Amarillo And Cadillac Ranch Texas
The beef industry still reigns supreme in Amarillo, which handles 2 million head of cattle a year and therefore has plenty of that old Wild West vibe, despite its booming population. Route 66 follows 6th Street through what is now called the Old Jacinto District, so head there to browse boot, saddle and Western shops and antique stores. Back on I-40, you cant miss the giant steer head marking the Big Texan Steak Ranch, which was located on Route 66 when it opened in 1960. Families will like the old false-front Wild West-themed building and the enormous portions at reasonable prices.
Amarillo is another Route 66 home base where youll find options for every loyalty point program. Choose from the Hilton Garden Inn Amarillo , Residence Inn Amarillo and many more.
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When Is The Best Time Of Year To Travel Route 66
Most people drive Route 66 between early May and late September, and this is generally considered the best time to travel the route. This is the most traveled time period partly due to convenience and partly due to the fact that these months generally present the best weather conditions. Youll also find most of the attractions open for business during this time period.
One of the challenges with Route 66 given its large expanse is that is crosses deserts, plains, mountains, and grasslands and six climate zones .
I would advise avoiding the winter months from mid-November to mid-February as youll likely find cold temperatures along much of the route , potential mountain road snow closures in the Western States , and bone-chillingly cold winds in Chicago.
In addition to cold temperatures and potential poor road conditions, many of the smaller Route 66 attractions close down in the winter months or have reduced hours making it harder for winter travelers to get the most of their Route 66 experience.
Some people also advise to avoid the months of July and August not only because of the heat and humidity, but also because they are the busiest months on Route 66 with the biggest crowds, most children, fewest discounts, and highest prices.
During your trip, Id advise checking the weather conditions each day as snow, hail storms, landslides, tornadoes, thunderstorms, flooding, and dust storms are all possible along this route!
Lake Havasu City To The Grand Canyon
Town: The small town of Seligman, Arizona calls itself a birthplace of Route 66. It feels like youve stepped back in time with the retro signs and classic cars.
Eat & Drink: When in Seligman, you must dine at Delgadillos Snow Cap , with quirky menu items like Oink Burgers, male or female sundaes, and a cheeseburger with cheese.
Detour: For a slower but more historic drive, you can swap out I-40 for a diversion on Route 66 up to Valentine, Arizona, and see the historic Schoolhouse at Truxton Canyon Training School. Keep on Route 66 and it will dump you back on I-40 around Seligman. Although this historic detour only adds 17 miles, it will tack on an additional half-hour, without stops, and Route 66 has tolls.
Do: Witnessing the 10-mile-wide Grand Canyon is awe-inspiring, even life-changing. Explore it via hike, a mule ride, bike, or even raft down the Colorado River.
Eat & Drink: The best restaurant is hands down El Tovar, which is both exotic and Southwesternits also a bit expensive. For another solid option thats less pricey, check out the Grand Canyon Lodge Dining Room on the North Rim.
Stay: Stay at the beautiful El Tovar Hotel on the South Rim. Lets be honest: Youre going to want to stay here for a few days. Not only for the Euro-style hunting lodge feel with canyon-view rooms, but also to fully experience this grand wonder.
Breakfast: Hit up Bright Angel Restaurant on the South Rim for an affordable breakfast before you head out for the day.
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Paul Bunyon Hotdog Statue
Some of Illinois best roadside relics lie in wait on this stretch of the Mother Road. In Atlanta, snap a photo with the 19-ft. Paul Bunyon clutching a giant hot dog. One of Route 66s mythic roadside attractions, several of these giants still proudly grace the Mother Road. After your photo, head across the street for a quick bite at favorite The Palms Grill Café, featuring classic faire from the golden age Route 66. Save room for some pie.
Route 66 Road Trip Supplies
Everybody has a set of different things that they may want to take with them on a road trip, but things that I would recommend bringing with you or purchasing at the beginning of your road trip are a Route 66 guidebook or two, a road atlas or set of maps, a camera, rain protection, sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses, a reusable water bottle, snacks, a car rubbish bag, car safety and maintenance kit, and a basic First Aid kit.
Be sure to bring plenty of protection from the sun and to keep your water bottles filled on your trip to protect against dehydration. Wear sunscreen daily even if you plan to stay in the vehicle most of the day as you can still get sun damage from UVA rays!
