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My husband and I are planning a trip to Romania next May.
We are also looking for a driver with or without a car (we can rent one) .
Any comments will be appreciated
3 replies to this topic
It also depends on how much time you want to spend in each area, maybe try something like this:
Day 1: Bucharest - Curtea de Arges - Ramnicu Valcea - Sibiu
Day 2: Sibiu (medieval quarter, Astra Museum)
Day 3: Alba Iulia citadel, Salina Turda , downtown Cluj Napoca in the evening
Days 4-6: Maramures (the Sighetu Marmatiei - Borsa route is just a general suggestion, you should focus mainly on remote villages and include local experiences)
Days 7-8: painted monasteries and Suceava
Day 9: Iasi
Day 10: Bicaz lake, Ceahlau massif, Bicaz canyon, Rosu lake, overnight there
Day 11: Sighisoara, the old German villages (Saschiz, Viscri etc.) on to Brasov in the evening
Day 12: Brasov (explore the old town, go up Tampa hill)
Day 13: Sinaia (see Peles castle , go into the Bucegi mountains)
Day 14: Bucharest ( Palace of Parliament , areas along Calea Victoriei, Old Town)
Book accommodations' at least few days ahead and get tickets online for attractions where possible.
For driver services browse through the listings on https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attractions-g294458-Activities-c59-Bucharest.html
Thank you Alterme,
I will check your itinerary and make the changes.
Any places are not must-do ?
places not mentioned
In Maramures try to focus on more remote villages (Ieud, Botiza, Poienile Izei, Glod, Breb etc.) and local experiences (fairs, markets, events) instead of just driving straight from Sighetu Marmatiei to Borsa.
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Village Life in Transylvanian Carpathians Mountains
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Maramures, Bucovina & Danube Delta Tour – 5 days
Dracula Tour in Romania from Bucharest including 'The Ritual of Killing of a Living Dead
Fully Guided Roundtrip Romania from Airport Bucharest
3-Day Tour Danube Delta Birdwaching and Safari Experience from Bucharest
- +€400 local payments
Best of Romania, 2 special dinners and a show
Private Dracula Tour 6-Day in Transylvania from Bucharest with Hotel Pick Up/ Drop Off
Transylvania Castles & Mountains
Transylvanian Long Weekend
- Take a peek at the handiwork and craftsmanship of the Saxons in the splendid town of Stejarisu and don’t miss the famous Bacon Tower.
- Sit in on a pottery workshop in Marginea and learn a unique way of molding clay.
- Visit the enclosed remains of Stephen the Great inside a 500 year old monastery in Putna.
- Interact with locals and craftsmen in the villages of Bukovina and enjoy their lively and exciting stories.
- Be amazed at the Moldovita monastery, a true Byzantine architectural masterpiece and follow that up by learning how to paint and decorate Easter eggs.
- Visit the largest Museum of Painted Glass Icons in Romania in the traditional rural area of Sibiel.
- Spend a day or two in the cultural capital of Europe – Sibiu. Its old town, museums, historical buildings and artsy cafes will give you enough to reflect upon.
- Climb 1480 steps up to Poenari Castle, Dracula’s hideaway. Discover Vlad Tepes’s ancestors and his cruel and frightening history.
- If you’re going to the theater or opera, remember to dress well and accessorize with classy and elegant bags, watches and shoes.
- You may get gum or candy in lieu of small change at a local store – this is normal and accepted.
- Be wary of pick pockets near the train station Gara de Nord and main tourist areas.
- Avoid whistling or opening an umbrella inside a house as it’s considered a bad omen.
- Get vaccinated for ticks if you plan to go hiking in Romania.
- It is customary to tip 10% when you dine at a restaurant.
- Always close a door behind you as the locals believe that the cold draft could affect health.
- Ignore stray dogs and if they get aggressive, don’t run but just keep walking.
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PRO Guided Birdwatching Day Trip, Starting from Sibiu
TICKET PRICES STARTING FROM
Taxes and fees will be calculated at checkout
A professional guided birdwatching trip, starting from Sibiu. Can be a birding tour done by car or can be mixed, car and trekking, depending by your choise, we can design the tour according to your desire. Sibiu surroundings offers different areal for birding, from water birds on Olt River reservoirs to alpine birds, in top of the mountains. It is very helpful for us, if we know some of the species you want to see so we can draw a proper route for you. Our guides are very good professionals, from Sibiu area and they know the places very well. We are doing this tour all year around, every season is interesting and offers a good number of species. Please tell us your prioritary species you wan to see, so we’ll know how to design your route. On all tours, we will go by car to the places but there, we need to walk a little, some species can be seen close to the places were we can drive the car, other need some low-medium trekking.
You'll depart from Sibiu to the places around. According to your list request, the route can be to plains / lakes or hills / mountains.
- Mobile or paper ticket accepted
- One per booking
- Guide, English language
- Car (including gasoline)
- Hotel pick-up / drop-off
What's not Included
- Drinks (other then water)
- Any kind of insurance (travel, for personal goods etc)
- All sales are final. No refund is available for cancellations.
- Travelers should have at least a moderate level of physical fitness
- Ointments or creams against insects
- Sunscreen cream
- Season appropriate clothing, long robes are mandatory, trousers, shirt and a sun hat or you will get a sun burn. Clothing with colors close to nature are recommended; red, white, yellow and blue are to be avoided
- Trekking shoes
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Nomadic Matt's Travel Site
Travel Better, Cheaper, Longer
Romania Travel Tips
Last Updated: November 2, 2023
I had no idea what to expect when I first visited Romania. Beyond the stereotypical vampire myths and legends of Transylvania, I knew shockingly little about the country.
What I found on arrival was a budget-friendly destination brimming with hearty food, amazing natural landscapes, and a fraction of the tourists found elsewhere in Europe .
The country has a long (and turbulent) history stretching back thousands of years. It was annexed by numerous powers over the centuries, including the Romans, the Byzantines, the Holy Roman Empire, Hungary, and the Soviets (who left a particularly dark stain on the country’s history).
While Romania used to be far off the beaten path, in recent years, the country’s tourism numbers have been increasing. That said, it’s still relatively undiscovered compared to countries in Western and Central Europe and its charming historic cities with cobblestone streets and medieval architecture is both affordable and rarely crowded.
I love Romania to bits and I strongly, strongly encourage you to take the country slowly and spend extra time here. It’s a massive country perfect for road-tripping, hiking, and history buffs.
This travel guide to Romania can help you plan your trip, save money, and make the most of your visit.
Table of Contents
- Things to See and Do
- Typical Costs
- Suggested Budget
- Money-Saving Tips
- Where to Stay
- How to Get Around
- How to Stay Safe
- Best Places to Book Your Trip
- Related Blogs on Romania
Click Here for City Guides
Top 5 things to see and do in romania.
1. Explore Brasov
Located in the historical region of Transylvania and surrounded by the Carpathian Mountains, Brasov is one of the best-preserved cities in Romania. Due to its location in the center of the country, the city has long been a hub for commercial and cultural activities (it was even the birthplace of Romania’s national anthem). Today, the city is best known to travelers as the launching pad for trips to “Dracula’s castle” (which isn’t actually his castle but is still a fun one to visit). There’s a bit of everything here, including great hiking nearby, a beautiful historic center, and charming medieval streets. The city also offers a wide variety of food, from local Romanian fare to tasty international dishes. Stay awhile and really soak in this cultural capital.
2. Wander Bucharest
Bucharest boasts a healthy mix of Neoclassical and Beaux-Arts buildings and communist-style concrete blocks. By European standards, it’s a relatively young city, and in recent years has become a tech hub for local and European startups as well as digital nomads. There are plenty of museums, cemeteries, historical sites, shopping centers, and architectural sights to check out here. Some of the main sights include the gigantic Palace of Parliament, the Romanian Patriarchal Cathedral, the ethnographic Village Museum, Revolution Square, and the Ceausescu Mansion.
3. Trek the Fagaras Mountains
The Fagaras Mountains are the highest mountains in the Southern Carpathians and one of the most popular places in the country to go hiking. You can go on an awesome multi-day trekking experience that takes you along the main ridge of the Fagaras. The route is one of the longest and most continuous high-mountain traverses in Europe. Hikers can trek over Moldoveanu, Negoiu, and Vista Mare — three of Romania’s highest peaks that all tower over 2,500 meters (approximately 8,300 feet).
4. Visit Sibiu
Visiting Sibiu is like stepping back into the Middle Ages. Located in the historical region of Transylvania, the city was the capital of the region at various points throughout history. Cobblestone streets, ancient town squares, castle walls, and historic buildings — this city has everything you want in an old European city but without the crowds found elsewhere. It has a wonderful medieval charm, beautiful views of the surrounding landscapes, excellent food, and lots of green space. Don’t miss the Brukenthal Museum, the Citadel, and the unique Baroque eyebrow dormers that earned the city the nickname “The City with Eyes.”
5. See the painted monasteries in Bucovina
These Romanian Orthodox monasteries in the northeastern edge of the country are striking in that they have their exterior walls painted with elaborate 15th- and 16th-century frescoes featuring saints, prophets, Jesus, and other religious scenes. The walls are a masterpiece of Byzantine art and a pilgrimage destination for Romanian Orthodox believers. Eight of the monasteries have been designated a collective UNESCO World Heritage Site too.
Other Things to See and Do in Romania
1. see the alexandru borza botanic gardens.
Located in Cluj-Napoca , this massive botanical garden features rolling green hills, an observation tower, a rose garden, and even a Japanese garden. Founded in 1872, the garden is home to over 10,000 plants and spans 35 acres. There are greenhouses, ponds, and a wide variety of regional gardens with plants from all around the world. Admission is 15 RON per person (RON when the greenhouses are closed).
