Are you ready to go on a wonderful journey on the most legendary street of the United States? More than 90 years after its inauguration, Route 66 is still waiting there, ready to welcome and make a new generation of travelers in search of adventure dream.
- How about Route 66?
- Where does Route 66 start and where does it end?
- How much does a trip on Route 66 cost?
- Key statistics: everything you need to know about the Mother Road!
- Route 66 map
- Main cities touched by Route 66
- Route 66: the itinerary
- Route 66 today: how to find the original Mother Road?
- What's there to see on Route 66? The most important attractions divided state by state
- Tips for organizing a trip along Route 66
- Where to sleep along Route 66?
- Route 66 in popular culture
How about Route 66?
Route 66, also known as Will Roger Highway or Mother Road, was one of the earliest and most important sliding roads fast country.
Officially opened on November 11, 1926, this road, which has become the most famous in America, crossed 8 states and was open 365 days a year. For decades, it was the hub of the myriad of cities it passed through, and the companion of many trips for truckers and ordinary citizens in search of adventure or a better life.
Where does Route 66 start and where does it end?
By convention, Route 66 runs from east to west, from Illinois to California. The starting point is in Chicago, Illinois. You can start at the intersection of Jackson Boulevard and Michigan Avenue, or between Jackson Boulevard and Lake Shore Drive, even if the start sign it is located at the intersection of Adams Street and Michigan Avenue.
As for the arrival point of Route 66, however, over the years a controversy has arisen about where it was located. Although, in fact, Santa Monica Pier, in Los Angeles, has always been regarded as the point where the Mother Road officially ends, in reality the original Route 66 ended a few blocks away, at the intersection of Lincoln Boulevard and Olympic. Boulevard.
Only after its demise, and precisely in 2009, the various associations that are dedicated to keeping alive the myth of Mother road they decided to put up the “End of the Trail” sign in the Santa Monica Pier area, mainly for marketing purposes.
If you want to go the other way around (no one forbids you to do it!) The “End of the Trail” sign is located in Chicago, at the intersection of Jackson Boulevard and Michigan Avenue.
How much does a trip on Route 66 cost?
The cost of a trip on Route 66 is extremely variable, because there are so many factors to consider:
- The duration of the trip and the path you choose to follow (for example if you choose to travel the entire distance or just a stretch);
- the return flight;
- accommodation and meals;
- the rental of the means of transport.
La duration of the trip it can be a few days, if you decide to explore only part of Route 66, or it can exceed two weeks, if you decide to strictly follow the Mother Road, from Chicago to California or vice versa.
Obviously, if the trip lasts more than a day, you must stop and sleep in a hotel or motel. The average cost of a room on the route of Route 66 varies from 30 to 60 dollars, depending on the place where you stop and the prestige of the hotel (in the cost of a hypothetical tour of Route 66 we calculated an average cost for the room of 45 euros per night) .
Il means of transport is another item that has a significant impact on the budget. You can choose to undertake the trip by motorbike or by car; it's up to you to decide. Surely, in a trip that lasts more than 7 days, it is advisable to rent a car, because the luggage can be quite bulky. In addition, the cost of renting a motorbike alone can exceed € 2000, while with the car you can get away with less than € 1500.
In addition to the items already mentioned, you must add the cost of the round trip flight, cost of THIS (electronic travel authorization), and the cost of the international driving license (having a valid driving license is essential for a trip of this type).
Don't forget i Easter, fuel and toll.
In short, for a 10-day trip on Route 66 you get to spend an amount of about 3000 euro per person.
Key statistics: everything you need to know about the Mother Road!
Are you curious to know more about the mythical Mother Road? Here are the main facts and curiosities about the road that made millions of travelers dream.
How long is it?
With a 2,200-mile (roughly 4000 km) long route, Route 66 was the first connection between the two coasts, the eastern one and the western one.
How many states does it cross?
The original Route 66 traversed the entire United States, passing through 8 states of the Union: Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona e California.
How many hours does it take to travel it non-stop?
It takes about 66 hours to travel the entire Route 30 without stopping, maintaining an ideal cruising speed of 80 miles per hour.
How many days does it take to visit Route 66?
