Route 66 mural

Top Stops on Route 66 (by State)

Updated on February 24th, 2024

Route 66, also known as the Main Street of America or the Mother Road, takes you on a journey through the heart of the United States.

Established in 1926, this iconic highway originally ran from Chicago, Illinois, to Santa Monica, California, covering a total of 2,448 miles.

It’s not just a road—it’s a journey into the soul of America, featuring a diverse array of attractions—from neon-lit motels and vintage gas stations to natural wonders and quaint diners that serve up a slice of Americana.

Traveling Route 66 is akin to taking a time machine through the American experience, offering glimpses into the past and present of the country’s evolving story. It’s a road that has inspired countless songs, movies, and books, capturing the imagination of travelers worldwide.

Suggested song: Nat King Cole – (Get Your Kicks on) Route 66

Over time, Route 66 was gradually bypassed by newer, more direct routes and eventually decommissioned as a U.S. Highway in 1985.

Whether you’re seeking adventure, nostalgia, or the freedom of the open road, Route 66 delivers an unforgettable experience that goes beyond mere travel, inviting explorers to be part of a living history.

Let’s explore the top 26 stops on Route 66, each offering a unique glimpse into the heart and soul of America. From the bustling streets of Chicago to the sun-soaked shores of Santa Monica, get ready to discover the hidden gems, stunning landscapes, and timeless allure of the most famous road in the United States.

Map of Historic U.S. Route 66

Image linked from Route66RoadTrip.com

ILLINOIS

1. Route 66 Association of Illinois Hall of Fame and Museum

Address: 110 W Howard St., Pontiac, IL 61764 (click for directions/map)

Telephone: (815) 844-4566

Website: il66assoc.org

The Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum, located in Pontiac, Illinois, celebrates the rich history and legacy of the iconic U.S. Route 66.

It features a vast collection of artifacts, photographs, and personal stories from the road’s heyday, showcasing the cultural impact and evolution of this historic highway.

Visitors to the museum can explore exhibits on the famous roadside attractions, motels, diners, and the people who made Route 66 a symbol of American freedom and adventure.

Route 66 Association of Illinois Hall of Fame and Museum (Video)

2. Cozy Dog Drive-In, Springfield, IL

Address: 2935 S 6th St, Springfield, IL 62703 (click for directions/map)

Telephone: (217) 525-1992

Website: cozydogdrivein.com

Cozy Dog Drive-In, located on the historic Route 66 in Springfield, Illinois, is famed for being the birthplace of the “Cozy Dog,” a delicious hot dog on a stick that’s been a favorite among travelers and locals alike since its inception in 1949.

This iconic eatery not only offers a taste of classic Americana but also serves as a museum of sorts, showcasing a collection of Route 66 memorabilia and artifacts that celebrate the rich history of the Mother Road.

As a beloved stop for those exploring Route 66, Cozy Dog Drive-In continues to charm visitors with its nostalgic atmosphere, friendly service, and commitment to preserving the spirit of one of America’s most legendary highways.

Cozy Dog Drive-In History and Tour (Video)

3. Henry’s Rabbit Ranch, Staunton, IL

Address: 1107 Historic Old Rte 66, Staunton, IL 62088 (click for directions/map)

Telephone: (618) 635-5655

Website: henrysroute66.com

Henry’s Rabbit Ranch in Staunton, Illinois, is a unique Route 66 attraction that celebrates the road’s history and the joy of road trips with a quirky twist.

It features a collection of vintage trucks, signs, and memorabilia alongside a “rabbit ranch” with real rabbits that visitors can interact with.

This eclectic spot also pays homage to the famous Route 66 with its own replica of the classic gas stations of the past, making it a must-visit for travelers looking for an authentic slice of Americana.

Henry’s Rabbit Ranch (Video)

MISSOURI

4. Meramec Caverns, Stanton, Missouri

Address: 1135 Hwy W, Sullivan, MO 63080 (click for directions/map)

Telephone: (573) 468-2283

Website: americascave.com

Meramec Caverns, located in Stanton, Missouri, is a 4.6-mile cavern system reputed to have been used by Jesse James as a hideout.