2. Get a cultural immersion in Maramures
This medieval region of Romania is one of my favorites. The traditional culture here is thriving and there is an interesting blend of local music, hand-made wooden structures, and colorful textiles to experience. Each village has a large wooden church and intricate wooden gates that are hand-carved (woodworking is a tradition here that goes back centuries). There are unique cemeteries as well, stemming from their belief that the afterlife is a beginning, not an end. For example, instead of solemn words on stone tombstones, there are blue wooden crosses with funny verses about the deceased. Don’t miss the Memorial Museum to the Victims of Communism & to the Resistance and the Elie Wiesel Memorial House (Wiesel was a famous Romanian-American who wrote the book Night about his experiences during the Holocaust.).
3. Hike at Mount Tampa
Towering above Brasov, this mountain is great for a quick hike if you’re looking to get a view overlooking the city. The mountain also has a large sign similar to the white “Hollywood” sign in Los Angeles . While the hike is pretty easy and takes less than an hour (the mountain is just 1,000 meters/3,280 feet high), there is also a cable car you can ride to the summit for 18 RON (round trip).
4. Visit the Romanian Patriarchal Cathedral
This cathedral in Bucharest was completed in 1659 and still has all of its original interior paintings and icons, in addition to some beautiful frescoes (most of the frescoes are reconstructions). The exterior façade was designed in the Brancovenesc style and the interior is lavishly ornate, spacious, and colorful. The acapella choir is particularly impressive to listen to. Admission is free but dress conservatively as this is a place of ongoing worship.
5. See the wildlife in Northern Dobruja
Tucked away in the southeastern corner of the county, this region is home to over 400 species of birds as well as lots of wildlife. It’s a hilly expanse with over a dozen lakes, and more to be found just over the border in Bulgaria . It’s one of the best regions to explore by car as you can hop from town to town. Be sure to spend some time in the coastal city of Constanta, the oldest continuously inhabited city in Romania (it was founded in 600 BCE).
6. Visit the Danube Delta
Flowing over 3,000 kilometers (1,864 miles) from its source in Germany , this is Europe’s second-largest and best-preserved delta (the Volga is the largest). The Danube stretches through 10 countries — more than any other river in the world — before draining into the Black Sea via Romania (and Ukraine ). The entire region is a UNESCO World Heritage site, making it a great nature preserve to explore if you’re looking to get away from the crowds. You can hike around the coastline or take a boat tour along the water for a better view. While the hiking is free, expect to pay around 210-300 RON for a full-day boat tour that includes lunch. A half-day tour without lunch is about 110-150 RON.
7. Celebrate Hora de la Prislop
Held every August, this festival is a celebration that brings together Transylvania, Moldova , and Maramures. Known more commonly as the Dance at Prislop, there is lots of traditional dancing and singing, beautiful costumes, parading, and awesome feasting. Dating back to the 1730s, the festival is a celebration of local and traditional culture and one not to be missed if you’re in the area. The festival is held in the remote Prislop Pass in the north of the country, where up to 50,000 people gather each year.
8. Hunt for Dracula in Sighisoara
Founded during the 12th century, this town is one of the most beautiful and best-preserved medieval towns in Europe. One of the eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the country, there are many towers, ornate churches, and burgher houses (traditional houses from the Middle Ages and Renaissance) to see throughout the colorful cobbled streets. This is also the birthplace of Vlad Tepes, more commonly known as Vlad the Impaler (aka Dracula). Be sure to climb the clock tower for sweeping views of the city. Other highlights include the History Museum, the guild towers (part of the city’s historic defenses), and the Scholar’s Stairway (a 17th-century staircase that was used by schoolchildren).
9. Visit Peles Castle
Constructed for King Carol I in the 1870s as a getaway spot, this castle (which looks more like an elaborate palace or manor house) is lavishly decorated and serves as a great reminder of the luxurious lives these rulers enjoyed. It was also the first castle in Europe to have electricity. After touring the elaborate grounds and gardens you can head inside to look at the art and antique collection, which includes over 4,000 arms and armor. A visit to the ground floor of the castle costs 50 RON, a tour including the first floor costs 100 RON, and a tour of the ground, first, and the second floor costs 150 RON. The temporary exhibitions are free. Guided day trips from Bucharest cost around 100 RON and include Bran Castle.
10. Tour a salt mine
Salina Turda is a salt mine in Turda that has been converted into a subterranean museum. The mine dates back to antiquity and was used throughout the Middle Ages. Learn how the workers got the salt to the surface and how laborious the process was. There’s a small underground lake at the bottom where you can rent a boat and paddle around and there are also games like bowling and mini-golf and even a Ferris wheel! It’s a good place to visit with kids. There is also a spa if you want to treat yourself to some natural remedies. Admission is 50 RON on weekdays and 60 RON on weekends. Skip-the-line tickets (including a guide and ride from Bucharest) cost 500 RON.
11. Explore Cluj-Napoca
Cluj-Napoca is pleasant university town located in Romania’s northwest and a big stopping point for people coming east from Hungary (it’s a hub for cheap flights too). The city dates back centuries, and there are a lot of historical churches, museums, and ruins (especially on Cetatuia hill) to visit. Because of the university here, there are a lot of affordable restaurants and a very happening nightlife in the city. I really liked the days I spent here. While not as historic and medieval as many of Romania’s other cities, if you’re looking for a city with a cool atmosphere in Romania, this place is it.
12. Explore Hoia Forest
This infamous forest has been the site of numerous ghost and UFO sightings over the centuries (as well as other paranormal activities). In fact, it’s often considered the creepiest forest in the world. Here, trees are warped and bent in unsettling ways that science hasn’t been able to explain. Take a stroll through the woods during the day for free (lots of locals walk and jog here) or do a guided night tour to learn about the unsettling paranormal events that have occurred here! Night tours cost 250-475 RON per person.
13. Unwind at Balea Lake
Located 90 minutes from Sibiu, Balea Lake makes for a worthwhile day trip from the city. Part of the Fagaras Mountains (often called the “Transylvanian Alps”), many people come here to hike or to ski during the winter (there is even an ice hotel built here in the winter). There are marked trails if you want to hike, offering both five-hour and nine-hour routes to some of the nearby summits. Located about an hour from the city, you can take a bus here for around 90 RON.
For more information on specific cities in Romania, check out these guides:
- Brasov Travel Guide
- Cluj-Napoca Travel Guide
- Sibiu Travel Guide
Romania Travel Costs
Accommodation – A bed in a 4-8-bed hostel dorm costs about 50-70 RON per night. A private room in a hostel costs at least 130 RON per night. Free Wi-Fi is standard and many hostels also have self-catering facilities if you want to cook your own food. Most hostels in the country don’t include free breakfast.
A budget hotel costs around 150-175 RON per night. You can find rooms cheaper, however, you’ll have to share a bathroom with other guests. Free Wi-Fi is common and many hotels also include a simple free breakfast as well.
Airbnb is available throughout the country with private rooms starting around 90 RON per night, while entire homes/apartments cost around 130-175 RON.
For those traveling with a tent, camping is possible around the country, though stick to dedicated campgrounds. Wild camping is legal, but theft is a bit common so it’s much safer to camp in designated areas. It costs 25-40 RON per night for a basic tent plot.
Food – Romanian cuisine is hearty, influenced by nearby Hungary and other Eastern European neighbors. Stews and sausages are common staples, with garlic sausage being especially popular. Sour soup, lamb, meatballs, and meat pies are other popular traditional meals. Wine is the drink of choice here as Romania is one of the largest wine producers in the world.
Most cheap (yet filling) restaurant meals (such as schnitzel with mashed potatoes and salad) cost around 25-45 RON for dinner, and 10-20 RON for breakfast. Soup is a good option for saving money as it costs around 17-25 RON and is pretty hearty (it also typically comes with a side of bread).
At a mid-range restaurant, a three-course meal costs around 80 RON. A burger or pasta dish is 35-40 RON while seafood or steak dishes typically cost 75-130 RON. A six-course tasting menu starts at 110 RON.
Fast food is around 6-9 RON for a burger or hot dog, while a combo meal (think McDonald’s) is around 30-40 RON. Takeaway sandwiches are around 20 RON.
A domestic beer out at a restaurant or bar costs around 8-10 RON, a glass of local wine is 7-18 RON while a bottle is 60-100 RON, and cocktails start at 20-35 RON. A cappuccino/latte is around 10-12 RON, a tea is 10 RON, and a bottle of water is 5-8 RON.
In tourist destinations like Brasov or Sighisoara, expect prices to be a little higher (but not too much).
If you buy your own groceries and cook your meals, expect to pay about 140-190 RON per week for groceries that include pasta, vegetables, chicken, and other basic staples. Save money by shopping at local markets or small roadside stands, which usually have the cheapest and freshest products. There are also several discount supermarkets in Romania, like Profi, Lidl, and Penny Market.
Backpacking Romania Suggested Budgets
On a backpacker budget of 140 RON per day, you can stay in a hostel, cook all of your meals, use local transportation to get around, take slow trains between cities, and do mostly free activities like hiking and free walking tours.
On a mid-range budget of about 265 RON per day, you can stay in an Airbnb, eat out for most meals, enjoy a few drinks out at the bar, take the occasional taxi, take buses or rideshares between cities, and do more paid activities such as museum and castle visits.
On a “luxury” budget of 440 RON or more per day, you can stay in a hotel, eat out for all your meals, drink more, rent a car to get around, and do whatever tours and activities you want. This is just the ground floor for luxury though. The sky is the limit!
You can use the chart below to get some idea of how much you need to budget daily, depending on your travel style. Keep in mind these are daily averages — some days you’ll spend more, some days you’ll spend less (you might spend less every day). We just want to give you a general idea of how to make your budget. Prices are in RON.
