Ladies and Gentlemen we present our extended version of Route 66, we've nicknamed it Route 99!
On our three-week, fly-drive holiday you'll pack in all the iconic sights you'd expect to see along the Mother Road, plus detours to incredible places such as Monument Valley, Grand Canyon, Meteor Crater, Santa Fe and historic Durango at the base of the great Colorado Rocky Mountains. On this enhanced version of the original route you'll travel just an extra 300 miles through ten amazing states that make up the very heart and soul of America. This road-trip mixes nostalgia and small town America with incredible scenery and vibrant cities. If you're looking for a unforgettable American holiday experience - you've got it.
With world-class museums and cultural attractions alongside thriving commercial and industrial ventures, Chicago hums with energy. Considered the birthplace of the skyscraper, we'll suggest pre-booking a Chicago river boat architecture cruise which follows the Chicago River and highlights the design and architectural achievements along its course. There are also numerous buildings you can visit that offer amazing views of the city. If you're feeling energetic hire a bike and enjoy a ride along the 26 miles of uninterrupted coastline around Lake Michigan.
Distance: 198 miles
Two hundred miles south of Chicago is Springfield, Illinois. Springfield became the Illinois state capital in 1837 with the help of a young lawyer and politician named Abraham Lincoln. Abe lived in the city until he become the 16th President of the United States in 1861. From that moment on, the city’s history and future have been inexorably tied to this most famous and beloved American. Not surprisingly, the city of Springfield is dotted with sites dedicated to his memory. These include: the Lincoln Home National Historic Site, the Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices, the Lincoln Tomb, the Old State Capitol and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.
Route 66 passes through the heart of Springfield with landmarks past and present including the world's largest Route 66 sign at Route 66 Motorheads Bar & Grill, Museum and Entertainment Complex.
The Cozy Dog Drive In has been serving their iconic hot dog on a stick to Route 66 travellers since 1949. If you happen to be in town on a Friday or Saturday, experience an authentic outdoor movie in your car at the Route 66 Drive-In Theater and be sure to swing by the Legends Neon Sign Park at the Illinois State Fair Grounds.
Distance: 101 miles
Before crossing from Illinois to Missouri, take a short detour to Auburn, Illinois and drive on an actual stretch of preserved Route 66 brick road. It's a rare opportunity to experience over a mile of original hand-laid 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.
You'll know you are getting close to the city of St Louis when you spy the iconic Gateway Arch. An absolute engineering marvel, The Gateway Arch is incredible to see up close. Not only can you take a tram to the top of the USA's tallest monument, but the museum tells the story of the Native Americans, explorers, pioneers, and rebels who made America possible. Themed, interactive exhibit areas are fascinating and interesting for the whole family. Situated on the Mississippi River, one of our favourite things to do is sit under the arch and watch the world float by! There are also river cruises available if you prefer to keep moving. Leaving St Louis, be sure to stop at Ted Drewes for frozen custard. It's a Midwest specialty and we can promise - you won't be disappointed!
Distance: 252 miles
An hour from St Louis, you'll encounter the Meramec Caverns - a collection of rare mineral formations. Experience the unique, preserved site with a guided walking tour.
Branson is a short detour off Route 66 and is nestled in the lakeside beauty of the Ozark Mountains. This lively town is known as The Live Music Show Capital Of The World. Over 100 shows run daily - morning, noon and night, so you'll be sure to see something that takes your fancy. Enjoy the sounds of the 50s and 60s in Dick Clark's American Bandstand, see some of the world's best tributes in the Legends In Concert show, take in an Elvis extravaganza, or tap your toes to a good old Country and Western show. American kitsch as its best.
Distance: 221 miles
Entering Oklahoma from Missouri, you strike out on the longest drivable section of Route 66. Experience the restless history of America - the tracks, trails and roads charting the settlers’ exodus from east to west; the cattle drives from south to north; the endless wandering of Native American tribes, and the unstoppable progress of the Mother Road. Be sure to stop in Catoosa and take your picture with the Blue Whale - one of Route 66's quirkiest roadside attractions.