Who is Jesse James? Jesse James was a legendary figure of the Wild West, leading the James-Younger Gang in robbing banks, trains, and stagecoaches across the American Midwest. His reign of outlawry ended in 1882 when he was betrayed and killed by Robert Ford, a member of his own gang, in his Missouri home. Ford’s motivation for the murder was to claim a bounty and secure a pardon for his crimes, shooting James in the back of the head while he was distracted.

This natural wonder features a vast array of mineral formations, including rare speleothems and massive stalactites and stalagmites.

Guided tours offer insights into its geological and historical significance, making it a popular destination for tourists and history enthusiasts alike.

Meramec Caverns (Video)

5. World’s Second Largest Rocking Chair, Fanning, Missouri

Address: 5957 State Hwy ZZ, Cuba, MO 65453 (click for directions/map)

Telephone: (573) 885-1474

Website: fanning66outpost.com

The World’s Second Largest Rocking Chair, found in Fanning, Missouri, stands as a monumental roadside attraction along historic Route 66.

Originally claiming the title of the largest before being surpassed, this giant rocker measures over 42 feet in height.

It symbolizes the quirky and adventurous spirit of Route 66, drawing visitors for photo opportunities and to explore nearby attractions.

What’s the world’s largest rocking chair? The largest rocking chair is found in Casey, Illinois, holding the title of the “World’s Largest Rocking Chair,” according to the Guinness World Records. This landmark is a part of Casey’s collection of oversized objects, including a wind chime, mailbox, and knitting needles, aimed at attracting tourists with these record-breaking attractions.

World’s Second Largest Rocking Chair (Video)

6. Route 66 Mural Park, Joplin, Missouri

Address: 629-621 S Main St, Joplin, MO 64801 (click for directions/map)

Telephone: n/a

Website: n/a

Route 66 Mural Park in Joplin, Missouri, celebrates the rich history of the “Mother Road” with beautifully painted murals.

These artworks depict various aspects of life and travel along Route 66, capturing the nostalgia and cultural significance of this iconic highway.

The park provides a picturesque stop for travelers looking to immerse themselves in the road’s storied past.

Joplin Arts District (Video)

KANSAS

7. Cars on the Route, Galena, Kansas

Address: Kan-O-Tex Service Station, 119 N Main St, Galena, KS 66739 (click for directions/map)

Telephone: (620) 783-1366

Website: Cars on the Route Facebook page

“Cars on the Route” in Galena, Kansas, is a vintage gas station turned into a tourist attraction famous for inspiring the “Cars” movie characters.

This quirky spot offers snacks, souvenirs, and photo opportunities with car sculptures that resemble characters from the film.

It’s a must-visit for fans of the movie and Route 66 enthusiasts, embodying the spirit of the historic highway.

Cars on the Route (Video)

8. Galena Mining and Historical Museum, Galena, Kansas

Address: 319 W 7th St, Galena, KS 66739 (click for directions/map)

Telephone: (620) 783-2192

Website: galenaks.gov

The Galena Mining and Historical Museum, located in the historic mining town of Galena, Kansas, showcases the area’s rich mining heritage.

Exhibits include artifacts, photographs, and equipment that tell the story of lead and zinc mining’s impact on the region.

Visitors can learn about the mining processes, the lives of miners, and the development of the community through engaging displays.

Galena Mining and Historical Museum (Video)

9. Old Riverton Store, Riverton, Kansas

Address: 7109 KS-66, Riverton, KS 66770 (click for directions/map)

Telephone: (620) 848-3330

Website: oldrivertonstore.com

The Old Riverton Store in Riverton, Kansas, is one of the few remaining authentic Route 66 establishments.

Operating since the early 20th century, this historic grocery store continues to serve travelers and locals, offering a glimpse into the daily life along the historic highway.

Its nostalgic atmosphere, combined with a selection of goods and memorabilia, makes it a beloved stop on the Route 66 journey.