The correct answer to this question would be: at least fifteen. Yes, because in two weeks it is possible to explore every corner of this road that has made the history of America.
Of course, not everyone has the time (and money!) For such a long and demanding road trip. Don't think about giving up, though! In one week you will have plenty of time to see many of Route 66's most interesting attractions.
To get an idea of how long a trip on Route 66 can last, you can always use the Tool proposed by the - Route 66.com website.
Route 66 map
Finding a Route 66 map isn't as simple as it might seem. The road, in fact, having been abandoned in the 80s, it has been deleted from the official maps, and it exists for about 80% of the original route, with some sections that have been eliminated or have been incorporated by other roads. To know which path to follow to find the legendary Mother Road, therefore, you must rely on a specific tourist map.
On the Historic Route 66 site, for example, you can find several useful resources, such as the Turn by Turn map, or the names of the most valid paper maps.
As an alternative to paper maps, you can always rely on those for GPS, which can also be purchased before departure and downloaded to your device, so that you can use them offline once you have left for the journey.
Also very useful is the EZ 66 Guide for Travelers, a guide for Route 66 travelers written by Jerry Mc Clanahan.
Main cities touched by Route 66
Route 66, on its way from the east coast to the west coast of America, crossed an infinite number of cities. Some were larger, many others were small, others still, after the closure of the road, have become real ghost towns. But which are the most important cities that meet along the Mother Road?
Obviously, starting from the starting point, the first big city we meet is Chicago, the City of the Wind. Continuing east, we find the first Springfield, which was the hometown of Abraham Lincoln. Halfway between Illinois and Missouri is the city of Saint Louis, with his famous Gateway Arch, the gateway to the city.
To find another major center, one must then wait until it has crossed the border into Oklahoma. In this state, Route 66 passed through Tulsa, which at the time of the Great Depression was considered the capital of oil.
After Tulsa, the largest center you will come across is Oklahoma City, which fascinates the traveler with its typically western character. To fully immerse yourself in the cowboy world, however, you have to wait until you've crossed the border into Texas. Here, the first city we meet is Yellow.
From Texas we then move on to New Mexico, and precisely to Albuquerque, a typical city of the American Southwest, rich in history and with that special charm typical of the southernmost areas of the United States. Always staying in New Mexico, you will come across the city of Santa Fe, which with its chaotic cheerfulness brings to mind the times when these areas were still part of Mexico.
Leaving New Mexico, we move to the last stages of the journey. Before meeting the last major city of Route 66, you must cross Arizona, where the largest center through which the Mother Road passed is the city of Flagstaff.
After leaving Arizona behind, we finally reach our destination, with the last, important city of the route, which is also the arrival point: Los Angeles, California.
Route 66: the itinerary
The classic route on Route 66, which takes about 20 days, starts in Chicago, Illinois, and ends in Los Angeles.
Chicago is the historic starting point of Route 66. Sure, you can go the other way around, but it was west that people headed for a better life.
Obviously, you can choose to arrive in Chicago and get directly in your car, or you can dedicate at least a day to explore it. The attractions that you cannot miss are the Skydeck, the Shedd Aquarium and the Millennium Park.
When you are ready to embark on your Route 66 adventure, take I - 294 and then I - 55, heading for Springfield, Illinois.
Transfer from Chicago to Springfield: 325 Km | 202 miles
Along the road from Chicago to Springfield, you'll come across many of the towns and icons that made Route 66 famous. Rich and Creamy di Joliet, on whose roof stands a giant statue of the Blues Brothers, the Gemini Giant of Wilmington, the mythical ones Murals of Pontiac, the Natural maple syrup from Funks Grove by Shirley, the Dixie Cafe di McLean and Lincoln's giant chariot.
Springfield, Illinois, is the last stop on the journey before the Missouri border and is a town that deserves an in-depth visit. In addition to being (perhaps?) The city of the Simpsons, it is certainly the hometown of one of the most famous presidents of the United States: Abraham Lincoln. Here are his grave and his house.
In addition to these two iconic places, if you decide to embark on a tour of Springfield you should definitely visit theOld State Capitol,Henson Robinson Zoo and Washington park with its Botanica Garden.
