Come on admit it, you’ve always wondered what makes Route 66 such an iconic part of the all-American landscape, haven’t you?
Also called the “Mother Road”, Route 66 draws the attention of Americans and Non-Americans alike. The highway is rich in history having served as a refuge for hundreds of thousands of people wanting to escape the Dust Bowl in the 1930s. After the Second World War, Americans developed a frenzied obsession with automobiles which in turn made Route 66 the ultimate road trip destination.
The road stretches for some 2,448 miles (that’s 3,939 kilometres – think Albury to Perth), which starts at an unobtrusive brown sign in downtown Chicago and ends at the sparkling blue waters of Santa Monica, California.
Route 66 is more than just your average adventure. Rather along the way, you’ll be intrigued by its wacky character and quirky pit stops.
This state is home to Pontiac’s murals; a collection of 18 vintage advertisement designs painted in just four days by a group of artists back in 2009. While you’re here, you’ll want to take a 15-minute side trip to check out the Hall of Fame museum to learn more about the highway’s history.
Another interesting destination is the Cahokia mound, a heritage site with differently sized earthen mounds numbering about a hundred built by Native Americans around 1200AD.
In Madison, Illinois you will find the Chain of Rocks Bridge, a bizarre feat of architecture owing to the 30 degree turn in the midst of the mile-long bridge. It ended up bent because the bedrock under the original course couldn’t withstand its weight.
After four or so hours of driving, you’ll want to have a stop over and a well-deserved cold drink at the Circle Inn Malt Shop and indulge in their variety of ice cream treats and desserts. If you opt to stay for the night in Missouri, be sure to check out their aptly named 66 Drive-in theater, which is open in the Spring.
Route 66 in Kansas only stretches for 13 miles. In the tiny community of Galena, you will find buildings that inspired the fictional town Radiator Springs from the animated movie Cars. Have a quick stopover at Baxter Springs, home of businesses and banks notoriously robbed by Jesse James and Bonnie and Clyde before heading to the Riverton Power Dam on Highway 107.
Stretching for about 380 miles, Oklahoma is Route 66’s longest section. You will find numerous old fashioned ‘gas stations’ that have mostly been refurbished as souvenir shops. One such station is the “Hole in the Wall” Conoco Station with its green and red charming façade. Walk through the National Route 66 & Transportation Museum in Elk City to get a feel for the eight town’s history and as well as see the delightful roadside attractions.
One of the most well-known attractions of the Mother Road is the Cadillac Ranch. This is an ode to America’s love of the open road. Ten Cadillac models from 1949 through 1964 buried halfway in the sand with their tails up is what you will see. You will also need to try the delectable ugly crust pies at the Midpoint Café; the oldest running café on Route 66 built in 1928.
Consider this as your halfway point of Route 66.
The San Miguel Mission Chapel is a testament to the thriving historical element of the famous Route. It is the oldest church in the United States with construction beginning in 1610 and finishing in 1625.
Another landmark you shouldn’t miss is the KiMo Theatre, meaning “king of its kind”. It displays a stunning feat of Pueblo-Deco architecture, with designs influenced by Egypt, Asia, and Native America. The theatre is still operational, offering tours and is also a venue for musical performances.
Arizona is the home of the 230-square mile Petrified Forest National Park. The park is well-known for the fossilized trees from the Mesozoic period, giving visitors the opportunity to travel back in time to 200 million years ago. The badlands in the area are also a sight to behold.
Whilst you’re in Arizona make sure to take a stroll through the tiny town of Flagstaff while breathing in the vanilla-scented air coming from the largest Ponderosa pine forest in the world. After grabbing a bite from the 50s themed Galaxy Diner, head on to the Meteor Crater. A crater measuring 550-foot deep, previously named the Canyon Diablo Crater – one of the most visited landmarks in Arizona.
Los Angeles is dotted with a variety of theatres that operated from the 1900s to the late 1930s. Some of these theatres are still fully functional and open to the public while others have been refurbished as antique and souvenir shops.
To get an authentic taste of Santa Monican life, head to the Santa Monica pier, that you’ve seen in countless movies and indulge in the sea air and some serious people watching.
If a trip to the US, Route 66 or otherwise, is in your plans we’d be delighted to help you tailor a trip to perfectly suit you or your family. You can call us on (02) 6041 5577, visit the office at 601 Dean Street, Albury or book an appointment with one of our expert travel agents via the form below.
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