Romania Travel Guide: Money-Saving Tips
Romania is already a very affordable country to visit. You’ll be hard pressed to spend a lot of money here. You really have to go out of your way to do so. But, if you want some ways to lower your costs, here are ways to save money in the country:
- Stay with a local – Nothing’s cheaper than sleeping for free. Couchsurfing connects you with locals who give you not only a free place to stay but who can introduce you to all the great places to see and share their insider tips and advice. It’s a great community to be a part of.
- Eat lunch out – Although the food in Romania is inexpensive in general, you can save more money by cooking your own dinners and eating your lunches out. A lunch menu in Romania typically consists of three courses (soup, main, dessert), and can cost as little as 30 RON.
- Rideshare – If you’re flexible in your schedule, use the ridesharing service BlaBlaCar to catch rides with locals between cities (or countries). Drivers are verified and it’s perfectly safe (though sometimes rides don’t show up, which is why you need to be flexible). While buses might be cheaper, this is more fun and usually faster.
- Shop at discount grocers – If you’re going to cook or are just grabbing a snack, save money by shopping at discount supermarkets like Profi, Lidl, and Penny Market.
- Stay at Balkan Backpacker Hostels – There are hostels all around Romania that are a part of the Balkan Backpacker network. Book directly with these hostels and tell them you’re aware of the network to get 10% off your stay.
- Hitchhike – Hitchhiking in Romania is safe and quite common. It’s not the fastest way to get around but it works if you’re on a budget. Just make sure you have a sign and that you trust your gut when accepting rides. It’s a great way to connect with locals while also saving money.
- Take the train – The trains in Romania are slow, but they are the cheapest way to get around. If you’re not in a hurry, take the train. There are some night trains around the country as well if you’re going long distances.
- Bring a water bottle – The tap water here is generally safe so bring a reusable water bottle to save money and reduce your reliance on single-use plastic. I suggest a LifeStraw since their bottles have a built-in filter to ensure your water is always clean and safe.
Where to Stay in Romania
Romania has tons of budget-friendly hostels. Here are of my favorite places to stay in Romania:
- JugendStube (Brasov)
- Sleep Inn Hostel (Bucharest)
- PanGeea (Sibiu)
- Burg Hostel (Sighisoara)
How to Get Around Romania
Public Transportation – Buses and trams in most towns cost as little as 2 RON for a single journey, though the vehicles are often crowded and in varying states of disrepair. In Bucharest, the metro is 3 RON, though a day-pass is only 8 RON making it a much better deal. Weekly metro passes are 30 RON, which is worthwhile if you’re going to be using public transportation often (week passes are also available for the buses and trams but prices vary depending on your route).
In Brasov and Cluj, for comparison, a single-ticket ride on the public bus is 2-2.50 RON while a day pass is 12-14 RON.
Flights – Flying around Romania is an option if you’re in a hurry. You can often find great deals if you plan ahead. From Bucharest, you can reach pretty much any airport in the country for under 400 RON.
Bucharest to Cluj or Timisoara, for example, can be done for under 170 RON one-way. Ryanair, Wizz, and Blue Air (the Romanian low-cost carrier) are the three airlines to check for the lowest prices.
Bus – Buses connect all the major cities in the country, though since Romania is a large country, the journeys can be quite long. For example, the journey from Bucharest to Cluj costs around 100 RON and takes 9 hours. The journey from Bucharest to Brasov takes around 4 hours and costs 50-65 RON.
Contrary to most countries, the trains here are a cheaper option in many cases. If you’re on a budget, be sure to compare bus and train prices.
Train – Trains in Romania are a slow (but reliable) way of getting around. There are 3 different kinds of trains: InterCity (IC), InterRegional (IR), and Regional (R). The InterRegional trains are the fastest and nicest and likely the ones you’ll be using to travel from city to city.
Standard seats (second class) are usually quite comfortable and adequate for even long journeys. Wi-Fi and catering are not available so bring your own entertainment and food if you have a long journey.
As for prices, the 9-hour journey from Bucharest to Timisoara is around 100 RON while the trip from Bucharest to Cluj-Napoca takes about the same amount of time and costs a little less at 90 RON.
Rideshare – Uber is available in Bucharest, Cluj-Napoca, Brasov, Timisoara, and Iasi. It’s the cheapest option if you need to get somewhere and don’t want to take public transit as the taxis in Romania charge an arm and a leg.
For longer distances, use BlaBlaCar. It’s a great (and safe) ridesharing service for intercity travels. Just download the app, make a profile, and search for rides.
Car – Car rentals are about 70 RON per day for a multi-day rental. Always be sure to lock your rental car when leaving, as rentals are targeted for theft more often than local vehicles. Drivers need to be at least 21.
For the best rental car prices, use Discover Cars .
Hitchhiking – Hitchhiking in Romania is very easy. Just make sure you make it clear to the driver that you are hitchhiking, as some drivers will demand payment if it’s not made clear. For more information about hitchhiking in Romania, use Hitchwiki .
When to Go to Romania
The best (and most popular) time to visit Romania is during the summer, from June to August. Temperatures are hot and rain is infrequent. Expect daily highs around 30°C (86°F) during this time. These are the busiest months of the year for tourism, though it’s only noticeable in destinations like Brasov or Sibiu where tourism is the main draw. But even then, the crowds are much smaller than in Western Europe.
The shoulder seasons (late April-May and September-October) are great times to visit as well. You’ll beat the crowds and have much milder temperatures, which are perfect for anyone looking to head into the hills for some hiking. There’s more rain in the spring, but there are also stunning autumn colors in the fall which makes for a beautiful backdrop to your trip (especially if you’re traveling through Transylvania).
Winter in Romania can be quite cold, with temperatures dropping below freezing. Snow is common though not abundant, which can affect conditions if you’re traveling by car. While cities like Sighisoara and Brasov look quite charming in the winter, Bucharest has a much grimmer atmosphere due to the influence of Soviet architecture and their reliance on gray, bland concrete. In short, I wouldn’t recommend a winter visit unless you have a specific desire to enjoy the cold and quiet cities.
How to Stay Safe in Romania
Romania is a very safe country and crime against tourists here is rare. It’s a safe destination for solo travelers.
That said, petty theft can still occur so always keep your valuables secure and out of sight. Theft is most common when riding crowded city buses and trams (mostly in Bucharest) so take extra precautions when riding.
Additionally, take some extra precautions when renting a car. While the roads are safe, rental cars are targeted for theft more than local cars, so take precautions and lock your vehicle when you’re not using it. When booking, make sure your insurance covers theft.
While scams are rare, if you’re worried about getting ripped off you can read about common travel scams to avoid here .
Solo female travelers should feel comfortable exploring on their own, though the standard precautions apply (don’t accept drinks from strangers, don’t walk alone late at night, etc.). As in any city, never leave your drink unattended when out at the bar and never walk home alone if intoxicated.
If you experience an emergency, dial 112 for assistance.
Always trust your gut instinct. Avoid isolated areas at night and be aware of your surroundings at all times. Make copies of your personal documents, including your passport and ID.
The most important piece of advice I can offer is to purchase good travel insurance. Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. You can use the widget below to find the policy right for you:
Romania Travel Guide: The Best Booking Resources
These are my favorite companies to use when I travel. They consistently have the best deals, offer world-class customer service and great value, and overall, are better than their competitors. They are the companies I use the most and are always the starting point in my search for travel deals.
- Skyscanner – Skyscanner is my favorite flight search engine. They search small websites and budget airlines that larger search sites tend to miss. They are hands down the number one place to start.
- Hostelworld – This is the best hostel accommodation site out there with the largest inventory, best search interface, and widest availability.
- Booking.com – The best all around booking site that constantly provides the cheapest and lowest rates. They have the widest selection of budget accommodation. In all my tests, they’ve always had the cheapest rates out of all the booking websites.
- Get Your Guide – Get Your Guide is a huge online marketplace for tours and excursions. They have tons of tour options available in cities all around the world, including everything from cooking classes, walking tours, street art lessons, and more!
- SafetyWing – Safety Wing offers convenient and affordable plans tailored to digital nomads and long-term travelers. They have cheap monthly plans, great customer service, and an easy-to-use claims process that makes it perfect for those on the road.
- LifeStraw – My go-to company for reusable water bottles with built-in filters so you can ensure your drinking water is always clean and safe.
- Unbound Merino – They make lightweight, durable, easy-to-clean travel clothing.
- Top Travel Credit Cards – Points are the best way to cut down travel expenses. Here’s my favorite point earning credit cards so you can get free travel!
- BlaBlaCar – BlaBlaCar is a ridesharing website that lets you share rides with vetted local drivers by pitching in for gas. You simply request a seat, they approve, and off you go! It’s a cheaper and more interesting way to travel than by bus or train!
Romania Travel Guide: Related Articles
Want more info? Check out all the articles I’ve written on backpacking/traveling Romania and continue planning your trip:
The Cost of Traveling Far Eastern Europe
Finding More Than Dracula in Romania
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When adventure calls, answer it with a tailor-made vacation package to Romania. Wherever your travels take you and whatever you plan to do, prepare to experience a destination with plenty to offer. The best way to organize your trip to Romania is to begin with its top cities, which include Bucharest , Otopeni and Brasov . When you're ready to stop dreaming and start traveling, Expedia will help turn your Romania vacation into reality.
Top destinations in Romania
From the bears and lynxes of the Carpathian Mountains to the Danube Delta’s vibrant birdlife, this nation’s incredible wildlife attracts many travelers — though even more are lured by the myths of Transylvania.
Romania Hotel + Flights
Starting at $79 a night, there are 4,228 Expedia-listed hotels in Romania. Why not save more cash for the fun stuff by bundling your flights and hotels with us? You can also add things like car rentals and experiences — the more you put into your Romania Vacation Package, the more you save. If you’re not sure what to check out first, we have some ideas. The Palace of Culture is a must-see, and you’ll get even more out of your visit if you add a guided tour to your package.
Your Romania Vacation Itinerary
Day 1-2: Start your adventure in Bucharest, the nation’s capital. Hip cafés, fascinating museums and a range of historical sights await you here. Make sure you set aside time to explore the impressive Palace of Parliament.
