Kansas Route 66 Road Trip Itinerary (East to West)

Last updated on May 7th, 2024 at 10:38 am

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With only around 13 miles of road, your Kansas Route 66 road trip itinerary will be relatively short. But that doesn’t mean it won’t be full! There are plenty of things to see on this stretch of your journey.

Located between Missouri and Oklahoma, many road travelers breeze through Kansas on their way from Springfield to Tulsa. But it is a shame to neglect this small but mighty stretch. Plan to spend at least half of a day to a full day exploring Kansas from Galena to Baxter Springs. Whether you want to stretch your legs in a park, learn something new at a museum, or meet a character from Pixar’s Cars, there is something for everyone’s Route 66 road trip itinerary!

Ready to hit the road? Here’s everything to add to your Kansas Route 66 road trip itinerary.

Kansas Route 66 Road Trip Itinerary

Your Kansas Route 66 road trip starts in Galena. Shortly before you cross the border from Joplin, Missouri to Galena, Kansas you’ll have two choices to drive: U.S. Rt 66/W 7th Street or W Old 66 Blvd/Front Street. Either will get you into town, but the Front Street diversion will take a slightly more scenic route and bring you straight to our first stops. Look for Historic Route 66 markers on the side of the road and imprinted into the asphalt along the way.

As you enter Route 66 in Galena you’ll find a charming town with a rich history deeply intertwined with the legendary Route 66 and the beloved Pixar film Cars. Founded in 1877 after the discovery of lead, Galena boomed into a bustling mining town, reaching a population of 30,000 at its peak. In 1926, the arrival of Route 66 brought a new wave of prosperity, transforming Galena into a vibrant stop for weary travelers.

Galena’s claim to fame extends beyond its Route 66 roots. The town served as one of the inspirations for Radiator Springs, the fictional town in the 2006 Disney-Pixar film Cars. Fans of the movie will find echoes of Radiator Springs everywhere they look, including the real-life inspiration for the tow truck Mater, a 1951 International Harvester boom truck proudly displayed on Main Street.

Cars Sheriff police car replica in Galena, Kansas Route 66 Roadside Attraction

Luigi’s Pit Stop

205 E Front St, Galena, KS 66739

Luigi’s Pit Stop will be the first “pit stop” you’ll find as you approach downtown Galena. The Kansas Historic Route 66 Association built this attraction to capitalize on the town’s ties to Cars. Here you’ll find fun and colorful murals along with replicas of the cars and characters from the movie. Find a facimile of a 1949 Mercury police car (the Sheriff of Radiator Springs), Lightning McQueen, and Luigi!

At one point you could have found Frecs the Miner, a towering muffler-man-esque sculpture, here but, sadly, it burned down in 2022. You might still catch a glimpse of his boots in place on the road but it looks like a new version will be erected in town soon!

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

Cars on the Route

119 N Main St, Galena, KS 66739

Turn the corner onto Main Street to find the historic Kan-O-Tex gas station, which first opened in 1934. Now, the old service station is known as Cars on the Route and has been converted into a cafe where you can find sandwiches, snacks, and Route 66 and Cars souvenirs.

The character of Tow Mater from Cars was partially based on an old 951 Harvester International Tow Truck that stands outside.

Continue down Main Street and find a place to pull over and park your car to explore Galena’s historic downtown, which retains the magic of the Mother Road era with quaint businesses housed in restored brick buildings. Spend some time in downtown Galena, popping into the shops, getting a bite to eat at one of the restaurants, and finding fun murals, including several for Coca-Cola and Pepsi.

Howard “Pappy” Litch Park

500 S Main St, Galena, KS 66739

While exploring downtown Galena, pop into this small roadside park dedicated to Howard “Pappy” Litch, an avid Galena historian. Also look for the single iron-barred cell marked “Galena City Jail.”

