66 Things to Do on Route 66

Last updated on July 5th, 2024 at 03:49 pm

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Venturing along Route 66 isn’t just a road trip—it’s an iconic American journey packed with history, charm, and endless adventures. As you cruise through the heartland of the U.S., you’ll discover a treasure trove of experiences waiting to be explored. Whether you’re a history buff, a foodie seeking classic diners, or an adventurer craving offbeat experiences, Route 66 offers an array of 66 distinct activities and sights that promise to captivate, charm, and leave an indelible mark on your journey. From quirky roadside attractions to hidden gems in bustling cities to small town main streets to historic monuments to a good greasy cheeseburger, this guide unveils 66 things to do on Route 66. These must-do activities will make your Route 66 expedition an unforgettable odyssey. So, buckle up and get ready to embark on a road trip filled with nostalgia, wonder, and a whole lot of fun!

66 Things to Do on Route 66

66 Things to Do on Route 66 – At a Glance
  1. 66 Things to Do on Route 66
    1. 1. Take a Photo with the Route 66 Begin Sign
    2. 2. Visit a Quirky Roadside Attraction
    3. 3. Watch a Drive-In Movie
    4. 4. Explore a Route 66 Museum
    5. 5. Buy a Souvenir
    6. 6. Take a Chicago Architectural Boat Tour
    7. 7. Sleep in a Wigwam (or Two)
    8. 8. Eat at a Classic Diner
    9. 9. Drive on an Original Stretch of Road
    10. 10. Find the Inspiration Behind Cars
    11. 11. Cruise in a Classic Car
    12. 12. Check Out the Main Streets on the Main Street of America
    13. 13. Seek Out a Sky Full of Neon
    14. 14. Feed Some Burros in Oatman
    15. 15. Learn About Lincoln
    16. 16. Go to Jail
    17. 17. Attend a Fun Festival
    18. 18. Eat a Free 72. Ounce Steak
    19. 19. Go Ghost Hunting
    20. 20. Detour to the Grand Canyon
    21. 21. Get Your Passport Stamped
    22. 22. Look for Signs
    23. 23. Take a Swim
    24. 24. Fuel Up at a Vintage Service Station
    25. 25. Stop for a Sweet Treat
    26. 26. Take an Animal Adventure
    27. 27. Ditch the GPS
    28. 28. Stand on The Corner
    29. 29. Spend the Night in a Historic Motel
    30. 30. Leave Your Mark
    31. 31. Cross That Bridge
    32. 32. Shop a Rock Shop
    33. 33. Enjoy a Slice of Ugly Crust Pie at the Route 66 Midpoint Cafe
    34. 34. Visit a Classic Car Museum
    35. 35. Take a Hot Air Balloon Ride
    36. 36. Pay Respects to The Mother of the Mother Road
    37. 37. Journey Down Through the Caves and Caverns
    38. 38. Drive Through a Route 66 Shield Sign
    39. 39. Take Flight at a Route 66 Brewery
    40. 40. Explore Petrified Forest National Park
    41. 41. Eat at Chain Restaurants?
    42. 42. Run a Marathon
    43. 43. Brave the Arizona Sidewinder
    44. 44. Find a Vintage Car Show
    45. 45. Go Shopping
    46. 46. See a Ghost Town
    47. 47. Say Hello to a Muffler Man
    48. 48. Visit a Movie Filming Location
    49. 49. Take a Detour to Las Vegas
    50. 50. Enjoy a Night on The Town
    51. 51. Cruise Route 66 on a Motorcycle
    52. 52. Visit a Harvey House
    53. 53. Explore Route 66 by Train
    54. 54. Walk Among the Ruins
    55. 55. Listen to Live Music
    56. 56. Get Advice at a Welcome Center
    57. 57. Celebrate Americana at a State Fair
    58. 58. Visit Gateway Arch National Park
    59. 59. Enjoy Your Favorite Activity
    60. 60. Learn about Native American Culture and History
    61. 61. Celebrate the Holidays
    62. 62. Explore Nature and Natural Wonders
    63. 63. Hit the Drive Through
    64. 64. Join a Tour
    65. 65. Take Lots of Photos
    66. 66. Reach the End of the Trail
Historic Route 66 Begin Sign in Chicago, Illinois - Route 66 Road Trip Attraction

1. Take a Photo with the Route 66 Begin Sign

Taking a Route 66 road trip is a bucket list experience for many. And a bucket list item within that bucket list item is taking a photo with the historic Route 66 Begin Sign. After all, this road sign marks the start of an adventure. Sure you can start your journey anywhere along the route, and, if you travel east, Chicago will be your last stop, not your first. But for those traveling the entire length of Route 66 westward, starting your journey in Chicago and taking a selfie with the iconic Route 66 begin sign, is a must!

Blue Whale of Catoosa - Route 66 in Oklahoma

2. Visit a Quirky Roadside Attraction

There are no shortages of things to see on a Route 66 road trip and among those, one type just might stand out above the rest: roadside attractions. A roadside attraction is a captivating or noteworthy stop along a road trip route, often a unique, weird, or abnormally large landmark. These over-the-top attractions were often built to capture your eye from the road, in order to get you to pull over and visit whatever business they were erected in front of. There are plenty of Route 66 roadside attractions to explore on The Mother Road. Look for the Blue Whale of Catoosa, Cadillac Ranch, the (former) world’s largest rocking chair, and hundreds more. You’ll certainly find your new favorite with every trip you take!

3. Watch a Drive-In Movie

At the end of a long day on the road I love nothing more than crawling into my hotel bed and flipping through the cable TV channels to find a good movie to watch. But on Route 66 there are way better options if you want to catch a film, including several historic movie theaters along the way that show movies both old and new. But if you want a really unique experience on Route 66, head to the drive-in! Drive-in movie theaters allow you to stay in your car while watching a movie on the big screen. Pull into one of these still-functioning drive-in theaters on your Route 66 road trip:

Oklahoma Route 66 Museum in Clinton, Oklahoma

4. Explore a Route 66 Museum

Museums abound on Route 66 and every state along the way has at least one collection dedicated to The Mother Road. State by state the Route 66 museums allow visitors to explore deeper into the history and significance of the road in its region and beyond while exploring historic memorabilia, dioramas, and artifacts. Stop at one or all of the museums you pass on your road trip, and and be sure to leave room in your travel itinerary to explore the National Route 66 Museum in Elk City, Oklahoma!

Tee Pee Curios in Tucumcari, New Mexico Route 66 Roadside Attraction and Souvenir Gift Shop

5. Buy a Souvenir

Take home a reminder (or several reminders) from your adventure of a lifetime. Souvenirs are a great way to start a collection and have something to remember your trip by. What do you collect? Whatever you want! Common road trip souvenirs include magnets, stickers, shot glasses, ornaments, shirts, pressed pennies, or local handicrafts. But there is no limit to what you can collect! You can find Route 66 souvenirs at specialty souvenir shops, gas stations, restaurants, museums, and many locations across the route.

6. Take a Chicago Architectural Boat Tour

Learn more about the city at the start of it all. In between the quintessential stops taking photos at the Begin Route sign and grabbing breakfast Lou Mitchell’s, there’s a whole city to explore. One of the best ways to get to know Chicago is by taking one of the architectural boat tours offered several times throughout the day. Climb aboard a cruise and get unobstructed views of and in-depth understanding of some of the best sights in the city. While it’s not a Route 66-specific activity, it is a cool experience you can only have in Chicago.