Nelson’s Old Riverton Store (Video)

OKLAHOMA

10. Ed Galloway’s Totem Pole and Fiddle Collection, Chelsea, Oklahoma

Address: 21300 OK-28 A, Chelsea, OK 74016 (click for directions/map)

Telephone: (918) 283-8035

Website: nps.gov

Ed Galloway’s Totem Pole Park, located near Chelsea, Oklahoma, is a unique outdoor museum featuring the largest totem pole made of concrete.

Built by folk artist Ed Galloway, the park also showcases his handcrafted fiddles and other folk art pieces.

This roadside attraction represents one man’s dedication to American folk art and is a fascinating visit for those interested in outsider art and cultural landmarks.

Ed Galloway’s Totem Pole Park (Video)

11. Blue Whale, Catoosa, Oklahoma

Address: 2600 OK-66, Catoosa, OK 74015 (click for directions/map)

Telephone: (918) 266-2505

Website: Blue Whale of Catoosa Facebook page

The Blue Whale of Catoosa is an iconic roadside attraction on Route 66 in Oklahoma.

This massive blue whale structure, built in the 1970s, has become a beloved landmark for photo ops, picnics, and family outings.

Its whimsical appearance and the story of its creation by Hugh S. Davis as a gift for his wife add charm to this unique stop on the historic highway.

Who was Hugh S. Davis? Hugh Davis was the creator of the Blue Whale in Catoosa, Oklahoma, in the early 1970s. He built this as a surprise anniversary gift for his wife, Zelta, who collected whale figurines. The Blue Whale became a notable roadside attraction and a symbol of love and creativity​​​​​​.

Blue Whale of Catoosa (Video)

12. Pops 66 Soda Ranch, Arcadia, Oklahoma

Address: 660 OK-66, Arcadia, OK 73007 (click for directions/map)

Telephone: (405) 927-7677

Website: pops66.com

Pops 66 Soda Ranch in Arcadia, Oklahoma, is famous for its vast selection of bottled sodas from around the world, featuring over 700 varieties.

The site is easily recognizable by its 66-foot tall neon soda bottle and offers a diner, gas station, and souvenir shop.

Pops is a modern homage to the classic Route 66 experience, blending nostalgia with a unique culinary adventure.

Pops 66 Soda Ranch (Video)

TEXAS

13. Palo Duro Canyon State Park, Canyon, Texas

Address: Canyon, TX 79015 (click for directions/map)

Telephone: (806) 488-2227

Website: tpwd.texas.gov

Palo Duro Canyon State Park, located in the Texas Panhandle near the town of Canyon, is the second-largest canyon in the United States.

Known as the “Grand Canyon of Texas,” it offers stunning natural beauty, with over 30 miles of hiking, biking, and equestrian trails.

The park’s dramatic geological features, rich history, and diverse wildlife make it a must-visit for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.

Palo Duro Canyon State Park (Video)

14. Cadillac Ranch, Amarillo, Texas

Address: 13651 I-40 Frontage Rd, Amarillo, TX 79124 (click for directions/map)

Telephone: (833) 330-2650

Website: Cadillac Ranch Facebook page

Cadillac Ranch, an iconic art installation located west of Amarillo, Texas, features ten graffiti-covered Cadillac cars buried nose-down in the ground.

Created in 1974 by the art group Ant Farm, it’s become a symbol of the American road trip.

Visitors are encouraged to leave their mark by spray-painting the cars, making it an ever-evolving piece of public art.

Cadillac Ranch (Video)

15. Midpoint Café, Adrian, Texas

Address: 305 Historic Rte 66, Adrian, TX 79001 (click for directions/map)

Telephone: (806) 536-6379

Website: Midpoint Café Facebook page

The Midpoint Café in Adrian, Texas, proudly stands as the halfway point along Route 66 between Chicago and Santa Monica.

This historic eatery offers travelers a taste of nostalgia with its classic diner fare and friendly service.

Known for its “ugly crust pies,” the café is a reminder of the heyday of American road trips and serves as a popular stop for those journeying along the Mother Road.

