A road trip on Route 66 is the trip of a lifetime through some of America’s oldest cities
Route 66, also fondly referred to as the Mother Road, was created in the 1920s during the time that more and more cars were being made and sold. Then during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, it served as a major path for those who migrated West for agricultural jobs in California. Route 66 started as a dirt road, but began being paved slowly, and by 1938 the entire route was paved from Chicago to Los Angeles. It was then found to be very useful in the 1940s, when it was used to get supplies and military equipment out to the West Coast during World War II. In the 1950s, Route 66 became the main highway for vacationers heading to Los Angeles, who could now afford to own cars and go on vacations. In the 1960s and 1970s, however, new highways were built which replaced the old road, and the official Route 66 is no longer fully in use. Not to worry, though, because much of the route is still drivable. See here how you can experience the historic Route 66, starting in Chicago and finishing all the way in Los Angeles, experiencing what so many others before you have along the way.
The price is for: 2 adults and 2 children in the same room including flights, accommodation and car rental.
Your journey starts out with 3 nights in Chicago – a lively and green city, which is located next to the beautiful Lake Michigan. A must-see while in Chicago is The Bean, as it’s called lovingly, or Cloud Gate, as it’s called officially. This popular tourist attraction in downtown Chicago is made of highly polished stainless steel, and it is possible to capture some amazing photos of the cityscape and the sky’s reflection in it. Just down the street from Cloud Gate, you can hop aboard Chicago’s First Lady and get a CAF River Cruise tour, where you will learn about how the city of Chicago grew so rapidly into such a large city. Chicago’s Riverwalk is also the perfect place to see the buildings light up at night and reflect on the water.
Then discover Chicago from above in America’s second tallest tower, Willis Tower, which is 442 meters high. You can take the elevator up to floor 103 and walk out on the glass ledge to get an unmatched view of the city at 412 meters. If the weather is clear, you are even able to see the neighboring states of Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin and Illinois.
From this view, you can also sneak a peak of Millennium Park, which you might also want to visit. This city park is 25 acres of exciting city park with pleasant gardens, public art, and concerts during the summer. Navy Pier, named to honor the naval veterans who served in World War I, is the perfect summer attraction. The nearly 46 meter Ferris wheel makes the pier easy to spot, and here you can find a variety of activities, events, and good restaurants, as well as a place to enjoy Lake Michigan as you walk along the pier.
Before you leave Chicago, make sure that you try their famous deep dish pizza! Lou Malnati’s is a local favorite.
(477 km/297 mil – a 4 hour-and-30-minute drive)
Today you begin driving on Route 66 on the way to St. Louis, Missouri. Before you leave Illinois, stop off at Cozy Dog Drive in Springfield and grab a corn dog, which is a typical American food loved by kids and adults alike.
Drive further towards St. Louis, which is right where the Missouri River joins the Mississippi River. While in St. Louis, take a ride in an authentic American paddlewheel boat on the Mississippi and experience the iconic river. A day-long river cruise to Grafton, a charming nearby town on the Illinois side of the river, is highly recommended. Grafton has a beautiful lighthouse, fudge and ice cream shop, and a couple of places to enjoy local wine with a great view of the river. There is also a state park just down the road.
St. Louis’ most notable attraction is the Gateway Arch. During the great migration West, large amounts of settlers came through St. Louis, which was the Westernmost civilized city at that point in time. Therefore, the town was quickly named “Gateway to the West,” and this is indicated by the beautiful, towering arch which was built in the 1960s. The Gateway Arch is hollow, and you can even go up to the top of the arch, where you can get a fantastic view of St. Louis from 192 meters up.
To experience something that you never have before, visit the City Museum. The City Museum a unique, interactive art exhibit that is made entirely of reclaimed materials found within the city’s boarders. Artist Bob Cassilly used materials such as salvaged bridges, chimneys, cranes and fiberglass to create icicles, tunnels, enchanted caves, slides, mirror rooms, and much more. You will also find two airplanes, a school bus jetting over the edge of the building, and a Ferris wheel on the roof that you can ride. The City Museum is 11 floors of curiosity-provoking excitement that is a blast for children and adults alike.
If you are a beer-lover, don’t miss the opportunity to visit Budweiser’s St. Louis brewery, which is Anheuser-Busch’s largest and oldest brewery and the home of the Clydesdales that you will recognize from Super bowl commercials.
(637 km/395 miles – 5:30 timmars bilkörning)
You’ve now passed through the gateway, so continue West on Route 66 towards the next sate, Oklahoma.
Stop in the town of Catoosa, just outside of Tulsa, and see one of Route 66’s most famous attractions. The Blue Whale of Catoosa is in a lake and has a water slide into the water. You can no longer swim in the lake, but it was a very popular resort in the 1970s and 1980s, when many American families stopped to take a break from driving and bathe.
