” meme on your Pinterest “Funnies” board. Go wherever your imagination takes you.
Now imagine that as you drive you see a big blue whale on the side of the road. Or a fifty-foot-tall spaceman holding a silver rocket. Or a row of spray-painted Cadillacs nose-down in a Texas field. No, Ryan didn’t spike your Coke. You’re not seeing things. These man-made wonders are just a few of the sites along the mother of all highways, Route 66.
Route 66 was established in 1926 and covers 2,448 miles across Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California, making it one of the most epic road trips in the world. In its heyday, the Mother Road connected the main streets of countless communities across the US, boosted local economies, and provided a means for millions of Americans to experience the freedom of the open road.
Unfortunately, as was beautifully and heartbreakingly documented in the Pixar film Cars, the “Main Street of America” was bypassed in many towns in favor of the newer, more direct Interstates. By 1985 so much of the original road had been replaced by faster, flashier freeways that Route 66 was officially removed from the US Highway System. Progress had won out and many Mom and Pop establishments were forced to close their doors. But don’t think that’s where the story ends. It wasn’t just slabs of concrete that made Route 66 what it was – it was the people. The people that harnessed their ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit to create giant jack rabbits and barbed wire museums and opened their doors to welcome travelers just as they would old friends. Looking back, it’s probably a blessing that many of these unique, quirky places were passed by the Interstate because now they’re just far enough off the beaten path that they are able to be preserved for future generations of road trippers and freedom seekers without falling victim to progress.
Today Historic Route 66 is known for taking the seemingly average aspects of life and celebrating them. There is no subject too big or too small to be honored and commemorated. But we weren’t kidding when we said that road tripping on Route 66 is an epic undertaking. That’s why we’ve got your back. Whether you’re planning to visit just the sites in your own state or tackle the road in its entirety (which is epically fun), we’ve compiled 66 Kicks that highlight the best of the best so you won’t miss a single one.
Up first, Illinois.
1. Ted Drewe's Frozen Custard in St. Louis, MO
You really can hold their ice cream upside down!
2. Route 66 Drive-In Theater in Springfield, MO
For the ultimate yesteryear experience
3. Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park in Eureka, MO
Don't forget to pack a pic-a-nic basket when camping here
4. Meramec Caverns in Sullivan, MO
If you ever wanted to see Jesse James' hideout, now's your chance
5. Stubby Stonehenge in Rolla, MO
Just like the real thing, only tiny!
6. The Wagon Wheel Motel in Cuba, MO
For the ultimate in roadside accomidations
7. SuperTAM on 66 in Carterville, MO
A gem if you're a fan of Superman (and even if you're not)
8. Circle Inn Malt Shop in Bourbon, MO
Check out their neon sign... classic!
9. Jasper County Courthouse in Carthage, MO
Get your cameras ready - this historic building will knock your socks off
10. The Gillioz Theatre in Springfield, MO
For an old-fashioned movie-going experience right out of, well, a movie!
1. World's Largest Ball of Twine in Cawker City, KS
The name speaks for itself! See if you can resist hugging it
2. Galena Museum in Galena, KS
Jam-packed full of Kansas knick knacks and memorabilia
3. Tow Mater in Galena, KS
Stop by the Kan-o-Tex to pose with your favorite tow truck from the movie Cars
4. Rainbow Bridge in Baxter Springs, KS
The sole surviving bridge of its kind on the road
5. Williams' Store in Riverton, KS
The oldest operating general store on Route 66
6. Baxter Springs Heritage Center and Museum
Check out the Route 66 displays for a bit of history
7. Cafe on the Route in Baxter Springs, KS
Featured in Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives
8. Greetings From Galena mural in Galena, KS
A perfect photo op
9. Field of Dreams Ballaprk in Baxter Springs. KS
There's just something about driving across Kansas and spotting a sign that says "Field of Dreams"
10. Historic Route 66 Byway
Drive the oldest parts of the original Mother Road
1. Blue Whale in Catoosa, OK
One of the most recognizable attractions on Route 66
2. Old Round Barn in Arcadia, OK
This round barn had a cameo in Cameron Crowe's Elizabethtown
3. Will Rogers Memorial and Museum in Claremore, OK
20,000 square feet dedicated to the Cowboy Philosopher
4. Route 66 Museum in Clinton, OK
As impressive a facade as you will see on any Route 66 Museum
5. Sand Hill Curiosity Shoppe in Erick, OK
Ecclectic goodness inside and out
6. Rock Cafe in Stroud, OK
We heard that the owner was the inspiration for Sally in Cars
7. The Dilly Diner in Tulsa, OK
Part of the historic Blue Dome District
8. Gold Dome in Oklahoma City, OK
They love domes in OK, especially this brilliant geodesic giant
9. Pop's Soda Ranch in Arcadia, OK
An unxpected delight that you can spot a mile away
10. Commerce Dairy King in Commerce, OK
Home of the Route 66 Cookie! Check out the Conoco Station here too
1. Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, TX
Leave your mark on this true Route 66 icon
2. Midpoint Cafe in Adrian, TX
The official halfway point of the Mother Road
3. World's Second Largest Cross in Groom, TX
Just as impressive from afar as it is close up
4. Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo, TX
If you can finish an entire 72 oz. steak (plus sides!) you get your picture in the Hall of Fame
5. U Drop Inn Cafe in Shamrock, TX
This architectural beauty inspired Ramon'es Body Shop in the animated feature Cars
6. Sign-A-Bug Buggy Ranch in Conway, TX
A miniature tribute to its big brother, Cadillac Ranch - bring your Sharpies here too!
