Route 66 is synonymous as being one of the great road trips of the world. Hell, it has had songs written about it – Get Your Kicks on Route 66 was penned by Bobby Troup while driving on Route 66. It’s been mentioned in the novel ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ and people come from all over the world to discover why a road trip on Route 66 is so special. Well if you are planning to drive Route 66, then here are some great things to see and do on your Route 66 road trip.
What is Route 66?
Route 66 or ‘Mother Road’ is basically a road, but not just any old road, it is one of America’s original highways having its original beginnings in 1926. It started when a number of highways were amalgamated to form Route 66 that runs from Chicago, Illinois to Los Angeles, California.
What American States Does Route 66 Travel Through
Route 66 crosses 8 states – Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. It stopped being a highway in the 1950s when it was replaced by freeways that were quicker to travel on to get you where you wanted to go. But you can still travel on parts of Route 66.
Where to Start or End Your Road Trip Route 66?
Route 66 starts or ends in Chicago in Illinois and starts or ends in Santa Monica in Los Angeles, California. It is up to you where you start and finish, and you don’t necessarily need to start or finish in Chicago or Santa Monica. You can drive just some parts of it as it is so long and travels across two thirds of the USA.
How Long is Route 66?
It’s distance is 2,448 miles or 3940 km long and would take around 52 hours, that’s a couple of days, to drive it if you drove non-stop. But as well as being a great way to travel across America it has a lot to see along the way.
Best Places to See Along Route 66
There are many places to see along Route 66, here are some recommended by fellow travel bloggers.
Pops, Arcadia Oklahoma
Pops Soda along Route 66
My family LOVES POPS! It is one of the best stops on Route 66. Pops is located in Arcadia Oklahoma, just 25 minutes north of Oklahoma City.
Pops is a gas station?! What?! Yes, it is a gas station, however, it is one of the coolest gas stations on Route 66. It is called pops because it offers over 700 different flavors of soda! Most of these are in glass bottles.
My kids love collecting the pop bottles. Each time we visit, we typically buy a six-pack. We love to try all the orange sodas, or root beer flavors and judge which one tastes the best. There are some very unique flavors available as well as normal flavors you will find everywhere else.
Pops also has a diner, which serves up some delicious all-American food. If you are traveling along Route 66, this is the perfect place to eat. If you need a break there is outdoor seating and a large area where your kids can run around and play. Pops is one of the best things to do in OKC with kids.
The best part about Pops is the iconic sign out front. It is a 66-foot neon sign in the shape of a pop bottle. At night it glows brightly! It is a modern-day roadside attraction you have to visit along Route 66.
I highly recommend taking the time to visit Pops and picking out some of the unique soda options and getting the perfect pic in front of the POPS sign!
Contributed by Lisa, Planning Away
Peggy Sue’s Diner, Yermo, California
Get Dancing at Peggy Sue’s Diner
Peggy Sue’s 50’s Diner was built in 1954 and was later renovated and reopened in 1987. The diner is one of the best stops on Route 66 for several reasons including its history and its decor. Just like some of the historical hotels on Route 66, Peggy Sue’s 50’s Diner is decorated in a vintage and retro style. In the diner, you’ll find counter stools, tables and booths just like in the movies. The walls of Peggy Sue’s are covered in frames with historical images and photos that some would call Route 66 memorabilia. The diner features several rooms, jukeboxes and replicas of famous American singers. On the outside, the diner looks like a giant jukebox which immediately immerses you in the 50’s. The diner also serves delicious American food like pancakes and fried chicken!
Peggy Sue’s 50’s Diner is located in Yermo, on the Californian section of Route 66. It is easily accessible from Route 66 and visitors can park on a large parking lot.
Contributed by Mary, Be Right Back Mary
Santa Monica Pier, California
End of the road at Santa Monica Pier
Santa Monica Pier with its iconic Route 66 ‘End of the Trail’ sign is one of the best spots to visit on Route 66. Out of all the things to do in Los Angeles, the pier always comes at the top of every list. Santa Monica Pier sits on the most beautiful part of Californian coast. The Malibu mountains visible to the right and the coast snaking down towards San Diego to the left. The pier itself houses the famous Pacific Park. This is the west coast’s only amusement park on a pier. Right next to it is Bubba Gump Shrimp where you can taste fresh seafood while watching the sun set behind the ocean. Two steps down from the restaurant you will find people tanning, playing volleyball or surfing in the barreling water of Southern California on Santa Monica Beach. Santa Monica Pier is the only stop on Route 66 with ocean, sand and fun right at its doorstep!