Transfer from Springfield (Il) to St. Louis: 155 Km | 96,2 miles
Leaving Springfield behind, Route 66 continues straight into Missouri and the city of St. Louis. Before reaching it, stop and admire the Chain of Rocks Bridge, which was once part of Route 66 and was used to cross the Mississippi River. Once in St. Louis, if you have time, take at least a day to visit it.
In addition to the iconic Gateway Arch, other attractions worth seeing are the Lone Elk Park, Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, Old Cathedral and Old Courthouse.
Transfer from St. Louis to Springfield (Mo): 348 Km | 216 miles
The adventure continues to the second Springfield (in Missouri), which is said to be the place where Route 66 was born.
Along the way we meet Fanning, with the second largest giant rocking chair in the world. Arriving near the city of Stanton, we stop to visit the Meramec Caverns, then continue towards Devil's Elbow, with the old bridge over which the travelers of Route 66 passed.
Leaving the "devil's elbow", continue to Springfield, with his Fantastic Caverns, Dickerson Park Zoo and the beautiful Pythian Castle.
Transfer from Springfield to Oklahoma City: 460 Km | 286 miles
The journey continues. You are leaving Missouri to enter Oklahoma. Before arriving in Oklahoma City, however, there are several cities to go through and things to see. Starting from Carthage, where there is the mythical 66 Drive – In.
Passing through Catoosa, you can't forget to stop and take a photo at the giant whale.
Some leave it behind, many decide to visit it. The choice is up to you; what city are we talking about? Of Tulsa, which in the heyday of Route 66 was known as the "oil Capital of the World". If you decide to stop here, you should definitely visit the Jazz Hall of Fame, inside Union Station, the Woodie Guthrie Center, the Greenwood Cultural Center, the Prayer Tower, which is shaped like a space disc and the Cave House.
After visiting Tulsa, he leaves for Oklahoma City with his Bricktown Entertainment District, National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum and Stockyard City, the gigantic livestock market.
Transfer from Oklahoma City to Amarillo: 418 Km | 260 miles
Texas, we are coming!
If Oklahoma already breathes the air of Old Wild West, in Texas you are totally immersed in the world of cowboys. Before leaving Oklahoma, however, you must stop and visit the National Route 66 Museum, one of the most beautiful dedicated to the mythical Mother Road.
Passing through the (now ghost) town of Texola, you can see the Magnolia Service Station, which has been listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Crossing the center of Groom, in Texas, you can see its slightly leaning water tank (like the tower of Pisa), the sign of the Tower Lounge and Restaurant, the only remaining testimony of the old restaurant on Route 66, which was destroyed a few years ago in a fire, and the Groom Cross, the largest cross in the Northern Hemisphere.
Now continue towards Amarillo, where you have to stop and sleep at least for one night in one of the many hotels or motels. Of course, you can't leave Amarillo without visiting one of Route 66's icons: the C.
Transfer from Amarillo to Santa Fe: 449 Km | 279 miles
We leave for Santa Fe. On the way you will meet the town of Adrian, with the famous Midpoint Cafe, which is the ideal place to have a nice snack, and Tucumcari, where one of the most famous Motels of Route 66 is located, the Blue Swallow.
Santa Fe is a city with a typically Mexican flavor. Among the attractions to visit are the Santa Fe Square e Canyon Road, Loretto Chapel, Cathedral of San Francesco of Assisi and San Miguel Mission; and then, again, the Museum of Indian Art and Culture e il Museum of International Folk Art.
Transfer from Santa Fe to Albuquerque: 104 Km | 64,7 miles
Continue your journey to Albuquerque: by now you have passed the halfway point. The city is one of the largest in New Mexico, and this is where the famous television series was filmed Breaking Bad.. Before you leave, you should definitely visit the Old Town andIndian Pueblo Cultural Center.
Transfer from Albuquerque to Flagstaff: 523 Km | 325 miles
Now you are about to leave New Mexico and enter spectacular Arizona. Before arriving at our destination we meet the small town of Grants, with its Mining Museum, and then Gallup, with its 11 murals dedicated to local history and culture, the Rex Museum and the famous The Ranch Hotel.
Once you've visited Gallup, get back in your car and continue on Route 66: Flagstaff is still a long way off. As you travel, you will find yourself in the Four Corners, the place where 4 states of the Union meet (Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah) and where the Four Corners Monument is located.