Gearhead Curios in Galena, Kansas

Gearhead Curios

520 S Main St, Galena, KS 66739

This historic 1939 Texaco gas station is now restored, operating as Gearhead Curios. Veteran Aaron Perry, of Wakarusa, Kansas bought and began to restore the old Texaco station in 2018. Stop in to shop for souvenirs or admire an American flag made from antique Kansas license plates, an awning made from car hoods, a 1951 Hudson Hornet painted to resemble ‘Doc Hudson’ from Cars, and, coming later in 2024, a brand new muffler man!

Greetings from Galena Mural in Galena, Kansas

Greetings from Galena Mural

700 S Main St, Galena, KS 66739

The Galena Route 66 mural was designed by Images in Tile in 2013. Made from over 400 15-inch ceramic tiles, the mural depicts a powder blue 1957 Chevrolet pulling onto Main Street alongside some of the famous Kansas Route 66 stops in town.

Galena Mining and Historical Museum

319 W 7th St, Galena, KS 66739

The Galena Mining and Historical Museum is housed in the old Missouri-Kansas-Texas train depot and showcases tools, equipment, specimens, photographs, and other artifacts and items from the town’s history in lead and zinc mining.

Schermerhorn Park

3501 S Main St, Galena, KS 66739

If you have a little extra time in your Kansas Route 66 road trip itinerary, continue your drive for about 2.5 miles down Main Street to explore Schermerhorn Park in Galena. The draw of this off Route 66 park is a cave that was rumored to have served as a hideout for Jesse James.

As you leave Galena, head west on KS-66 W/W 7th St/U.S. Rt. 66 for about 3.3 miles to your first stop in Riverton: Nelson’s Old Riverton Store.

Nelson’s Old Riverton Store in Riverton, Kansas Route 66

Nelson’s Old Riverton Store

7109 KS-66, Riverton, KS 66770

Nelson’s Old Riverton Store has been in operation since 1925, before Route 66 was even designated. The property, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, hasn’t changed much over the years. You can find the red-brick facade and a pressed-tin ceiling billed tightly with wares.

You can stop by Nelson’s Old Riverton Store to pick up some groceries, local handicrafts, or Route 66 souvenirs. If you’re hungry, be sure to grab a sandwich for the road at the deli!

FFA Route 66 Sign in Riverton, Kansas

Riverton FFA Route 66 Sign/Sculpture

6494 U.S. Rt. 66, Riverton, KS 66770

As you continue on your Route 66 journey pull over to take some photos with the Riverton FFA Route 66 Sign/Sculpture: a 20-foot tall steel Route 66 shield sculpture created by local high-school students.

Old Route 66 Park

7560 SE Hwy Alt 69, Riverton, KS 66770

Need to stretch your legs? Take a slight detour to Old Route 66 Park, a roadside park in Riverton with picnic shelters and a Kansas Historical Marker about the Baxter Springs Massacre.

Continue your trip about 1.5 miles from Riverton on SE Beasley Rd/U.S. Rt. 66 to cross the historic Rainbow Bridge.

Rainbow Bridge in Baxter Springs, Kansas Route 66 Landmark and Attraction

Rainbow Bridge

SE Beasley Rd, Baxter Springs, KS 66713

The Rainbow Bridge spans over Brush Creek on Route 66. Technically called a “single-span concrete Marsh arch bridge” the more common moniker “rainbow bridge” is both prettier and simpler to say. The bridge was built in 1923 and was used until 1960. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on March 10, 1983, and consequently restored in 1994.

Drive over the bridge then pull over onto the gravel on the far end to take a walk back across it for photos.

After crossing the bridge, continue south on SE 50th St/U.S. Rt. 66 for about 3.3 miles to the heart of Baxter Springs. Nestled beside the Spring River, Baxter Springs once served as a Civil War battleground, a Wild West cattle town, and, of course, a Mother Road mecca. Today you can explore many remnants of the town’s past lives.

Fort Blair Historic Site

198 E 6th St, Baxter Springs, KS 66713

Originally known as Fort Baxter, Fort Blair Historic Site is a replica of a Civil War fort that was attacked by William Quantrill’s forces disguised as Union soldiers in 1863. The site includes breastworks, log cabins, a blockhouse, a brewery, and signage.