Midpoint Café (Video)

NEW MEXICO

16. Blue Hole, Santa Rosa, New Mexico

Address: Santa Rosa, NM 88435 (click for directions/map)

Telephone: n/a

Website: n/a

The Blue Hole of Santa Rosa is a deep, crystal-clear artesian spring located in Santa Rosa, New Mexico.

Renowned for its vivid blue color and constant 62°F temperature, it is a popular destination for scuba diving and swimming.

This natural wonder is one of the most famous dive sites in the US, attracting divers from all over the world to explore its underwater caves and clear waters.

Blue Hole (Video)

17. Singing Highway, Tijeras, New Mexico

Address: 310 U.S. Rt. 66, Albuquerque, NM 87123 (click for directions/map)

Telephone: n/a

Website: n/a

The Singing Highway, located near Tijeras, New Mexico, is a unique stretch of Route 66 that plays music as you drive over it.

When vehicles adhere to the speed limit, their tires interact with specially designed rumble strips to play “America the Beautiful.”

This innovative road feature aims to encourage safe driving speeds while providing a memorable musical experience for travelers.

Singing Highway (Video)

18. 66 Diner, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Address: 1405 Central Ave NE, Albuquerque, NM 87106 (click for directions/map)

Telephone: (505) 247-1421

Website: 66diner.com

The 66 Diner in Albuquerque, New Mexico, is a retro restaurant that pays homage to the 1950s and the golden age of Route 66.

With its authentic diner setup, jukebox tunes, and classic American menu featuring milkshakes, burgers, and fries, it offers a nostalgic dining experience.

The diner’s memorabilia and décor transport guests back in time, making it a favorite among Route 66 enthusiasts and locals alike.

66 Diner (Video)

ARIZONA

19. Petrified Forest National Park, Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona

Address: Petrified Forest National Park (click for directions/map)

Telephone: n/a

Website: n/a

Petrified Forest National Park, located in northeastern Arizona, is renowned for its vast collection of petrified wood.

Spanning 346 square miles, the park encompasses colorful badlands, ancient petroglyphs, and a portion of the Painted Desert.

It offers visitors a fascinating glimpse into the Late Triassic period, with extensive walking trails and educational programs highlighting the natural and cultural history of the area.

Petrified Forest National Park (Video)

20. Meteor Crater, Winslow, Arizona

Address: Meteor Crater Rd, Winslow, AZ 86047 (click for directions/map)

Telephone: (800) 289-5898

Website: meteorcrater.com

Meteor Crater near Winslow, Arizona, is the best-preserved meteorite impact site on Earth.

Formed about 50,000 years ago, the crater is nearly 1 mile across and over 550 feet deep.

Visitors can explore the interactive discovery center, take guided tours along the rim, and learn about the impact of meteorites on Earth’s geology and history, making it a compelling destination for science enthusiasts and tourists alike.

Meteor Crater (Video)

21. Lowell Observatory, Flagstaff, Arizona

Address: 1400 W Mars Hill Rd, Flagstaff, AZ 86001 (click for directions/map)

Telephone: (928) 774-3358

Website: lowell.edu

Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, is a historic astronomical observatory where Pluto was discovered in 1930.

It offers daytime and evening programs that allow visitors to explore the universe through telescopes, interactive exhibits, and live presentations.

The observatory’s rich history, combined with its ongoing research and stunning views of the night sky, make it an inspiring visit for all ages.

Lowell Observatory (Video)

22. Bearizona, Williams, Arizona

Address: 1500 E Rte 66, Williams, AZ 86046 (click for directions/map)

Telephone: (928) 635-2289

Website: bearizona.com

Bearizona Wildlife Park in Williams, Arizona, is a drive-through wildlife park where visitors can see North American animals in naturalistic habitats.

The park features bears, wolves, bison, and other wildlife, offering an up-close experience with nature.

Beyond the drive-through area, a walk-through section includes smaller animals and bird of prey shows, providing education and entertainment for the whole family.

Bearizona (Video)

23. Grand Canyon National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Address: Grand Canyon National Park (click for directions/map)

Telephone: n/a

Website: n/a

Grand Canyon National Park, one of the world’s natural wonders, is known for its overwhelming size and its intricate and colorful landscape.

