The attractions of route 66 are fun, quirky, and historic.
The 2,451-mile highway we know as Route 66 is a quintessential American experience. Whether you’re traveling with family or friends, the open road awaits.
Discover the sights and sounds of small-town America as you explore Route 66. You’ll find historic attractions and museums. And even ghost towns as you travel this historic route. That stretches from Chicago to Los Angeles.
What Is Historic Route 66?
Route 66, also known as “The Main Street of America”.
It is America’s most famous road trip, Route 66. Was the first highway to connect the East and West coasts of the United States? It was also the first all-weather route across the country and was one of the first paved roads in America.
And while there are better highways, pushed Route 66 to the side.
But it has survived because of its iconic history, and quirky attractions. And it’s a reminder of a bygone era.
What States Does Route 66 Go Through?
The road passes through eight states. Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California.
This route was originally called U.S. Highway 66 and if you plan a trip with Google Maps it is an easy trip to take.
What Are The Starting Points And Ending Points Of Route 66?
The starting point of Route 66 is near Downtown Chicago at Adams Street and Michigan Avenue.
The end point for Route 66 is at Santa Monica Boulevard in Los Angeles County, California.
route 66 attractions map
If you’re looking to plan a Route 66 road trip, you can do so with confidence by consulting these Route 66 maps.
The “Mother Road,” as it’s sometimes called, is the most famous of America’s highways. They originally built it when cars were becoming more common. And people needed roads that were safer than dirt paths through forests and prairies. Today, it’s still an important avenue for travelers. Those who want to experience unique shops and restaurants along their journey.
Along the way, you’ll see strange sites, but also many places on the National Register.
Top Attractions of Route 66 By State
attractions on route 66 in Illinois
Just north of Chicago, Route 66 has a few attractions to check out.
Before you even hit the road, just a good view of your starting point. 360 Chicago is a tourist attraction that gives you an aerial view of the city and its landscape. You can even see the Willis Tower (formerly known as Sears Tower) from up here!
Grant Park is a large urban park. Sitting in the Loop community area of Chicago. Sitting in Chicago’s central business district. the park’s most notable features are Millennium Park, Buckingham Fountain, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Museum Campus.
Country Classic Cars
Country Classic Cars is another cool place to visit when you’re in Staunton. This museum features cars that were owned by country music stars like Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and Hank Williams Sr.
The Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum
The Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum is in Pontiac, Illinois. And showcases all things related to Route 66, including original signs from gas stations along the highway
If you’re into art, then Odell Station might be something fun for you to see while driving through Odell on Route 66! Visitors can check out paintings created by local artists at this gallery. Prices range from $10-$300. And depends on how much room someone wants their paintings displayed for!
Henry’s Rabbit Ranch
If animals are more your thing, then Henry’s Rabbit Ranch may be just what you need. Because this place lets guests interact with friendly rabbits during tours. Given throughout each day from 9 am-5 pm Monday through Friday (closed Saturdays).
Attractions of Route 66 in St Louis
St Louis is the largest city you’ll before getting to the end of Route 66. And the city is a dividing line between your Illinois route and Missouri.
Here are some of the top things to see in St Louis.
The Gateway Arch
If you want to see the Arch, I recommend getting there early to avoid the lines and crowds. The Arch is free to enter, but there is an additional fee for the tram ride up to the top.
Don’t want to spend money on this experience? you can still get magnificent views of the city from ground level and other nearby landmarks in downtown St Louis (more on those later).
St Louis City Museum
Near the Gateway Arch is an indoor museum that offers hands-on experiences with various artifacts from around St Louis. It’s free and opens every day of the year except Christmas Eve when they close at 5 pm.
Old Courthouse Museum
This museum is located right next door to the City Museum. And offers visitors a chance to learn more about how justice was served in St Louis during its early days as a frontier town.
attractions on route 66 in Missouri
If you are driving along Mother Road. And you find yourself in Missouri. Then here are the best attractions of Route 66 that you will want to add to your Missouri route.
Route 66 Museum in Clinton.
This unique museum is located right off of I-44 just east of St. Louis at Exit #51. The museum houses many interesting artifacts from the heyday of Route 66. Including a collection of business signs, photographs, postcards dating back to the 1930s, vintage gas pumps, and more!
World’s Largest Ball Of Twine (Baileyville).
One of the most famous attractions of Route 66. The official claim states that this ball weighs 6 tons (5,443 kg) and contains 1 million feet (304 meters) of twine! Carl Wessler made it on his farm near Baileyville in 1986 as part of a festival celebrating America’s 200th birthday.