Day 3-4: Rent a car and head three hours north to Brasov. Wander the cobblestone streets and admire its soviet architecture and medieval walls. Don’t miss Rasnov Fortress and the Black Church either.
Day 4-6: Continue northwest to Cluj-Napoca. If you’re up for a hike, take a day trip to the beautiful Turda Gorge. Afterwards, blow off some steam at one of the many local bars — this place is home to a large student population, and it has the nightlife to prove it.
Medieval reenactments bring one of Europe’s most well-preserved citadels back to life at the Sighisoara Medieval Festival. Held yearly on the last weekend of July and offering crafts to traditional battles, it’s worth putting in your calendar.
If you plan to spend a while in the national capital, check out our Bucharest Vacation Packages .
Just want to relax? Browse our All Inclusive Hotels in Romania .
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Frequently asked questions, discover the most popular places to visit in romania, bran castle.
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NASHVILLE, Tenn.--( BUSINESS WIRE )-- O’Charley’s Restaurant + Bar is celebrating Summer with an all-new menu featuring delicious offerings designed to take guests’ tastebuds on a RO’ad Trip across the U.S. O’Charley’s also invites guests to arrive early on Father’s Day, June 18, as all locations will be opening at 10 a.m. that morning.
Starting June 16 (just in time for Father’s Day!) and running through July 4, the menu will feature mouth-watering options that highlight culinary flavors across the United States, including an all-new, all-American Kids Grilled Cheese. Menu highlights include:
- NEW! Colossal Lobster Roll –100% North Atlantic sweet and tender lobster meat blended with just the right amount of mayo and celery to pile high on our grilled brioche roll. Served with fries & cole slaw. $24.99
- NEW! Hot Buttered Colossal Lobster Roll – Warm and buttery! 100% North Atlantic sweet and tender lobster meat to pile high on our grilled brioche roll. Served with fries & cole slaw. $26.99
- Louisiana Sirloin – USDA Choice 12-oz. Top Sirloin, grilled with Louisiana seasoning and topped with Cajun butter. Served with two sides. $19.99
- New! Kids Grilled Cheese – American cheese on Texas Toast. With side item. $3.49
Our culinary RO’ad Trip also includes delicious drinks made to highlight places such as Tennessee, Kentucky, and California. The full drink lineup will include $3 domestic drafts , $5 Jack Daniels , $6 Woodford Cocktails , and the all-new Strawberry Ros é Spritz , which features juicy pureed strawberries meeting bright lemon and simple syrup for a refreshing sweetness. Shaken with Tito’s vodka and topped with California rosé and a splash of Sprite, this spritz proves to be the perfect roundup to this delicious trip for the senses.
Additionally, O’Charley’s is continuing to donate $1 for every cobbler purchase to the Folded Flag Foundation , a nonprofit providing educational scholarships and grants to the families of our country’s fallen heroes.
O’Charley’s was born in Nashville, Tennessee and has served craveable American food and drinks inspired by their Southern roots since 1971. O’Charley’s operates 120 restaurants across the Southeast and Midwest. In addition to great food, good times and famous unsliceably soft rolls, O’Charley’s welcomes guests with genuine hospitality every time they walk through our doors or use our curbside delivery. To find an O’Charley’s location near you, please visit www.OCharleys.com . O’Charley’s is also on Facebook , Instagram and Twitter .
Sarah Burden @ 615-496-8894 [email protected]
Rugged stone churches and dazzling monasteries dot a pristine landscape of rocky mountains and rolling hills. Transylvanian towns have stepped out of time, while vibrant Bucharest is all energy.
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2 Week Route 66 Itinerary: The Ultimate American Road Trip
Last updated: October 25, 2023 - Written by Jessica Norah 211 Comments
Route 66 is the ultimate American road trip and we’ve put together a comprehensive 2 week Route 66 itinerary to help drivers navigate this historic route. This detailed day-by-day Route 66 itinerary covers all the basic details (mileage, general route) and sightseeing highlights along the 2,400 mile route.
We cover quirky Route 66 roadside attractions, historical buildings, vintage roadside diners, museums, natural wonders, and so much more. We also provide suggestions for where to eat and where to stay each day along the drive with a strong focus on Route 66 era businesses.
Use this Route 66 itinerary to plan your travels from Chicago to Santa Monica and get the most out of your Route 66 road trip!
Table of Contents:
Things to Know Before you Take Off on your Route 66 Drive
Before you take off on your 2,400-mile “Mother Road” road trip, we’d recommend reading our Route 66 road trip planning guide to get you oriented with all the basics of driving Route 66.
Our planning guide covers the history and current status of the historical route, tips on how to stay on the route, tips on figuring out how much time you need to drive Route 66, a list of some of the highlights, packing tips, and a list of resources.
Our itinerary has suggested stops for each night, but we also have a dedicated guide to classic Route 66 hotels and motels if you are looking for places to stay.
Below is some basic information about how to get to Route 66, where to rent a car for the drive, and how to figure out how long it will take you to drive Route 66.
Getting to and from Route 66
The first thing to think about in planning your Route 66 road trip is how you are going to get to the starting point of Route 66 and how you are going to get from the Route 66 ending point back home.
If you have your own car, motorcycle, or RV and live in the U.S. (or maybe Canada) then driving may be the best option. However, if you live far from the starting or ending point (e.g., Florida, Maine, Nova Scotia) then it might make more sense to fly there and rent a car. If you do drive your own car, just remember you have to also drive the 2,000+ miles back.
If you are planning to begin and end your Route 66 experience with flights, I’d recommend flying into one of Chicago’s 2 major airports (O’ Hare or Midway) and then flying out of either Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) or Long Beach Airport (LGB).
If you are planning to begin and end your Route 66 experience by train, Amtrak has a number of trains to and from both Chicago and Los Angeles from a number of destinations around the country.
The main national bus company in the United States is Greyhound and you can get to or from Chicago and Los Angeles from just about anywhere in the country (as well as some parts of Canada and Mexico). It just may take some time!
There are a few other bus carriers that run parts of this route and you can search, compare, and book bus tickets on Busbud .
Route 66 Car Rentals
If you are renting a car, motorcycle, or RV, you’ll likely want to book a one-way rental unless you are able to drive it back. For a Route 66 road trip, you’ll probably want to look for a car or RV rental company that allows you to rent a vehicle at one end of your journey (e.g., Chicago) and return it at the other (e.g., Los Angeles).
There are a lot of major rental car companies (Thrifty, Hertz, Alamo, Avis, Dollar, Enterprise, etc.) that have offices in both Chicago and Los Angeles and allow one-way rentals so we suggest using a service like Rentalcars.com to check around and compare prices .
Be sure to check to see if there are any extra add-on fees for one-way rentals before you book. We usually find that Enterprise has the best rates for one way rentals.
Those looking for a motorcycle rental for Route 66 might check out Eagle Rider and Ride Free . Both are able to do one-way rentals.
RV, Motor Home, & Campervan Rentals
For RV rentals, there are several companies that allow one-way rentals with offices in both Chicago and Los Angeles which include El Monte RV and Cruise America.
We recommend using Motorhome Republic to check on RV rental prices as they can compare prices across the major RV rental firms in the USA for the dates you want to do the trip. You can book your RV for the USA through them here .
If you are planning a round-trip journey (e.g., pickup and return to Chicago) then you might also want to compare the prices of traditional rental agencies with those of peer-to-peer RV companies such as Outdoorsy , RVshare and RVEzy .
Should I Plan my Route 66 road trip in advance?
It is entirely up to you how much you want to plan ahead. Some people want to be completely flexible to take as much time as they like and then find a place to stay wherever they end up that night. Others want to plan out a detailed itinerary and have their lodging booked well in advance.
There are advantages and disadvantages of both styles of travel, and most people end up traveling somewhere in between. Knowing that you have some place to sleep each night when you arrive in a town can make the trip a bit less stressful.
Certainly, we’d recommend doing some research before your trip, and if there are any special places you want to stay or special things you want to attend (e.g., a concert or baseball game for instance), I’d book those in advance.
Read through our Route 66 planning guide for a more thorough guide to planning.
How do you Decide How Long to Drive Route 66?
We recommend at least 2 weeks, although the more time you have the better. A month would be ideal. But most travelers time is dictated by the amount of vacation time they have and when they can travel.
Most people do not have a full month to travel so we based our itinerary on the fact that 2 weeks is probably what would work for most travelers. We ourselves have driven Route 66 in its entirety (following the EZ66 guide for directions) in 14 days so we know that it can be done.
A big factor that should help you decide how long to drive Route 66 is to think about how much time you want to spend just driving each day. We’d recommend that you don’t spend more than 4 to 5 hours per day driving in your car.
Historic Route 66 is approximately 2,278 miles (3,665 km) long and across 14 days, a person needs to drive an average of 163 miles (262 km) per day. If one drives at 45 miles per hour (MPH) on average, that would be approximately 3 hours and 37 minutes of driving each day. Note this doesn’t account for driving additional alignments, detours, and the like so I’d always assume it will take you a bit longer than you calculated.
Then once you have an idea of how much time you want to spend driving each day, you can then make a rough estimate about the amount of time you’ll be stopping each day (attraction visits, photo stops, restroom breaks, food stops, walking tours, etc.). Putting those together can help you determine how long it will take you and allow you to pinpoint which towns or cities would be good places to overnight along the route.
What if I have Less Time than 2 weeks to Drive Route 66?
We would recommend 2 weeks as a good minimum to go at a moderate pace and still have time to visit many of the major attractions along the route. But if you have a bit less time, we’d recommend using the Interstate more to go at a quicker pace, avoiding the more congested cities by taking bypass routes of their downtowns, and skipping detours and slower alignments. You can modify this itinerary accordingly to fit the time you have available .