You will then spend a night in Tulsa, where you can visit the city’s famous 23-meter high statue of an oil worker, the Golden Driller. This is the fourth tallest statue in America, and originally stood in Fort Worth, Texas but was later donated to Tulsa. Tulsa dubbed itself “Oil Capital of the World,” because it once sat atop the largest known oil reservoir in the world. The money from the oil industry in Tulsa is what paid to produce the beautiful art deco buildings that you will see during your stay there.
The Boston Avenue Methodist Church and the Philcade Building are two worth mentioning. The Philcade Building is being used as offices, but it won’t hurt to step in the door and admire the intricate design of the lobby.
If you’re travelling with children, Tulsa has a zoo, waterpark, and an aquarium that they will be sure to enjoy!
(170 km/106 mil – a 1 hour-and-40-minute drive)
In 1898 William Odor proved his neighbors wrong and built a round barn. On the way to Oklahoma City, go and visit the Arcadia Round Barn, which is now a renowned memorial. Just down the road, when you’re nearing Oklahoma City, you’ll find Pops 66 Soda Ranch. You will first spot the 20-meter (66-foot) soda bottle and straw, and when you go inside the building, you will find over 700 different types of soda in an infinite array of colors and flavors.
If you take exit 149 into Oklahoma City, you will pass under the city’s iconic Skydance Bridge, an 85-meter pedestrian bridge whose appearance is inspired by Oklahoma’s national bird, the scissor-tailed flycatcher. You can revisit this bridge at night when it is lit up beautifully.
A great place to start in Oklahoma City, or OKC, would be the heart of this charming city. Bricktown, formerly a warehouse district, is now characterized by charming canals, restaurants, art, and entertainment. Let your inner-child out and play some miniature golf, laser tag, or arcade games in Brickopolis.
Taking a cruise along the Bricktown Canal is highly recommended, and the perfect way to tour through Bricktown. The guides on the water taxis narrate points of interest along the way, so you can get a feel for the culture and history.
Some will argue that a trip to Oklahoma City isn’t complete without a meal at Cattlemen’s Steakhouse, Oklahoma City’s oldest restaurant. Here you can enjoy some local favorites such as a seared stake, coconut crème pie, or some lamb fries.
(449 km/279 mil – a 3 hour-and-55-minute drive)
On your drive to Amarillo you will pass through Clinton, where you will see the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum, identifiable by the neon “Route 66” sign outside. Here you can learn about the history of transportation and why Route 66 had such an impact on American culture, as well as see a unique collection of items found on Route 66 throughout the years. The drive goes on through the Texas Panhandle, characterized by vast, open spaces, long freight trains, and old ghost towns. Here you will have the chance to drive large portions of the original Route 66, with the original paving in many spots. Smaller cities like Alan Reed and Groom offer a genuine Route 66 experience complete with old gas stations and diners.
Amarillo, formerly a booming cattle tow, boasts its reputation as a “real Texas” town. When you arrive in Amarillo, be sure to visit the Big Texan Steak Ranch, if not to eat, at least to take a picture of the giant cowboy boot. Although a little – or big – steak never hurt anyone. Big Texan Steak Ranch serves a whopping 2-kilo steak, which you can eat for free, under the condition that you finish it within an hour. Challenge accepted!
Just outside Amarillo lies the famous Cadillac Ranch, which is one of the most popular Route 66 Memorials. Cadillac Ranch is a quirky art installation, which consists of 10 old Cadillac cars, which are half-buried in the ground, nose down, and spray-painted in vibrant colors.
(449 km/279 mil – a 4 hour-and-15-minute drive)
The journey continues along the Mother Road to Santa Fe, New Mexico. On your way, you will pass a sign welcoming you to Adrian, Texas, and informing you that you have completed half the drive from Chicago to Los Angeles! You will also find the characteristic Route 66 symbol painted on the road there. Pop into Midpoint Café and try one of their famous home-made “ugly crust pies” and maybe shop around in their gift shop.
Santa Fe, New Mexico is the oldest state capital city in America, characterized by its pueblo adobe buildings, Native American and Spanish history, fine arts, rich culture, and chili peppers. In Santa Fe, you will find the oldest house and oldest church in America, as well as the oldest government building in America, the Palace of the Governors. The Palace of the Governors is a former government seat, now history museum, and can be found in the Santa Fe Plaza, which is a National Historic Landmark. Here you can buy Native American souvenirs, such as beautiful turquoise jewelry, that has been handcrafted by the artisans selling them.
Don’t miss the opportunity to visit Bandelier National Monument, located just outside the city. Here you will find beautiful scenery, ancient dwellings carved into the soft rock cliffs, and petroglyphs. These are particularly well preserved, and are ancient Native American ruins from the Pueblo People who lived here over 11,000 years ago.