7. Phillips Service Station in McLean
This charming station will take you right back to the earliest days of cross-country road trips
8. Rooster's Restaurant in Vega, TX
Look out for the giant rooster!
9. Devil's Rope and Route 66 Museum in McLean, TX
"Tribute to barbed wire" - need we say more?
10. Glenrio Historic Site
A ghost town on the border of Texas and New Mexico
1. Tucumcari, NM
The Blue Swallow Motel anchors this neon wonderland
2. The Blue Hole in Santa Rosa, NM
An old fashioned swimmin' hole
3. El Rancho Hotel in Gallup, NM
One-time celebrity retreat and a shrine to western decor
4. Carlsbad Caverns in Eddy County, NM
Goergeous underground caves
5. Roswell, NM
Even their Walmart and bus stops are painted with aliens!
6. Route 66 Auto Museum in Santa Rosa, NM
What could be more appropriate for a museum on Route 66 than an auto museum?
7. Sky City aka Acoma Pueblo, Cibola County
Amazing views from the top of this 367 foot mesa
8. Route 66 Arch in Grants, NM
A perfect photo op for you and your car
9. Motel Safari in Tucumcari, NM
"Best beds in town" (unconfirmed)
10. Maisel's Indian Trading Post in Albuquerque
Pueblo revival building on the National Register of Historic Places offering native curios
1. Snow Cap Drive-In in Seligman, AZ
An absolute must-see on Route 66
2. Oatman, AZ
Clark Gable and Carol Lombard honeymooned here
3. Jack Rabbit Trading Post in Joseph City, AZ
"Here It Is!"
4. Grand Canyon Caverns
You can actually dine inside the cave here!
5. Meteor Crater National Landmark in Winslow, AZ
Get your cameras ready!
6. Williams, AZ
Arizona's Route 66 is chock full of charming towns
7. Winslow, AZ
Here you can stand on the corner, just like the Eagles song
8. Bisbee, A
The town where time stands still
9. Tombstone, AZ (detour)
Totally worth leaving the Route to see this famed western town in all its preserved glory
10. Old Tucson Studios in Tucson, AZ (detour)
Another detour worth the extra miles
1. Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica, CA
The official end point of Route 66 (or end point, depending on your direction)
2. Wigwam Motel in Rialto, CA
If you only stay in one Route 66 motel, make it this one
3. Summit Inn Cafe in Hesperia, CA
A great diner with a fabulous 1950s diner counter
4. Route 66 Museum in Victorville, CA
If you're just starting out, this is a good place to brush up on your Route 66 history
5. Bagdad Cafe in Newberry Springs, CA
Did you know there's a movie called Bagdad Cafe that was filmed here?
6. Elmer's Bottle Tree Ranch in Hesperia, CA
A celebration of creativity and recycling
7. Cucamonga Service Station in Rancho Cucamonga, CA
A well-kept Route 66 filling station that is now a Route 66 gift shop and museum
8. Theater District in Los Angeles, CA
Here the streets are lined with gorgeous movie palaces that are a feast for the eyes
9. Road Stencils
All along Route 66 in California you can find great Route 66 emblems stenciled onto the highway - use extreme caution when photographing
10. Skyline Drive-In in Barstow
The ultimate activity to share with your car