8 Quirky Stops Along Route 66
Looking for a quirky road trip? How about a drive through one of the United States' most historic and iconic highways? Travel U.S. Route 66 starting in Chicago, Illinois and ending in Santa Monica, California. This nearly 2,500-mile route goes through eight states including Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. There are plenty of strange, quirky sites to see.
Henry's Rabbit Ranch
In the southern park of Illinois, is Henry's Rabbit Ranch in Staunton, Illinois. This tiny town of 5,000 people is home to rabbits and Volkswagen Rabbits. This roadside attraction features a vintage gas station, an authentic replica station once found along Route 66. Also at this attraction, you'll find "authentic memories of old Route 66, historic vehicles and road memorabilia." The rabbit ranch came after the fact. The rabbits were adopted by the owner and since then the population has exploded. Visit the center and cuddle the rabbits. Open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Uranus Fudge Factory and General Store
Your next quirky stop on Route 66 should be the Uranus Fudge Factory and General Store in St. Robert, Missouri. The giant billboards along Route 66 are hard to miss. Located in the Uranus shopping center, the Uranus Fudge Factory is in the heart of the Ozarks with the slogan "the best fudge comes from Uranus." The tastiest fudge can be found here with flavors such as chocolate, peanut butter, chocolate pecan and Butterfinger.
Galena's Murder Bordello
Galena's Murder Bordello in Galena, Kansas is in Cherokee County and is named after the natural mineral form of lead sulfide, the most important ore of lead and an important source of silver. Another tiny town of 3,500 people, the Galena's Murder Bordello was a brothel for 40 years. According to legend the owner and her sons killed many of the customers, taking their money, and burying the bodies. Recently renovated, the structure was restored. Visitors and locals swear that it is haunted and have reported many unexplained happenings there.
The Blue Whale
The Blue Whale in Catoosa, Oklahoma is a fun roadside attraction and is one of the "most recognizable icons along historic Route 66." Built in 1972 as an anniversary gift from Hugh S. Davis to his wife, Zelta, the Blue Whale evolved into a hotspot for families during the summer. Many have come to picnic, swim, and fish at the Blue Whale.
The Leaning Water Tower
Groom, Texas is home to the Leaning Water Tower. The intentionally crooked water towers "catches the eye." This town is home to just 578 people in northern Texas. Many think that this water tower is about to fall over at any minute. Bought from a neighboring town in 1980, officials "decided that it would be used as an attention-getter. It was purposely buried crooked in the ground." Stop by while driving on Route 66 for America's own Leaning Tower.
The Musical Road in Tijeras, New Mexico is a village along Route 66 with a population of 474 people. New Mexico transportation officials originally built the road in the hopes of slowing cars down. It is said that to hear the song "America the Beautiful," drivers must strictly obey the 45 mph speed limit; anything over or under and the song will not be played correctly. Signs for the Musical Road began at mile markers four and five.
Grand Canyon Caverns
The Grand Canyon Caverns in Peach Springs, Arizona is located in Mohave County, Arizona with a population of 600 people. The Caverns offers a different experience from the other roadside attractions with spelunking trips, horseback riding, Frisbee golf, and camping. The Grand Canyon Caverns can also spend the night in the largest dry cavern in the U.S. The Cavern is located 220 feet below ground and took 65 million years to form. It is billed as the "oldest, darkest, deepest, quietest, and largest suite room in the world."
Elmer's Bottle Tree Ranch
Elmer's Bottle Tree Ranch in Oro Grande, California is your last quirky stop along the iconic Route 66. Colorful bottles decorate the trees of the Tree Ranch throwing dappled sunlight. See bottles of different colors, shapes, and sizes here that "offers a bright, splotch of color in the midst of a long desert route." The most recent addition to the roadside attractions along Route 66, Elmer's Bottle Tree Ranch is open during the daytime as long as the gates are open.
Cheryl Werber came to Pittsburgh in 1995 for college and never left. Catch her on Instagram or Twitter.