Places You Just Can’t Miss on US Route 66

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Not everyone has money to spend on international vacations and that’s ok because the US has some pretty great spots as well. If road-tripping US Route 66 is on your bucket list, or you happen to be traveling on any part of America’s ‘Main Street,’ you’ll certainly want to stop by these iconic and underrated landmarks alike. Whether you’re in search of a restaurant, hotel or some form of attraction, you’ll have plenty to choose from.

Illinois

Colaw House

Photos via The Colaw Rooming House

The Colaw Rooming House, Atlanta, IL

The Colaw Rooming House really is a hotel of the bygone era. With only three rooms, two bathrooms and a quaint kitchen, experience what travel was like before the advent of chain hotels.

Maid-Rite Sandwich Shop, Springfield, IL

This little sandwich shop claims to be the first drive-thru in America! Built in 1921, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.

Castle Car Wash, Chicago, IL

The Castle Car Wash was built in 1925, right during the automobile boom. One of the only remaining establishments of its kind in the area, you certainly won’t miss its unique architecture as  you pass through the area.

Missouri

missouriPhotos via Pop Culture Cuisine, Carol M. Highsmith and Jolyn Hecht.

Route 66 Drive In Theatre, Carthage, MO

Take a pit stop at the Route 66 Drive in Theatre and take a break from all that driving. Enjoy a movie and some old fashioned concessions.

Munger-Moss Motel, Lebanon, MO

The historic Munger-Moss Motel has been lodging travelers for over 50 years. Follow the glow of their neon sign and kick your feet up while you appreciate the “mom and pop” comfort of the motel.

Ted Drewe’s Frozen Custard, St. Louis, MO

Ted Drewe’s is famous for two very different things; their custard, and their Christmas trees. They’re also known for their “concrete,” a blend of custard and ingredients so thick that you can tip the cup over without losing any of it.

Oklahoma and Kansas

*Kansas has the shortest mileage of any state on Route 66 with only 11 miles.

oklahoma

Photos via Best Road Trip Ever!, Food Channel and Blue Whale

Waylan’s Ku-Ku Burger, Miami, OK

This burger joint is famous for its giant yellow ku-ku bird which sticks out of the front wall of the restaurant. If you’re nostalgic for the 1960s, Ku-Ku Burger is sure to please.

Blue Whale, Catoosa, OK

This is one of those weird attractions you just can’t miss. Literally a giant blue whale, the structure was originally built by Hugh Davis in the early 70s as an anniversary gift for his wife who collected whale figurines. 

The Campbell Hotel, Tulsa, OK

If you’ve seen your fair share of motels and are looking for a little more modern comfort, the Campbell is your go-to in Oklahoma. The boutique hotel has 26 originally themed rooms as well as a spa.

4 Women on the Route, Galena, KS

Also known as the Kan-O-Tex Service Station, this roadside diner and souvenir shop first opened in 1934. Fun fact: the 1951 International boom truck that sits outside the shop served as the inspiration for Pixar’s animated Cars character Mater.

Texas

texas

Photos via Sign Spotting, Pinterest and Wikipedia

Midpoint Cafe, Adrian, TX

The Midpoint Cafe is a restaurant, antique shop and souvenir shop that is exactly halfway between Los Angeles and Chicago on US Route 66. Their slogan? “When you’re here, you’re halfway there.”

The Cadillac Ranch, Amarillo, TX

One of the most iconic attractions on Route 66, the Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo is recognized by ten Caddies buried nose-down in the dirt. Created in 1974 by a group of hippies known as the Ant Farm, their art piece was designed to baffle the public.

Cactus Inn, McLean, TX

You’ll be certain you’re at the right place when you spot the large cactus sign that advertises the motel. This gem is a true throwback to the old Route 66.

New Mexico

new mexico

Photos via Roadtrip America, Pinterest and Yelp.

The 66 Diner, Albuquerque, NM

50s-style dining awaits you at the 66 Diner. With its retro style and streamlined aesthetic, you’ll be taken back in time.

Blue Spruce Lodge, Gallup, NM

Centrally located and marked by a neon tree, at the Blue Spruce you’ll be sure to meet other travelers and locals alike. 

The Tee Pee Curios, Tucumcari, NM

This concrete wigwam serves as a gift shop that sells Native American jewelry, moccasins, rugs and small souvenirs. Don’t miss your opportunity to take a photo with the Route 66 legend. 

Arizona

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Photos via Library of Congress and Wikipedia

Wigwam Motel, Holbrook, AZ

One of two existing Wigwam Motels (the other is in California), visitors to the motel sleep in their own teepee. Fifteen teepees, each 21-feet wide and 28-feet tall, and constructed with steel and concrete stand in a semi-circle on the grounds.

Delgadillo’s Snow Cap Drive-In, Seligman, AZ

The Snow Cap Drive-In was built in 1953 by Juan Delgadillo. Delgadillo built the eatery almost entirely out of scrap metal from a nearby railroad yard and kitschy neon signs and automobile remnants. Bring your sense of humor as the menu has options like “dead chicken” and “cheeseburger with cheese” and the sign on the door reads “sorry we’re open.”

Petrified Forest National Park, Holbrook, AZ

This national park covers 146 square miles of land and is named for the large deposits of petrified wood that are present in the area. About 600,000 people visit each year to go hiking, sightseeing and take photos.

California

california

Photos via Wikimedia, Panoramio and Go Backpacking

Wagon Wheel Restaurant, Needles, CA

The Wagon Wheel is a favorite among locals, visitors and truckers. With tried-and-true menu options like chicken fried steak, country mashed potatoes with gravy and pot roast, the family owned and operated restaurant will surely deliver that old school atmosphere you’re looking for.

Route 66 Motel, Barstow, CA

Built in 1922, this old school motel is known today for its round beds, antique cars and 100-foot long Route 66 mural.

Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica, CA

The Pier which opened in 1909 marks the end of Route 66. The renovated turn of the century park features a historic carousel, aquarium and ballroom.

About the Writer

chelsea.stuartChelsea Stuart is currently finishing up her degree in Writing, Literature & Publishing at Emerson College in Boston. After living on a ship for four months and visiting 15 countries with the study abroad program Semester at Sea, she’s presently dealing with some intense wanderlust. Aside from travel, she enjoys reading, writing, photography, thrifting, and drinking an absurd amount of coffee. She hopes to one day (soon) pursue a career in publishing and try her luck in The City that Never Sleeps.

Feature photo via Shutterstock 

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