This has become a historic site for people driving Route 66.
Missouri Route 66 Museum in Elkland.
Elkland sits about halfway between Independence and Springfield on historic Route 66. Where it passed through Elkhart County before reaching Joplin just southward on Highway 7 towards Oklahoma City or Tulsa.
Meramec Caverns is one of the best Route 66 attractions in Missouri. Located just outside of Stanton, Missouri. The Meramec Caverns offer a unique opportunity to see the underground beauty of the Ozarks.
These caverns were once the hideout for outlaws like Jesse James.
The caverns are open year-round and offer a variety of tours for visitors to take. The major attraction is the spectacularly decorated Big Room. This massive chamber is approximately one mile long and 300 feet wide. The ceiling rises to a height of 150 feet at its highest point, making this one of the biggest rooms in North America.
Old Chain of Rocks Bridge
This is one of the oldest bridges in Missouri. The Chain of Rocks Bridge is a historic transportation structure that spans the Mississippi River. The bridge was built in 1929 and is officially known as the “Chain of Rocks Bridge” or “Old Chain of Rocks Bridge.” It’s one of the most famous landmarks along Route 66.
Attractions of Route 66 in Kansas
Baxter Springs is in southeast Kansas, near the border with Oklahoma. The town has a population of fewer than 2,000 people. And it’s famous because it was an important stop on US Highway 66 until 1937 when it was bypassed by Interstate 44 (I-44). The city has preserved many historic places. From its past and several museums that showcase its history.
Baxter Springs is a wonderful old town. And one of the best historic places to visit along the mother road in Kansas.
Galena Mining and Historical Museum
The Galena Mining and Historical Museum is a major Route 66 attractions in Kansas. It is a town founded in 1877 and named after the lead ore mined from its hills. The museum features an extensive collection of mining artifacts and memorabilia from the region’s past.
The museum also hosts exhibits about local Native American history and culture. Visitors can see a replica of an underground mine. And learn about how the lead was processed and manufactured. Visitors can view historic photographs depicting life in the area during the 19th century.
attractions on route 66 in Oklahoma
Oklahoma Route 66 Museum, Clinton
The Oklahoma Route 66 Museum is a part of the Oklahoma Historical Society, and it’s in Clinton, OK. It housed the museum in an old icehouse that was built in 1912. And it opened to the public in 1982.
The museum has displays about life on Route 66 from the 1920s to the 1960s. As well as exhibits about early transportation history (including stagecoaches, trains, and streetcars). Visitors can also see historic photographs from around this period at their own pace. And there’s no formal tour guide at this location (but you have access to audio guides for a fee).
Lucille’s Service Station & Roadhouse, Hydro & Weatherford
Lucille’s Service Station & Roadhouse is a roadside attraction along Historic US-66. It’s between Hydro and Weatherford (a little west of Tulsa). They have fully restored this gas station to its original condition. Back when Lucille Collier opened her first roadside business in 1929. And today you can step inside for free!
You’ll find vintage signs outside advertising Coca-Cola products. Like Nehi soda pop or RC Cola brand carbonated beverages. Inside there are photos from throughout history displayed on every wall. Plus an old jukebox playing music from decades past!
Ed Galloway Totem Pole Park Route 66
The Ed Galloway Totem Pole Park along Route 66 is in Oklahoma. This Pole Park is a unique attraction located just west of Tulsa, Oklahoma. The park was created to honor the memory of Ed Galloway, who was known as the “father of Oklahoma’s highway system.” He was also responsible for creating the U.S. Highway 66 Association. And helped develop many sections of highways throughout America.
It is one of the most famous Route 66 attractions.
attractions on route 66 in Texas
Your Texas Route along the mother road is one of the most scenic routes in the state, with a good mix of attractions and activities.
The route takes you through some of the best-preserved parts of the old Route, including Shamrock.
Leaning Water Tower, Amarillo
This is the original water tower for the city of Amarillo. They built it in 1926 and it has been leaning since they constructed it. It’s also painted with murals depicting local legends and events.
VW Slug Bug Ranch, Conway
If you’re a fan of classic cars and VW Bugs, this is your place! The museum displays hundreds of classic cars on display and they’re all “bug”-themed!
Palo Duro Canyon State Park
This national park is Texas’ second largest canyon after the Grand Canyon in Arizona. It’s known for its amazing scenery. As well as its natural resources (desert plants like cactus and yucca grow here).