If you have less than 10 full days, I would not recommend trying to drive Route 66 in its entirety as you’ll have to go at such a quick pace that you’ll not have time to really enjoy the drive. If you have 8 to 10 days, you might want to come up with an itinerary that has you doing sections of Route 66 between Chicago and Los Angeles, and use the Interstate the rest of the time to get from place to place.
For those who have 7 to 8 days for driving Route 66, I’d check out our 8 day Route 66 itinerary which is an 8 day/7 night speedy itinerary. It includes many of the highlights of this itinerary but includes more Interstate driving.
But a better way if you are short on time would be to just choose to explore a section of Route 66 based on your interests and explore that section at a more leisurely pace. Many people travel Route 66 in sections, doing a part one year and returning to drive another section the next.
To choose a particular section, you can read our Route 66 guide which includes recommendations and descriptions of several section of the route that are best suited to a number of interests and people. Whether you are an Old West lover, Cars films admirer, culture seeker, or photographer, you should be able to find a section that is well-suited to a shorter itinerary.
What if I have More than 2 Weeks to Drive Route 66?
If you have more than 2 weeks to drive Route 66, that is fantastic! We’d recommend doing our suggested 2 week itinerary at a slower pace, overnighting at more places in between the suggested stops and staying in cities/towns that are of most interest to you for 2 nights or more.
With more than 2 weeks, you’ll have more time to explore, and also more time to make detours if you wish (see our Notable Detours sections within the itinerary for ideas).
You can use this itinerary as a guide and then split up the route into more sections, and also add extra days to some of the stops as your schedule allows. If you want suggestions, just ask us in the Comments section at the end of this itinerary.
How to Use the Suggested Route 66 Itinerary
We recommend that you use our Route 66 itinerary as a suggested guide rather than an inflexible itinerary. There is no way you can visit all the listed attractions or eat in all the restaurants in one road trip so choose the ones of interest. Modify the road trip itinerary to best suit the time you have available for your trip, your preferred pace of travel, and your interests. It is your trip!
We designed this Route 66 itinerary with the idea that the 2 weeks would be spent driving along Route 66 and we only leave a day or less for exploring the beginning and ending points in Chicago and Los Angeles.
But if you really want to explore Chicago and Los Angeles, we’d recommend adding 2 or 3 extra days to both the beginning and end of your trip. See our guide for spending 2 days in Chicago for some tips on what to see and do in the city.
If you only have 2 weeks for the trip, you’ll need to travel further each day to allow enough time to explore these cities within this time frame.
Below is a brief guide to each of the sections within our Route 66 itinerary to help you understand and make the most of it:
Starting & Ending Point: This provides our suggested starting and ending point for each day. On some days we have an alternative starting and/or stopping point for those preferring a shorter route or secondary Route 66 alignment.
Route : This section provides a rough idea of the route for that day if you are following the historical Route 66 road. We list some of the main cities/towns but we highly recommend that you use the latest EZ66 Guide to guide your driving as it provides detailed route guidance and directions so you can find and stay on the route. Route 66 is not signed in most places so you will need to use a guide if you want to stay on it. We also list alternative routes here if applicable.
Mileage: We list the approximate mileage that would be driven that day if a person followed the Route 66 route for the itinerary that day. The mileage is approximate and not exact given the nature of the route and the different alignments. Of course, if you make any detours or deviations from the route, this will likely add to your overall mileage. We found that we almost always drove a bit more (and sometimes a lot more) as we often made small detours to visit attractions, eat at restaurants, find parking, etc..
Historic Route 66 was about 2,448 miles (3940 km) long and today the trip is approximately 2,278 miles (3,665 km) long. If you drive Route 66 in 14 days, you’ll need to drive an average of 163 miles per day. If one drives at 45 miles per hour (MPH) on average, that would be approximately 3 hours and 37 minutes of driving each day on average. However, some days will have you going not as far or a bit further than 163 miles. We used these figures to help develop and guide the suggested itinerary.
Speed limits will vary as you’ll be driving both major highways and country roads throughout the road trip, so don’t rely on the mileage to calculate driving time. But on average you’ll likely be driving 45 MPH to 50 MPH. If you need to make up time at any point on the route, you can almost always jump on the Interstate to save time.
Time Zone: In this section, we note the time zone and any time zone changes for that suggested day’s Route 66 itinerary. The route crosses 3 different time zones.
Big City Avoider Section: Some people drive Route 66 to escape the cities and want to avoid the big cities along the route and focus on the smaller cities and towns. Others may feel stressed or uncomfortable driving in a larger city or not want to try to drive or park a large RV or motorhome in big city. For that reason we have a section that alerts drivers to larger cities, which we are classifying as any city of 250,000 or more people, and routes to avoid them. The really big ones include Chicago, St. Louis, Tulsa, and Los Angeles, but some may also want to avoid cities like Oklahoma City and Albuquerque.
Route 66 Main Attractions : In this section we highlight many of the main attractions along that day’s suggested route such as Route 66 era signs and businesses, roadside attractions, museums, scenic viewpoints, and historical sites. Some are just spots to note as you drive by whereas others are places you’ll want to stop and explore. We include those directly on Route 66 plus those that are just a short detour away from the route. On most days, you won’t likely have time to stop and explore all of the attractions, so I’d prioritize those that are of most interest.
We cannot possibly list all the attractions nor can we provide addresses or directions to each (we’d have to write an entire book!). So we recommend that you use either the new Guided 66 Tour Book or the latest edition of the Route 66 Adventure Handbook for attraction recommendations, descriptions, and addresses.
Notable Detours: If there are any notable popular big detours off the route that day, such as the Grand Canyon, we list them in this section. However, note that taking any long detours will either add additional needed days to your trip or you’ll need to skip some sections of Route 66.
Route 66 Dining Recommendations: In this section we’ll recommend places you might stop for breakfast, lunch, snacks, or dinner on that day’s route. We’ll specifically try to highlight Route 66 era or Route 66 themed spots. Many of these suggestions are taken from recommendations we got from using the Route 66 Dining & Lodging Guide compiled by the National Historic Route 66 Federation which is sadly no longer being published. Note that some places take cash only, so it is always a good idea to keep some money on you.
Hamburgers, fried chicken, meatloaf, hot dogs, French fries, corndogs, burritos, chili, steaks, fruit pies, milkshakes, and the like are common Route 66 road foods.
If you are a vegetarian, vegan, have food allergies, or have more complex dietary restrictions, I’d plan ahead a bit each day in terms of food, especially on days when you are in more rural areas. In general, many of the recommended Route 66 era spots are not the most vegetarian/vegan friendly spots and are unlikely to be able to accommodate more complicated food requests. Ethnic food options can also be limited outside of the larger cities. So if you have dietary restrictions, I’d do a little research ahead of time and always have snacks with you.
Route 66 Lodging Recommendations: In this section we list recommended hotels across a number of budgets and types. We try to highlight any special places at each recommended stop, particularly Route 66 era motels or Route 66 themed hotels. We also list a few of the local RV parks and campgrounds for those planning to drive Route 66 in a RV or are planning to camp in a tent along the route.
We list both independent motels, B&B’s, and hotels and well-known chain motels and hotels. We love supporting independent family-run motels and hotels, but do remember that many chain hotels are locally run and operated and some chain hotels (such as Hampton Inn) have been big supporters of Route 66. So don’t feel bad about staying in chains if that is what you prefer, although we’d definitely recommend also supporting some of the independent Route 66 era motels along the route as well.
We have attempted to provide options that will suit a luxury to budget traveler for each stop; however, know that many towns along the route do not have any 4- or 5-star hotels and most towns don’t have any backpacking hostels. But there are always mid-range options (3-star and 2-star) in every recommended stop. I think that budget travelers should be able to find something suitable at almost every place but those seeking luxury hotels may struggle in a few places.
Note that parking is available for free at most of the recommended lodging throughout the route. In smaller cities and towns, on-site parking is almost always free for hotel guests. The exceptions will be in larger cities where parking space is limited such as Chicago, St. Louis, Tulsa, Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and the greater Los Angeles area. I’d always check about parking before booking any hotel, but I’d especially pay attention in larger cities as fees for parking can add significantly to a hotel stay (e.g., $50 per night in cities like Chicago and Santa Monica).
**Important Note : Businesses open, close, and re-open along Route 66 almost daily so be sure to check ahead for latest information. Signs are removed, bridges close to traffic, and roadside attractions disappear. I would not make a significant detour to visit a particular place without checking out opening times and hours beforehand.
Check out this informative Route 66 website for the latest news about businesses and happenings along the route.
If you know of an attraction that has disappeared or a business that has closed (or a great place that has opened or re-opened) please feel free to leave us a Comment and we will look into it and update our information! **
Quick 14 Day Route 66 Itinerary Summary & Map
Below is a quick outline of our suggested Route 66 route and the starting and ending points for each day are shown in the map below. You can click this link or double click on the map image below to explore or save the map. This is just a quick reference Route 66 map to roughly show the route and itinerary so you can visualize it!
Day 1 : Chicago, IL to Springfield, IL Day 2 : Springfield, IL, to Sullivan, MO Day 3 : Sullivan, MO to Carthage, MO Day 4 : Carthage, MO to Tulsa, OK Day 5 : Tulsa, OK to Clinton, OK Day 6 : Clinton, OK to Amarillo, TX Day 7 : Amarillo, TX to Tucumcari, NM Day 8 : Tucumcari, NM to Albuquerque, NM Day 9 : Albuquerque, NM to Gallup, NM Day 10 : Gallup, NM to Flagstaff, AZ Day 11: Flagstaff, AZ to Seligman, AZ Day 12 : Seligman, AZ to Needles, CA Day 13 : Needles, CA to San Bernardino, CA Day 14 : San Bernardino, CA to Santa Monica, CA
Our Suggested 2 Week Route 66 Road Trip Itinerary
Here is our suggested 14 Day Route 66 itinerary. The itinerary begins in Chicago and goes east to west as this is historically the direction of travelers driving the route.
