It’s “The Main Street of America,” a slogan so frequently used to describe US Route 66 that it has become the route’s unofficial epithet. It is evocative of a by-gone era of pre-interstate highways where the American car culture was born.
Route 66 attractions are winding, tree-lined streets that are home to quirky roadside diners, retro neon signs, world-renowned museums, spectacular national parks, and iconic landmarks which are just begging to be explored on two wheels, four wheels, or even on foot!
It’s an icon that has become synonymous with America’s wild west. Route 66 spans the length of the country, running from Chicago to California. Some 3940 km in total, the original path forged by the first road trippers heading west back in the early 20th century.
This 2,448-mile route winds through eight states from Chicago to Los Angeles via Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. Relive the days of yesteryear on one of America’s most iconic roads with a trip down Route 66.
The route was decommissioned in 1984, but many stretches of it are still accessible today for you to follow in their tire tracks.
Some of the roadside attractions to see on Route 66 include neon signs, diners, historic bridges, and many other historic structures.
Be warned if you drive the famous Route 66, you might just fall in love with the place.
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10 Must-See Route 66 Attractions
Visit St. Louis And The Gateway Arch
St. Louis, MO 63102 // +18779821410
Explore the sights along Route 66 when you visit St. Louis. The city is situated along the Mississippi River in Missouri and offers a different cultural experience from the rest of the country.
The Route 66 drive from Chicago usually passes through St. Louis as the first or second stop, and it is one place you will want to linger over for at least a few days. St. Louis is a melting pot of culture, history, music, and sport.
You can watch the Cardinals during a baseball game, hike or bike through Forest Park, and sample the city’s fine food and drink.
The iconic Gateway Arch is also not to be missed, where you can take an elevator up 630 feet for a breathtaking view of the city.
Have Fun Spraying Art at The Cadillac Ranch
13651 I-40 Frontage Rd., Amarillo // +18068480764
This funky, kitsch, and gloriously weird collection of artwork is just one of the many delights that this road trip has to offer.
Cadillac Ranch is the most iconic and quirky attraction on Route 66 and a public artwork located fifteen minutes north of Amarillo, Texas.
Ten partially buried Cadillacs lie nose-first in the ground among the red Texan desert. You are encouraged to create their art by spray painting a part of your chosen Cadillac.
When you’re done creating art at Cadillac Ranch, venture deeper into the backcountry and explore other sites along this legendary highway. The Hilltop Drive-In is just fifteen minutes away and features one of the last drive-in movie theatres in Texas.
Enjoy the Beautiful Scenery Of The Painted Desert
A journey through the Painted Desert is a memorable experience for anyone. This vast and beautiful landscape gets its name from the kaleidoscope of colors and layers.
There is a wide variety of rock colors in the northern Arizona rocky badlands, from sunrise and sunset colors to lavenders and deep greys.
The sunset at the Painted Desert is a quintessential thing to experience if you’re strolling through Route 66 attractions, where the sky and rocks transform into a canvas of fiery color.
Visit the Route 66 Hall of Fame Museum
110 W Howard St, Pontiac // +18158444566
Marker number 100 on the Route 66 is the Route 66 Hall of Fame Museum. It is located nineteen miles south of the town of Clinton, Oklahoma, at 1901 West Admiral Blvd.
A fascinating exhibit of Route 66 memorabilia spans an impressive 50,000 square feet and features more than 9,000 objects from Mother Road’s illustrious past.
The museum’s premises are home to buildings that are themselves significant examples of Route 66 art deco design.
On your way to the museum entrance, you’ll pass Midnight Oil Company Store, affectionately known as Midnight Folly. It was constructed in 1932 by Fred Harvey, one of Oklahoma’s leading entrepreneurs who owned Harvey House restaurants along the historic highway.
Explore Ed Galloway’s Totem Pole Park
21300 E Highway 28A, Chelsea // +19182838035
Nestled in the countryside three miles off Route 66 in Okmulgee, Oklahoma, is a folk art park called Galloway’s Totem Pole Park. First created in 1937 by Ed Galloway, the park features a collection of carved totem poles standing at forty feet tall and weighing eight tons each.
The oldest and largest concrete totem pole collection globally, it’s said to hold the world record for the largest concrete totem pole.
The 114-foot pole is a must-see for Route 66 enthusiasts, and the grounds are open to visitors year-round.
The park is alive with history and offers a relaxing escape from the busy road, which is why it’s been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1975.
While you’re there, be sure to snap a selfie under the enormous Totem Pole Park sign near the entrance!
