Where does Route 66 start and end?

Last updated on April 21st, 2024 at 09:29 pm

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Every road trip will inevitably have a beginning, a middle, and an end. You might start at home or rent a car at the airport. You’ll drive for however long you’re driving. And you’ll end at your eventual destination or right back where you started from. A Route 66 road trip is no different, but, when driving the Mother Road, there are definite start, midway, and end points you won’t want to miss. So where does Route 66 start and end?

On a traditional westward journey, Route 66 begins in Chicago, Illinois and ends in Los Angeles, California (at the Santa Monica Pier). Of course, if you are driving in the opposite direction and traversing the road eastward, Route 66 will begin in Los Angeles and end in Chicago.

Where does Route 66 start and end?

Route 66 was established in 1926, and, for many years, served as the premiere drive for anyone migrating west, especially during the 1930s Dust Bowl. Running from Chicago to Los Angeles the road spanned around 2,448 through eight states: Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California.

The road was decommissioned in 1985 after being replaced by the faster Interstate Highway System, but parts of the route are still drivable today and many original, refurbished, and brand-new roadside attractions, motels, diners, and landmarks remain open and operating across the US.

Whichever way you choose to drive this famous road, you just have to stop (and take an Instagram selfie) at the iconic signs that mark the Route 66 start, middle, and end points.

Historic Route 66 Begin Sign in Chicago, Illinois - Route 66 Road Trip Attraction

Where does Route 66 start?

Route 66 starts in downtown Chicago, Illinois, at the intersection of Adams Street and Michigan Avenue. Look for the historic Route 66 Begin sign at that intersection…actually look for three signs!

One Route 66 Start Sign is located on a stop light post on the northwest corner of Adams and Michigan, across from the Art Institute of Chicago; another is mid-block on the other side of the street (this is probably the one you’ll see the most in photos online); and a third sign is found in a small park at the corner of Adams and Wabash, right next to the el.

If you’re driving east from California, you’ll find a Route 66 End sign in Chicago at the corner of Jackson and Michigan. This was actually the original Route 66 start when the road was formed in 1926. Later, the starting point moved to Jackson Drive and Lake Shore Drive and then, in 1955, when Jackson became a one-way-street, it moved again to its current position.

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

Where is the Route 66 halfway point?

In Adrian, Texas you’ll find the Route 66 midpoint. The area is marked with a Route 66 Midpoint Sign that welcomes visitors and declares there are 1,139 miles to Chicago and 1,139 miles to Los Angeles.

After taking selfies at the Route 66 Midpoint sign, cross the street to visit the Route 66 Midpoint Cafe. They serve breakfast pancakes, sandwiches, and hamburgers for breakfast and lunch. Don’t leave without topping off your meal with a slice of their famous homemade ugly crust pie and getting a souvenir in their gift shop.

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

Where is the end of Route 66?

Route 66 ends in Santa Monica in California. The route officially finishes on the corner of Olympic Boulevard and Lincoln Boulevard, where you’ll find a standard brown Route 66 end sign (and a begin sign for those starting their journey traveling westward). But, with tight traffic, it is not the ideal spot to pull over for photos.

Most road trippers head to the Santa Monica Pier to see the more famous Santa Monica Route 66 End of Trail sign. While this end of trail sign isn’t the official end point, the photo-friendly sign makes it the popular unofficial end for travelers driving the length of Route 66 who want to take a photo to commemorate their road trip. There’s also a souvenir shop where you can pick up a certificate of completion!

Originally, Route 66 ended in downtown Los Angeles at 7th and Broadway Avenue, but was extended to Santa Monica in 1935.

How long is Route 66 in miles?

If you’re trying to figure out how long is Route 66, you might get a little confused. Different numbers are published in different places.

Originally, Route 66 covered about 2,448 miles (3,940 km). But do to rerouting and the eventual decommissioning of the Main Street of America, that number has fluctuated throughout the years. The Adrian midpoint sign suggests that Route 66 is 2,278 miles long.

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Last modified: April 21, 2024
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