Destination for 2023
Route 66 Ultimate Road Trip Guide!
2023 is the year of the road trip and us here at AVR Van Rental are excited to
provide yet another amazing road trip guide. Our ultimate Route 66 road trip
guide is the only guide you’ll need as it covers every state that historic
Route 66 runs through along with what you should do if you are planning to
drive the whole thing and we highly recommend that you do as it’s an
unbelievable experience. The best part about this road trip is every step of
the way feels like the destination as you craft your own experience down this
historic road. The memories you make will last a lifetime.
Story of the Road
The "Mother Road" or Route 66 is a historic
stretch of asphalt that starts in Chicago and ends in Los Angeles. It's a road trip
full of picturesque scenery, historic landmarks, and unique sights.
Despite not always appearing on Google Maps, the route is still there and
offers an unforgettable journey through America's heartland and western
deserts. Along the way, you'll find notable stops such as a prison from Beat
literature and the popular TV show Prison Break, a barbed-wire museum, a diner
serving 20-cent pie, and more. If you're planning
a road trip, consider taking the ultimate American
journey on Route 66.
Start your journey today
Illinois its starting location day one (if you started
from Illinois): Before embarking on your Route 66 journey, make sure to start
your day off right with a hearty breakfast at local favorite Lou Mitchell's.
Fuel up on monster omelets and bottomless coffee and maybe even meet fellow
road-trippers in the neighboring booths. Take a stroll in Chicago's Millennium
before heading to the Historic Route 66 Begin sign, snap a selfie and
officially start your journey. If you're in a rush, stop by Dell Rhea's Chicken Basket,
an iconic 1930s gas station turned lunch counter known for their delicious
fried chicken. As you make your way through Illinois, take a detour to the
infamous Old Joliet Prison
and explore the creepy grounds, and check out the 30-foot Muffler Man statue at
the Launching Pad Drive-In.
Make sure to stop by historic sites like Ambler's
Texaco Gas Station and Funks
Grove Pure Maple Sirup to buy some maple candies for the
console. For a hearty meal, head to the Maid-Rite Sandwich
in Springfield for beef sandwiches and shakes. Keep driving and you'll
eventually see the looming Gateway
Arch of St. Louis.
St. Louis is a city with a lot to offer and is often referred to as the
"Gateway to the West." Before leaving the city, make sure to stop for
a hearty meal at Southwest Diner,
where you can enjoy classic dishes such as country-fried steak or pancakes.
Take a tram to the top of the Gateway Arch, tour the historic Anheuser-Busch
brewery, or walk above the Mississippi River on the Chain
of Rocks Bridge. Make the most of your time in the city before hitting the
road again. Outside of St. Louis, the drive takes you through charming small
towns and rolling green hills. Take a detour to the Meramec Caverns, a dramatic cave
system that was once an alleged hideout of Jesse James. Guided tours are
available. When it's time to rest for the night, consider staying at the Wagon Wheel Motel, a 1930s
landmark offering tidy stone-and-mortar cottages.
Fanning 66 Outpost is a must-stop destination for many Route
66 veterans. The general and farm store offers a giant rocking chair for photo
ops, popcorn, and glass-bottle soda for stocking up on snacks for the car. For
a more scenic detour, head south of the highway to Mark Twain National Forest
for a picnic and an easy hike on the Stone
Mill Spring trail, which offers stunning views of the
Big Piney River. For a nostalgic experience, catch a double feature at the 66 Drive-In
and spend the night at Boots
Court Motel, which offers period furniture and radios
playing big-band music. The unassuming Joplin History & Mineral Museum
is a hidden gem, with local discoveries like a wooly mammoth tooth on display,
oddball antiques including old circus funhouse mirrors, "Bonnie and
Clyde" memorabilia from their Joplin bolt-hole, and an entire exhibit of
This part of Route 66 is full of fascinating and unique stops along the way.
One of the must-see attractions is the Coleman
Theater, a Spanish Revival gem from the vaudeville days, where you can
catch a glimpse of the ghost of the abandoned Chelsea Motel. At Totem Pole Park, take a moment
to gaze up at the world's largest concrete totem pole. The roadside whimsy
continues at the Blue
Whale of Catoosa, an adorable whale whose smiling mouth you can walk right
through. The Golden Driller statue, standing at the entrance of Tulsa's Expo Square since the 1960s, is
another iconic landmark of the route.
