Originally commissioned in 1926, Route 66 stretches across three times zones and eight states as it covers 2,448 miles from Chicago to Los Angeles. It is crammed with nostalgia, kitsch and tradition at every turn. Want it as authentic as possible? Then this is THE Route 66 itinerary for you! We'll be honest, it isn't full of luxury or fancy hotels. What it is full of is plenty of Main Street, apple pie America and Route 66 as it was and is now. You'll go back in time and capture a moment that is all but lost today. The history, the stories, the people - it's all there for you to discover.
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Welcome to the start of Route 66 - you can stand right where the original road begins on E. Adams Street . But before you begin your epic road trip, you've much to discover in Chicago! It's also the birthplace of the skyscraper and famous for its deep-dish pizza, jazz and a little 1920s gangster history.
Perfectly positioned along Lake Michigan, you can mooch the neighbourhoods of Chicago, shop the Magnificent Mile, take a cruise along the river, visit Navy Pier or delve into the city's seedy past on a Mob tour.
And so it begins! This stretch of the Mother Road includes a variety of unique stops including the Gemini Giant, the Pontiac Murals and the world’s largest Route 66 sign at Route 66 Motorheads Bar, Grill, Museum and Entertainment Complex. Be sure to try the original hot dog on a stick at the Cozy Dog Drive In and get a dose of retro neon at Legends Neon Sign Park at the Illinois State Fair Grounds.
Distance: 198 miles
An Illinois road trip wouldn’t be complete without a dose of Illinois’ most famous resident — Abraham Lincoln. Get ready to step into the past and the life of the 16th President’s family. In Springfield visit the Lincoln Home, the state-of-the-art Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum and Library, and the Lincoln Tomb where he is laid to rest.
Leaving Springfield, you have the rare chance to drive an actual section of preserved Route 66 brick road. The hand-laid stretch in Auburn, Illinois offers nearly a mile and half of original Route 66.
Explore years of Route 66 history and memorabilia at Henry’s Rabbit Ranch and the Pink Elephant Antique Mall. Journey to where Lewis & Clark started their great adventure at the Lewis & Clark State Historic Site and Confluence Tower.
Distance: 263 miles
Leave St Louis and cruise past Meramec Caverns and the city of Cuba - known as 'Mural City'. The 12 large murals here depict the history of the town from the mid-1850s. When you arrive in Lebanon head for the town library which is home to a terrific Route 66 Museum, or pop into Wrink's Market for some Route 66 souvenirs. In the evening check out the award winning southern deep-fried catfish at Dowd's Catfish & BBQ stop.
Distance: 338 miles
Grab breakfast in Faye's Diner before a stop at the birthplace of Dr Edwin Hubble, astronomer and Hubble Space Telescope namesake, in Marshfield. Then it is on to picture perfect Carthage. The center of Carthage is dominated by the outrageously ornate, circa-1895, Jasper County Courthouse, which you may recognise from the Back to the Future movies. Be sure to swing round Iggy's Diner for a root beer float.
Cross the state line into Oklahoma and stop at Claremore, home of Will Rogers and the renowned J.M.Davis Gun Museum. You'll also want to visit the Rock Cafe in Stroud, a Route 66 landmark built of native stone. Before you pull into Oklahoma for your overnight, you'll cruise past Arcadia's historic 'Round Barn' built in 1898 and the famous 'Milk Bottle' building on Classen Boulevard. In the evening head to historic Bricktown for lively entertainment and mouth-watering BBQ restaurants.
Distance: 266 miles
Oklahoma boasts the longest stretch of Route 66 and the National Route 66 Museum at Elk City celebrates Route 66 not only in Oklahoma but all eight states. Then it's on to Texas. Be sure to stop in Mclean, one of the best-preserved, most obscure ghost towns along Route 66. The town's land was donated by a rancher from England in 1901. The rancher was Alfred Rowe and just 12 years after donating the land he was aboard the Titanic when it sank. According to reports, Rowe swam to a piece of ice, where he was found frozen to death - his watch still ticking. W.J Lewis bought Rowe's ranch from his widower and it's still around today as the Lewis Ranch. In Amarillo, you'll enjoy strolling around the antique shops and Wild-West themed clothing stores. Drop into the Golden Light Cafe for a cold beer with cowgirls and boys of Amarillo.