However, you can easily reverse this route and start your trip in California. You just need to start reading from the end. If you are just driving a section of the route, you can find that part of the itinerary that is relevant to you.
As noted earlier, we suggest that you use our itinerary as a guide for planning your trip and that you personalize and modify it as needed.
To make the most of your trip and time, we recommend that you use this suggested Route 66 itinerary in conjunction with our Route 66 guide and state-by-state Route 66 photo essays to help plan your trip before you go. Then during your trip we strongly recommend using the itinerary along with the latest edition of the EZ66 Guide , a GPS, and a good USA road atlas to actually guide your trip.
Route 66 Itinerary Day 1: Chicago, IL to Springfield, IL
Welcome to Route 66 – today your great American road trip begins! The beginning is a bit anticlimactic as there is just a small sign in Chicago and the Chicago traffic can be stressful. But once you leave the city and its urban sprawl, you’ll come upon some Route 66 icons like the Muffler Men, restored old gas stations, a maple syrup shop that dates back to 1824, and a giant covered wagon. If you are interested in U.S. presidential history, be sure to leave plenty of time to explore the many Abraham Lincoln related sites along the route today. This stretch of Route 66 is also filled with dozens of classic Route 66 eateries so you will not go hungry. Let’s get started!
Starting & Ending Point: Chicago, Illinois to Springfield, Illinois
Today if want to start at the “official beginning” you can start at either Jackson Blvd at Michigan Avenue (original 1926 beginning point) or Jackson Blvd at Lake Shore Drive in Chicago (since 1933). The official starting and ending points for Route 66 are a bit confusing as they changed over time and there are now one-way eastbound and westbound lanes making it even more tricky. Note that all these two locations are just a couple of blocks from one another!
General Route: Chicago –> Joliet –> Pontiac –> Bloomington –> Lincoln –> Springfield
Mileage: ~ 186 miles (299 km). Alternatively if you want a shorter first day or have a late start from Chicago, you might end your first day in Pontiac, IL which is ~ 95 miles (153 km) from Chicago.
Time Zone: Central Time Zone – no changes today.
Big City Avoider Tips
If you are wanting to avoid big cities on your trip, you might want to skip Chicago and some of its urban and suburban sprawl. If you are OK with missing the official starting point, you can avoid Chicago and begin the route in a town like Joliet, Illinois. You can use the Route 66 Welcome Center at the Joliet Museum (204 N. Ottawa Street) as your route starting point! Then just continue onto Springfield.
Main Route 66 Attractions
- Chicago is the starting point of Route 66 and the city has numerous tourist attractions and points of interest if you have extra time to explore. Just a few of the attractions include the Sears Tower (renamed the Willis Tower, book tickets here ), the Chicago History Museum , the Pullman Historic District , The Field Museum , Shedd Aquarium , and the Art Institute of Chicago . Chicago is also home to world-class performing arts companies and national professional sports teams like the Cubs and Bulls. There are lots of things to do and see in Chicago and we’d recommend getting a good Chicago guidebook if you have more than a day here to make the most of your time. If you plan to visit some of the city’s top attractions, you might check out local discount passes like the Chicago CityPass or GoCard to save money on sightseeing.
- If you want to start from the “official” beginning you can start your Route 66 journey from either Jackson Boulevard at Michigan Avenue or Jackson Boulevard at Lake Shore Drive in Chicago. These beginning points are just a couple of blocks apart. There are small brown Route 66 Begin and End signs posted in Chicago although not at the actual official beginning or ending points. The Route 66 Begin sign was located on E. Adams Street at Michigan Avenue when we last drove the route (the End sign was just a block away at Jackson Boulevard and Michigan) so you may want to walk over there first for a photo opp of the sign.
- Along Ogden Avenue in Chicago you’ll see the Castle Car Wash which is a former castle-like car wash dating from 1925. Originally the John J. Murphy Filling Station, it later became a car wash.
- Cicero has a couple vintage Route 66 era motels and signs such as the neon sign at Henry’s Drive-In.
- You’ll pass the castle-like Hoffmann Tower in Lyons which was built in 1908 to attract visitors to a park. Those interested in early Chicago history may want to head to the Chicago Portage National Historical Site which is often referred to as the “birthplace of Chicago” and offers historical info as well as hiking and biking opportunities.
- Joliet is a great town to explore a bit as it sort of the “unofficial” starting point to what most people imagine Route 66 to be like. There are some Route 66 era businesses and signs, and the Route 66 Welcome Center & Gift Shop at the Joliet Museum is a good place to stop and actually feel that you are starting Route 66. Here you’ll also find the Rialto Square Theatre , a beautiful restored 1926 vaudeville theater that offers both performances and tours, the Jacob Henry Mansion (impressive 1873 mansion built by railroad magnate, interior not usually open to public), and the Joliet Iron Works Historic Site (land preserve with historical panels, perfect for a picnic or walk).
- Be on the outlook for Giant “Muffler Men” statues today. These are a few survivors of the many large fiberglass advertising sculptures made in the 1960’s. You’ll find the first, the “Gemini Giant” in Wilmington .
- I n Dwight is a restored Ambler-Becker Texaco service station from the 1930’s. The town has a number of notable historical buildings, including a bank designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. There is a historical museum in the restored old train depot but it has very limited hours.
- There is another restored fuel station in Odell , a 1932 Standard Station.
- There is a restored Meramec Caverns advertisement on a local barn in Cayuga. Barn advertisements used to be common sights along Route 66, but today only a handful remain.
- You’ll likely want to stop and visit the Route 66 Hall of Fame Museum in Pontiac . This is a good town to explore and there are lots of murals and a few other museum here including the Pontiac-Oakland Auto Museum , International Walldog Mural & Sign Art Museum , and the Livingston County War Museum . The Route 66 museum, war museum, and mural museum are all next to one another.
- There is a Historic Route 66 1.6 mile self-guided walking trail and a sign denoting “Dead Man’s Curve” (a curve on the road that once led to many traffic accidents) in Towanda .
- In Normal is yet another restored filling station, the 1931 Sprague Super Service Station. Also here is Normal Theater , an Art Deco style theater from 1937 (still operating) and the Eyestone School Museum, a one-room schoolhouse built in 1899 sitting on the Illinois State University campus.
- Bloomington has several attractions that might be of interest including McLean County Museum of History , Miller Park Zoo , Prairie Aviation Museum , and the Victorian David Davis Mansion
- In Shirley you may want to stop to tour the Funk Prairie Home Museum , built in 1864 as a family home. The museum also has a large mineral and gem collection. You need to call to reserve your tour in advance.
- You’ll find the famous Funks Grove Maple Sirup in Funks Grove – this family-run operation has been selling maple syrup since 1824!
- The restored Dixie Travel Plaza in McLean has been serving travelers and truckers since1928.
- In Atlanta you’ll find another of the Muffler Men, this one being the Bunyan Giant, the Atlanta Museum (near the octagonal library building), and the interesting J.H. Hawes Grain Elevator Museum which features a functional giant grain elevator from 1904.
- The town of Lincoln , the first town named after the former U.S. president Abraham Lincoln, who as an attorney provided legal assistance in setting up the town and practiced law here. Several Abraham Lincoln related sites including the Lincoln Heritage Museum , Postville Courthouse State Historic Site , and a giant Lincoln statue and covered wagon are located here.
- Springfield is the state capital of Illinois and has a number of Route 66 era buildings and business as well as several museums and other attractions. Route 66 attractions include the restored 1920’s Mahan’s Filling Station (restored by Bill Shea) and another Muffler Man, the Lauterbach Giant. Abraham Lincoln spent much of his adult life living in Springfield (1837 to 1861) and the city has lots of Abraham Lincoln related sites, including the Lincoln Home , Lincoln Tomb , Old State Capitol Building , Lincoln Depot, and Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum . A few of the other non-Lincoln attractions include the Illinois State Museum , Elijah Iles House (historic home that can be toured), Illinois State Military Museum, and a few Frank Lloyd Wright designed buildings including the Dana-Thomas House and Lawrence Memorial Library.
- If you are looking for a retro evening out in Springfield, we recommend grabbing some food from the Cozy Dog Drive-in and seeing a movie at the Route 66 Drive-In (seasonal).
- Those who are very interested in Abraham Lincoln, may want to make the 30 minute detour out of the city to visit Lincoln’s New Salem State Historic Site . Just note that if you want to visit all of the major Lincoln related sites in and around Springfield, you’ll want to add a full day in Springfield to your trip to have enough time to do so.
There are a LOT of restaurants along this stretch of Route 66 that date back to the Route 66 era, have a Route 66 or retro theme, or have been strong Route 66 supporters. We have eaten at several of these. You can stop in just about any town along the way to find a good spot, and you will not go hungry today!
- Berghoff (17 W Adams Street) in Chicago – Long-time restaurant serving German food like spätzleknödel, wiener schnitzel, and bratswursts since 1898! A great historic spot to stop for a sausage and beer. There is a restaurant as well as a cafe and bar. Reservations recommended for dinner in the restaurant. Located close to the beginning point of Route 66.
- Lou Mitchell’s (565 W. Jackson & Jefferson) in Chicago – An iconic casual family-run eatery that has been serving American comfort food since 1923. They give you Milk Duds or donut holes when you walk in. Serves breakfast and lunch. Several blocks from beginning point of Route 66.
- Lulu’s Hot Dogs (1000 S Leavitt Street) in Chicago – Simple no-frills place that has been serving local favorites such as Chicago hot dogs, Italian beef sandwiches, and Vienna beef sausages since 1968. Across from VA hospital in Chicago’s University Village/Medical District area.
- Henry’s Drive-In (6031 Ogden Avenue) in Cicero – A long-time hot dog eatery that also serves sandwiches, Mississippi Delta style tamales, chili, and ice cream. Popular local spot with a cool neon sign. Been around since the 1950’s.