Wigwam Motel in Holbrook, Arizona Route 66 Motel and Roadside Attraction

7. Sleep in a Wigwam (or Two)

“Have you slept in a Wigwam lately?” There were once seven Wigwam Village motel complexes across America. Today only three remain, and of those two are on Route 66. The Wigwam Villages on Route 66 provide a unique motel experience where you can truly sleep in a wigwam. Or, more accurately, a teepee. Teepee-shaped dwellings line a lot and each one serves as an individual motel room. The rooms feature all the basics you need: a comfy bed, original hand-made hickory furniture, a small but working flat-screen TV, free WiFi, a heater/air conditioner, and a small bathroom. But you won’t be there for the amenities, you’ll be there for the experience.

Pancakes and bacon at Lou Mitchell’s Restaurant in Chicago, Illinois Route 66 Diner

8. Eat at a Classic Diner

Pancakes and bacon, a fully stuffed omelet with home fries on the side, chicken fried steak, meatloaf and mashed potatoes, a big juicy cheeseburger with all the fixins, or a chocolate milkshake, complete with a metal overflow cup. Whatever your order, no Route 66 road trip is complete without a stop at a classic diner. And there are plenty to choose from to Lou Mitchell’s in Chicago, Illinois to Rock Cafe in Stroud, Oklahoma to 66 Diner in Albuquerque, New Mexico to Mr D’z Route 66 Diner in Kingman, Arizona to Peggy Sue’s 50’s Diner in Yermo, California to every diner beyond and between, you’ll never go hungry on The Mother Road. So stop into one of the many classic Route 66 diners for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or dessert!

9. Drive on an Original Stretch of Road

Route 66 was decommissioned in 1985, and with its demise the road was no longer maintained. Today only about 85% of the original Route 66 remains, with portions of it replaced with the nearby I-40. If you want to stay true to the route on your road trip, you’ll spend most of your drive avoiding that highway and taking the back roads wherever you can. Arizona boasts the longest continuous stretch of Route 66, spanning 158 miles between Ash Fork and Topock. And many states feature small sections where you can drive (or walk) on an original section of brick paved road.

Cars on the Route in Galena, Kansas Route 66 Roadside Attraction

10. Find the Inspiration Behind Cars

Disney Pixar’s 2006 animated movie Cars was inspired by director John Lasseter’s own cross-country road trip on The Mother Road. While the movie is set in a fictional Radiator Springs, the film takes inspiration from real people and places across Route 66. The Cozy Cone Motel portrayed in the movie was inspired by the Wigwam Motel in Holbrook. The “Here It Sign” was taken straight from Jack Rabbit Trading Post. Radiator Springs Curios is Sandhill’s Curiosity Shop. Ramone’s Body Shop looks just like the Conoco Tower Station and U-Drop Inn Café in Shamrock, Texas. You can find the original Tow Mater at Cars on the Route in Galena, Kansas. And much of the film reflects the iconic Route 66 town of Seligman, Arizona. If you’re a fan of the movie Cars, you’ll spot inspiration at every turn!

  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Owen Wilson, Paul Newman, Bonnie Hunt (Actors)
  • John Lasseter (Director) – Dan Fogelman (Writer) – Darla K. Anderson (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

11. Cruise in a Classic Car

I’ve driven on Route 66 in multiple random rental cars, a 2006 Saturn Ion, and my now trusty Toyota Corolla. But when many imagine their dream road trip on Route 66, they probably imagine doing it in a classic car, one that might have frequented the road in its prime. While you might not find many Ford Model Ts to rent, you can find companies that specialize in renting out old-fashioned favs, so you can drive part of the road in a Ford Thunderbird, Cadillac Eldorado, or Chevrolet Corvette.

Route 66 Gateway Sign in Miami, Oklahoma Route 66 Landmark

12. Check Out the Main Streets on the Main Street of America

Route 66 isn’t called “The Main Street of America” for nothing. The journey earned the nickname due to its central role in American transportation and culture. The road connected countless small towns and businesses across the country, making it a symbol of American small-town life. As it wove its way through the spattering of small towns between Chicago and Los Angeles it often became the main street in town. Even today many of the main streets on Route 66 are where local shops, businesses, restaurants, and motels thrive. So pull over, dip into some stores, stop for a bite, and explore the heart of the road.

Neon sign at Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari, New Mexico Route 66 Motel

13. Seek Out a Sky Full of Neon

Neon signs have become synonymous with Route 66, contributing to the journey’s vibrant and nostalgic allure. In the early to mid-20th century, neon signs began to illuminate the roadside landscape of Route 66. They emerged as a groundbreaking form of advertising, captivating the attention of travelers with their vivid colors and bold designs. These luminous displays became a hallmark of the roadside businesses that lined the route, including motels, diners, gas stations, and cafes. The adoption of neon signage was a result of both technological advancements and a desire to stand out in a competitive market. Neon’s ability to attract attention, especially during nighttime travel, made it a preferred choice for businesses vying for the patronage of travelers along the highway. Today, while many original neon signs have vanished, a journey along Route 66 still offers glimpses of these luminous remnants of a bygone era. They stand as vivid reminders of the highway’s storied past and continue to captivate travelers, serving as evocative symbols of a time when neon lights danced along the road, guiding adventurers on their journey through America’s heartland.

Gold Mining Ghost Town in Oatman, Arizona

14. Feed Some Burros in Oatman

I don’t know about you, but I’ve definitely run into some jacka**es on the road. I usually try to avoid them at all costs. But, sometimes, it’s OK to seek them out. Especially when you’re in Oatman, Arizona. Nestled in Arizona’s Black Mountains, Oatman was once a thriving mining town. When the mines dried up and the miners moved on, the trusty burros that once were integral to their operations were left behind. Today the wild burros road freely around the now ghost town of Oatman, posing for photos, accepting treats from tourists, and getting in everyone’s way. The furry, four-legged inhabitants of Oatman are now the key draw into town and stores sell feed for you to feed the burros (just be cautious, they are still wind animals after all!).

World's Largest Railsplitter Covered Wagon in Lincoln, Illinois Route 66 Roadside Attraction

15. Learn About Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln’s connection to Illinois, is deeply rooted in both personal and historical significance. Springfield was not only Lincoln’s home for a substantial portion of his life but also the backdrop for pivotal moments in his political career. It was in Springfield where Lincoln settled with his family, practiced law, and honed his skills as a statesman. Meanwhile, Lincoln, Illinois, proudly bears the president’s name, serving as a symbol of his enduring legacy. Located along Route 66, the towns offer visitors fascinating glimpse into Lincoln’s life, providing various sites that commemorate his legacy and contributions to American history. There are plenty of opportunities learn about Lincoln on your Route 66 road trip, here are some attractions to explore:

16. Go to Jail

Normally on road trips we try to avoid racking up speeding tickets and going to jail. But on Route 66 there are several ways to go behind the bars without getting booked. Along this iconic route, several jail attractions stand as remnants of history, providing insights into law enforcement, incarceration, and the colorful stories of the past. Most famously, in Joliet, Illinois, you’ll find the Old Joliet Prison. The now-defunct historic site features impressive Gothic-style architecture and has gained fame through various films and television shows. The tourist attraction provides a glimpse into the prison’s haunting past and its impact on the community through guided tours and special events. But you can find more historic jails to explore on Route 66 at locations like the Old Cuba City Jail in Missouri, the Oatman Jail and Museum in Arizona, the Old Iron Jail Cell in Kansas, the Navajo County Historical Museum in Arizona, and the one-room jail in Oklahoma.