Geologically significant and offering spectacular vistas, the park encompasses 277 miles of the Colorado River and adjacent uplands.

Activities include hiking, rafting, and helicopter tours, making it a must-visit for nature lovers and adventure seekers.

Brief History of Grand Canyon National Park (Video)

24. Oatman, Oatman, Arizona

Address: Oatman, AZ (click for directions/map)

Telephone: n/a

Website: n/a

Oatman, Arizona, is a historic ghost town located on Route 66.

Known for its wild burros roaming the streets, live reenactments of gunfights, and Old West charm, Oatman offers a glimpse into the gold mining life of the early 1900s.

The town’s shops, restaurants, and unique attractions, like the Oatman Hotel, where Clark Gable and Carole Lombard spent their honeymoon, attract visitors looking for an authentic step back in time.

Who were Clark Gable and Carole Lombard? Clark Gable was an iconic American film actor, often dubbed “The King of Hollywood,” famous for his roles in classics such as “Gone with the Wind.” Carole Lombard was a celebrated American actress known for her comedic roles in films of the 1930s, and she was also Gable’s third wife, with their marriage being one of Hollywood’s most famous romances.

Ghost Town of Oatman, Arizona (Video)

CALIFORNIA

25. Mojave National Preserve, Kelso, California

Address: Mojave National Preserve (click for directions/map)

Telephone: n/a

Website: n/a

Mojave National Preserve in Kelso, California, offers visitors a diverse landscape of sand dunes, canyons, volcanic cinder cones, and mountains.

Covering over 1.6 million acres, it protects a variety of desert plant and animal life.

With its scenic vistas, historic sites like the Kelso Depot, and opportunities for hiking, camping, and stargazing, it’s a haven for those seeking solitude and natural beauty.

Mojave National Preserve (Video)

26. Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica, California

Address: 200 Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica, CA 90401 (click for directions/map)

Telephone: (310) 458-8900

Website: santamonicapier.org

The Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica, California, marks the end of Route 66 and is a vibrant hub of entertainment, dining, and shopping.

The iconic pier features Pacific Park, an amusement park with a solar-powered Ferris wheel, an aquarium, and classic carnival games.

Its historic significance, coupled with stunning ocean views and cultural events, makes it a celebrated destination for tourists and locals alike.

Santa Monica Pier (Video)

In Summary

Route 66 is a symbol of freedom and discovery that stitched together small towns and big dreams from Chicago to Santa Monica.

Back in the day, it was the backdrop for countless adventures and stories, a path of neon signs, quirky attractions, and the promise of the West.

Even though it’s no longer an official highway, its legend lives on, inviting travelers to journey through the heart of America’s past.

Related Route 66 Facts

  1. Origination and Designation: Route 66, originally proposed as U.S. Highway 60, was renumbered to Route 66 in 1926 after disputes over the numbering system. It was included in the interstate route system approved by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture in 1925, which was proposed by the American Association of State Highway Officials.
  2. Route and Construction: The highway extended from Chicago to Los Angeles, traversing Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. Though it was a federal project, individual states managed its construction. Route 66 wasn’t fully paved until 1938, and subsequent realignments reduced its original length.
  3. Cultural Significance and Economic Impact: Known as the “Main Street of America” by the mid-1930s, Route 66 became a symbol of American culture and contributed to economic growth along its path. It encouraged the emergence of drive-in businesses and fast food.
  4. Historical Milestones: During the Great Depression, it became the “Mother Road” for westward migrants. Its cultural impact was amplified through music, literature, and television, notably by Nat King Cole’s song “Route 66” and a 1960s TV series.
  5. Demise and Decommissioning: The creation of the Interstate Highway System, starting with the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956, gradually made Route 66 obsolete. It was officially decommissioned in 1985, though parts were bypassed or replaced before that.
  6. Preservation Efforts: Route 66 continues to be celebrated as an important part of American heritage, with efforts to preserve sections of the road, businesses, and memorabilia by private entities, organizations, and museums dedicated to its history and legacy.

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