(473 km/294 mil – a 4 hour-and-20-minute drive)
On your way to Holbrook, Arizona you will pass through Petrified Forest National Park. This park has several exciting hiking trails, and is known for its large amount of 225 million years old petrified wood. The wood became petrified as a result of floods and volcanic activity, which slowly created crystals that replaced the wood material over time. This process has made the trees absolutely stunning.
The Rainbow Rock Shop in Holbrook is known for its dinosaur statues built out of cement. They stand in a small concrete patio, and are always available for photographs. Inside, rocks are for sale in abundance, and out back you will find big piles of petrified wood and specialty rocks.
You can spend the night in a teepee at the Wigwam Motel, an incredibly unique roadside motel which gained popularity back in the 1950s. The private rooms formed in the shape of Native American teepees seek to celebrate Arizona’s Southwestern culture in a very different and exciting way.
(284 km/177 mil – a 2 hour-and-45-minute drive)
You’re well into the second half of your trip, but some of the most exciting attractions remain. Continue on to the Grand Canyon – another fantastic nature experience. On your way, you will come near the Meteor Crater, located near the town of Winslow. This crater is called “the best-preserved meteorite impact site on earth.” The crater is about 1.2 km wide and 170 meters deep, and was created about 50,000 years ago when a meteor consisting of nickel and iron hit the ground. The crater is now a tourist monument, and was used by NASA in the 1960s to train for the Apollo moon landing.
From there, make your way to Two Guns, a genuine, old Route 66 Ghost Town. In the old days, many tourists stopped here while driving Route 66. Back then, there were gas stations, shops, restaurants and even a zoo, which you can still see signs of. Today it is completely deserted and therefore an eerie but exciting stop.
From here, drive on to the Grand Canyon and experience this amazing natural phenomenon. The Grand Canyon is 277 miles long, 18 miles wide, and reaches depths of over a mile. It is best seen from the many stunning viewpoints, or on a hike down into the canyon. You can also choose to take a helicopter ride over the canyon, or even ride on a donkey down into the canyon! The possibilities are many, and the Grand Canyon is without a doubt an experience of a lifetime.
(442 km/275 mil – a 4 hour-and-20-minute drive)
Continue to the City of Sin, Las Vegas, Nevada – a dessert oasis brimming with things waiting to be experienced. Take in the bright neon lights of the Strip, try your hand at gambling, shop at the city’s Premium Outlets, go golfing, or just grab a cocktail and relax by the pool.
The Strip is 6.8 km long, and that is where you can find a large concentration of resort hotels and casinos. Many of the hotels have very elaborate, interesting, and beautiful attractions, including a miniature version of the Eifel Tower, a hotel shaped like an Egyptian pyramid, and the High Roller Ferris wheel. If you’ve never made it to Italy, go on a gondola ride at The Venetian, a luxury resort with canals built throughout the ground floor. You might almost forget that you are floating through the middle of a casino!
Don’t forget to take some time for day trips out to the Hoover Dam, where you can see the impressive dam built in the 1930s, or Death Valley National Park where you will find America’s lowest point and some of the highest measured temperatures on Earth. Other day trips include Lake Mead, Mount Charleston, Red Rock Canyon, and Zion National Park.
(435 km/275 mil – a 4-hour drive)
Your Route 66 adventure ends in the Los Angeles area, at the end of the Santa Monica Pier. A sign marks the end of the legendary American highway, and it is the perfect place to end your trip and spend a relaxing day at the water. Enjoy a ride on yet another Ferris wheel, eat some cotton candy, or go experience one of the many beautiful beaches with the genuine Southern California beach atmosphere. You’re bound to see some surfers, and why not become one of them? You’re in California, after all. The Santa Monica Surf School offers two-hour lessons that include a wetsuit and a board. Venice Beach Boardwalk is well known as the perfect people watching spot, as well as for Muscle Beach.
Use a day or two to experience the magic of “The Happiest Place on Earth,” and the adjacent California Adventure park. Even if you don’t buy a ticket to the parks, you can still enjoy the atmosphere in Downtown Disney, where you can grab a bite to eat at the Rainforest Café, or a delicious smoothie at Jamba Juice. Universal Studios is another amusement park in nearby Hollywood, where you can go on rides and visit movie sets.
A must see is the ever-famous Hollywood Walk of Fame, which has the iconic stars in the sidewalk. Hike or drive up to the Hollywood sign and the Griffith Observatory, which offers great city views. The Griffith Observatory has science and space related exhibits, telescopes you can look through, and admission is free.
For those fast-food fans out there, you can visit the first McDonald’s restaurant in Downey, California.
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The price is for: 2 adults and 2 children in the same room including flights, accommodation and car rental.
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