Truly iconic – driving Route 66 is perhaps the most famous of road trips.
Completed in 1926, the mother road crosses three time zones and eight states, stretching 2,448 miles from Chicago to Santa Monica in Los Angeles. Nothing symbolizes the American Dream more than Route 66, used by many during the great depression to head west in search of the ‘land of promise’
Before I start, I have a little confession to make. We drove Route 66 the wrong way round – from Los Angeles to Chicago. A crime I know, but unfortunately it was the only way round I could do it.
If you find yourself in a similar position, I can assure you that it makes no difference, other than tradition. You will still drive through the same magnificent landscapes, see the same kitsch roadside attractions and eat in the same classic diners.
However, as most travel east to west starting in Chicago, I’ve listed it in that order.
Using the guide
This handy guide is useful to print off and take with you. Whilst plugging addresses into your sat nav will keep the trip efficient, don’t be afraid of getting a little lost along the way – you never know what you might find.
Many of the motels and hotels listed are popular with other roadies and get booked up well in advance so don’t leave it until you arrive, book reservations in advance.
Day 1 – Chicago
Welcome to Chicago, the beginning of Route 66. Today we’re going to assume that you arrived in the morning and you have most of the day to explore. Chicago has world class eateries, attractions and shopping so if you can spare a few more days, you should.
After you’ve arrived in O’Hare airport and picked up your hire car, you’re most likely going to be hungry. Drive the twenty minutes or so north to Superdawg Drive-In for a spot of lunch. Although this road isn’t part of Route 66, Superdawgs has been there almost as long – and the all-beef hotdogs, diner experience and huge rooftop hot-dog figures will certainly give you a taste for things to come.
• 333 S Milwaukee Ave, +1 847-459-1900, superdawg.com
When you arrive in the city there is plenty of accommodation to choose from. A favourite for many roadies is the Essex Inn. Although it’s large and modern, it close to the start of Route 66 and overlooks Grant Park.
• 800 S Michigan Ave, +1 312-939-2800, essexinn.com
In the afternoon take a walk in Millennium Park. Located in the centre of the city, it’s a good place to start, particularly on a sunny summer afternoon. Admire the fantastic sculptures, including the famous Chicago Bean (Cloud Gate), whose mirrored sides reflect the city skyline and people that surround it, creating wonderful photo opportunities.
• 201 E Randolph St, millenniumpark.org
Afterwards head over to Willis Tower. This vast 108 floor skyscraper is still referred to by its original name – the Sears Tower. For twenty five years after it was constructed in 1973 it held the title of the world’s tallest building. It’s now dropped to twelve, but it’s still seriously impressive. Take the elevator up to the 103rd floor to stand on ‘the ledge’, one of the glass boxes that protrude out 412 metres above the street below. Probably best missed for those who are scared of heights.
• 233 S Wacker Dr, willistower.com
Other than hot dogs, Chicago is known (and loved) for its deep-dish pizzas. The joint serving the best pizza in town is a hot topic, but you can’t go wrong with a visit to Uno’s.
• 29 East Ohio, unos.com
Day 2 – Chicago to Springfield
Drive down to Jackson Blvd, the original starting point and take some obligatory photos by the historic Route 66 signs. Drive up the street for a big breakfast at Lou Mitchell’s. You won’t regret it. Get there early, it’s been nicknamed ‘the first stop on the mother road’, so as you can imagine, it gets busy.
• 565 W Jackson Blvd, loumitchellsrestaurant.com
Drive out of the city past Joliet and along Hwy-53 to the town of Wilmington, a journey of a couple of hours or so. Stop at the Launching Pad Drive-In for pictures with the 10-metre tall Gemini Giant.
• 810 E Baltimore St
You may also want to visit the Polk-A-Dot Drive In. This 50’s Americana diner is the perfect stop off point for a milkshake and photos with the Blues Brothers, Marilyn Monroe or Elvis out in the parking lot.
• 222 N Front St, +1 815-458-3377
Further down Hwy-53 is the old Texaco gas station in Dwight. Opening in 1933, it continued to operate until 1999 becoming the oldest gas station on the mother road. After being beautiful restored it now serves as a visitor centre. If for any reason you miss this one, there’s another further along in the town of Odell.