After this curious passing place, you continue driving until you get to Winslow, which became famous after being mentioned in an Eagles song. Here, in addition to the legendary La Posada hotel in Downtown Winslow, there is also the Old Trails Museum.
Another hour on the road and you have finally arrived at Flagstaff, with its many natural beauties (Antelope Canyon, Meteor Crater), which is the perfect starting point for a quick visit to the imposing Grand Canyon.
Transfer from Flagstaff to Barstow: 612 Km | 380 miles
You are almost at the end of your journey, now California is getting closer and closer. Before arriving in Barstow, stop and visit Kingman: among the most interesting attractions of this town are the Grand Canyon Western Ranch, Grand Canyon Caverns and, a few kilometers from the town, the abandoned city of Chloride; if you want to have a snack, Mister D's Route 66 Diner is the place to be.
Leaving Kingman, resume Route 66 for the final part of your journey. Barstow is a veritable open-air museum of the Mother Road, with the Route 66 Mother Road Museum, Western American Railroad Museum, Desert Discovery Center, the various signs and signs dating back to the time when the street was still officially recognized and the premises with a 50s taste.
Transfer from Barstow to Los Angeles: 185 Km | 115 miles
Well friends, get back in your car and drive towards the final stretch of Route 66, the one that leads directly to Santa Monica Pier in Los Angeles.
I don't think Los Angeles needs any introduction, because it's another American icon. Once you arrive at your destination, stop and look at that sign with the writing “End of the Trail”: after many days of travel, full of emotion, you have completed your itinerary on the legendary Route 66.
Route 66 today: how to find the original Mother Road?
Given the downgrading and subsequent cancellation that hit Route 66, finding it is not exactly an easy task.
When it was canceled, many of the states it passed through were quick to remove the signs that indicated it: the birth of new roads, which in some cases incorporated it, and the overlap with part of the modern Highways did the rest.
The good news is that the battles waged by many of the associations wanting to safeguard the Route 66 route have resulted in states putting up signs indicating their presence. With a good guide, a specific map of the Mother Road and a good GPS, you shouldn't have a hard time tracking it down.
To understand where Route 66 is and which route to follow, it is also useful to know which roads have replaced it. There are 5 in all, here they are:
- I – 55 da Chicago and St. Louis;
- I – 44 da St. Louis and Oklahoma City;
- I – 40 and Oklahoma City at Barstow;
- I – 15 da Barstow a San Bernardino;
- I - 10 from San Bernardino to S. Monica.
What's there to see on Route 66? The most important attractions divided state by state
In 4000 km there are things to see! Let's find out together which are the most interesting attractions of Route 66, divided state by state, from east to west.
The first interesting thing to see in Illinois is, of course, the sign indicating the start of Route 66 (and also what indicates its end, for those who decide to follow it "in reverse").
There are plenty of gas stations along the way, some of which have been listed as Historic Places in the United States. The most famous are the Ambler’s Texaco Gas Station di Dwight, Odell's Standard Oil Gas Station, Pontiac's Sprague's Super Service and Mount Olive's Soulby Service Station.
A Litchfield there are two activities that have made the history of Route 66, the mythical Belvidere Motel, Cafè and Gas Station, and the 'Ariston Cafe, both included in the list of Historic Places.
Also not to be missed are Pontiac's famous murals and the Chain of Rocks Bridge a Madison, bordering Missouri, which crosses the Mississippi River.
Let's move to Missouri.
A Fanning we find the second largest rocking chair in the world, while in Eureka we find another famous bridge, the Meramec River US 66 Bridge.
In this state there are also several Motels that have marked the history of the Mother Road: the Big Chief Motel (Wildwood), il Red Cedar Inn (Pacific), he Wagon Wheel Motel, Cafè and Gas Station (Cuba) and theHistoric Rock Fountain Tourist Court Motel (Springfield, MO), are all listed on the Historic Places list.
Two others, which are not included in the list, are the Circle Inn Malt Shop a Bourbon e il Munger Moss Motel of Lebanon.
In Carthage, on the other hand, there is one of the still functioning Drive - Ins of the Mother Road, the 66 Drive - In Theater, while in Springfield there is the Gillioz Theater, which is not a Drive In but is an icon of Route 66 .