Tulsa is an eclectic mix of Oklahoma’s trademark friendliness; great food; a vibrant music scene; art and history in a compact, strolling city. Cherry and Brady Streets are for wandering and the Philbrook and Gilcrease Museums are for browsing world and American art.
Distance: 107 miles
Between Tulsa and Oklahoma City, the Mother Road offers up endless attractions - Chandler’s fascinating Route 66 Interpretive Center; the intriguing Seaba Station Motorcycle Museum; Arcadia’s Round Barn and POPS 66 diner, shop and home of the world's largest soda bottle!
Utterly and astoundingly re-vitalised in the past 30 years, Oklahoma City hums with optimism and activity. Visit the University area in Norman and the superb National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, and in the evening stroll around Bricktown - newly alive with eating places and bars, shops and music venues.
As you leave Oklahoma City for the Texas border, Route 66 continues to deliver. Known as the Mother of the Mother Road the unmistakable Lucille's Roadhouse at Weatherford is a great stop for breakfast, lunch or dinner. The Mohawk Lodge Indian Store at Clinton and the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum are must stops. Then it's on to Elk City and the National Route 66 & Transportation Museum offering a fascinating insight into small town life in the 1800’s.
Distance: 258 miles
Cruise into the Lone Star State of Texas. This stretch of Route 66, in the Texas Panhandle, provides not only a number of vintage Main Street America icons, but also glimpses of the Wild, Wild West. It's becoming obvious you've left the Midwest behind for the wide open spaces of the West.
Shortly after being discovered by the Spanish Explorer Francisco Coronado in 1541, the area became a magnet for cattlemen and sheep herders. Some Dust Bowl farmers headed to California while others stopped here to stake their claim. As a result, Amarillo still has a unique blend of the Old West and New West, populated by American Cowboys, roughnecks, self-made millionaires and the ever-present oil derricks.
Make sure you allow time to drive Amarillo Boulevard which is part of the original Route 66.
Make sure you arrive hungry too, The Big Texan Steak Ranch offers a free 72 ounce steak if you can finish your meal in an hour! Leaving Amarillo for New Mexico, your first stop is the eclectic art installation that is Cadillac Ranch. Buy a can of spray paint and leave your mark!
Distance: 172 miles
Santa Rosa’s stretch of Route 66 is forever memorialized in American film history in Steinbeck’s epic novel, Grapes of Wrath with a 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: 109 miles
Enjoy historic Santa Fe, one of the original abandoned routings of Route 66, for two nights.
Boasting 320 days of sunshine a year, Santa Fe is the capital of New Mexico (in fact, the oldest state capital in the USA) and the very embodiment of a south-western city. Life revolves around the charming and historic Sante Fe Plaza. Marvel at the pueblo-style buildings and mooch the numerous galleries and boutiques. Santa Fe is ranked the second largest art market in the US and Canyon Road has the highest concentration of art galleries in the country.
Be sure to visit Museum Hill, a collection of museums, a botanical garden, the art market and café. If you love food, you'll be in seventh heaven with over 200 restaurants to choose from.
Distance: 212 miles
Next stop....the state of Colorado. You’ll simply adore Durango. This scenic Colorado mountain town is nestled at the south-western foot of the Rocky Mountains in the Four Corners region. It’s surrounded by the 2 million-acre San Juan National Forest and enjoys 300 days of sunshine per year.
Stroll around the historic downtown with a wide choice of restaurants, galleries and eclectic boutiques. Experience the Rocky Mountains on board the famous Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. Revel in the sights and sounds of a bygone era as the train winds through nearly fifty scenic miles to the old mining town of Silverton, Colorado. This spectacular journey can be booked in advance with Bon Voyage.
Distance: 212 miles
If time allows before leaving Colorado, make a stop at Mesa Verde National Park. This is a world UNESCO site and the largest archaeological preserve in the USA.
Then it's on to one of the most magical places in the USA, Monument Valley - located along the Utah/Arizona border towards the southeast corner of Utah. You have very likely already seen Monument Valley in countless Western movies and tv programmes that include The Lone Ranger, Stagecoach, She Wore A Yellow Ribbon, Transformers, Fort Apache, How The West Was Won, Billy The Kid and Rio Grande.