• W Waupansie St, +1 815-584-3077
Stop in Pontiac to visit the Route 66 Hall of Fame Museum located in the old fire station, particularly interesting for its collection of art by Bob Waldmire, who dedicated most of his live to Route 66. His campervan and Chevy school bus can still be seen here.
• 110 W Howard St, +1 815-844-4566
Between Bloomington and Springfield stop at Funks Grove, where the Funk family have been tapping and selling delicious maple syrup for the last 120 years or so.
• 5257 Old Route 66, Shirley, +1 309-874-3360, funkspuremaplesirup.com
Arrive in the state capital of Springfield. If you have the energy there is plenty of Abraham Lincoln related sights to visit including the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum and his tomb. If you visit in mid-August the city also plays host to the only Route 66 festival.
• 1500 Monument Ave, +1 217-782-2717, lincolntomb.org
For something a bit more light-hearted drive to the Lauterbach Tire and Auto Service Centre to see the giant fiberglass man that stands in the parking lot. In 2006 he lost his head to a twister but it’s been lovingly restored since.
• 1569 Wabash Ave, +1 217-546-2600
For dinner visit the Cozy Dog Drive-In on the old road. Started by Bob Waldmire’s father Ed, this is the birthplace of the corndog, a sausage on a stick covered in cornmeal batter. At just two bucks a go, they are also seriously friendly on the wallet.
• 2935 S 6th St, +1 217-525-1992, cozydogdrivein.com
Much as I dislike suggesting chain hotels, the Best Western Rail Haven has an Elvis-inspired room complete with a king-size Cadillac bed and jacuzzi.
• 203 S Glenstone Ave, +1 417-866-1963, bestwestern.com
Is there anything that does more for that nostalgic 50s feel than a drive-in cinema? Finish the day with a visit to the restored Route 66 Twin Drive-In to watch some of the latest blockbusters. Get there early to avoid the line and secure the best position.
• 1700 Recreation Dr, +1 217-546-8881, route66-drivein.com
Day 3 – Springfield to St. Louis
A much shorter drive this morning crossing the Mississippi River into Missouiri. After leaving Springfield drive to Collinsville along some lovely stretches of the old road. There is not much to see in Litchfield, but if the Best Western breakfast didn’t satisfy stop at the Ariston Cafe.
• 413 Old Rte 66 N, +1 217-324-2023, ariston-cafe.com
Near to Collinsville is the Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site. There are over a hundred mounds that were built by the original Mississippian cultures long ago.
• +1 618-346-5160, cahokiamounds.org
In Collinsville you’ll also find one of the most loved attractions on Route 66 – the 55-metre tall Brook’s Catsup Bottle, located south of the town along Hwy-159. This decorated water tower was restored by the city in 1995 and is now on the National Register of Historic Places list.
• 800 S Morrison Ave, catsupbottle.com
Arrive into St. Louis and stop for a late lunch at Sweetie Pies serving up delicious soul food. Think catfish, black eyed peas, fried chicken, mac-and-cheese and peach and pear pie. The service is excellent as is the value.
• 3643 Delmar Blvd, +1 314-932-5364, sweetiepieskitchen.com
There are many attractions in St. Louis – Scott Joplin House, the Botanical Gardens, the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Park and the Cathedral – but if you do just one, go to the top of the Gateway Arch, the symbol of the city’s role as the gateway to the west. This 200-metre sculpture has elevators that run up to an observation point at the highest point.
• 100 Washington Ave, gatewayarch.com
In the afternoon drive out to Ted Drewe’s for a rightly famous frozen custard. Since 1930 these frozen treats have been a staple of locals and passersby. Just down the road you can try the excellent fried chicken from Hodak’s.
• 6726 Chippewa St, +1 314-481-2652, teddrewes.com
There is no Route 66 inspired hotels in the city, but plenty of places to stay. The Hilton at the Ballpark in downtown St. Louis is reasonable value and has the added advantage of having one of the world’s best rooftop bars. Three Sixty Bar has excellent views over the city and the Gateway Arch. The food isn’t bad there either.