Kansas is the state where the shortest section of Route 66 is located. Here, the most interesting attractions are concentrated in a handful of towns. Among them there are Baxter springs, where you can see the monument dedicated to the fallen in the Fort Blair massacre of 1870 and the site of Fort Baxter, always linked to the American Civil War.
Still in Baxter Springs we find theIndependent Oil & Gas, included in the list of Historic Places, and the Cafe on Route 66.
A riverton there is the Historic Rainbow Brige and the Williams Store - Eisler Brothers Old Riverton Store (the oldest open store on Route 66).
In Galena, on the other hand, there are the Kan - O - Tex, the Historic District and the Litch Historical and Mining Museum.
The section of Route 66 that passes through Oklahoma is also full of things to see.
Between the towns of Miami and Afton is the named stretch of road Ribbon Road (or Sidewalk Road), and is the narrowest piece of the entire path.
A Davenportinstead, there is the Brick Paved Broadway Street, a street entirely paved with red bricks.
Ad Arcadia there is the Round Child, a curious circular barn, while in Commerce there is a service station that looks like something out of a 30s photo, the Conoco Hole in the Wall Station; not far away is the Dairy King, also an old service station, now disused, serving hamburgers and biscuits with the shape of the symbol of Route 66.
Crossing Oklahoma you cannot fail to stop and take a look at the Blue whale of Catoosa and the largest Totem in the world, which is located in Foyil.
If you want to know more about the history of Route 66, in Clinton there is the Route 66 Museum.
The stretch of Route 66 that runs through Texas is full of interesting attractions to see. Here are the iconic ones C (Yellow) and Buggy Ranch (Conway), the Conoco Tower Station (Shamrock) and the Phillips Tower Station at McLean.
Historic clubs and motels include the Midpoint of Route 66 - Cafe, in Adrian, The Triangle Motel in Amarillo and the Vega Motel in Vega.
In Conway there is also the Historic Segment of Route 66, the best preserved stretch of the Mother Road, so much so that it is included in the list of Historic Places. While passing through Glenrio, don't forget to visit his Historic District.
Crossing the portion of Route 66 in New Mexico, you can admire a wonderful landscape, dotted with many interesting attractions, including several religious buildings: the Saint Joseph Church in Laguna Pueblo and the San Miguel Mission in Santa Fe are two of the most important. Also in Santa Fe, don't miss the opportunity to visit the historic district Analco neighborhood.
As in the rest of the route, New Mexico also has its own gas stations: the Whiting Rogers Service Station in Moriarty, the ruins of the Whiting Bros Gas Station in San Fidel and the Roy T. Herman’s Garage and Service Station a Thoreau.
Among the most interesting Motels, we point out the Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari and the De Anza Motor Lodge in Albuquerque.
Among the states crossed by Route 66, Arizona is certainly the one with the most spectacular views. When crossing this state, it is practically mandatory to take a small detour to see the Grand Canyon.
Also the Petrified Forest it is a view that you absolutely cannot miss. Don't forget the Barringer Crater, the crater created by a meteorite that fell 50.000 years ago. There are also several ghost towns in Arizona, Oatman's Mining Ghost Town, Toonerville and Twin Arrows, with its two "twin arrows" located directly on the roadside.
The two iconic shopping spots on Route 66 in this state are Holbrook's Hackberry Store and Rainbow Rock Shop, and Joseph City's Jack Rabbit Trading Post.
Here we are at the last state crossed by Route 66: California. In Los Angeles, of course, you will find the sign indicating the end of the route and all the attractions of the Santa Monica Pier but, before you get there, there are still many things to see. First of all the Motels and Cafes: the most famous are the Wigwam Village, in San Bernardino, where you can sleep in characteristic Tepees, the Roy’s Cafe and Motel ad Amboy, l’Aztec Hotel in Monrovia and the Baghdad Cafe a Newberry Springs.
One of the most curious things to be found in California's stretch of Route 66 is the Bottle Tree Ranch, a forest of metal trees full of bottles; in Rancho Cucamonga, on the other hand, there is the oldest winery in California.