- Dell Rhea’s Chicken Basket (645 Joliet Road) in Willowbrook – A no-frills restaurant serving fried chicken since 1946. Best known for fried chicken but also serve seafood, pizza, and a weekday lunch buffet. Serve lunch and dinner.
- White Fence Farm (1376 Joliet Road) in Romeoville – Another contender for the best fried chicken on Route 66 in Illinois. Restaurant opened in 1920’s and has been serving fried chicken since 1940’s.
- Rich & Creamy (920 N. Broadway Street) in Joliet – This little spot serves tasty soft serve ice cream with retro flair. Good place to stop if you are looking for a cool, sweet treat.
- Joliet Route 66 Diner (22 West Clinton Street) in Joliet – American diner with vintage decor serving American classics . Open for breakfast and lunch.
- Nelly’s on Route 66 (140 Bridge Street) in Wilmington – A diner serving American classic sandwiches like hot dogs, pulled pork, and burgers. Visitors are encouraged to sign their ceiling.
- Polk-A-Dot Drive-In (222 N Front St) in Braidwood – A roadside diner known for its retro 1950’s decor and hamburgers, chili fries, and milkshakes.
- Old Route 66 Family Restaurant (105 S. Old Route 66) in Dwight – An American diner serving home-style meals such as chili, burgers & fried chicken. Located across the street from a restored Texaco station.
- Old Log Cabin Inn (18700 Old Route 66) in Pontiac – Log-style roadhouse cafe offering American comfort food, made-from-scratch fruit pies, and a bar.
- Lucca Grill (116 E. Market Street) in Bloomington – Restaurant that has been serving Italian American food since 1936. This is believed to be the first pizzeria in the Midwest. Serves pizza, pasta, salads, and sandwiches.
- Palms Grill Cafe (110 Arch Street) in Atlanta – A 1934 diner serving American breakfast, sandwiches, comfort food, and pies. Restored and reopened in 2009 and retains a 1930’s vintage decor.
- Maldaners’s (222 S 6th Street) in Springfield – Upscale historical restaurant serving American and European dishes using fresh seasonal ingredients. Lunch, dinner, and cocktails. Lunch menu is more simple with reasonable prices, dinner is more formal. Reservations recommended for dinner. This restaurant has been around since 1884 and in its current location since 1889!
- Gabatoni’s Restaurant (300 E Laurel Street) – Long-time no-frills Italian American eatery and pizzeria serving salads, pizza, sandwiches, and pasta. Serve beer and wine. This restaurant opened in 1951 and is often voted as having the best pizza in Springfield. Dine in and carry out. Lunch, dinner, and late night eats.
- Charlie Parker’s Diner (700 North Street) – Modern American diner with retro decor serving all day breakfast, sandwiches, and lunch plate specials. Breakfast and lunch only. Interesting location in a World War 2 era Quonset hut. Opened in 1992.
- Cozy Dog Drive-In (2936 S. 6th Street) in Springfield – A Route 66 era no-frills casual eatery with lots of vintage memorabilia serving American fast food classics. Run by the Waldmire family, this place is known for its “perfect corn dogs” called cozy dogs which were developed by Ed Waldmire Jr. while he was in the military in the 1940’s. Also serves breakfast, chili dogs, cheeseburgers, grilled cheese, and other sandwiches. Serves all meals. A special Route 66 spot since 1949.
Lodging Recommendations from Chicago, IL to Springfield, IL
Our suggested itinerary takes you to Springfield today, but we know many people will be wanting to spend at least one night in Chicago so we start with some recommendations for Chicago. There are thousands of choices in Chicago so it should not be difficult to find something that suits in the Windy City. For those who want a short first driving day or will be getting a late start we also provide suggestions for Pontiac below.
If you are looking for a place to stay in Chicago before or after your road trip, you have hundreds of options for every budget and taste. Note that parking can be an issue and that parking overnight in Chicago will generally cost between $30 to $50 per day, so if you want to spend a few days in Chicago you may want to wait to pick up a car until you are ready to start your road trip. It is easy to travel around Chicago by public transportation or taxi. Here are accommodation options we recommend checking out near the starting point for Route 66:
- The Congress Plaza Hotel – This 3-star iconic old hotel opened back in 1893 and several presidents and celebrities have stayed here. Views of Lake Michigan from the hotel. Private on-site parking available for a fee. A great place to begin (or end) your journey as it is only 2 blocks from the starting and ending spots for Route 66!
- The Langham Chicago – If you are looking to start your Route 66 off with a luxury stay before hitting the road, you have loads of choices in Chicago. One recommendation is the 5-star The Langham, which is less than a mile from the starting point. Private on-site parking available for a fee. Great for those with a larger budget who want to celebrate the start or end of their road trip.
- Travelodge Chicago – A safe bet for a good-value stay that is located near the starting point of Route 66. There is no parking on-site but there is a paid public parking lot within a short walking distance.
- Getaway Hostel – Our recommendation for those looking for a well-reviewed budget hostel stay within 3 miles of the starting point. Offers private, family, and shared dormitory rooms. Private parking available on-site, reservations needed.
- Camper Recs – There are not many big campsites within Chicago but there are several just outside the city. A couple of options are Chicago Northwest KOA and the various campsites of Cook County Preserves . Chicago, like many cities of its size, is not an easy place to find RV parking or places to overnight, so we’d recommend looking for spots in the suburbs.
Pontiac, IL Hotels
These lodging options are for those wanting a shorter drive on their first day. We recommend Pontiac as an alternative spot to stay if you don’t want to drive on to Springfield.
- Three Roses B&B – A lovely B&B that serves big cooked-to-order breakfasts. Only 3 rooms so book in advance. Nice cozy spot for your first night, and within walking distance of the Illinois Route 66 Hall of Fame & Museum.
- Hampton Inn – Well-reviewed good-value hotel offering free breakfast and a swimming pool. This hotel chain has historically been strong supporters of Route 66.
- Best Western Pontiac Inn – Chain hotel offering free full breakfast and in indoor pool.
- Quality Inn – A well-rated budget motel with included breakfast.
- Camper Recs : Check out these local campsite options .
Springfield, IL Hotels
We offer our Route 66 lodging suggestions for Springfield which is our recommended first overnight stop on the Route 66 itinerary.
- Route 66 Hotel & Conference Center – This Route 66 themed hotel is a popular first (or last) stop for those driving Route 66 so a good place to chat with others about your road trip. Offers on-site restaurant, bar, and swimming pool.
- Inn at 835 – This is your best bet if you’re looking for a cozy and historical bed-and-breakfast. Serves a full breakfast.
- Baymont Inn & Suites – Well-reviewed chain hotel with swimming pool. Located next door to a Cracker Barrel restaurant.
- Motel 6 Springfield – Well-reviewed no-frills chain motel. Our pick for best bet for a budget motel in Springfield.
- Camper Recs: Riverside Park Campsite or Springfield KOA
Route 66 Itinerary Day 2: Springfield, IL to Sullivan, MO
The big city highlight today is St. Louis which includes plenty to see and do, but there are also loads of small town highlights today. Highlights include old-time soda fountains, a giant pink elephant, rabbits, the crossing of the Mississippi River, frozen custard, and the iconic Gateway Arch. Those really wanting to explore St. Louis, may want to overnight there instead of Sullivan today. You can also make a small detour to visit Six Flags amusement park, which may particularly appeal to those traveling as a family.
Today there are two splits in the road where you can choose to drive alternative historic Route 66 alignments. The first occurs as you leave Springfield where you can choose to drive the 1926 alignment or the post 1930 alignment of historic Route 66. Both have their appeal and you can check the Attractions section to help you decide. The second split occurs as you leave St. Louis beginning at the junction of U.S. 67 and 366 (the pre-1932 option going to Des Peres and the post 1932 route through Eureka) and the route rejoining about 23 miles later in Gray Summit. Although a bit more scenic, there is not as much Route 66 era things to see on the pre-1932 route so I’d recommend taking the post 1932 route through Eureka.
Starting & Ending Point: Springfield, Illinois to Sullivan, Missouri
General Route: Springfield –> Staunton –> Edwardsville –> St. Louis –> St. Clair –> Sullivan
Mileage: ~168 miles (270 km) – The mileage today may vary by 10 to 30 miles depending on the alignments you choose (leaving both Springfield and St Louis) and the route you choose to take through St. Louis.
Those starting the day in Pontiac will need to add 91 miles (146 km) onto the above figures.
Those wanting to avoid big cities, may want to bypass St. Louis. After your cross the Mississippi River, you can jump onto the I-270 to bypass St. Louis and then rejoin at either Des Peres (pre-1932 Route 66) or Watson (post 1932 route).
- As you leave Springfield, you’ll need to choose the alignment you wish to follow, either the 1926-1930 or post-1930 alignment.
- 1926-1930 alignment (via Chatham and Carlinville) attractions: old sections of paved and brick highway including a 1.4 mile restored stretch in Auburn, Battle of Virden Monument in Virden, Doc’s Soda Fountain in Girard, turkey tracks on the pavement in Nilwood, the historical district of Carlinville which includes its “Million Dollar Courthouse” and the Macoupin County Historical Museum
- Post 1930 alignment (via Farmersvile and Litchfield) attractions: Sugar Creek Covered Bridge in Glenarm, “Old Lady of the Highways” shrine south of Waggoner, Sky View Drive-in Theatre (still operating, seasonal) in Litchfield, Litchfield Museum & Route 66 Welcome Center , and the restored 1926 Soulsby Shell Station and Mother Jones Monument in Mt. Olive.
- Henry’s Rabbit Ranch & Route 66 Emporium in Staunton is a must-stop for any fans of rabbits or old signs, which includes upended VW cars, old signs, historical vehicles, and live bunnies. Get a souvenir or drink here to help support the place.