• 1 S Broadway, +1 314-421-1776, hilton.com
Day 4 – St. Louis to Springfield
After breakfast at the hotel, the first stop outside the city is the Meramec Caverns. These wondrous caves are made from deposits of limestone made slowly over the 400 million years are certainly worth the stop to see. Legend has it that Jesse James used the caves as a hideout in the late 19th century although there is little evidence to support this claim.
• 1135 State Hwy W, Sullivan, +1 573-468-2283, americascave.com
A little further along is the town of Stanton where you can visit the small Jesse James Wax Museum who claim that Jesse James faked his own death to avoid capture and was discovered as a centenarian in 1948.
• I-44, Stanton, +1 573-927-5233, jessejameswaxmuseum.com
Cuba, the next town along has a wonderful set of murals covering many of the central buildings. There are about twelve in total.
After all that driving get stuck into some seriously good barbeque at the Missouri Hick Bar-B-Q, one of the last surviving independent establishments around and a local favourite. Chomp down on delicious meat, claimed to be the best in the Ozarks in salon style surroundings.
• 913 East Washington Street, +1 573-885-6791, missourihick.com
Just four miles west you’ll also come across another roadside attraction – the world’s largest rocking chair standing around 11 metres high. Built in 2008 it is perhaps one of the newest attractions but worth visiting nonetheless.
• 5957 Highway Zz, Cuba, +1 573-885-1474, fanning66outpost.com
Stop in the town of Rolla to visit the Totem Pole Trading Post, one of the last surviving and oldest (est. 1933) mom and pop used merchandise stores. Get there quick as the owner is considering retirement which can often mean closure along the old road.
• 1413 Martin Springs Dr, +1 573-364-3519
Although the I-44 has now replaced the old road, a beautiful stretch of countryside lies ahead passing through the Mark Twain National Forest. Arrive into Lebanon and stay the classic Munger Moss Motel. Good value, excellent services, clean rooms and one of the best neon signs on Route 66.
• 1336 Rte 66, Lebanon, +1 417-532-3111, mungermoss.com
There are plenty of options for places to eat, but try the Route 66 Country Cafe for good food surrounded by plenty of Route 66 memorabilia.
• 28960 Rte 66, Lebanon, +1 417-286-4500
Day 5 – Lebanon to Oklahoma City
It’s going to be a long drive today. Grab a bite to eat at the motel and drive on to Springfield (not to be confused with the Springfield, Illinois). We suggest passing right through it unless you’re interested in the world’s greatest sporting goods store. In the next town Joplin you’ll find an excellent mural by artist Thomas Hart Benton.
Cross over into Kansas for what is the shortest leg in any state. Don’t be fooled through, this thirteen mile stretch is one of the best preserved. The first town you’ll come to is Galena. Stop at the Galena Mining and Historical Museum.
• 319 W 7th St, +1 620-783-2192, kansastravel.org
Cars on the Route (which used to be called Four Women on the Route), an old gas station and warehouse was the hideaway spot for the outlaws Bonnie and Clyde.
• 119 N Main St, +1 620-783-1366
The next town is Riverton where a visit to Nelson’s Old Riverton Store or Eisler’s Brothers is a grocery and souvenir store with an excellent deli counter. It also houses the Route 66 Association in Kansas.
• 7109 KS-66, +1 620-848-3330, eislerbros.com
Last stop on the tiny stretch of Kansas’ contribution to the mother road is the town of Baxter Springs. Stop for lunch at the Cafe on the Route, housed in what was the Crowell bank building, robbed by Jesse James in 1876. The Baxter Springs information centre in a restored Philips 66 gas station is also worth a visit.
• 1101 Military Ave, +1 620-856-5000, cafeontheroute.com
There’s plenty more to see before you reach Oklahoma City for the night. Cross over into the state and join some of the most drivable sections of Route 66. If you are taking the road trip in August and you time it correctly you can go to the Will Rogers Memorial Rodeo held every year since his death in 1935.
Just outside the town of Foyil stop at the Totem Pole Park. Sculptured by Ed Galloway in the 40s and 50s this collection of giant totem poles is certainly worth a visit. They were restored in the early 90s and the largest is over 30 metres tall.