17. Attend a Fun Festival

What better way to enjoy Route 66 than to celebrate its legacy at one of the many Route 66 festivals held across the route. These multi-day events often feature historical talks, informative displays, live music, local food, entertainment, street parties, car shops, shopping, and more. Check out some of the biggest Route 66 festivals on The Mother Road below to see if one of them corresponds with when you’ll be cruising through town. Or visit our Route 66 events page to find more local happenings.

72 oz steak eating challenge at The Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo, Texas Route 66 Restaurant

18. Eat a Free 72. Ounce Steak

How hungry are you after spending a long day in the car? Hungry enough to eat a steak? How about a 72-ounce steak? Or a 72-ounce steak with a shrimp cocktail, baked potato, salad, and buttered roll on the side? And can you eat all that in less than an hour? If you answered yes to all of those (or none of those but still want to give it a try), pull into the Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo, Texas to try their world-famous challenge. If you can finish a 72. ounce steak, shrimp cocktail, baked potato, salad, and buttered roll in under an hour, your dinner is free. Even if you can’t eat quite that much, the restaurant is a must-experience experience, with a giant fiberglass cow (Big Moo) outside, musicians singing table side, western decor, and more moderately portioned steak dinners and lunches.

19. Go Ghost Hunting

With a history as long as Route 66’s, you’re bound to run into a ghost or two along your journey. Along this iconic route, there are numerous haunted sites and eerie experiences that attract thrill-seekers and curious travelers looking for a brush with the paranormal. Pull over to explore the supernatural ghost lights in Joplin, Missouri; the Hornet Spook Light in Quapaw, Oklahoma; the haunted Coleman Theater in Miami, Oklahoma; the Madrid Cemetery and the Mine Shaft Tavern in New Mexico; and the Oatman Hotel in Oatman, Arizona (now a restaurant). Perhaps the most popular way to go ghost hunting on Route 66 is to stay at one of the numerous haunted motels on the Route. You’ll find ghosts at the Congress Plaza Hotel in Chicago, Illinois; Inn at 835 in Springfield, Illinois, Walnut Street Inn in Springfield, Missouri; and the Skirvin Hotel in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, to name a few.

One of the most famous haunted spots along Route 66 is the Hotel Monte Vista in Flagstaff, Arizona. This historic hotel boasts a long list of ghostly encounters. Guests and staff have reported sightings of spectral figures, unexplained sounds, and inexplicable phenomena in various rooms. Various ghosts haunt the property, but most famously is the woman in the rocking chair in Room 305. Spend the night at Hotel Monte Vista if you dare and, if you can’t get enough spooky encounters, take a haunted Flagstaff tour for even more spooks while you’re in town.

20. Detour to the Grand Canyon

A short detour from the historic Route 66 offers an unparalleled opportunity to witness one of nature’s most breathtaking spectacles: the Grand Canyon. Just a few hours away from various points along the route, this majestic wonder beckons travelers with its awe-inspiring vistas and geological marvels. Stepping off Route 66 for a visit to the Grand Canyon National Park unveils a world of staggering beauty carved by the Colorado River over millions of years. Whether it’s a glimpse from the iconic South Rim viewpoints, a hike into the canyon depths, or a helicopter ride over its vast expanse, this detour promises an unforgettable encounter with nature’s grandeur, adding an extraordinary dimension to the iconic Route 66 journey.

21. Get Your Passport Stamped

If you’re one of the many travelers coming from around the world to take a road trip on Route 66, you’ll most certainly get your passport stamped upon arrival at the airport. But if you’re already an American citizen or looking for more stamps to commemorate your journey, you can also get a passport stamped at various locations across the eight-state drive.

Pick up a Mother Road Route 66 Passport online or at souvenir shops from Joliet to Santa Monica to have a unique passport that can be stamped at 44 different attractions on the road. The passport also features unique illustrations, maps, spots for autographs or notes, and opportunities for discounts or free souvenirs. At the end of your trip, this passport serves as a unique memento to commemorate everywhere you went on your journey.

Gary's Gay Parita in Ash Grove, Missouri Route 66 Roadside Attraction

22. Look for Signs

If you need help guiding your way, or just a fun photo op, look for signs! And I’m not talking about ones from the universe (but if you need one of those, take this as your sign to take the Route 66 road trip you’ve been dreaming about). I’m talking road signs. There’s no greater symbol for Route 66 than the shield-shaped sign you’ll find mounted to posts or painted on the road all across the way. With much of the original Route 66 now gone, these road signs are as important as ever for letting you know that you actually are driving on the historic Route 66. But beyond their guidance, these signs also now serve as a fun backdrop for photos of your journey. Who doesn’t love a photo next to one of the guideposts or with a painted sign beneath your feet showing the long stretch of road ahead.

23. Take a Swim

As the hot sun beats down on the open road of Route 66, seeking a refreshing swim becomes an enticing thought. While this historic highway isn’t dotted with traditional beaches, there are plenty of unique and inviting swimming spots along the way, offering a chance to cool off and unwind amidst the journey. After a long day on the road you can always take a dip at one of the many chain and non-chain hotels with indoor or outdoor pools where you’re spending the night. If you’re looking for something with a little more charm, the Big Texan Motel in Amarillo has a Texas-shaped swimming pool and El Rey Court in Santa Fe’s Swim Club pool is top notch. If you’d rather stay at pool-less historic motels or are looking for a more unique swimming destination, the legendary swimming oasis of the Blue Hole in Santa Rosa, New Mexico is a must-see stop. This natural artesian spring creates a mesmerizing blue pool with crystal-clear waters. A diver’s paradise, it beckons with its depths and provides a perfect spot for a refreshing dip or snorkeling adventure. And, if you really want to the end of California, get our your swim trunks or bikini to take a dip in the ocean at Santa Monica Beach!

Conoco Tower Station and U-Drop Inn Café in Shamrock, Texas Route 66 Roadside Attraction

24. Fuel Up at a Vintage Service Station

OK so I’m lying. You probably won’t find any working fuel pumps at the vintage service stations on Route 66. Most of them are long dry so you’ll have to head to that Shell station down the road if your gas tank is on empty. But that doesn’t mean you should bypass these historic gems. The vintage service stations along Route 66 stand as iconic relics of a bygone era, embodying the spirit of American travel and the evolution of transportation. These stations were more than mere stops for fuel; they were oases for weary travelers, offering not just gasoline but also a sense of comfort, camaraderie, and adventure. Symbolizing the golden age of automobile travel, these stations, with their unique architecture and nostalgic signage, hold a significant place in American history, representing the nation’s fascination with exploration, mobility, and the open road. Today, these vintage service stations along Route 66 stand as reminders of a simpler time, evoking a sense of nostalgia and serving as tangible connections to the past for modern-day travelers seeking to experience the charm and allure of this historic highway.