See The Petrified Forest
Petrified Forest National Park, AZ 86028
It can be easy to forget to stop and marvel at the world around us in this day and age. That’s why I think a trip to the Petrified Forest is essential – whether you’re a history buff who wants to take in the region’s ancient past or a nature lover who wants to catch a glimpse of some of the earth’s most magnificent masterpieces.
The over 300 remnants of the Triassic period stand in silent testimony to how hard it is to be a fossil. The site is renowned for its unique blue-green hue, emanating from the iron compounds that infiltrated the logs when they were buried thousands of years ago.
As you wander through this deserted landscape, imagine what this area looked like 225 million years ago – a river valley abounding with vegetation and wildlife – and try to imagine what happened to turn it into this, a dry, windswept desert.
This vast collection of petrified wood, the world’s largest, began its lifecycle 225 million years ago. Now it is the most colorful place on earth—it contains vivid red, yellow, orange, green, and blue colors.
The park is also home to a range of badlands wildlife, including wild horses. Complete your trip through the forest with ruins and petroglyphs of the original culture.
Spend a Night at the Wigwam Motel
811 W Hopi Dr, Holbrook // +19285243048
One of the last two Wigwam hotels on Mother Road is the historic Wigwam Motel located in Holbrook, Arizona, now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Built in 1950, this kitsch and original motel offer guests the chance to sleep in wigwams for the night, although funnily enough, the rooms are shaped like tepees, not wigwams!
This is an excellent opportunity to experience all that Route 66 and Holbrook have to offer in a truly memorable way.
The Wigwam motel has fifteen teepees in the sky with twenty-foot domed ceilings, authentic Native American beadwork, and hand-carved cedar walls. It looks like something out of the mind of Dr. Seuss, or maybe out of the pages of National Lampoon’s Vacation. A unique experience for any traveler or tourist to the area.
Venture the Palo Duro Canyon State Park
11450 State Hwy. Park Rd. 5, Canyon // +18064882227
Palo Duro Canyon State Park is a short thirty-minute drive from Amarillo. It has some of the most spectacular vistas with various colors and rock formations in a canyon of its size in the United States.
Experience the mesmerizing vista while hiking, biking, or horseback riding along the trails used by Native Americans and early Spanish explorers.
The Palo Duro Canyon is an iconic symbol of the American Frontier. A National Natural Landmark, the canyon stretches more than 175 miles across the Texas Panhandle, attracting more than 1.7 million visitors each year to view its natural beauty.
It is also home to some of Texas’s most significant archeological sites, including pictographs dating back 11,000 years.
The canyon was formed by wind and water erosion over millions of years along the Prairie Dog Town Fork Red River. Visiting this canyon is one of the best Route 66 attractions to be seen during your trip along.
Explore the Meramec Caverns
1135 Hwy. W,, Sullivan // +15734682283
Enjoy an unforgettable adventure in one of the most famous caves in Missouri. Experience the history and beauty of the caverns, which contain artifacts from the pre-Columbian Native American period.
Take a guided tour through Meramec Caverns, where you’ll travel back in time on an incredible journey beneath the earth’s surface.
There are over 600,000 visitors annually to Meramec Caverns in Missouri, a natural wonder and one of the most visited caves in the state.
Located on Route 66 and easily accessible from St Louis, Meramec Caverns provides tours that will amaze you with the history and beauty of this amazing natural feature.
Hop on the Sandia Peal Aerial Tramway
30 Tramway Rd. NE, Albuquerque // +15058561532
Visit the Route 66 Attractions in Albuquerque for a getaway of a lifetime with your family and friends. With this aerial tramway, you will be transported 2.7 miles over breathtaking terrain and deep canyons.
From the observation deck at the summit, enjoy the vista of Rio Grande Valley and the Land of Enchantment.
Take a hike through the surrounding forest, but don’t miss the sunset, where the desert sky produces a wide variety of colors and light.
Girding two canyons on the eastern side of Albuquerque, this aerial tram plying across the Rio Grande is one of the unique recreational experiences in the state.
It efficiently functions on solar power and transports passengers to a lofty perch on the cliffs above Sandia Peak Ski Area. In addition, a new adventure park with attractions for all ages has been built at the tram’s summit.
Summary Of The 10 Must-See Route 66 Attractions
The USA’s most iconic road, Route 66, has been capturing the hearts and imagination of travelers for over 75 years.
Beginning in Chicago and ending in Los Angeles, the “Mother Road” was immortalized in songs and movies and became an icon of an entire era of American history.
Today, the route is still a famous highway for travelers, and each year thousands come to explore its sights and experience its unique attractions.
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