• 21300 E Highway 28A, +1 918-283-8035
Another classic roadside attraction that is a must do. The Blue Whale of Catoosa sculpture in the suburbs of Tulsa was created by Hugh Davis in the early 70s and is continually restored and maintained by the family.
• 2680 OK-66, +1 918-694-7390, bluewhaleroute66.com
In Arcadia there are two main attractions. The first is the Arcadia Round Barn built in 1898 using native oak. It is the only truly round barn in the whole of America. The second is the unusually soda ranch pops that stocks up to 600 varieties of soda.
• 107 OK-66, Arcadia, +1 405-396-0824
Arrive in Oklahoma City. The restored district Bricktown has a big selection of bars and restaurants to indulge in and as there are seemingly no traditional Route 66 motels in the city, so take your pick from any of the nearby hotels.
Day 6 – Oklahoma City to Amarillo
After breakfast at the hotel visit the Oklahoma National Memorial, created on the site of the 1995 bombing that killed 168 people including children. A chair representing each victim has been placed alongside a swallow pool. You can also find out more about this tragic event in the nearby museum.
• 620 N Harvey Ave, +1 405-235-3313, oklahomacitynationalmemorial.org
Pass by El Reno stopping at the historic Fort Reno if you are interesting in POW and World War II history. Take a pit stop at Lucille’s Roadhouse for a coffee, an old gas station converted into a charming cafe.
• 1301 N Airport Rd, Weatherford, +1 580-772-8808
If you haven’t done enough souvenir shopping stop at the Cherokee Trading Post located about 15 miles west of El Reno. This giant shop has over a hundred thousand items for sale including jewelry, pottery, moccasins and authentic Indian handicrafts.
• 301 S Walbaum Rd, Calumet, +1 405-884-2502, cherokeetrade.com
The next town you will come across is Clinton. Stop at the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum which after a huge investment is arguably one of the best museums along the whole mother road. Exhibitions change periodically.
• 2229 W Gary Blvd, +1 580-323-7866
If you’re not too museumed-out the National Route 66 Museum in Elk City is also excellent. Otherwise drive on by and continue to the town of Erick. Visit Sandhills Curiosity Shop where if you are lucky you’ll be treated to a little impromptu music from the proprietors Harley and Annabella, and you can also pick up some Route 66 memorabilia.
• 144, 198 3rd St
Cross over the border into Texas. You’ll pass through a number of smaller towns, but stop in McLean to visit the Devil’s Rope Museum, a bizarre museum dedicated to barbed wire. Trust me, it’s better than it sounds.
• 100 Kingsley St, McLean, +1 806-779-2225, barbwiremuseum.com
Further along near Groom there are two more roadside attractions that are worthy of a photo stop. The first is the leaning water tower.
The second is a huge 60-metre tall steel cross.
• 2880 Co Rd 2, +1 806-665-7788, crossministries.net
Arrive into Amarillo. If you are interested in RVs visit the Jack Sisemore Travel and RV Museum. The Sisemore’s have collected a sizeable collection which has been painstakingly restored.
• 4341 Canyon Dr, +1 806-358-4891, sisemoretraveland.com
For a true insight into portion sizes in America, visit the Big Texan Steak Ranch for dinner. If you are feeling hungry why not try their 72oz steak challenge and get your meal for free (and your name in the Hall of Fame).
• 7701 Interstate E 40, +1 806-372-1000, bigtexan.com
When you’ve had your fill you can waddle back to the Big Texan Motel, a mock 19th century Wild West inspired motel owned by the restaurant, located just next door. Its great value and has a swimming pool shaped like Texas.
• 7701 Interstate E 40, +1 806-372-1000, bigtexan.com
Day 7 – Amarillo to Tucumcari
Head off after breakfast this morning for a much shorter driving day. The Palo Duro Canyon State Park is located about 30 minutes south of Amarillo and it certainly worth the detour. Many called it ‘the Grand Canyon of Texas’. Spend the morning doing a little hiking and biking along the trails and taking in the scenery. On the way back visit the Panhandle-Plains Museum.