25. Stop for a Sweet Treat

If you have a sweet tooth, chances are you’ve stopped once or a twice at a gas station convenience store to pick up a candy bar or extra large cherry slushy while taking a road trip. But, if you’re traveling Route 66, there are plenty of other options available to satisfy that sweet tooth. If you’re a soda lover, stop at Pops Soda Ranch in Arcadia, Oklahoma to try one of more than 700 varieties (they have everything from classic colas to pickle flavored pop). If you love milkshakes, get one with a side of humor at the Snow Cap Drive-In in Seligman, Arizona. For cinnamon rolls, Tally’s Good Food Café in Tulsa, Oklahoma have been named “Tulsa’s Best.” And if you can’t get enough doughnuts, visit The Donut Man Glendora (try their Original Fresh Strawberry). Of course, this is only a mere sampling, there are plenty of other places to stop for pie, cake, ice cream, candy, and other sweet treats along your journey.

One of the best places to get dessert on Route 66 is Ted Drewes Frozen Custard in St. Louis, Missouri. Since 1929, Ted Drewes has delighted locals and visitors alike with its rich and creamy frozen custard, served in generous portions and crowned with various toppings. The nostalgic charm of this roadside stand coupled with its legendary concretes—dense custard blended with toppings of your choice—creates an experience that transcends mere dessert indulgence. Its proximity to Route 66 has made it a beloved stop for road-trippers seeking a sweet respite.

26. Take an Animal Adventure

As you traverse this iconic highway, various stops offer opportunities to interact with and learn about diverse animals, adding an extra layer of excitement and wonder to your journey. Several zoos and wildlife parks along Route 66 provide an immersive experience with a wide array of animals. From the St. Louis Zoo in Missouri to the Albuquerque BioPark Zoo in New Mexico, these facilities offer educational exhibits, live shows, and close encounters with animals from around the world. You can also get a closer look at wild life with drive-through experiences like Bearizona Wildlife Park and Keeps of The Wild or at farms like Alpacas of the Southwest and Grand Canyon Deer Farm in Arizona.

For a more tame animal adventure, see if you can spot some resident cats along your journey. Stops like Uranus Fudge Factory and General Store in Missouri and Hackberry General Store in Arizona have friendly felines who call the attraction home!

27. Ditch the GPS

Driving Route 66 in the present day isn’t as east as hopping in your car and heading west. Route 66 twists between a variety of alignments, un-driveable roads, sections that have been replaced by highways, and multiple dead ends. In order to drive from Chicago to California, and navigate between all the stops you want to make, you’ll probably rely on a turn-by-turn app or your GPS to guide the way. (And, if you do, check out our full Route 66 map with more than 1,200 stops. Load it onto your phone to easily navigate between attractions!)

But if you want to go it old school for your journey, or, at least, for part of your journey, ditch that electronic GPS in favor of a paper map. Despite being decommissioned, there are still plenty of stretches of The Mother Road that you can easily drive with little-to-no help at all. Keep a paper map on hand to help you find your way and navigate between those trickier stretches and splitting alignments.

Here It Is! The Route 66 Map Series
  • Jim Ross and Jerry McClanahan (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 16 Pages – 12/30/2021 (Publication Date) – Ghost Town Press (Publisher)
Standin’ on The Corner Park in Winslow, Arizona Route 66 Roadside Attraction

28. Stand on The Corner

The most famous corner on Route 66, Standing on the Corner Park in Winslow, Arizona opened in 1999. The park commemorates the song “Take it Easy,” a hit song written by Jackson Browne and Glenn Frey that was made popular by the Eagles in 1972. The second verse of the classic song famously goes, “Well, I’m a-standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona, such a fine sight to see. It’s a girl, my Lord in a flat-bed Ford, slowin’ down to take a look at me.” And this Route 66 town has truly embraced that musical tie. The Route 66 roadside attraction features a two-story mural, a Ford flatbed truck, a statue of Eagles singer Glenn Frey, an interactive wings mural, a Route 66 roadside attraction sign, and a bronze statue of a traveling man standing on the corner.

Historic El Rancho Hotel in Gallup, New Mexico Route 66 Motel

29. Spend the Night in a Historic Motel

Embarking on a journey down Historic Route 66 is a venture into America’s past, where the road itself tells a tale of exploration, freedom, and the open road. Along this iconic route lie remnants of a golden era, with iconic accommodations that once epitomized the spirit of adventure for countless travelers. From Illinois to California, each state along The Mother Road boasts its own selection of historic Route 66 motels and hotels, each with its unique charm and stories to tell. Sure, you can stay at a Hilton or a Holiday Inn on your Route 66 road trip, but to truly feel the spirit of the road, booking a stay at a historic motels will feel like driving into the past. Here are some of our favorite iconic Route 66 motels and hotels (many that come with equally iconic neon sign), but there are no shortage of historic and renovated places to stay on Route 66.

Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas Route 66 Roadside Attraction

30. Leave Your Mark

Most of us follow the principal of Leave No Trace when taking a road trip: take only pictures, leave only footprints. But there are several places on Route 66 where leaving your mark is not only welcome, its encouraged. Across The Mother Road you’ll find dedicated areas to leave stickers, lock locks, or even your shoes. But one of the most visible, and popular, ways to leave your mark on Route 66 is through spray paint and graffiti. And no other place is as well-known for this practice as Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas. This roadside attraction consists of ten Cadillac cars, all half buried, nose down in the dirt, slanted and standing in a row. Each one is a different model, spanning from a 1949 Club Sedan to a 1963 Sedan de Ville. Visitors are encouraged to bring or buy a can of spray paint to add their own pop of color to the living art installation.

If you do plan to leave your mark on Route 66 please remember to only do so in these areas where it is welcomed and encouraged. Don’t leave stickers on virgin signs, put a love lock on a historic bridge, or spray paint a renovated roadside attraction. And don’t forget to pick up your trash!

Old Chain of Rocks Bridge in St. Louis, Missouri Route 66 attraction

31. Cross That Bridge

While Route 66 today might be known for its over-the-top roadside attractions, one-of-a-kind neon signs, and classic diners, at the heart of the road is its function of taking travelers on a cross-country journey. Without the road, there would be no road trip. And without bridges, there would be no way from travelers to cross the many bodies of water that intersect the journey. That’s why so many of the Route 66 bridges are popular tourist attractions in themselves.

Starting the bridge journey is the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge, an architectural marvel spanning the Mississippi River. Notable for its 22-degree bend midway across the water, this historic bridge was once a vital crossing point on Route 66, now serving as a pedestrian and cycling path, offering breathtaking views of the river. But your journey across (or around, some of them are no-longer vehicle friendly) Route 66 bridges doesn’t stop there. You’ll also cross (or admire) the narrow and winding bridge Devil’s Elbow Bridge in Devil’s Elbow, Missouri; the unique Rainbow Bridge in Baxter Springs, Kansas; the stunning (but sadly closed) Rock Creek Bridge in Sapulpa, Oklahoma; and the historic Old Trails Bridge that spans the Colorado River in Topock, Arizona, among many many others.

