Texas Route 66: 1-Day Road Trip Itinerary

Last updated on April 21st, 2024 at 08:31 pm

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Today we’re cruisin’ down a Texas two-lane, wind in our hair, radio blastin’ classic tunes, and hearts set on adventure. The journey? A whirlwind tour of the Lone Star State’s crown jewel, the legendary Texas Route 66. There’s so much to explore on Texas Route 66 that it would be easy to get lost among the attractions and fill a multiple-day agenda with the plethora of things to see. But, if you have limited time, this Texas Route 66 1-Day road trip itinerary is for you.

In just one epic day, we’ll be hittin’ the gas and leapfrogging across time, from quirky roadside relics to wide-open plains that stretch as far as the eye can see. We’ll chase neon sunsets, savor greasy spoon goodness, and soak up the spirit of a bygone era, where every mile hummed with the promise of something new.

So, grab your map (or fire up your GPS, no judgment!), pack your sense of wonder, and get ready to roll on this Texas Route 66 one-day road trip. We’ve got Cadillacs in the desert, roadside oddities galore, and enough Lone Star charm to fill a ten-gallon hat. Let’s roll!

Texas Route 66: 1-Day Road Trip Itinerary

There are plenty of Texas Route 66 attractions to see as you traverse the state from Shamrock to Amarillo to Adrian. So much so that you’ll wish you had more than 24 hours to make the journey. But if you only do have one day, you’ll want to make the most of it!

Below is a Texas Route 66 1-Day road trip itinerary that calls out some of the highlights worth pulling over for. Depending on when you leave in the morning, how bad the traffic is, and how long you spend at each location, you might not have time to explore them all. But whether you love roadside attractions, history, museums, nature, or food, there’s something here for everyone to love.

Start your 1-day Route 66 road trip off in Shamrock, Texas. Shamrock is a small panhandle town that got its name in 1893 from its first postmaster, George Nickle, whose Irish-American mother had told him to “depend on a shamrock to bring him good luck.” The town still celebrates its Irish roots with an annual St. Patrick’s Celebration and plenty of fun Shamrock, Texas Route 66 Attractions around town. Check out of your Shamrock motel and get ready to start exploring!

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

Conoco Tower Station and U-Drop Inn

The most recognizable attraction in Shamrock, the Conoco Tower Station and U-Drop Inn Café was built in 1936. The art-deco gas station and restaurant is sometimes referred to as “the Taj Mahal of Texas.”

Originally the building housed two businesses: a Conoco gas station and a diner named “U-Drop Inn.” Now this restored Route 66 attraction is a must-see. It was even fictionalized as “Ramone’s Body Shop” in the 2006 Pixar movie, Cars.

Long from serving as a functional service station, the location now serves as a museum, a visitor center, a cafe, and an office for the local Chamber of Commerce.

Shamrock, Texas

Beyond the The Conoco Tower Station and U-Drop Inn Café, there is so much more to explore in Shamrock, including Blarney Stone Plaza, the Pioneer West Museum, and the Magnolia Gas Station. Explore all the things to see in Shamrock, Texas and add those to your itinerary too!

Welcome to Shamrock Sign in Shamrock, Texas
Devil’s Rope Museum & Route 66 Museum in McLean, Texas

Route 66 Museum & Devil’s Rope Museum

When you’re done exploring Shamrock, start heading west to the Devil’s Rope Museum in McLean, which celebrates all things barbed wire. Check out the giant balls of barbed wire that flank the name plaques outside, then come inside to explore a huge expanse dedicated to the fencing.

While you’re at the barbed wire museum you can also check out the adjoining Texas Route 66 museum with vintage signs, a Texas map, photographs, a recreated 1950s diner, and a giant cow.

Leaning Tower of Texas

This Texas Route 66 roadside attraction was once a normal, functioning water tower. It was slated for demolition when Ralph Britten bought it at an auction and moved it 34 miles away to its current location to serve as an oversized sign for his truck stop and information center. Britten purposefully posed the tower at a 10-degree angle, just enough to lure unsuspecting travelers off the road and into his shop out of concern. The truck stop burned down in the 1990s, but the Leaning Tower of Britten still remains as a relic of the past.

