Route 66: The Mother of All Road Trips

Are you ready to get your kicks on Route 66?

There's a good reason Route 66 is known as "The Mother Road"; it's the quintessential cross-country road trip experience. The 2,500 mile route stretched from Chicago through the beating heart of America and down to Los Angeles, officially ending at the Santa Monica Pier. The road reached peak popularity in the late 40's and early 50's before being officially removed from the US Highway System in 1985. Nostalgia immediately set in, and by 1989, people were working to revive the route that inspired so many road trips.

Route 66

Miraculously, despite the fact that large stretches of the original road no longer exist, many of the attractions that popped up along the route have somehow survived the test of time. Its glory days may be long gone, but what remains is a slice of old-school Americana- from the kitschy curio shops to the deliciously greasy burger joints. It's like driving back in time (except that cars now have TVs in them and gas prices have craptupled). If you're looking to get some good, old-fashioned kicks, then look no further than this ultimate guide to cruisin' Route 66!

Route 66

Route 66 is notorious for the oddball roadside attractions that popped up along the route, from the World's Biggest Bottle of Ketchup (which is disappointingly filled with water and not tomato-y goodness) to the Blue Whale of Catoosa. This giant statue was originally built as the world's weirdest anniversary present, but it soon became an iconic stop along Route 66. The Texas Panhandle is home to Amarillo's famous Cadillac Ranch— if you visit, make sure to remember a can of spray paint so you can make your mark on this shrine to awesomeness.

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Besides the man-made attractions, there's also tons of natural wonders to see along the way— cool off with a dip in the Blue Hole of Santa Rosa, stand at the rim of the ginormous Meteor Crater, and hike through the sparkly, colorful Petrified Forest. You can also get some fresh air and catch a double feature at Missouri's Route 66 Drive-In Theater.

Route 66

Route 66 is also home to some good eats, especially if you like classic American cuisine. Before you hit the road in Illinois, you should fill your car's tank with gas and fill your belly's tank with some home cookin' from Dell Rhea's Chicken Basket— they've been serving up juicy fried chicken since 1946. If you don't get sick of eating burgers the whole trip (which you won't, because you're in AMERICA), then you'll want to stop by Badlands Burgers in New Mexico. Even though they have a new name, they've left up the classic "Uranium Cafe" neon sign, and they serve a mean green chili burger (it's a new Mexico delicacy). Oklahoma and Texas are great for another American classic- BBQ; stop by Tyler's Barbeque or Jiggs Smokehouse for some delicious meat. If you want to grab a drink, then there's Old West style saloons a-plenty, like Judy's or the Roadkill Cafe & OK Saloon.

Route 66

Of course no trip through the Wild West is complete without visiting at least one ghost town, and Route 66 offers a few opportunities. Oatman, Arizona considers itself a "living" ghost town, complete with gift shops, staged gunfights and wild burros wandering through town. For a more peaceful ghost town experience, then check out Calico in California. It's maintained by a park system, and even has a campground.

Route 66

If you're looking to go full kitsch, then you don't want to miss on out on the Wigwam Villages. Once scattered across the country, only several villages remain to offer guests the pure thrill of staying in a teepee-shaped motel room. There's two along Route 66- one in Holbrook and one inRialto. In keeping with the teepee theme, Tucumcari, New Mexico is home to Tee Pee Curios— in fact, the whole town of Tucumcari is sort of frozen in time. You can buy some pretty bizarre (in a good way) souvenirs at the Sand Hills Curiosity Shop as well.

Route 66

Once you've conquered the Mother Road, check out these other famous American routes!


All-American drive: the Pacific Coast Highway


US 50: The loneliest road in America


Road trip US 20: the longest road in America

Places explored in this article:

This was originally written for Roadtrippers, a great resource for anyone interested in travel.
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