Rainbow Rock Shop in Holbrook, Arizona Route 66 Roadside Attraction

32. Shop a Rock Shop

Route 66 isn’t just a roadway; it’s a pathway to discover hidden gems, quite literally. Along this historic route, rock shops stand as havens for enthusiasts and collectors, offering a dazzling array of minerals, fossils, petrified wood, and geological wonders that captivate the imagination and tell stories millions of years in the making. Route 66 rock shops are especially popular surrounding Holbrook, Arizona and the Petrified Forest National Park. It is illegal to take specimens out of the park, so it’s only natural that rock shops surround the area that sell petrified wood of all shapes and sizes to tourists who want to take home a souvenir. And many of those shops do anything they can to lure you from the road and make sure their shop stands out above the rest, often filling their parking lot with with strange roadside attractions that are visible from the nearby roads and highways. Some of the best rock shops to add to your road trip itinerary are the Rainbow Rock Shop, Stewart’s Petrified Wood, Painted Desert Indian Center, and Jim Gray’s Petrified Wood Co.

Elvis pie at Route 66 Midpoint Cafe in Adrian, Texas - Route 66 restaurant in Texas

33. Enjoy a Slice of Ugly Crust Pie at the Route 66 Midpoint Cafe

It’s “more than two thousand miles all the way” to travel Route 66 from Chicago to California. 2,278 miles to be exact. So, it’s only fitting that at mile 1,139, there’d be a place to celebrate. Visit Adrian, Texas, a town 1,139 from the starting point in Chicago and 1,139 miles from the end point in California. Celebrate completing fifty perfect of your Mother Road journey by stopping at the Route 66 Midpoint Sign and Route 66 Midpoint Cafe.

Pull over on your Route 66 road trip to take pictures with the commemorative sign and stop into the cafe for breakfast pancakes, a sandwich, or a hamburger. And don’t leave without topping off your meal with a homemade slice of ugly crust pie. Available in a wide variety of flavors, the heaping slices are delicious. You can’t go wrong with any flavor of the ugly pies, but I recommend the chocolate, peanut butter, and banana Elvis pie slice!

34. Visit a Classic Car Museum

There are no shortages of museums on Route 66. With galleries devoted to everything from barbed wire to art, you’ll surely be able to find a few that everyone in the car wants to pull over for. While Route 66 museums devoted to The Mother Road itself are probably the most prolific, one other type of museum comes close: the classic car museum. Devoted to the trusty automobile, these museums showcase cars and motorcycles that might have taken the full journey from Chicago to Los Angeles in the road’s prime. Or ones that just look cool. You’ll find sports cars, Brass Era early automobiles, classic vehicles, and celebrity cars that have been seen in movies and on TV. Here are some of the best classic car and motorcycle museums on Route 66:

  • Pontiac-Oakland Automobile Museum in Pontiac, Illinois
  • Route 66 Car Museum in Springfield, Missouri
  • Route 66 Vintage Iron in Miami, Oklahoma
  • Heart of Route 66 Auto Museum in Salpulpa, Oklahoma
  • Seaba Station Motorcycle Museum in Warwick, Oklahoma
  • Route 66 Auto Museum in Santa Rosa, New Mexico

35. Take a Hot Air Balloon Ride

Have you ever wanted to experience Route 66 from above? Floating high above the Albuquerque landscape in a hot air balloon is an experience that transcends mere sightseeing—it’s a journey into the realm of breathtaking beauty and unmatched serenity. Soar above the city, and Route 66, to take in a kaleidoscope of colors and panoramic vistas. While you can take a hot air balloon almost any time you’re in the city, plan your Route 66 road trip in October to coincide with the annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. Each October, the skies above Albuquerque become a breathtaking canvas as hundreds of colorful balloons ascend, creating a spectacular sight that complements the nostalgia and charm of Route 66.

36. Pay Respects to The Mother of the Mother Road

Lucille Hamons, fondly known as the “Mother of The Mother Road,” embodies the heart and spirit of Route 66. As the beloved proprietor of the Lucille’s Service Station (Provine Service Station) in Hydro, Oklahoma, she became an icon along this historic highway. Lucille’s warmth, hospitality, and tireless dedication to weary travelers earned her a reputation far beyond a mere gas station attendant. Her station wasn’t just a stop for fuel; it was a haven where kindness flowed as freely as the gasoline, offering a friendly smile, a listening ear, and often a home-cooked meal to those traversing the long miles of Route 66. Lucille Hamons remains a symbol of the generosity and community spirit that defined the essence of the Mother Road, forever etched in the memories of those who were fortunate enough to encounter her along their journey.

Pay your respects to this Route 66 legend when traveling by stopping to see Lucille’s Service Station itself, eating at the nearby replica restaurant Lucille’s Roadhouse, or visiting the Grave of The Mother of the Mother Road at the Hydro Masonic Cemetery.

Meramec Caverns in Sullivan, Missouri

37. Journey Down Through the Caves and Caverns

Route 66 isn’t just a highway of asphalt and open skies; it’s also a gateway to the hidden subterranean wonders that lie beneath the surface. Amidst the iconic stops and scenic landscapes, the caves and caverns on Route 66 offer a thrilling and mysterious detour for travelers seeking to delve deeper into the geological marvels along this historic route.

Nestled in the Ozarks, Meramec Caverns in Sullivan, Missouri stands as one of the most famous cave systems along Route 66. This sprawling underground wonderland mesmerizes visitors with its stunning formations, including the massive “Wine Table” stalagmite and the “Stage Curtain” drapery. Guided tours delve into the history of these caverns, once used as hideouts by Jesse James, adding an adventurous twist to the journey.

Fantastic Caverns, also in Missouri, offers a unique experience with its tram tours through the caverns’ expansive chambers. The only ride-through cave tour in the United States, visitors can comfortably explore this underground realm, marveling at intricate formations and learning about the cave’s rich history.

Grand Canyon Caverns in Peach Springs, Arizona an underground wonder that boasts the largest dry caverns in the United States. Visitors can take guided tours, exploring ancient passageways and marvel at the vastness of these caverns, enriched with fascinating geological formations.

Drive-Thru Route 66 Sign in Kingman, Arizona Route 66 Roadside Attraction

38. Drive Through a Route 66 Shield Sign

There are plenty of opportunities on Route 66 to take portraits and selfies with the many roadside attractions, businesses, and landscapes that dot the road. But you’ll be spending so much time in your car while traversing The Mother Road that your vehicle should get in on the photo action as well! While you can certainly take photos of or with your car anywhere along the route, there are a few dedicated attractions set up that allow you to drive through a Route 66 shield sign, park, and get some photos of you and your car. Visit the Route 66 Neon Drive-Thru Sign in Grants, New Mexico and the Drive-Thru Route 66 Sign in Kingman, Arizona to take part in these special photo ops!