Leaning Tower of Texas in Groom, Texas Route 66 roadside attraction

Groom Cross

The Groom Cross (officially The Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ) is a giant cross off of Interstate 40 and Route 66. You can’t miss this 190-foot-tall, 1,250-ton icon: it can be seen from 20 miles away!

VW Slug Bug Ranch in Panhandle, Texas Route 66 Roadside Attraction

VW Slug Bug Ranch

As of 2023, this Texas roadside attraction is in transition and may not be open.

VW Slug Bug Ranch (also referred to as Bug Ranch, VW Ranch, Buggy Farm, or Bug Farm) might not be as famous as its Cadillac counterpart over at Cadillac Ranch down the road, but it is just as fun to visit. The Texas roadside attraction consists of five Volkswagen Beetles buried front first into the ground.

Lunch in Amarillo, Texas

If you worked up a big appetite from a big day of driving on Route 66, there’s only one meal for you: the 72-ounce steak challenge at The Big Texan Steak Ranch. Not quite that hungry? Don’t worry, they have more modest size portions too. If you’re driving through Amarillo around lunchtime, they even have lunch specials!

But dining in Amarillo doesn’t stop there! There are plenty of other Amarillo restaurants you could add to your road trip itinerary. Consider stopping at Broken Spoke Lounge, Down’Home Dixie Diner, GoldenLight Cafe & Cantina, or Handle Bar & Grill.

Steak dinner at The Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo, Texas Route 66 Restaurant

Amarillo Main Street

Amarillo’s Route 66 Historic District is comprised of art galleries, antique stores, restaurants and bars housed in historic buildings. Park your car and spend some time exploring this fun main street before continuing your journey west.

Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas Route 66 Roadside Attraction

Cadillac Ranch

Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas is one of the most recognizable roadside attractions on Route 66. The art installation 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.

It’s hard to believe the cars in this Cadillac graveyard ever had a standard factory-issue paint job because one of the signatures that brings this attraction to life is now spray paint. Visitors are encouraged to bring a can (or several cans) of spray paint and add their own touches to the cars. They each wear an ever-changing coat of paint that looks completely different from sunset to sunrise each day.

Route 66 Midpoint

The Route 66 Midpoint Sign officially marks the point on the road where you’re halfway through your journey on Route 66. It is a popular stopping point for Route 66 road trippers to take a breather, stretch their legs, and grab some Instagram selfies in a pure, “I made it!” moment.

Across the street from the Midpoint sign is the Midpoint Cafe. On this Route 66 Texas 1-day itinerary you might arrive a bit too late for it to be open. But if it is, stop in for a slice of their world-famous “ugly” pies.

Route 66 Midpoint Sign in Adrian, Texas - Route 66 Attraction

You may have reached the midpoint of Route 66, but you’ve also reached the end of this Texas Route 66 1-day road trip itinerary. From here you have several options for what to do next. There is a hotel in Adrian you can spend the night at if you want to call it a day here. But, if you want to stay in an area that is a little more lively, you can backtrack to Amarillo or keep moving west to Tucumcari, New Mexico.

Where to Stay in Adrian, Texas

If you don’t want to turn around or keep going into New Mexico, there is one Route 66 motel in Adrian, Texas worth checking out on this Texas Route 66 1-day road trip.

Fabulous 40s Motel

This Route 66 motel is located right at the Midpoint of Route 66 and next door to the Midpoint Cafe. The motel opened in 1967 and is named after the then-new Interstate 40. It closed in 2004 but reopened with new owners in 2016.

Where to Stay in Amarillo, Texas

Amarillo, Texas is a quintessential stop on Route 66 and many travelers plan to spend at least one night in town. There are plenty of restaurants and shops to explore in the historic downtown area and fun roadside attractions, like Cadillac Ranch, to check out.

If you’re turning around at Adrian or just want to stop for the night in Amarillo before heading to the midpoint and New Mexico, there are plenty of Route 66 motels in Amarillo to add to your travel itinerary.