Passing through Pasadena, you will see the imposing Colorado Street Bridge, the Howard Motor Company Building and the Foothill Boulevard Milestone. If you like ghost towns, once in Daggets you can take a small detour to find yourself in the Ghost Town of Calico.
Tips for organizing a trip along Route 66
Did you want to leave for Route 66 when reading this article? Very good! Here are some advice to organize your trip:
- 1. I'm starting from the east… Or from the west?
Well, that's up to you to decide. The conventional starting point is in the east, in Chicago, but no one forbids you to take Route 66 "the other way around"; in the Wind City there is also a sign indicating the "End of the Trail".
- 2. Navigator: yes or no?
Let's say nì. GPS is a very useful tool, especially because it can tell you exactly where you are. If you plan to use it, before leaving, download the maps that you will need to orient yourself along Route 66. The best thing is to buy a guide and a detailed map of the Mother Road and, once you leave for the journey, do not rely totally on the navigator. .
- 3. Which maps to buy?
The map is an essential tool when planning a trip on Route 66. The most reliable is the “Here it is! Route 66, the map series ”, a series of 8 maps compiled by the artist and Mother Road expert Jerry McClanahan together with Jim Ross, which also includes all the variations suffered by Route 66 during its existence.
- 4. Where to get petrol?
To refuel on Route 66 the rule is the same as when, in our part, you decide to take a ride in the countryside: fuel is bought in large centers. In small cities, in fact, gasoline can cost up to twice as much as in large cities.
- 5. When to go?
The best time to leave for Route 66 is i spring and autumn months (May and September). The summer ones are fine too, but you risk getting hot and a lot of traffic, while in spring and autumn the temperatures are hot, but not exaggeratedly, and the traffic is also moderate.
Where to sleep along Route 66?
I talk about this topic in more depth in this article.
Given the type of travel, practically every night you will find yourself sleeping in a different city. Route 66 is dotted with dozens and dozens of hotels and motels, ready to welcome travelers with their vintage style.
Route 66 in popular culture
Route 66 is a real one popular culture icon not only in the US, but even worldwide. The sense of freedom, the hope for a better life that he inspired, are characteristics that still today are able to fascinate the general public; the decline of the Mother Road and the impact it has had on the small communities it passed through have only increased its myth.
The golden years (and not only those) of Route 66 inspired many masterpieces of music, literature and cinema.
Route 66 and music
Get your kicks, on Route 66… the legendary sang in 1946 Bobby troup: his song (Get your kicks on) Route 66, in fact, tells the experience of the same author on the legendary American Highway.
First sung by Nat King Cole, the song was later picked up by artists such as Chuck Berry, Bing Crosby and the Rolling Stones.
Bruce Springsteeninstead, he mentions it in his song Cadillac Ranch, while the Eagles made the small town of Winslow, Arizona famous with their song Take it Easy. The phrase “Well, I'm standin 'on a corner in Winslow, Arizona…” was enough to save a small town from abandonment.
Route 66 and the cinema
During the years, Route 66 has appeared in numerous films, both as a "protagonist" and as a background for dozens of other stories. The only film ever to bear his name, Route 66, is a 1998 film directed by Steve Austin.
In the recent past one cannot fail to remember the Disney animated film, Cars, in which the protagonist, Lightning McQueen gets lost and ends up in a semi - abandoned town after the divestment of Route 66: Radiator Springs. If you pay close attention, you will notice that some of the attractions of the real Route 66 have found a place in the animated film.
From book to film, with the film Furore, directed by John Ford, which stages the vicissitudes of the Joad family, told in the book of the same name by John Steinbeck.
Route 66 also appears in the famous Blues Brothers movie and in Rain Man - The Rain Man.
Route 66 in literature
The world of literature was also inspired by the legendary Route 66. In 1939 John Steinbeck wrote Grapes of Wrath (Furore), which told the story of the Joad family and their fruitless and painful journey on Route 66, in search of better living conditions. It was Steinbeck himself, with his fury, who coined the term Mother Road referring to Route 66.
Twelve years later, in 1951, another literary masterpiece was released that helped fuel the fame of Route 66: it was On the Road by Jack Kerouac. Sulla Strada, which told of the author's adventures on the American streets and his desire for freedom, became the manifesto of the Beat Generation.
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