Distance: 115 miles
Quintessential Main Street USA welcomes you! You'll love friendly Santa Rosa's picturesque stone buildings in the historic district and restaurants serving up down-home cooking.
Santa Rosa’s stretch of Route 66 is forever memorialized in American film history in the screen version of Steinbeck’s epic novel, Grapes of Wrath, with the memorable freight train scene steaming over the Pecos River railroad bridge in the center of town. Be sure to visit the Route 66 Auto Museum and stop by the Visitor's Center for locations of actual Route 66 road remnants.
Another quirky designation you may not be expecting is Santa Rosa is The Scuba Diving Capital of the Southwest! Thanks to the Blue Hole, a natural artesian spring, over eighty feet deep and a constant temperature of 62F - allowing for year-round scuba diving!
Distance: 108 miles
As you continue through New Mexico, known fondly as the 'Land of Enchantment', colourful Santa Fe is next.
Santa Fe is the second oldest continually inhabited city in the US dating back to 1607 and the oldest capital city in America. It's a magical place with a vibrant feel. Delve into the art galleries, visit the museums and historic sites, or stroll around Santa Fe Plaza. We'd highly recommend margaritas and nachos at Del Charro's - one of Santa Fe's best watering holes.
Distance: 199 miles
Santa Fe sits at an elevation of just over 7,000ft, so on your drive to Albuquerque you'll view sandstone mesas looming in the foreground and high pine forest peaks rising in the distance. Just north of Albuquerque is historic Bernalillo, pop into Silva's Saloon for a chilled beer or the eclectic Range Cafe for amazing Mexican food.
Fill up your tank and keep heading west to Gallup, the commercial hub of the nearby Navajo reservation and the self-proclaimed Capital of Indian Country, where Route 66 still serves as Main Street. It’s lined with neon signs, of course, as well as the largest concentration of trading posts and galleries selling Native American crafts in the state. May through September you can enjoy free nightly Native American dance displays in the downtown area.
Distance: 218 miles
Just when you think your Route 66 road trip can't get any better, it does. Today you'll cross into Arizona, The Grand Canyon State. Roll down the windows and let the warm desert air in. Take it slowly there's so much to see. En route to your two night stay in Williams, you'll cruise through the Painted Desert, pass the Petrified Forest and spy the Wigwam Village in Holbrook. A Route 66 must-do which is often overlooked in this area is the amazing Meteor Crater just west of Winslow. The meteorite was believed to be 50 meters and over 200,000 tons when it came crashing to the earth over 50,000 years ago. Today, Meteor Crater is nearly a mile across and sight to behold.
From your base in Williams choose to drive to the Grand Canyon (which should take around 90 minutes) or jump on the historic Williams to Grand Canyon Railroad. Bon Voyage would be pleased to pre-book this for you as well as helicopter trips over this Wonder of the World.
Distance: 217 miles
Arrive into Las Vegas via Lake Mead and the impressive Hoover Dam. The Las Vegas Strip comes alive at night, so do cruise slowly along the strip enjoying this neon city in its full glory.
Distance: 287 miles
Sadly, it's the final leg of our Route 66 adventure. Today, you'll swap your full-size car for a convertible and cruise towards the Pacific Ocean with the roof down and sunglasses on!
En route to the coast, you'll pass through the Mojave Desert, over mountains and through lush inland valleys before you arrive at the sparkling Pacific Ocean and the golden beaches of Santa Monica. Don't forget to have your picture taken under the 'End of the Trail' sign on Santa Monica Pier.
Route 66 ends here but your adventure doesn't have to. You may decide to extend your stay and head up to San Francisco for a few days or maybe fly over to the Hawaiian Islands for some relaxation before heading back to the UK.