Baxter Springs Heritage Center and Museum

740 East Ave, Baxter Springs, KS 66713

The Baxter Springs Heritage Center & Museum is “dedicated to preserving and interpreting the rich regional history of Baxter Springs, Kansas.” Explore exhibits dedicated to various stages in the town’s history, including the days of the Osage Indians, the Civil War, and the zinc mining era.

Baxter Springs Independent Oil and Gas Service Station in Baxter Springs, Kansas Route 66 Visitor Center and Roadside Attraction

Baxter Springs Independent Oil and Gas Service Station

940 Military Ave, Baxter Springs, KS 66713

The Baxter Springs Independent Oil and Gas Service Station dates back to 1930. It opened as an Independent Oil and Gas on Route 66 that year but, after a company merger, quickly changed to hold a Phillips Petroleum Company label that same year. The tudor revival cottage-style gas station resembled a house, with a quaint brick design. It was later modified in the 1940s to the L-shaped structure seen today.

In 2003 the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places and was later acquired by the Baxter Springs Heritage Society. A series of grants along with volunteer labor allowed them to refurbish the building and reopen as a Kansas Route 66 Visitor Center in 2007.

Baxter Springs City Cemetery Soldiers’ Lot

166 West Ave, Baxter Springs, KS 66713

Baxter Springs City Cemetery Soldiers’ Lot provides a place of burial for the victims of the 1863 Battle of Baxter Springs and serves as a memorial to those who fought in the battle.

Crowell Bank Building

1101 Military Ave, Baxter Springs, KS 66713

The historic Baxter Bank/Crowell Bank building was built in 1870. This is the oldest building in town and has sporadically been opened as a cafe and Inn, both now closed.

Monarch Pharmacy & Soda Fountain

1601 Military Ave, Baxter Springs, KS 66713

If you want to cap off your Kansas Route 66 road trip with something sweet, stop into the Monarch Pharmacy & Soda Fountain. This full-service pharmacy is still in service today, and even has a vintage soda counter that serves up homemade ice cream, sodas, and tropical sno.

After exploring everything there is to see in Baxter Springs, Kansas, continue your journey south on /U.S. Rt 66 to continue your road trip into Oklahoma!

Spend the Night on Kansas Route 66

Most road trippers forgo spending the night on Kansas Route 66, instead opting to stay in Missouri or Oklahoma. But if your schedule allows, there are a few places to stay on Kansas Route 66. Here are some options for your road trip itinerary:

The Mollie Retreat on Route 66

513 S Main St, Galena, KS 66739

The Mollie Retreat on Route 66 is modern apartment set in a 19th-century building. It’s perfect for a couple traveling Route 66, with one bedroom, a fully equipped kitchenette with a microwave and a toaster, and a bathroom with a walk-in shower.

Galena Motel & Suites

918 E 7th St, Galena, KS 66739

A budget motel with daily and weekly rates, Dish TV, and free WiFi.

The Old Riverton Post B&B

7378 SE 70th St, Riverton, KS 66770

Need somewhere to stay with the whole family? The Old Riverton Post B&B is a second story guest home is perfect for two to six guests, with two separate bedrooms, one bathroom, a fully equipped kitchen with a dining area and oven, and a living room with a flat-screen TV. The home was built in the late 1800’s, and was originally Osborn Grocery and a post office.

Rose Cottage

221 E 9th St, Baxter Springs, KS 66713

Rose Cottage in Baxter Springs provides a romantic B&B experience on Route 66. With three air-conditioned guest rooms, WiFi, coffee and tea makers, turndown service, and complimentary continental breakfast, it makes a perfect night’s stay in Kansas.

Baxter Inn

2451 Military Ave, Baxter Springs, KS 66713

Baxter Inn offers comfort and convenience in Baxter Springs. This Kansas Route 66 motel features, cable TV, in-room microwaves and refrigerators, vending machines, complimentary breakfast, and a 24-hour front desk.

Kansas Route 66 Road Trip Itinerary Map

If you need a map to help guide your way, download this full Kansas Route 66 attractions map to your phone!

Plan Your Route 66 Road Trip

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Last modified: May 7, 2024
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