Monument Valley is made up of monolithic sandstone rock formations that rise majestically from the desert floor - some towering 1,000 feet. Be sure to stay up late at night to experience dark sky views of the Milky Way and rise early to watch the sunrise over the valley, both of these experiences will stay with you for life.
Distance: 199 miles
Back on Route 66 to the town of Winslow, Arizona. Your drive will take you through the stark landscape of the Hopi Indian Reservation. Stretch your legs in Tuba City and explore the Moenkopi Dinosaur Tracks - formed in the early Jurassic period, about 200 million years ago.
Since its beginning, Arizona's stretch of Historic Route 66 has been more than a road. The hearts of its people have inspired writers, film makers, photographers and artists. It's a stretch of Route 66 that represents classic cars, cowboys, diners and ever changing wonders from towering red cliffs, open spaces and endless blue skies. Your base for the next night is Winslow, made famous in the Eagles Hit, Take It Easy. Here you can actually stand on the corner AND see the girl in the flatbed ford. Winslow also serves as a base to explore other Arizona Route 66 attractions like the Wigwam Motel and Navajo Museum at Holbrook, Joseph City and the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert.
Distance: 144 miles
Rise early today as you've got a lot of ground to cover! First stop is fascinating Meteor Crater. Over 50,000 years ago, a giant iron-nickel meteorite, weighing several hundred thousand tons, impacted the area with a force more than one hundred times greater than an atomic bomb. The result was the creation of the giant bowl-shaped cavity called Meteor Crater. At nearly 550 feet deep and almost a mile wide - you can enjoy a guided rim tour, explore from the indoor viewing area or take a walk on a self-guided trail.
From there - it's the Granddaddy of all National Parks - the mighty Grand Canyon. There are lots of optional excursions available and your consultant will be sure to chat through all options.
Distance: 266 miles
Quirky Route 66 day alert! Start off with breakfast or lunch in Seligman at the Roadkill Cafe - we promise, it's better than it sounds! The entire town is dedicated to its Route 66 heritage and you'll love walking the original stretch of Route 66. Then it's on to Kingman - have the camera ready - there are photo ops everywhere. Head to the Route 66 Museum/Powerhouse Visitor Center for an overview of the city, maps and general information from the helpful guides. You can also grab a bite or a drink at the local Route 66 diner.
From Kingman, head south to Lake Havasu - the home of London Bridge! Life on the lake is all about of the out of doors, so if you are craving a few days along a stunning coastline enjoy the beach, fishing, kayaking or even house boating - this is for you. There is also plenty to do on land including an extensive network of hiking trails.
Alternatively, if the neon is calling - Las Vegas is also an option at this part of your journey. Spend a couple of nights along the amazing Vegas Strip, taking in a few shows, a spot of shopping and sampling some of the best restaurants in the USA.
Distance: 283 miles
Historic Barstow and the Route 66 Museum is a worthy stop on your journey through the Mojave desert to the Pacific Ocean. Don't forget to drop into the wonderfully kitsch Peggy Sue's Diner, just 15 minutes from Barstow. This 1950's diner is a firm favourite of Route 66 travellers.
Congratulations - you've completed Route 66 once you reach the famous Santa Monica Pier. This lively beach city is the oldest and biggest of LA's resort areas, perched on palm-shaded bluffs above the blue Pacific Ocean. There are miles of prepared paths for walking, jogging, cycling and skating. Hire bikes here and explore adjoining Venice and famous Muscle Beach; book a surfing lesson, relax on the beach and enjoy celeb spotting; or stroll around the beach stalls selling funky wares. Be sure not to miss Santa Monica's Third Street Promenade, for three blocks of shopping, dining and lively street musicians.
Unless, of course, you're not quite ready to go home. Maybe you would like to extend your stay and continue north up the California coast to San Francisco and along the Pacific Coast Highway. Perhaps you'd like to leave the road behind and fly over to the Hawaiian Islands for some relaxation before heading back to the UK.
Call the USA travel specialists at Bon Voyage to discuss your perfect Route 66 Extended Road Trip.