Note that there may be periods of a few hours, especially in the Mojave desert, where access to basic essentials are limited so keep water and snacks in the car. Tap water is generally safe throughout the United States so you can drink water directly from the sink taps or water fountains, but do not obviously drink untreated water from rivers, lakes, unknown wells, or other such sources.
Id also recommend bringing along a travel journal to jot down notes and record your road trip adventures, and perhaps a deck of cards or road-friendly games to play as youll be spending a lot of time in the car. If traveling with kids, youll definitely want to make sure they have some things to entertain them.
Quick list of some items you may want to pack along for your Route 66 road trip:
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St Louis To Chicago Illinois
Town: You visited Springfield, Missouri, so why not Springfield, Illinois? Check out the self-guided Living Legends Tour, where you can learn about Route 66 via Springfields local entrepreneurs.
Eat & Drink: Have a hot dog on a stick for lunch at the Cozy Dog Drive In, opened in 1949 on Route 66. The current casual eatery is located next door to the original site, a historic landmark.
Do: Visitors love to see Chicago from above in the famous 110-story Willis Tower and test their courage by stepping out onto the Skydeck, a glass deck 103 stories above the city.
Eat & Drink: Head to Pizzeria Uno, where Chicago-style deep-dish pizza was founded in the 40s.
Stay: The Hotel Intercontinental Magnificent Mile blends elegance with history the 1920s building used to be an athletic club and its indoor pool is a work of art, with Spanish hand-painted tiles, stained-glass windows, pillars, and fountain. Or for a slower option outside of the big city, book a night at the Route 66 Hotel and Conference Center back in Springfield.
Breakfast: Swing by Mannys Coffee Shop and Deli for some innovative breakfast dishes, from a Breakfast Reuben sandwich to fried matzo scrambled and served with corned beef to French toast piled high with meats.
What Can I See Along Route 66
Route 66 stretches across 8 states so you will cross through stretches of desert, mountains, farmland, large metropolitan cities, and small towns. Youll pass a wide variety of landmarks, landscapes, parks, waterways, and cultural attractions along the way.
Cities are certainly important stops on a Route 66 itinerary but it is in the smaller cities and towns, often along their Main Streets, where you find the businesses and people that fit the image many people have of Small Town America.
In many towns, there might be nothing to do expect stroll its Main Street, eat at its diner, and visit an old steam engine. A road trip along Route 66 is not necessarily jam-packed with must-see sights each day, but the drive itself is the experience. Route 66 was developed to be a the way for people to get from Point A to Point B, but today Route 66 is often the destination itself.
Some of the most iconic things to see along the route are the buildings and signage of the numerous roadside cafes, motels, gas stations, and tourist attractions along this route. A large number of the original businesses are no longer operational, but in many places you can still eat in the same diner, sleep in the same motor court, and do a guided tour of the same cave as those who traveled Route 66 in the 1950s.
If you are planning to include the California coast in your trip, you can check out our Pacific Coast Highway road trip guide as we drove the Pacific Coast Highway prior to beginning Route 66.
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Route 66 Into Chicago
The 1928 Illinois State Roadmap shows no urbanization along US-66 heading north into Chicago east of Joliet all the way into Chicago, the first town on the alignment. To the north lay Hinsdale and Lagrange, but the first town was Lyons, followed by Berwyn, Chicago and Chicago.
By 1945 , things had changed, not oly had US 66 moved to a new alignment through Plainfield, now “Romeo” appeared on ALT 66 north of Lockport on the former 1926-1939 US 66 through Joliet. The urban sprawl reached Lyons, and to the west of it, there were no more towns until Plainfield.
The 1954 map shows the same picture but now US 66 from Chicago to IL-53 and then south as ALT 66 through Joliet and all the way to Wilmington was a “Four Lane Pavement” the main US 66 west of this point, through Plainfield and Braidwood was merely a “Two Lane Pavement”.
There are changes in the 1959 state highway map: US-66 south of its junction with ALT US 66 has become an “Expressway” with “highway separation” . This freeway bypassed Plainfield and the former 1940 to 1958 US-66 alignment became state hwys. 126 and 59.
During the 1960’s, the suburbs expanded and the 1969 state highway map now shows I-55 and US 66 running together eastwards all the way to the exchange with I-294. Splitting here: with I-55 taking a more southern course and US-66 a northern one.
Drive from Chicago to McCook along Route 66
It is a 7 mile drive along Route 66 from the “Eastern Terminus” of Route 66 in Chicago to Cicero: Map with directions.
Route 66 Ending Point
The end of route 66 is the intersection of Olympic and Lincoln boulevards, in Santa Monica, Los Angeles.
