Route 66 Tucumcari, New Mexico: Attractions, Restaurants & More

Last updated on April 25th, 2024 at 12:41 pm

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Tucumcari, New Mexico is a must-stop on your Route 66 road trip. Known for its neon lights, plethora of classic motels, roadside attractions, novelty architecture, dining options, and vintage Americana charm, all the Route 66 Tucumcari, New Mexico attractions, accommodations, museums, shops, restaurants and more can’t be missed!

Billboards lining the Mother Road once beckoned travelers to pull over and spend the night in this Route 66 town, and, with 2,000 motel rooms to choose from they earned their famous slogan, “Tucumcari Tonite!” But that’s not all Tucumcari is known for. As the first major stop across the border of Texas, the town is oft referred to as the “Gateway to New Mexico” and, with all its retro charm, the “Heart of the Mother Road.”

About seven miles of Route 66 run through Tucumcari and they are packed with places to eat, sleep, stop, and see. While you might be tempted to drive straight through on your way west from Amarillo or east from Albuquerque, you should definitely add this stop to your Route 66 travel itinerary. Plan to spend a day, and a night, checking out everything to do in Tucumcari, New Mexico.

Spend the day checking out the murals around town or one of the many local museums. Don’t forget to stop at Tee Pee Curios for some Instagram photos and a souvenir! Get lunch or dinner at Del’s Restaurant or La Cita (and see their giant sombrero entrance). And spend the night at Motel Safari or the Blue Swallow Motel (or, at the very least, check out their neon signs).

Looking for all the best things to do on Route 66 in Tucumcari, New Mexico? Read on to find our picks for what to see and do, where to spend the night, and where to eat breakfast, lunch, or dinner on this stretch of your Route 66 road trip!

Best Route 66 Tucumcari, New Mexico Attractions

With its famous neon lights and novelty architecture galore, Tucumcari, New Mexico is home to some of the best roadside attractions on Route 66. But the sites don’t stop there. There are also plenty of historic museums and fun street art and murals around town to keep you occupied and teach you a little history, while making great Instagram-worthy photos. Here are some of the best attractions in Tucumcari.

Route 66 Monument in Tucumcari, New Mexico

Route 66 Monument

1500 U.S. Rt. 66, Tucumcari, NM 88401

The Route 66 Monument in Tucumcari, New Mexico was dedicated in 1997. Titled “The Mother Road,” it was commissioned from sculptor Tom Coffin and celebrates the town’s place on Route 66.

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

Tee Pee Curios

924 E Rte 66 Blvd, Tucumcari, NM 88401

Tee Pee Curios is a tee pee-shaped building with an iconic neon sign that is full of fun both inside and out! Known for its unique design, this building serves as a fun Route 66 roadside attraction and a souvenir shop to pick up magnets, t-shirts, mugs, and postcards to commemorate your road trip. They also sell local New Mexican wares, like jewelry and pottery.

New Mexico Route 66 Museum in Tucumcari, New Mexico

New Mexico Route 66 Museum

1500 U.S. Rt. 66, Tucumcari, NM 88401

Explore the “Land of Enchantment:” the New Mexico Route 66 Museum pays homage to New Mexico’s Route 66 heritage. Relics on display include autos, photos & gas pumps.

Route 66 Murals in Tucumcari, New Mexico

Route 66 Murals

Various Addresses

Like many cities on Route 66, Tucumcari has filled the walls of local businesses, houses, and abandoned buildings with street art. There are nearly 100 murals around town that celebrate the history of Tucumcari and the Mother Road.

Mesalands Dinosaur Museum and Natural Sciences Laboratory

222 E Laughlin Ave, Tucumcari, NM 88401

Mesalands Dinosaur Museum and Natural Sciences Laboratory is a paleontology and geology museum dedicated to the The Age of Dinosaurs. The museum features dinosaur skeletons, replicated and original fossils, minerals, and a gift shop.

Odeon Theatre

123 S 2nd St, Tucumcari, NM 88401

The Odeon Theater is a 1936 Art Deco landmark. Visit the movie theatre to admire the historical architecture or to catch a contemporary film. Odeon Theatre was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2007.

Tucumcari Railroad Museum

100 W Railroad Ave, Tucumcari, NM 88401

The Tucumcari Railroad Museum is housed in the restored 1926 Union Station depot. Step inside to explore the history of the railroad industry in Eastern New Mexico from the Nineteenth Century through now.

Tucumcari Historical Museum

416 S Adams St, Tucumcari, NM 88401

The Tucumcari Historical Museum is housed in a 1900s schoolhouse, this museum showcases thousands of local artifacts, including dinosaur fossils, Native American artifacts, early dental equipment, petrified wood, barbed wire, postcards, and postal equipment.

Best Route 66 Tucumcari, New Mexico Motels & Hotels

Tucumcari became well known on Route 66 for its 2,000 motel rooms, even earning the slogan, “Tucumcari Tonite!” Sure, there are plenty of national chain hotels and motels to choose from (like the Super 8 by Wyndham, Motel 6, Best Western Discovery Inn, or Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott). But if you really want to stay in one of the best motels in Tucumcari, you’ve gotta go vintage. These are some of the best motels on Route 66 that have been operating since the 1950s and 60s. They’ve all been updated to keep your stay comfortable while maintaining the charm of Route 66’s heyday. Even if you don’t stay the night, be sure to stop by to see some of the best neon signs on Route 66.