39. Take Flight at a Route 66 Brewery

If you love IPAs, ales, and lagers, make room in your road trip itinerary to stop at one of the many breweries on Route 66. These local breweries offer a delightful pit stop for beer enthusiasts and casual travelers alike, inviting travelers to raise a glass, savor unique brews, and toast to the spirit of adventure that defines this legendary American journey. Whether you want to sip a cold beer after a long day on the road, take a tour, or sample a flight, these are just some of the best Route 66 breweries to pull over for:

  • Rt. 66 Old School Brewing in Wilmington, Illinois
  • Marshall Brewing Company & Taproom in Tulsa, Oklahoma
  • Broke Brewing Company in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
  • The Big Texan Brewery in Amarillo, Texas
  • Junkyard on 66 Brewery in Grants, New Mexico
  • Grand Canyon Brewing and Distillery in Williams, Arizona
  • Relic Road Brewing in Winslow, Arizona
  • Lumberyard Brewing Co in Flagstaff, Arizona
  • Mother Road Brewing Company in Flagstaff, Arizona
Blue Mesa at Petrified Forest National Park on Arizona Route 66

40. Explore Petrified Forest National Park

Spanning over 200 million years of history, Petrified Forest National Park invites visitors to explore a landscape frozen in time. As Route 66 winds through the park’s southern boundary, travelers have the opportunity to marvel at the vast expanse of petrified wood, ancient petroglyphs, and the majestic Painted Desert—a mosaic of colorful badlands that captivates the senses. One of the park’s main attractions is its petrified wood, remnants of ancient trees transformed into quartz and agate over millennia. Visitors can witness these magnificent fossils strewn across the landscape, some showcasing vibrant hues and intricate patterns, offering a glimpse into the Earth’s ancient past. Visitors can explore the park’s numerous trails, take in the vistas, and discover the rich cultural history preserved within the park’s boundaries. Interpretive centers and ranger-led programs provide insights into the park’s geological wonders, ancient indigenous cultures, and the enduring legacy of Route 66.

41. Eat at Chain Restaurants?

Route 66 isn’t just a pathway of nostalgic diners and local eateries; it’s also intertwined with the rise and evolution of chain fast food restaurants. These familiar brands have left their mark along the Mother Road, becoming integral stops for travelers seeking convenient and recognizable dining options during their cross-country journeys. While we normally try to avoid chain fast food while on a road trip in favor of those local diners, drive-ins, and dives, there are a few exceptions when traveling Route 66.

McDonald’s, one of the most iconic fast-food chains worldwide, has a historical tie to Route 66. The original McDonald’s restaurant, once situated in San Bernardino, California, near Route 66, was the genesis of the fast-food empire. Though the original location is no longer standing, the legacy of this first McDonald’s has been commemorated with a museum in San Bernardino.

But McDonald’s isn’t the only fast food chain with Route 66 ties. In Barstow, California you’ll find the world’s oldest operating Del Taco; the Route 66 Steak ‘n Shake in Springfield, Missouri was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2012; Berwyn, Illinois has the Oldest Original Site of the White Castle chain on Route 66; and Joliet, Illinois is home to the first Dairy Queen location (though there is no longer a restaurant there).

42. Run a Marathon

Most people prefer to drive on Route 66, but it also serves as a pathway for running enthusiasts to embark on exhilarating races and marathons. With its scenic stretches and historical significance, the Mother Road provides a unique backdrop for various running events that blend athleticism with the charm of America’s iconic highway.

One of the most prominent races along the historic route is the Route 66 Marathon in Tulsa, Oklahoma. This annual event attracts thousands of runners from around the world, offering full and half-marathon options, along with shorter races. Participants traverse Tulsa’s neighborhoods, iconic landmarks, and even cross the historic 11th Street Bridge, all amidst the vibrant atmosphere of the Mother Road.

Numerous smaller-scale races, fun runs, and charity events are also held along different segments of Route 66 throughout the year. These races, often organized by local communities, celebrate the heritage of the highway while promoting fitness and camaraderie among participants.

43. Brave the Arizona Sidewinder

This stretch of Route 66 is not for the faint of heart. The Arizona Sidewinder is an eight-mile stretch that winds through the Black Mountains, connecting Cool Springs Station to Oatman. But don’t let that seemingly short length fool you: within those eight miles you will make 191 curves, zig-zagging through mountainous areas with rugged terrain, steep inclines, narrow 2-lane paths, and zero shoulders. While the drive features many panoramic picturesque views, those with a fear of height might want to take a detour. Or at least a deep breathe.

44. Find a Vintage Car Show

If you drive a classic car, or just like looking at them, look for a car show, vintage car cruise, or classic car meetup on Route 66. Many car clubs, restaurants, and attractions on The Mother Road host these events where automobile enthusiasts gather to meet and check out each others’ rides. If you drive a Chevy Bel Air or a Ford Thunderbird, it’s a fun opportunity to meet other car enthusiasts. And if you’ve driving a Honda Civic, you can still admire the views.

45. Go Shopping

Souvenir shops abound on Route 66, so you can always find a place to grab a magnet or a mug. But if you want to go beyond those standard t-shirts and shot glasses, there are plenty of other options for shopping too. Many towns on The Mother Road have main street centers where you’ll find local businesses, restaurants, and shops. The are antique shops, vintage shops, novelty shops, candy shops, clothing shops, pottery shops, plant nurseries, art galleries, bookstores, record stores, jewelry stores, apothecaries, markets, and more. Pretty much anything you want to shop for, you can find at the stores along Route 66.

46. See a Ghost Town

Route 66, a road that once thrived with bustling communities and vibrant towns, now bears witness to the remnants of bygone eras through some captivating ghost towns. These abandoned settlements scattered along the historic highway offer a haunting yet intriguing glimpse into America’s past, preserving the stories and echoes of former lives. Some of the most popular ghost towns to explore include:

  • Two Guns, Arizona: once a bustling trading post and tourist attraction along Route 66, its abandoned buildings, graffiti-covered walls, and remnants of an old zoo now evoke a sense of eerie fascination.
  • Glenrio: straddling the Texas-New Mexico border, Glenrio stands frozen in time with derelict motels, gas stations, and remnants of businesses that now lie deserted.
  • Amboy, California: located in the desolate Mojave Desert, Amboy was once a bustling town, but today, it’s a shadow of its former self. Its abandoned motel, gas station, and recently renovated Roy’s Motel Café stand as silent sentinels amidst the desert expanse. Explore things to see in Amboy, California.
  • Oatman, Arizona: This former gold mining town along Route 66 still boasts a population, and its streets are frequented by wild burros, descendants of the mining days, adding an intriguing blend of past and present.
NAU Skydome Lumberjack Muffler Man in Flagstaff, Arizona Route 66 Roadside Attraction

47. Say Hello to a Muffler Man

muffler man roadside attraction is a giant fiberglass man often found on Route 66. These fiberglass giants stand tall between 18 to 25 feet with their arms bent in front of them, usually in a left palm down, right palm formation that makes it easy for him to hold a muffler…or an ax, a flag, a rocket, or even a giant hot dog. Popularized in the 1960s and 70s, International Fiberglass made these roadside attractions specifically to attract customers off the road and into businesses.

Flagstaff, Arizona is said to be home to the very first muffler man ever made and, as Route 66 gained popularity as a travel route, several more Muffler Man statues popped up along its path through the years. Today, Route 66 muffler men are more popular than ever, as even more businesses are restoring old giants or having brand new ones made. There’s even now a muffler man museum to explore in Atlanta, Illinois! Can’t get enough of these fiberglass giants? Here are some of the best Route 66 muffler men to look out for:

Twin Arrows Trading Post Ruins in Flagstaff, Arizona Route 66 Roadside Attraction

48. Visit a Movie Filming Location

Route 66, the historic highway that stretches across America, has not only been a pathway for travelers but also a backdrop for numerous iconic films and TV shows. This storied road has played a supporting role in cinematic history, providing striking landscapes and unique settings for various movie scenes. Here are some notable movies and movie filming locations to check out on your Route 66 road trip:

  • The Grapes of Wrath (1940)
    Portions of the film were shot along the Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, and California segments of Route 66, depicting the Joad family’s journey along the iconic highway.
  • Easy Rider (1969)
    Filmed along Route 66 in Santa Monica, California, and Flagstaff, Arizona, this counterculture classic captures the freedom and rebellion of the 1960s, showcasing the open road and the diverse landscapes along the Mother Road.
  • The Outsiders (1983)
    This coming-of-age movie about rival gangs was shot in Tulsa, Oklahoma (visit the Outsiders Museum while in town).
  • Starman (1984)
    This movie about aliens featured the alienesque site, Me
  • teor Crater Trading Post in Arizona.
  • Natural Born Killers (1994)
    This film about serial killers on the hunt was filmed in a variety of locations in Illinois, New Mexico, and Arizona.
  • No Country for Old Men (2007)
    While the ending of this movie was supposedly set in El Paso, Texas, The Desert Sands Motel was actually filmed in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
  • Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
    Portions of this road trip movie about a family driving to the Little Miss Sunshine pageant in Arizona were filmed in the Route 66 town of Flagstaff.