• 11450 State Hwy Park Rd 5, +1 806-488-2227, palodurocanyon.com
Next will surely be one of the most recognizable and quirky roadside attractions – the Cadillac Ranch, located just six miles west of Amarillo. Ten classic Cadillacs upturned and buried half way are used as an ever evolving art project since the seventies. Make sure you bring your own cans of spray paint as most left behind are empty.
• I-40 Frontage Rd
Further along past Vega is the Midpoint Cafe. As the name suggests you are at the midpoint between Chicago and Los Angeles, exactly 1,139 miles between each. I highly recommend trying the delicious Ugly Crust Pie.
• 305 Rte 66, Adrian, +1 806-538-6379, route66midpointcafe.com
After passing the ghost town of Glenrio you’ll cross over into New Mexico and arrive in Tucumcari. Although small, the town is packed with Route 66 attractions including the Mesalands Dinosaur Museum, Route 66 steel sculpture, New Mexico Route 66 Museum and the Tee Pee Curios shop whose kitsch design makes for an excellent photo.
• 924 Rte 66, +1 575-461-3773
The 100 or so murals that adorn many of Tucumcari’s buildings are well worth the time it takes to find them.
Arguably having the best neon sign on Route 66, the Blue Swallow Motel is a classic place to stay as is the nearby Motel Safari just across the road. Both are very good value and have clean comfortable rooms.
• 815 E Rte 66 Blvd, +1 575-461-9849, blueswallowmotel.com
There are plenty of places to eat in Tucumcari. Open since 1956, Del’s Restaurant serves up a range of American and Mexican comfort food. You can find it easily by looking for the large cow that sits on top of the neon sign outside.
• 1202 Rte 66, +1 575-461-1740, delsrestaurant.com
Day 8 – Tucumcari to Albuquerque
Start the day with a hearty breakfast at Kix on 66 diner where the Huevoas Ranchero is particularly good. If you are a fan of Buddy Holly you can visit the Norman Petty Recording Studios in Clovis a little south from Tucumcari.
• 1102 E Tucumcari Blvd, +1 575-461-1966, kixon66.com
The first big town you will come across on your way to Albuquerque is Santa Rosa. Unlikely as it sounds, this is the perfect place to practice your scuba diving technique. The Blue Hole well stays at a uniform 18 °C and although only 24 metres in diameter, the pool expands to 40 metres deep making it the perfect place for training.
• 1085 Blue Hole Road, +1 575-472-3763, santarosabluehole.com
Just a short detour from the road to Albuquerque is another must-see roadside attraction. The enchanting Tinkertown Museum has a huge collection of miniature wooden carved figures and scenes that were created over 40 years by Ross Ward. Sadly Ross passed away in 2002, but the family continue his legacy.
• 121 Sandia Crest Rd, Sandia Park, +1 505-281-5233, tinkertown.com
Arrive into Albuquerque in the early afternoon and head down to 66 Diner for that all-American 50s style diner experience. Sip on some of the best shakes you’ll find anywhere in the states surrounded by retro jukeboxes and 50s memorabilia.
• 1405 Central Ave NE, +1 505-247-1421, 66diner.com
Spend the rest of the day exploring this fascinating city. The Old Town is particularly interesting. Visit the San Felipe de Neri church which was built over 300 years ago and the nearby park.
The Rattlesnake Museum is worthy of a visit. Learn about how rattlesnakes have shaped the lives of locals in bygone times and see the largest collection of rattlesnake species in the world.
• 202 San Felipe St NW, +1 505-242-6569, rattlesnakes.com
The Monterey Motel serves as a good base to explore the city. It’s just a block from the botanical gardens, zoo and aquarium and just a few blocks from the old town. Rooms are comfortable and good value.
• 2402 Central Ave SW, +1 505-243-3554, nonsmokersmotel.com
There is no shortage of good places to eat in the old town. If you are not sure, the simple but much loved Little Red Hamburger Hut serves good American classics. Their red chili burger is one of the best around and the portions are sizable.