Tulsa's amazing barbecue scene is a must-experience and Burn Co is a popular spot
that grills and smokes its meat in Tulsa-made charcoal ovens. For a simple yet
satisfying meal, head to the Rock
Cafe in Stroud for a patty melt and ice cream float. Gearheads and Marvel
fans will love the Seaba Station Motorcycle
Museum, a former gas station now filled from wall to wall with bikes
ranging from a 1909 Triumph to a custom-built ride used in Captain America film
Before crossing into Texas, stop by the landmark Pops in Arcadia to quench your thirst with over
500 varieties of sodas, ginger ales, and root beers. Take a detour to eerie
little Texola, a town with a population of 6, where you can still see relics of
the former farming town, notably a one-cell cinder-block jail all alone in an
Deco Tower Station and U-Drop Inn Cafe provide a classic Texas welcome to
Route 66 travelers. Originally a gas station and diner, the beautifully
preserved visitors' center is home to classic Conoco pumps and a booth where
Elvis once ate. One of the unique stops along the route is the Devil's Rope and Route 66 Museum,
dedicated to the history of barbed wire and other artifacts from the state's
ranching heritage, including the cattle brand used at former President Lyndon
B. Johnson's Texas ranch.
In the remote Panhandle location of Groom, visitors can see the largest
freestanding cross in the U.S. and the Britten Leaning Water Tower, a long-time
roadside attraction. In Amarillo, explore the antique shops in the Route 66
Historic District, grab a bite at the down-home burger joint Coyote Bluff Cafe or take on the
challenge of eating 72 ounces of steak at The
Big Texan Steak Ranch. For a more unique experience, stay at Starlight Canyon, a
bed-and-breakfast with cabins and an Old West vibe.
Before leaving Amarillo, make sure to visit the iconic Cadillac Ranch,
where a group of vintage Cadillacs are buried nose down in the ground, their
tail ends poking skyward and covered in graffiti. As you hit the halfway mark
of your journey, Chicago is 1,139 miles behind you and L.A. is 1,139 miles
ahead, celebrate with a slice of pie at the throwback Midpoint Cafe.
As you continue on Route 66, the flatlands of the Panhandle give way to the
stunning landscapes of the American West. The Blue Swallow Motel , opened in
1939, is a must-see destination for Americana enthusiasts, with attached
garages next to each room, Frank Sinatra crooning through outdoor speakers, and
one of the best neon signs outside of Las Vegas. The
Tinkertown Museum, originally started as an artist’s hobby of carving tiny
figures, has grown into a sprawling collection of detailed Old West dioramas
and walls made from concrete and 50,000 glass bottles.
In Albuquerque, stop by 66 Diner for a
picture in front of the wall of vintage tin signs and indulge in classic diner
fare like Frito pie and banana splits. For a unique experience, check out Enchanted Trails RV Park &
Trading Post, which has 60s-era trailers for overnight stays. Or, for a
more traditional option, stay at the El
Rancho Hotel, where John Wayne once slept.
As you continue on Route 66, you'll pass through the stunning red mesas and
the eerie moonscape of Petrified
Forest National Park . The Rainbow
Forest Museum is a great starting point for hiking trails to see the famous
petrified logs. Drive to the Blue Mesa trail for a
one-mile loop through hilly badlands. One of the must-see stops on the route is
the Wigwam Motel, where
guests stay in teepee-shaped guest rooms, surrounded by vintage cars from the
1950s, adding to the vintage vibe.
Visit Meteor Crater Natural Landmark,
a chilling reminder of the prehistoric asteroid impact that formed it. No
desert journey is complete without visiting the Grand Canyon, a 60-mile detour
north at Williams, Arizona, where you can see the South Rim of the national
park. For a unique experience, book in advance for an edge-facing cabin at
Bright Angel Lodge & Cabins or a spot in Phantom Ranch
at the bottom of the canyon. As you continue on Route 66, you'll pass through
an open expanse of prairie and red rock and have the opportunity to check out
time-capsule towns such as Seligman, Peach Springs, and Kingman along the way.
The final leg of Route 66's journey towards the Pacific is in the Golden
State. The semi-defunct Roy's Motel and Cafe,
located in the middle of the Mojave Desert, is a fun stop on the way to Calico
Ghost Town Regional Park. The roadside attraction recreates the California
Silver Rush era with pioneer-style restaurants, shops, and a narrow-gauge train
through the dry terrain. Another must-see stop is the Elmer's Bottle Tree Ranch, a
collection of glass-bottle sculptures in the middle of the desert. If you
missed the teepee experience at the Wigwam Motel in Arizona, the San Bernardino outpost offers one
more chance to experience it.
Take a trip down memory lane and visit the original McDonald's, now a free
museum and quirky shrine to the fast-food giant's humble mid-century
beginnings. The Cucamonga
Service Station, with its mint-condition Richfield pumps dating back to
1915, serves as a tiny Route 66 museum. Finally, the journey ends at the Santa Monica Pier, the all-American
boardwalk, where you can take a stroll among the endless parade of pedestrians,
partiers, and performers, marking the official end of Route 66.
We hope you enjoyed this jam-packed guide full of amazing things to do in
ever state that Route 66 runs through. This is of course, only one way to
experience this amazing road trip as you can start from any stretch of the
journey and create your own path. Maybe you split them in two and do one half
one vacation and the other the next time. With so much to see you may not want
to rush through it all so fast. That is the beauty of the road trip! The
destination isn’t always the real vacation, sometimes the journey makes the
whole thing worthwhile. Because the journey should be just as fun as the
Book today and make your dream road
trip a reality