49. Take a Detour to Las Vegas

Las Vegas is not on Route 66. Or even in any of the states that run through the route. But, with the city’s location just a short drive away, many Route 66 travelers decide to take a detour to Sin City. While Route 66 weaves through a tapestry of Americana, a detour to Las Vegas offers a contrasting allure—an oasis of dazzling lights, vibrant entertainment, and endless possibilities. Breaking away from the nostalgia of the historic highway, Las Vegas beckons with its iconic Strip, a vibrant thoroughfare pulsating with energy. The detour to this city of extravagance promises a sensory overload, where visitors can indulge in world-class shows, try their luck at glamorous casinos, and immerse themselves in a whirlwind of culinary delights. Las Vegas stands as a stark contrast to the quaint towns and scenic landscapes along Route 66, offering a dose of modern excitement and glitz before returning to the timeless charm of the historic highway.

50. Enjoy a Night on The Town

As the sun dips below the horizon, Route 66 takes on a new persona—the nightlife comes alive, offering a vibrant tapestry of entertainment and revelry that beckons travelers to immerse themselves in the after-hours charm of the historic highway. Nighttime is your chance to relax after a busy day on the road, to take a pause to reflect on your day and your journey ahead, and to stretch your legs anywhere that isn’t your car. Enjoy a dinner at a nice restaurant like the Turquoise Room in Winslow, Arizona. Enjoy cocktails overlooking the city at Roof Sixty-Six Rooftop Bar in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Enjoy live music, dancing, and drinks at The Museum Club in Flagstaff, Arizona. Oy enjoy a bottle of wine lit by a neon sign on your motels patio.

51. Cruise Route 66 on a Motorcycle

For many, the only way to do Route 66 is to do it on a motorcycle. Embarking on a motorcycle journey along Route 66 is an odyssey through time and an immersion into the quintessential American road trip experience. As the engine roars to life, the open road unfurls, inviting riders to embrace the wind in their hair and the rumble beneath their wheels. With each twist and turn, the historic highway unveils a panorama of diverse landscapes, from expansive deserts to rolling plains, charming towns to iconic roadside attractions. Riding a motorcycle along Route 66 isn’t just about the destination—it’s about the freedom of the journey, the camaraderie with fellow riders, and the intimate connection with the ever-changing tapestry of Americana that unfolds mile after mile.

La Posada Hotel in Winslow, Arizona Route 66 Motel

52. Visit a Harvey House

Fred Harvey, a visionary entrepreneur, revolutionized the hospitality industry by introducing the concept of high-quality dining and accommodations at railroad stops across the West. His chain of Harvey Houses, including those along Route 66, became synonymous with fine dining, impeccable service, and cultural exchange. Several Harvey Houses were strategically placed along Route 66, offering weary travelers a respite and a taste of refined dining amidst their journey. These establishments not only provided excellent meals but also served as social hubs, fostering a sense of community and offering a glimpse into the diverse cultures of the West.

One of the most famous Harvey Houses along Route 66 is La Posada in Winslow, Arizona. This beautifully restored masterpiece, designed by Mary Colter, captures the essence of Spanish Colonial Revival architecture and continues to welcome guests with its elegant ambiance and historic charm. Other Route 66 Harvey Houses inclue The Casa del Desierto in Barstow, California; La Fonda in Santa Fe, New Mexico; The Fray Marcos (now The Grand Canyon Railway Hotel) in Williams, Arizona; El Garces in Needles, California; and El Tovar at the Grand Canyon in Arizona.

Bristow Historical Museum & Train Depot in Bristow, Oklahoma

53. Explore Route 66 by Train

While Route 66 is renowned for its iconic road trip experiences, its ties to train travel evoke a bygone era when locomotives ruled the landscape. The historic highway and railroad tracks share intertwined histories, offering travelers a unique opportunity to explore Route 66 from a different perspective—by train. Route 66 and railway lines often ran parallel to each other, shaping the development of towns and cities along the highway. Many towns sprung up as railroad hubs, and when Route 66 was established, it mirrored the railway’s path, offering an alternative mode of transportation and connecting communities along its route.

For travelers wishing to explore Route 66 by train, Amtrak’s Southwest Chief offers a convenient option. This train route closely follows the path of Route 66 through portions of Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, New Mexico, and Arizona, allowing passengers to witness the scenic landscapes and historic towns synonymous with the Mother Road.

For those driving The Mother Road, you can still experience train travel by taking the Grand Canyon Railway from Williams, Arizona to the Grand Canyon and back, or by checking out one these railway museums and train stations on the route:

  • Railroad Historical Museum in Springfield, Missouri
  • Bristow Train Depot and Museum in Bristow, Oklahoma
  • Oklahoma Railway Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
  • Williams Visitor Center in Williams, Arizona
  • Tucumcari Railroad Museum in Tucumcari, New Mexico
  • El Garces Train Station in Needles, California

54. Walk Among the Ruins

Route 66, the iconic highway that once thrummed with life and commerce, now stands as a canvas of nostalgia, adorned with the remnants of forgotten businesses and abandoned structures. As travelers journey along this storied road, they encounter haunting yet captivating sights—derelict gas stations, weathered motels, and forsaken diners—that whisper tales of a bygone era. While The Mother Road has seen a resurgence in recent years, with many old properties being bought up and revived, other structures have succumbed to a different fate, being forever abandoned, neglected, and demolished. As you drive along Route 66 you’ll find many such structures, ones that might be gone for good the next time you hit the road. So pull over to explore the ruins and abandoned businesses along Route 66 for a reminder that the highway’s charm lies not only in its thriving attractions but also in the haunting beauty of its forgotten remnants.

55. Listen to Live Music

Music and road trips go hand in hand. There might be no greater feeling that getting into your car, rolling down the windows, feeling the wind in your hair, and blasting your favorites on the radio while cruising down the open road. But there is one thing even better: listening to that music live.

Whether you’re hopping into one of Chicago’s legendary blues clubs, Cain’s Ballroom in Tulsa, the Tower Theatre in Oklahoma City, GoldenLight Cafe & Cantina in Amarillo, KiMo Theatre in Albuquerque, or The Museum Club in Flagstaff, opportunities to listen to live music at bars, theaters, and concert venues abound.