This is less than 1 mile away from the location of the sign at Santa Monica pier in the photo above. The correct end, the dull intersection, is very much anti-climactic and the Santa Monica Pier makes a much more fitting end point for a glorious road trip.
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Top 10 Cities And Stops Along Route 66
For more insight into each stop along the route, our content is arranged by state. Here are some major cities and attractions along Route 66 that travelers aiming to follow only a section of the full cross-country route may wish to use to plan their drive:
- Chicago, Illinois The official beginning of Route 66
- St. Louis, Missouri If you start or stop in St. Louis, swing by Ted Drewes Frozen Custard Stand
- Tulsa, Oklahoma A bustling big city that doesnt make a song-and-dance out of its many treasures
- Oklahoma City, Oklahoma A mighty pretty city that has long been one of the primary stops along the Mother Road
- Amarillo, Texas Not the biggest city along Route 66, but it is where you can order a massive 72-ounce steak
- Albuquerque, New Mexico A great starting point for travelers mainly interested in the southwest section of Route 66
- Santa Fe, New Mexico A cultural crossroads that has been at the center of Southwest life for centuries
- Flagstaff, Arizona An enjoyable, energetic college town high on the Colorado Plateau
- Sedona, Arizona A New Age draw amidst an otherworldly landscape
- Santa Monica, California Technically more beach town than big city, Santa Monica is the western end of Route 66
Historic Route 66 In Chicago Illinois
As we mentioned above , Route 66’s eastern tip is located in Chicago, its alignment is marked with a Pale Blue line in the map above.
Route 66 remained aligned on Ogden Ave. until its decertification in 1977. Below is a 1934 map of the highway in Chicago. US 66 with US 34 cross from the central left side of the image in a diagonal along Ogden and then turn along Jackson all the way to Grant Park on the right side of the map:
1934 road map of Route 66 showing Chicago
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Des Moines To Grand Island Nebraska
Town: Check another capital city off your list in Lincoln, Nebraska. Get fresh air in the Sunken Gardens as you stroll past ponds and sculptures.
Eat & Drink: Find the best burgers in town at Honest Abes Burgers & Freedom . Were always surprised by the Burger of the Week, like an Asian-style burger piled with chow mein noodles and cabbage.
Do: Get outside in Grand Island and visit the butterfly garden, or hike around the Crane Trust Nature and Visitor Center. If the timing is right , this is the best place in the world to see sandhill cranes. More than 80 percent of the worlds population migrates to the Platte River.
Eat & Drink: Get a taste of Grand Island at the Kinkaider Brewing Company. Wash down some hand-crafted Nebraskan beer with a Kinkaider Cheese Flatbread or a juicy steak in a stunning, century-old former theater.
Stay: Go camping at Mormon Island State Recreation Area, where you can enjoy fishing, swimming, a river, and some open space.
Breakfast: Family-run Tommys Restaurant is a local institution for traditional breakfast, including killer steak and eggs.
Riding Historic Us Route 66 From Chicago Thru Illinois
|Historic Route 66 begins in Chicago, Illinois|
Route 66 was one of the United States’ first continuous stretches of paved highway, and served as a major path for those who migrated west.
“The Mother Road” was established on November 11, 1926, and ultimately stretched 2,448 miles from Chicago to Los Angeles.
The beginning point could be either city, depending on the direction of the trip. Most travelers seem to start their journey on Route 66 in Chicago, and head westbound. That is the direction we take on this website.
The beginning point of Route 66 in Chicago has changed over the years, originally starting on Jackson Boulevard at Michigan Avenue in 1926. Since 1933 the starting point has been Jackson Boulevard at Lake Shore Drive.
Once outside the metropolitan Chicago area, Route 66 followed the Pontiac Trail, a former Indian trail and stagecoach road.
From its beginning in Chicago, Route 66 headed southwest to Joliet, Wilmington, Dwight, Odell, Pontiac, Bloomington, Lincoln and Springfield. The segment from Chicago to Springfield is roughly a 2.5 hour drive.
While in Chicago, many visitors seek out Grant Park, the Willis Tower, the museums, and the lakeshore shopping areas.
Leaving Chicago and arriving in Joliet, travelers like to visit the Joliet Museum, Rialto Square Theatre and the Jacob Henry Mansion.
Map showing approximate Route 66 location from Chicago to St. Louis, Missouri
Roadside Attraction: 1932 Standard Oil Gas Station in Odell, Illinois
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