• Mountain Rd NW, +1 505-304-1819
Day 9 – Albuquerque to Holbrook
Many want to visit Santa Fe, the state’s capital, and it is well worth it if you have the time. Add another day on the itinerary here and spend the day driving north to the city. Otherwise you’ll continue west across the Rio Puerto Bridge. Take a small detour to visit Acoma Pueblo or the Sky City. The town is perched on a 110-metre mesa and has been in continual use for hundreds of years. Wander amongst the adobe buildings and enjoy some spectacular views.
You’ll also want to visit the El Malpais National Monument, a bizarre landscape of eerie formations created by volcanic forces millions of years ago.
• 11000 Ice Caves Road, Grants, +1 505-285-4641, nps.gov/elma
If time permits stop in the next town Grants to visit the New Mexico Mining Museum. In Gallup there are plenty of good spots to eat. Try El Rancho Restaurant. Although the food is fairly standard American and Mexican favourites, it is housed within a beautiful old hotel which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
• 1000 East 66, +1 505-863-9311, route66hotels.org/
While you’re in town don’t miss Richardson’s Trading Post, one of the best shops along Route 66. This family-owned store has an incredibly large variety of Navajo rugs, art and crafts for sale.
• 222 W Historic Hwy 66, +1 505-722-4762, richardsontrading.com
Cross over into Arizona. Before you reach Holbrook take the short tour of the Petrified Forest National Park which extends out into the Painted Desert.
• +1 928-524-6228, nps.gov/pefo
Arrive into Holbrook. There really is only one place to stay here – Wigwam Village. One of the most iconic motels along Route 66. Restored and reopened in 1988 after many years of closure, these kitsch concrete teepees were originally part of a small franchise of wigwam motels across the country. To add to the atmosphere there is also a collection of classic cars in the parking lot.
• 811 W Hopi Dr, +1 928-524-3048, sleepinawigwam.com
Holbrook is small, so choices of places to eat are limited. Wander down to the Butterfield Stage Co Steak House which does a perfectly decent steak at a reasonable price.
• 609 W Hopi Dr, +1 928-524-3447
Day 10 – Albuquerque to Williams
Stroll down to the friendly restaurant Joe and Aggies Café for a filling breakfast.
• 120 W Hopi Dr, +1 928-524-6540, joeandaggiescafe.com
If you are an Eagles fan be sure to stop in Winslow to visit the Standin’ on the Corner Park. The building of the I-40 which bypassed the town led to loss of tourism in the town. It was almost single-handedly put back on the map by the song ‘Take It Easy’ in the 1970s and is now enjoying a renaissance period.
• N Kinsley Ave, Winslow, standinonthecorner.com
Next up is one of the most spectacular national wonders you’ll see along the whole Route 66. The Meteor Crater is one the best preserved sites in the world. The impact was made around 50,000 years ago by an asteroid travelling at 26,000 miles per hour. Take a short hike around the crater rim.
• I-40, Exit 233, meteorcrater.com
After passing through the quiet town of Winona (Bobby Troup’s song suggests you shouldn’t miss it) you’ll reach the pleasant city of Flagstaff. If you end up spending the night here, it’s worth checking the listings for what’s on at the Museum Club. If not, take a visit to the Lowell Observatory, made famous as the place Pluto was discovered.
• 1400 W Mars Hill Rd, +1 928-774-3358, lowell.edu
Stop by Salsa Brava, a firm local favourite, for some ample sized plates of decent Mexican food.
• 2220 Historic Rte 66, +1 928-779-5293, salsabravaflagstaff.com
Although it’s a detour, one of the world’s greatest natural wonders is worth the extra time and you’ll kick yourself if you get that close and don’t visit. Head north and spend the rest of the afternoon on a hike in the national park from the north rim.
Drive back south later in the evening to Williams and check into The Lodge on Route 66, a relatively upscale motel compared to most and within walking distance of the amenities in Williams.
• 200 E Rte 66, +1 928-635-4534, thelodgeonroute66.com
Although there are a number of places to eat, Rod’s Steak House is the most famous. It’s been around since 1946 when Route 66 was in its heyday. For those who like steak it is quite possibly heaven, for those who don’t, it’s probably the opposite. You will easily be able to find it from the distinctive neon cow sign outside.