Missouri Route 66 Welcome Center Rest Area in Conway, Missouri

56. Get Advice at a Welcome Center

Along this iconic highway, Welcome and Visitor Centers serve as gateways to your adventure, providing invaluable resources, insights, and a warm welcomes to travelers embarking on the journey of a lifetime. You can find welcome centers on their own, inside museums and interpretive centers, and at rest stops across the route. All of them offer brochures for attractions both near and far and often are staffed with knowledgeable individuals who can offer up advice, directions, historical insights, guidance, and recommendations for where to go next.

57. Celebrate Americana at a State Fair

State Fairs, just like Route 66, are known for their in-your-face Americana. Where Route 66 has roadside attractions, deep-fried diner specialties, and neon lights, state fairs have entertainment galore, carnival rides, cook-offs, animal pageantry, deep fried anything foods, and butter sculptures.

Luckily for us all, if you love both The Mother Road and a trip to the fairgrounds, several state fairs are held right off of Route 66.

58. Visit Gateway Arch National Park

When you think about the National Parks on Route 66 your mind probably first goes to the Petrified Forest and Grand Canyon. But there is one more to explore: Gateway Arch National Park in St. Louis, Missouri. You might not even realize that the Gateway Arch even is a national park because you can find it nestled in as a centerpiece of a bigger city and it is by-far the smallest area to be given the designation at only 91 acres, making it an oddball among the rest.

The arch itself was erected to reflect St. Louis’ role in the Westward Expansion of the United States during the nineteenth century. Visitors can ride to the top for panoramic views of the city, explore the on-site museum, walk through the gardens, and admire the reflection pond.

59. Enjoy Your Favorite Activity

There are endless opportunities to have fun and enjoy your favorite activities on Route 66. If you love bowling, check out Route 66 Bowl in Chandler, Oklahoma. If motorsports are your thing, head to Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Illinois. Mini golf enthusiasts can try their hand at Getaway Golf in Springfield, Missouri. Santa Fe, New Mexico is home to the interactive art experience, Meow Wolf. And adventure lovers can fly through the air at the Route 66 Zipline in Williams, Arizona. However you like to spend your time, you can spend your time doing it on Route 66!

Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico

60. Learn about Native American Culture and History

Route 66 intersects with the ancestral lands of numerous Native American tribes, offering glimpses into their rich cultural heritage. As travelers journey along this historic highway, exploring these sites and learning about Native American history serves as a meaningful tribute to the enduring legacy of Indigenous communities, honoring their contributions to the fabric of America’s past and present. Exploring the indigenous roots along this route offers travelers a chance to delve into the profound legacy of Native American culture, and several locations provide insights into this intricate tapestry of history. Whether you want to gain a greater understanding the cultural heritage at a museum like the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico or take an interactive tour of the Acoma Pueblo (also known as Sky City), one of the oldest continuously inhabited communities in the United States, there are plenty of opportunities to learn more about the Native Americans whose land Route 66 intersects.

Check out this guide from NativeAmerica.Travel to learn more about the tribes prominent on Route 66 and where to learn more.

Route 66 Christmas Chute in Sapulpa, Oklahoma

61. Celebrate the Holidays

Most people choose to road trip Route 66 in the spring, summer, or fall. But to travel Route 66 in winter is an entirely different experience. Come December the neon lights of The Mother Road are enhanced with a new type of glow: Christmas Lights. Main streets across the route are decorated with lights, trees, and other festive decor.

From the Christkindlmarket in Chicago to photos with Santa on the Santa Monica Pier, holiday festivities pop up all across the route during December. One of the biggest Christmas events is the Route 66 Christmas Chute in Sapulpa, Oklahoma, where you can walk under 800-foot-long canopies filled with Christmas ornaments and decor in magical Christmas themes, set up right on Route 66.

But Christmas isn’t the only holiday celebrated on Route 66. Find parades and fireworks for the Fourth of July, Thanksgiving buffets, and dressed up muffler men for Halloween.

Meteor Crater in Winslow, Arizona Route 66 Attraction

62. Explore Nature and Natural Wonders

Sitting behind the wheel of a car all day, anyone might start to feel a little stiff and claustrophobic. So it’s always a good idea to plan some time to stretch your legs, take a hike, and explore some of the natural wonders on Route 66.

While your mind might immediately go to the Petrified Forest National Park or the Grand Canyon, there are so many other places for travelers to explore America’s diverse landscapes. There are National Monuments, State Parks, and other immersive getaways.

Take time to check out the Petroglyph National Monument and El Malpais National Monument in New Mexico. Wupatki National Monument, Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument, and Walnut Canyon National Monument Flagstaff, Arizona. Palo Duro Canyon State Park in Texas. Route 66 State Park in Missouri.

Visitors can also make time to see and experience Ice Cave and Bandera Volcano in Grants, New Mexico or Meteor Crater Natural Landmark in Arizona.

Burger and Fries at Red’s Giant Hamburg in Springfield, Missouri Route 66 Drive In Restaurant

63. Hit the Drive Through

Grabbing lunch to go and eating in your car often goes hand in hand with road tripping. We don’t always have time to stop at a diner or sit down restaurant while on the go. So there’s bound to be at least one where you’ll start to feel hungry and look for a fast food option nearby. There is no shortage of McDonald’s, Burger Kings, or Taco Bells on Route 66. But if you’re looking for somewhere a little more unique to grab a quick bite on your road trip, head to a local drive through, drive in, or fast food joint. Here are just some of the local drive throughs that offer busy travelers cheeseburgers, hot dogs, fries, and more:

Route 66 Tours & Excursions - Tour groups at Copper Cart in Seligman, Arizona

64. Join a Tour

Traveling The Mother Road on your own is a rather easy endeavor. But sometimes it is nice to have a little help or let someone else take the wheel for once. Across the drive there are plenty of opportunities to take a city tour, day trip, or excursion where you’re led around by foot or vehicle to see things you might not see on your own. Want to take the road trip planning completely off your plate? There are plenty of full Route 66 tours too.

Whether you love history, haunted ghost stories, architecture, or natural wonders there are many walking tours, day trips, and excursions that will fit the bill for you. You might even find one that takes you to the filming locations of your favorite TV show (like the Breaking Bad Tour in Albuquerque, New Mexico). There is a Route 66 tour for everyone!

And if you want a completely hands-off Route 66 experience, you can also book a multi-day motorcycle, bus, or caravan trip that will take you across the entire expanse of The Mother Road.

65. Take Lots of Photos

Take only pictures, leave only footprints. And take lots of pictures. For many, a Route 66 road trip is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. And, at every turn of that experience, is another photo-worthy site. From quirky roadside attractions to stunning vistas to neon signs there are so many things worth photographing on The Mother Road. Take lots of photos and capture and preserve your memories of the road for years to come.

End of Route 66 sign on Santa Monica Pier in California - Photo by Alejandro Luengo on Unsplash

66. Reach the End of the Trail

You’ve journeyed 2,448 miles from Chicago to Los Angeles you’ll probably want to celebrate the accomplishment. There is no better place to do so than at the Santa Monica Pier and the Route 66 End of the Trail Sign.

This sign has become a famous destination, but the actual end of Route 66 isn’t the Pacific Ocean or Santa Monica Pier. Before being decommissioned in the 80s, the road originally came to an end at the corner of 7th and Broadway in downtown LA and, later, extended to Lincoln and Olympic Boulevards in Santa Monica.

But, symbolically, the ocean seems more apropos for a picture-perfect ending.

Plan Your Route 66 Road Trip

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Last modified: July 5, 2024

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