The Big Texan Steak Ranch, Amarillo
If you’ve got a craving for steak while traveling Route 66 through Texas, then this restaurant should be on your list! They offer an 8oz steak dinner at no charge if someone can eat it within an hour – but don’t worry, there are free refills too!
Cadillac Ranch, Amarillo, Texas
Cadillac Ranch is a roadside attraction in Amarillo, Texas. It is an art installation of ten brightly colored Cadillac automobiles buried nose first in the ground. They placed the first car in 1974 and they added the most recent in 1991.
They painted the cars in seven different colors (including black) and have license plates from around the United States and Canada.
Cadillac Ranch is a historic site along this old route. And one of my favorite Route 66 attractions.
attractions on Route 66 in New Mexico
New Mexico is an amazing state and offers alot along this road trip.
But a lot more as well, from all the things to do in Ruidoso New Mexico
Tee Pee Curios, Tucumcari
Tee Pee Curios is a Route 66 attraction that is in Tucumcari, New Mexico. It is one of the most popular stops along the famous Route 66 highway. Joe and Barbara Marshall established tee Pee Curios in 1940, who were collectors of all things unusual. They opened their store to sell their collection and other interesting items they found along their travels. Today, their granddaughter runs Tee Pee Curios. She continues to collect unique items that she displays in her store.
Blue Swallow Motel
Blue Swallow Motel, one of the best Route 66 attractions in New Mexico, is a historic landmark on historic Route 66. It’s traveling back to the ’20s. The days of poodle skirts and classic cars.
The Blue Swallow Motel has been in business since 1949 and is still going strong because of its Route 66 association. They named it for the swallows that nested under the eaves of its front porch.
Route 66 Diner
Route 66 Diner, Albuquerque is one of the best Route 66 attractions in New Mexico. It is a classic diner that features a great selection of food and drinks. As well as some unique offerings.
The Route 66 Diner offers classic American cuisine with a twist. They have an extensive menu with something for everyone in your family. The food is fresh and prepared by their trained staff. The atmosphere is comfortable, so you can feel at home while you enjoy your meal.
Central Avenue, Albuquerque
Central Avenue runs east-west through downtown Albuquerque. It’s the main drag for many businesses and attractions. The Route 66 Museum is on Central Avenue and offers a glimpse into the history of old Route 66.
Central Avenue is also home to several art galleries. Including the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History, which has been open since 1948.
The Blue Hole
The Blue Hole in Santa Rosa is a natural wonder that is on the road to Santa Rosa, New Mexico. And the Blue Hole is a naturally formed pool that is fed by an underground spring. This makes it possible for people to swim year-round. The water temperature ranges from 45 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter to 90 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer.
Route 66 Attractions in Santa Fe
Santa Fe is the capital of New Mexico and the state’s oldest city. It’s also one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Southwest. When visiting Santa Fe, there are many things to do.
Visiting Santa Fe when driving on Route 66
If you’re driving down Route 66, there are two great stops for eating and drinking in Santa Fe:
Geronimo Bar & Grill and El Farol Inn.
Both have great food, drinks, and atmosphere. Geronimo Bar & Grill is a favorite spot among locals because it has great food at reasonable prices. But also a fun atmosphere that’s perfect for unwinding after a long day of driving down Route 66.
El Farol Inn
This is another great place to grab food or drinks while traveling down Route 66. It has an outdoor patio where you can enjoy live music while enjoying some tacos and margaritas after a long day driving down Route 66.
Attractions on Route 66 in Arizona
Arizona Route 66 attractions are a must-see for anyone traveling to this state. The most popular attraction is the Grand Canyon, but there are many other places to see in Arizona.
Route 66 Drive-In Movie Theater
This drive-in movie theater is in Kingman, AZ, and has been open since 1954. They list it as an official Route 66 landmark by the National Park Service. Because it was one of the first drive-ins built along Route 66 in Arizona.
This drive-in is still open today. And shows first-run movies seven nights a week during its season, which runs March through October each year. You can even bring your food or order something from their snack bar if you want something more than popcorn!
Grand Canyon Railway
The Grand Canyon is the highlight of any visit to Arizona. It is one of the best-known natural wonders in the world and should be on your list of things to do while you are in Arizona.
But did you know that there is a unique way to see this wonder?
The Grand Canyon Railway travels from Williams, AZ to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Along the way, it stops at various points along its route, such as Flagstaff, Williams
Grand Canyon Caverns
In Peach Springs, you can explore the cave and see the many odd formations. It’s a great place for those who love caves, as well as anyone who is looking to learn about them. And a great side trip if you are looking for some best things to do in Moab Utah.