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

Blue Swallow Motel

815 E Rte 66 Blvd, Tucumcari, NM 88401

Route 66 is famous for the bright neon signs that light up the way. And perhaps no neon sign on The Mother Road is more recognizable than the one at the Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari, New Mexico.

This historic motel in Tucumcari has been greeting roadtrippers since 1939. It has all the vintage charm and friendly hospitality you could ask for in a Route 66 motel.

Neon Sign at Motel Safari in Tucumcari, New Mexico Route 66 Motel

Motel Safari

722 E Rte 66 Blvd, Tucumcari, NM 88401

Motel Safari is a classic 1959 Route 66 motor inn. Look for its historic camel sign, mid-century modern decor, custom furniture, memorabilia, murals, and vintage billboard ads. The hotel also features modern amenities like flat-screen TVs, free wi-fi, and “the best beds on the Mother Road.”

This Tucumcari NM motel features the best of both worlds, with its renovated Googie architecture and modern conveniences.

Roadrunner Lodge Motel

1023 E Rte 66 Blvd, Tucumcari, NM 88401

For a blast from the past, Roadrunner Lodge Motel is a restored 1960s Route 66 hotel with mid-century style and modern comforts. Rooms feature flat-screen satellite TVs, seating areas, and free toiletries. Select rooms play the motel’s private radio station with 1960s music and commercials and a fire pit outside allows visitors to relax and meet other travelers.

Historic Route 66 Motel

1620 E Rte 66 Blvd, Tucumcari, NM 88401

This mid-century modern hotel opened in 1963 and provide comfortable overnight accommodations at a reasonable rate. With pet friendly rooms, this motel is perfect for those traveling with their four-legged friends or anyone wanting “the best bang for buck on the Mother Road.”

Palomino Motel

1215 E Rte 66 Blvd, Tucumcari, NM 88401

Palomino Motel is marked by a distinctive neon sign. While this motel might be a bit more dated than its counterparts down the road, it’s a good choice for those on a budget.

Want more Tucumcari Route 66 hotels? Explore more here and peruse reviews.

Best Route 66 Tucumcari, New Mexico Restaurants

I don’t know about you, but road trips make me hungry! Luckily there are some great places to eat in Tucumcari, New Mexico! Whether you’re looking for New Mexican food, classic diner fare, barbecue, or breakfast, these are some of the best restaurants in Tucumcari! It’s a bonus that many of them come with classic neon signs or fun novelty architecture making them both restaurants and roadside attractions in one!

La Cita Restaurant in Tucumcari, New Mexico Route 66 Restaurant

La Cita Restaurant

820 S 1st St, Tucumcari, NM 88401

Hungry in Tucumcari? Look for the giant sombrero. La Cita Restaurant in Tucumcari, New Mexico serves tasty New Mexican favorites tucked away behind a sombrero-shaped entrance on Route 66, making it both one of the best restaurants and best roadside attractions in Tucumcari.

Since 1940s La Cita has offered tasty meals to Route 66 travelers, like enchiladas, tamale, and chile relleno, served with red or green salsa (or do “Christmas” style and get both!) and a fluffy sopapilla on the side.

Neon sign with cow at Del’s Restaurant in Tucumcari, New Mexico Route 66 Restaurant

Del’s Restaurant

1202 U.S. Rt. 66, Tucumcari, NM 88401

Over 65 years after opening its doors, Del’s Restaurant is a Route 66 institution. The landmark restaurant serves New Mexican classics, diner staples, steaks, and original recipes for lunch or dinner.

Tucumcari Ranch Supply & Watson's BBQ in Tucumcari, New Mexico Route 66 Restaurant and Store

Tucumcari Ranch Supply & Watson’s BBQ

502 S Lake St, Tucumcari, NM 88401

You might not expect to find delicious barbecue at a ranch supply store, but tucked into Tucumcari Ranch Supply is Watson’s BBQ. Try a BBQ plate or sandwich loaded with pulled pork, ham, turkey, or brisket (sliced or chopped).

Kix On 66

1102 E Rte 66 Blvd, Tucumcari, NM 88401

Kix On 66 serves some of the best breakfasts in Tucumcari, and they do so all day long. Choose from pancakes, omelets, French toast for an all-day breakfast or pick a hot or cold sandwich, hamburger, steak, or Mexican specialties.

Route 66 Tucumcari New Mexico Map

Traveling to Tucumcari, New Mexico on your Route 66 road trip and need to know where to go? We’ve added all of the best Tucumcari attractions, restaurants, and motels to a Google map so you don’t get lost! Use this Tucumcari New Mexico map to find the best attractions, landmarks, motels, and restaurants in town, or download our full New Mexico Route 66 Map to your phone to help guide your road trip!

Plan Your Route 66 Road Trip

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Last modified: April 25, 2024
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