3 minutes reading time
The journey begins in Chicago, a city emblematic of American resilience and ingenuity. Before setting off on Route 66, it’s worth soaking in the city’s remarkable attractions. Visit Willis Tower for a panoramic city view, stroll along Navy Pier’s bustling promenade, or check out the Art Institute’s extensive collection.
Savor Chicago’s food scene too. Get a taste of the famous Chicago-style hot dog, or indulge in a deep-dish pizza from Lou Malnati’s. These culinary delights fuel the start of our adventure.
Illinois: Farmland and Lincoln
Leaving Chicago, Route 66 winds through Illinois’s vast farmland. The journey takes us to Springfield, home of President Abraham Lincoln. Visit the Lincoln Home National Historic Site to step back in time and experience the president’s humble beginnings.
Missouri: The Gateway to the West
Next, we venture into Missouri, where St. Louis’s Gateway Arch soars high, symbolizing the westward expansion of the United States. The Meramec Caverns, one of the most popular stops along Route 66, is another must-see. This extensive limestone cave system is a fascinating geological wonder.
Kansas: A Short But Sweet Detour
As we continue west, we briefly cut through a sliver of Kansas. This 13-mile stretch is small but packed with charm. The historic mining town of Galena harkens back to a bygone era and is the perfect spot for a leisurely stroll.
Oklahoma: The Heart of Route 66
Oklahoma, the “Native America,” greets us with a diverse landscape. Route 66 meanders through cities like Tulsa and Oklahoma City. From the Philbrook Museum’s world-class art collection to the poignant Oklahoma City National Memorial, each stop tells a captivating story.
Don’t forget to take a quick detour to Catoosa for a picture with the famous Blue Whale, one of Route 66’s most beloved landmarks. A little further on, the Round Barn of Arcadia, a quirky roadside attraction, is worth a stop.
Texas: Big Skies and Bigger Steaks
In Texas, we step into cowboy country. Amarillo’s Big Texan Steak Ranch serves up a steak challenge that food enthusiasts won’t want to miss. And let’s not forget the Cadillac Ranch, an eccentric art installation that encapsulates Route 66’s kitschy charm.
New Mexico: Rich Cultures and Vibrant Landscapes
As we cruise into New Mexico, the Land of Enchantment, we’re greeted by a rich confluence of cultures. Albuquerque, with its unique blend of Spanish, Native American, and Anglo influences, is the heart of New Mexico. The historic old town, with its centuries-old adobe buildings, offers a glimpse into the past.
Arizona: Awe-Inspiring Sights
Arizona’s breathtaking landscapes are next on our journey. The Petrified Forest National Park and the Painted Desert present surreal landscapes shaped over millions of years. Towns like Winslow and Seligman, with their nostalgic charm, transport us back to the heyday of Route 66.
California: The Final Stretch
Finally, we reach California, the “end of the trail.” Route 66 winds through the Mojave Desert before culminating at the Santa Monica Pier, the official Western terminus of this legendary highway. Standing at the “End of the Trail” sign, with the vast Pacific Ocean before us, we’ve completed our journey through the heart of America.
A scenic drive, like Route 66, is more than a journey; it’s an experience that stirs the senses and the soul. It’s the stories told by each town and the beauty revealed in each landscape. It’s the taste of different cuisines, the music resonating from roadside bars, and the road unwinding towards the horizon. All these elements come together on Route 66, creating the perfect road trip experience that is truly the journey of a lifetime.