Jack Rabbit Trading Post
This trading post is in Joseph City. And has been an attraction since they opened it in 1951. The store sells gifts, food items, and souvenirs that are made by Native Americans in Arizona. Not only is a one of the best Route 66 attractions. But it’s a great place to buy something unique.
Walnut Canyon National Monument
At Walnut Canyon, you’ll find an important archaeological site that was a part of one of the first cultures in North America.
There are several hikes available here that vary in length. As well as difficulty level so that visitors can enjoy this unique landscape at their own pace.
This crater formed when an asteroid crashed into the earth about 50 thousand years ago. The impact created this large hole with walls over 400 feet high (200 meters). Today visitors can tour the crater. Where they’ll learn more about its geology and history from guides who work there every day. (it’s open year-round, so don’t worry about bad weather keeping you away).
Grand Canyon National Park
While this is a slight detour from Route 66, it still has to be visited!
The Grand Canyon National Park is a United States National Park in Arizona. It is the 15th oldest national park in the United States. But it is also one of the most visited, with close to five million annual visitors.
The Grand Canyon, a gorge of the Colorado River, is 277 miles long, up to 18 miles wide, and attains a depth of over 1 mile (1.6 km). The Colorado River formed the Grand Canyon. By cutting a channel over millions of years. You can not see the bottom of the canyon. When you are in an airplane flying above it; it is only when you stand on the rim looking into it you realize its sheer size and depth.
The Painted Desert is a colorful, eroded, arid region in the state of Arizona in the southwestern United States. It lies just west of Petrified Forest National Park and north of U.S. Route 66 (also known as Historic Route 66). The name “Painted Desert” comes from brilliant colors. And patterns of its mudstones and sandstones. Which results from years of erosion from water and wind. The top layer of rock is largely made of volcanic ash. And pumice with a large amount of clay mixed in. This top layer was laid down about 11 million years ago by eruptions from nearby volcanoes.
The Painted Desert is famous for its abundance of fossils. Especially Triassic-era dinosaur footprints preserved in sandstone near Zuni Point. Some erosion has occurred since these tracks were made. But the oldest trackway dates to 230 million years ago. Many remain intact enough to see with the naked eye or with binoculars or a telescope.
petrified forest national park
Petrified Forest National Park is a United States National Park, in northeastern Arizona. The park preserves an extensive record of the Triassic Period. This is when much of the southwestern United States was flooded by an enormous inland sea.
route 66 Attractions in California
Wigwam Motel, San Bernardino, CA
The Wigwam Motel is a Route 66 motel in San Bernardino, California. They built it in the 1950s and resembled Native American wigwams.
The Wigwam Village features 29 wigwams, each with a unique design. Is there a better alternative for Airbnb than this!
Barstow Ghost Town
They abandoned this former mining town when its gold ran out, but today you can explore several buildings, including an old saloon. This old town is worth visiting!
World’s Largest Thermometer
This giant thermometer measures 120 feet tall and is along Route 66 in Baker, CA. If you’re looking for something more unusual than just another boring temperature reading, then this might be your cup of tea!
World’s Tallest Thermometer
Located outside Las Vegas (technically), this giant thermometer goes up over 320 feet. And gets its readings from space-based satellites rather than ground-level weather stations. This is what most other weather instruments do!
Not only does this one give us accurate temperatures all around the world 24 hours per day. But also it serves as an artistic statement about climate change. By encouraging people not only to think about what they’re doing now. But also how we may affect future generations through our actions today. Now that sounds like something worth paying attention to doesn’t it?
attractions on route 66 in Los Angeles
The Hollywood Sign
This is the most famous landmark on Route 66 and it’s easy to see why. It was put up in 1923 as an advertisement for local real estate development, but over time, it has become synonymous with Hollywood. You can take a hike to the top of Mt. Lee or even stay overnight in one cabin near it (bring your amenities).
Santa Monica Pier – The End of Route 66
The Santa Monica Pier is an amusement park, on the Pacific Ocean in Santa Monica, California. The pier has a long history of being a landing spot for fishing boats and was one of the most popular fishing spots in the area. Construction began in 1916 after the first pilings were driven in 1914. By 1919, it was popular enough to support two million visitors per year.
There are endless things to see along Route 66. It is the best road trip in America. And a way to travel through the history of the country. Plus, see the different cultures America offers. These are some of the best attractions of Route 66. Which ones are you going to see first!