Big Texan Motel

Big Texan Motel in Amarillo, Texas Route 66 Motel

Whether you indulge in the 72-ounce steak or get a more modest cut for dinner at the Big Texan Steakhouse, mosey on over across the parking lot to extend your big visit at the Big Texan Motel. A sister to the world famous restaurant the Big Texan Motel in Amarillo, Texas features 54 units and a Western theme.

Want more unique places to stay on Route 66 in Texas? The Big Texan also has an AirBNB, Cabins, an RV Ranch, Wagons, and an Airstream.

The Barfield

The only full-service boutique hotel in Amarillo, The Barfield is housed in the historic Barfield building in the heart of downtown Amarillo. The hotel’s 112 accommodations, feature custom-designed furnishings and luxurious finishes. Enjoy high-speed WiFi, Smart TVs, ergonomic workspaces, and an in-room refreshment center.

Atrea Inn

Atrea Inn is a charming farmhouse boutique hotel. Conveniently located near I-40 and a short drive to the Route 66 historic district in Amarillo, this property boasts a family-friendly courtyard with BBQ pits and a morning breakfast to prepare you for the day on the road.

Route 66 Inn

Located just off Interstate 40, Route 66 Inn in Amarillo, Texas offers guests free WiFi, Direct-TV, in-room microwaves and mini-fridges, and newly renovated rooms. The parking lot lets you conveniently park right outside of your room.

Route 66 RV Ranch

Route 66 RV Ranch is a cozy RV park located right on historic Route 66 in Amarillo. Amenities include WiFi, clean restrooms, a laundry center, shower facilities, and complimentary WiFi.

Cadillac RV Park

Conveniently located on Route 66 just a short drive from Cadillac Ranch, this RV Park gives you a place to pull over for the night. Also on site is a gift shop and the 2nd Amendment Cowboy muffler man.

Oasis RV Resort Amarillo

Located close to I-40, Route 66, and all the best Amarillo sites, Oasis RV Resort offers 178 full-service RV sites and vacation cottages. RV sites feature full hook ups and the pet-friendly property has a dog run, game room, playground, WiFi, laundry facilities, and a seasonal pool.

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

Where to Stay in Shamrock, Texas

While the advent of the interstate system eventually led to Route 66’s decline, Shamrock has preserved its historic charm and continues to celebrate its role in the highway’s history. As such, many of the original motels in town are still thriving and make for fun, iconic places to spend a night.

Here are some of the best Route 66 motels in Shamrock, Texas: find one to add to your travel itinerary.

Shamrock Country Inn

Shamrock Country Inn in Shamrock, Texas Route 66 Motel

The Shamrock Country Inn is a classic roadside motel in a classic Route 66 town. The hotel opened in September 1959 as the Shamrock Ranger Motel. Rooms surround a U-shaped courtyard with plenty of free parking and offer few frills but comfy beds, Wi-Fi, TVs, private bathrooms, coffee machines, and a 24-hour front desk. Before hitting the road stop by the breakfast room for a complimentary breakfast and be sure to get a Texas-shaped waffle.

Western Motel

The Western Motel is located on Route 66, directly across from the Conoco Tower Station and U-Drop Inn Café, one of the most popular roadside attractions in Shamrock, Texas. With a convenient location, spacious rooms, and a 24-hour front desk, you can’t go wrong with this classic motel. They even have pet-friendly rooms for your furry travel companions.

Blarney Inn

Formerly the 1950s Rambler Motel, the Blarney Inn promises a “a wee bit of Ireland here in Shamrock.” The Shamrock motel provides air-conditioned rooms, a 24-hour front desk, free WiFi, and family rooms.

Route 66 Inn

The Route 66 Inn in Shamrock is a retro-themed hotel with comfortable air-conditioned rooms, high-speed WiFi, flat-screen TVs with satellite channels, and a 24-hour front desk. Pet-friendly rooms are also available. The U-shaped courtyard motel originally opened as the Sun ’n Sand Motel in 1953.

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

Route 66 Texas Map

Explore our map of Route 66 in Texas below. For easy browsing it is categorized and color-coded by category: roadside attraction, dining, landmark, museum, outdoors, mural/sign, accommodation, shopping, and tour/excursion.

Plan Your Route 66 Road Trip

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Last modified: April 21, 2024
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