• 301 E Rte 66, +1 928-635-2671, rods-steakhouse.com
Day 11 – Williams to Las Vegas
For breakfast visit the Cruiser Route 66 Cafe where the large breakfast menu includes pancakes, French toast, biscuits and gravy, custom omelets, fried breakfasts and some token healthy options.
• 233 Historic Rte 66, +1 928-635-2445, cruisers66.com
Driving west one of the first places you will come across is Seligman. The town has a couple of worthy stops. The first is the Angel Delgadillo’s barber shop. Angel’s long standing involvement in keeping Route 66 alive has earned him the nickname The Angel of Route 66.
• 22265 Historic Rte 66, +1 928-422-3352, route66giftshop.com
The next is the Snow Cap Drive-In, a classic Route 66 landmark created by Angel’s brother Juan. This historic eatery was created from scrap lumber taken from the Santa Fe Railroad. Delgadillo was known for his clever marketing stunts and humorous approach to work which included asking customers whether they wanted cheese on their cheeseburgers. Grab yourself some lunch for the journey.
• 301 AZ-66, +1 928-422-3291
In Kingman there is a choice to be made. Although many stay true to the old route and continue out west, most want to visit Las Vegas, so we have included that route as part of the this guide. A good place to stop in Kingman is The Powerhouse, an ex-power generating station turned Route 66 museum.
• 120 W Andy Devine Ave # 2, +1 928-753-9889
Turn on to US-93 and motor up to Las Vegas. There isn’t a huge amount to see en route but the flat desert scenery and backdrop of mountains is quite spectacular. Arrive into Las Vegas. There are plenty of places to stay, many of which are phenomenal value, but the Caesar’s Palace is arguably the most famous.
• 3570 S Las Vegas Blvd, +1 702-731-7110, caesars.com
Due to the large amounts of money that go through the city, Las Vegas is somewhat of culinary haven offering cuisines from around the world. If the choice is just too much, try the Caesar’s own Bacchanal Buffet, an all-you-can-eat restaurant inside the hotel.
• 3570 S Las Vegas Blvd, +1 702-731-7110, caesars.com
Day 12 – Las Vegas to Santa Monica
If one night in Vegas isn’t enough or your wallet needs a little more bruising you may want to consider an extra night or two. Otherwise set off early and drive along the Strip and onto I-15 west towards Barstow. If you wanted a much more scenic (but also lengthy) journey you can turn south about half way and drive through the spectacular Mojave National Preserve back onto the I-40. Either way both will bring you into Barstow.
After Barstow you’ll continue through the Mojave Desert. Stop at the rather eerie, but equally amazing Bottle Tree Ranch. Elmer Long has dedicated his life to creating this forest of bottles, an ever evolving piece of Californian desert art.
• National Trails Hwy, Oro Grande
In Victorville you can visit the California Route 66 Museum, the last on the mother road. However after a long drive you may want to continue on to San Bernardino. Like McDonalds or not, it has become one of the most recognizable brands on the planet. Head down to where it all started at the original McDonalds site now a museum of sorts. Oddly it’s not actually owned by McDonalds, but by another fast-food chicken joint called Juan Pollo.
• 1398 North E Street
After passing through Pasadena take the early 20th century Colorado Street Bridge that takes you over into Los Angeles. The bridge was in a state of disrepair but was restored in the early 90s and now serves as a fitting entrance to the last city on this epic road trip.
Cross Los Angeles to Santa Monica and check into the newly renovated Ocean View Hotel right on the beachfront for a touch of luxury on your last night.
• 1447 Ocean Ave, +1 310-458-4888, oceanviewsantamonica.com
Head down to the Santa Monica Pier and amble along the boardwalks. Take a photo with the Santa Monica 66 End of the Trail sign. As you look out over the Pacific Ocean at the end of the pier you will now have a much deeper understanding of the mother road, the people it supports and the long journey that many took all those years ago in the dustbowl era in search of a better life.
• 200 Santa Monica Pier, santamonicapier.org
We took our road trip along Route 66 in September 2014. This guide is dedicated to all the people who live and work along the mother road.