Contributed by Kanu, My Lost Camel
Route 66 Signs in Kingman
There are so many Route 66 stops in Arizona it’s easy to include them in your road trip plans. Kingman, Arizona is situated along the route in between several other locations. Like Oatman and Seligman, and about 100 miles from Las Vegas, so it’s the perfect stop for your Route 66 road trip.
I was excited to see so many unique Route 66 signs, museums and building murals throughout the city of Kingman. You can get your Arizona Route 66 passport stamped at the Kingman Visitor’s Center. This is one of the city’s main attractions which also houses a museum and gift shop offering many awesome souvenirs. In its parking lot, you can participate in the best photo opp ever. By driving your car underneath the Kingman arch to make it seem like your car is a part of the old-fashioned “Mother Road.” You definitely will want to include Kingman on your Route 66 itinerary.
Contributed by Jenny, Global Game Plan
Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona
Teepee Hills in Petrified Forest National Park
Located along the Arizona portion of Route 66, Petrified Forest National Park is one of the most popular places to explore. The National Park protects incredible desert ecosystems as well as the petrified forest parts of the park as well. Visitors can explore hiking trails through quite a few petrified forest areas as well as old mesas and interesting geological formations.
There’s lots of opportunities for front and backcountry hiking. However, much of the park is designated for day-use only except for some backcountry camping opportunities. There’s quite a few interesting pueblos that can be explored in the area. Ones that used petrified forest pieces for construction.
There’s a small Route 66 display within the park that signifies where the historic Route 66 passed through the current park. The old route cut through the middle of the park near where the current Route I-40 now lies.
Collecting petrified forest pieces in the park is prohibited. There are opportunities to purchase polished pieces collected outside the park from the gift shops.
Contributed by Anwar, Beyond My Door
The Blue Whale of Catoosa, Tulsa, Oklahoma
Cheeky Blue Whale of Catoosa
My favorite stop on Route 66 is the Blue Whale of Catoosa. It is located in Catoosa, which is just 10 minutes outside of Tulsa, Oklahoma. The massive blue whale sits in a pond just off the highway. Its size is truly impressive, especially considering it was handmade by one grandfather for his family. The pond is a great place to cool off on a hot day. There are picnic tables nearby if you want to enjoy a snack. You can also catch and release fish there if you want. My favorite part of the whale is climbing inside and seeing the handiwork and love that went into its creation. There’s just something about the smiling Blue Whale that will also bring a smile to your face. It truly embodies classic Americana. So if you’re looking for a great Route 66 road trip stop, be sure to check out the Blue Whale of Catoosa!
Contributed by Cassie, Cassiescompass.com
Cadillac Ranch, Amarillo, Texas
Cadillacs at Cadillac Ranch
One of the best road trips in the USA is Route 66! This US road trip is 2448 miles long and stretches from Chicago, all the way to Los Angeles. How long does it take to do Route 66? Ideally it’s best to take at least 2 weeks. There is so much to see and do you could easily take twice as long to complete it! Our total drive time was 85 hours (including stops). There were a couple of days where we were on the road for 12 hours getting from A to B!
Some highlights of the route include the giant roadside attractions. The Blue Whale in OK. Cadillac Ranch in TX where 10 Cadillac cars are half buried in the ground that people are able to spray paint. Staying in a concrete wigwam in AZ and finally, the Oatman Highway segment. The Disney Pixar ‘Cars’ movie is based on real life people and places along the route, which brings another fun element to the road trip!
It’s very easy to add side trips while driving along Route 66. Many people opting to visit Santa Fe in New Mexico, the Grand Canyon or Las Vegas. But a highlight is the Cadillac Range.
Contributed by Kylie, Between England and Iowa
Where to Stay Along Route 66
We’ve established that Route 66 is long and cannot be drive in a day, therefore you will need accommodation at some point along Route 66. Now Route 66 having such a long history has many historic, quaint and quirky hotels you can stay in along the road. Some of them aren’t on the internet and you can only find stay at them by driving past. The best way to ensure you have accommodation is to book through a third party site such as Booking.com.
Are You Ready to take a Road Trip on Route 66?
If you’ve done a Route 66 road trip or part of it, I’d love to hear from you the comments below. Or if you want to contribute to this post please get in contact.
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