- I n Hamel , you have the St. Paul Lutheran Church which is notable for its large blue neon cross that commemorates a man who died in World War II and was placed there during the war.
- The Pink Elephant Antiques Mall in Livingston has a number of Route 66 era statues and signs inside and out which include a giant pink elephant and a UFO. You can also get ice cream and sandwiches at the adjacent Twistee Treat diner.
- In Edwardsville you can see and visit the 1836 Weir House which currently is home to the Madison County Historical Museum .
- Although not on Route 66, you may want to make a slight detour to visit the town of Collinsville which despite its title as the Horseradish Capital of the World is known for its giant 70 ft. tall ketchup bottle. Those interested in prehistoric sites may want to visit Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site , a pre-Columbia settlement that has been inscribed by UNESCO.
- You can make a detour to stop to walk across the Chain of Rocks Bridge before crossing over the Mississippi River . The famous mile-long bridge was a Route 66 landmark for decades with its 22 degree turn as it carried traffic over the mighty Mississippi. It has long been closed to traffic but is now open to pedestrians and bikers. It can be accessed from the Illinois side during daylight hours. Just be sure to take heed of the posted signs about locking your doors and hiding any valuables if you plan to go out of sight of your car.
- After you cross the Mississippi River, one of the world’s most famous waterways, you’ll be in Missouri , the “Show Me” state. Missouri has been the source of many of the country’s most famous trails and westward expansion efforts which include the Oregon Trail, the Santa Fe Trail, and Route 66 (the route begins in Chicago but Springfield, MO is usually considered the birthplace of Route 66).
- St. Louis is a major city and has a number of tourist attractions. Route 66 crossed into and through St. Louis in a number of ways over the decades so I’d focus more on the attractions you want to visit rather than the route here as it can be difficult to follow. Probably the favorite Route 66 destination is Ted Drewes Frozen Custard stand (seasonal) which is definitely worth a stop!
- The most famous attraction in St. Louis is the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial which includes the iconic 630-foot Gateway Arch (you can visit and take a tram ride to the top for a great view), the Museum of Westward Expansion, and the Old Courthouse. Other city attractions include the Missouri History Museum (a replica of the Spirt of St. Louis is here), Anheuser-Busch Brewery tours and beer tastings, riverboat cruises on the Mississippi, Ulysses S. Grant Historic Home , and the St. Louis Car Museum .
- Just outside St. Louis in Kirkwood , you might want to visit the Museum of Transportation (includes a couple of Route 66 related displays) and/or the Magic House (well-rated children’s museum).
- As you leave St. Louis, you’ll need to choose an alignment at the junction of U.S. 67 and 366.
- Pre-1932 alignment (via Des Peres and Ellisville): The main Route 66 attraction along this section is the Big Chief Roadhouse in Wildwood. Dating from 1929, it started out as a cabin court hotel and is now a full service restaurant and bar.
- Post-1932 alignment (via Pacific and Eureka): The Missouri Route 66 State Park (hiking trails, picnic tables, exhibits) which sits on what was the town of Times Beach , the Black Madonna Shrine & Grottos created by a Franciscan monk in Eureka, Endangered Wolf Center in Eureka, and former Red Cedar Inn (former 1932 restaurant that may be turned into a city visitor center) in Pacific. Choose this route if you want to make a small detour to visit the Six Flags St. Louis amusement park just outside Eureka (see Notable Detours section below).
- The Shaw Nature Reserve (visitor center, hiking trails, & historic home) and Purina Farms (visitor center, farm visit and canine training, seasonal) are in Gray Summit
- Some interesting old neon signs and billboards between Gray Summit and Stanton
- St. Clair Historical Museum , a local history museum in a former firehouse, is in St. Clair.
- Stanton benefited from its proximity to Meramec Caverns, and a number of tourist related shops, attractions, and services sprung up here during the Route 66 era. A few still remain like the Jesse James Wax Museum (interesting perspective on the death of Jesse James) and Riverside Wildlife Center .
- Today we recommend overnighting around Sullivan . Sullivan is home to Meramec Caverns , one of the most popular and well-known Route 66 related attractions. Although the cave has a number of interesting formations and a fascinating history, the cave was well-known because of its intense marketing efforts that included loads of billboards, advertisements painted on barns (you probably saw the restored one in Illinois on Day 1), and the early use of bumper signs (predecessor to bumper stickers). In addition to cavern tours, you can also go ziplining, camp, or rent a canoe here. Don’t worry if you don’t get here until the evening, as you can visit the cave on the following morning.
- Six Flags St. Louis – Although not a major detour in terms of distance, it will likely take up most of your day as you’ll want to arrive early and spend the full day to get the most out of the amusement park. Park offers thrill rides like roller coasters, a younger children’s area, and a water park. Arrive near opening to enjoy the least crowded time in the park. We recommend spending the night in Eureka and devoting a full day to get the most out of the park.
There are a few great Route 66 era eateries on today’s stretch, and it is a good day to do some ice cream and frozen custard tasting! If you need a break from fast food and diners, you can find fine dining options in St. Louis.
- Whirla-Whip (309 S. 3rd Street) in Girard, IL – This popular local ice cream spot opened in 1957 and sells loads of flavors of soft-serve ice cream and ice cream desserts. Seasonal.
- Doc’s Soda Fountain (133 S 2nd Street) in Girard, IL – The soda fountain was originally opened here in 1929 within Deck’s Drug Store. Today it offers sandwiches, pice, ice creams, and of course old fashioned soda. It has been rated as one of the country’s top soda fountains.
- Ariston’s Cafe (413 Old Rte 66 ) in Litchfield, IL – This cafe serves American favorites with Greek influences. This is a family-run Route 66 landmark that has been operated by the same family since 1924, and is one of the oldest still-operating restaurants along Route 66.
- Twistee Treat Diner (908 Veterans Memorial Drive) in Livingston, IL – A great spot to grab a quick sandwich or ice cream if you are visiting the adjacent Pink Elephant Antiques Mall.
- Weezy’s Route 66 Bar & Grill (108 S Old US Route 66) in Hamel, IL – This long-time roadhouse serves fried foods, sandwiches, salads, soups, and dinner plates. It has been serving food since the late 1930’s although has changed names and owners numerous times over the years. It has historic decor and old signs on the walls.
- Crown Candy Kitchen (1401 St. Louis Avenue) in St. Louis, MO – This has been a St. Louis staple since 1913, and this vintage eatery sells candy and serves sandwiches, meals, and ice cream sundaes. Probably best known for the “heart stopping BLT sandwich”.
- Eat-Rite Diner (622 Chouteau Ave) in St. Louis, MO – This inexpensive long-time diner is one of St. Louis’ most popular Route 66 era diners. Believed to have opened in the 1930’s. Serves simple grilled food and sandwiches from breakfast to late night, including the slinger . Cash only.
- Ted Drewes Frozen Custard (6726 Chippewa Street) in St. Louis, MO – This has been a popular ice cream stop since 1941 selling frozen custard, “concretes” (thick milkshakes), malts, sundaes, floats, and ice cream sodas. Highly recommended!
- Blueberry Hill Cafe (504 Delmar in The Loop) in St. Louis, MO – This popular place has been open since 1972 and is best known for its burgers, live music (Chuck Berry played here regularly), and its large collection of historic memorabilia. Our choice if you are looking for an upbeat place or a good late night option.
- Bogart’s Smokehouse (1627 S 9th Street) in St. Louis, MO – Not a Route 66 related spot but one of the top BBQ places in St. Louis. A great place to sample St. Louis style barbecue.
- Roberto’s (145 Concord Plaza) in St. Louis, MO – If you are looking for a more upscale fine dining experience for a night out, Roberto’s is one of the top-rated restaurants in the city serving Italian food, steaks, and seafood.
- Spencer’s Grill (223 S. Kirkwood Road) in Kirkwood, MO – A classic 1947 diner serving classic American comfort food. Serves breakfast and lunch.
- Big Chief Roadhouse (17352 Manchester Road) in Wildwood, MO – A former 1920’s era cabin style hotel turned restaurant and bar. Serves American classics and pizza with a focus on locally sourced ingredients.
- Lewis Cafe (145 S. Main Street) in St. Clair, MO – This family-run restaurant has been open since 1938 and serves American food for breakfast and lunch. They use their own farm-raised Angus beef.
- Imo’s Pizza (678 Sycamore Drive) in Sullivan, MO – Local pizza chain that serves St. Louis style pizzas as well as salads, pastas, and Italian sandwiches. Offers dine-in, take-out, and delivery options. Began in St. Louis in 1964.
- Du Kum Inn (101 Grande Drive) in Sullivan, MO – Local family-run American restaurant serving a wide variety of salads, sandwiches, and dinner items (pasta, steaks, chicken). Best known for breakfast, friend chicken, and bread pudding. Serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Since 1961.
- Clark St Cafe & Bakery (11 N. Clark Street) in Sullivan, MO – Coffee house offers baked goods, soups, sandwiches, and wraps. Serves breakfast, lunch, and snacks.
- Cracker Barrel (701 W. Springfield Road) in Sullivan, MO – T his Southern chain focuses on rustic country decor and classic American homestyle meals, including breakfasts, homestyle soups, chicken fried steak, and meat loaf. Open for breakfast to dinner. Gift store selling old-fashioned items, candies, and gifts.
Hotel Recommendations for St. Louis, MO and Sullivan, MO
Those wanting to explore St. Louis in more depth might want to overnight there instead of Sullivan tonight.
St. Louis Lodging Recommendations
- Holiday Inn St Louis SW Route 66 – A well-reviewed chain hotel with a free continental breakfast and Route 66 theme. A popular place for Route 66 travelers.
- Drury Plaza Hotel St. Louis at the Arch – This 3-star hotel was created by restoring 3 historic buildings. The hotel includes a terrace with a view of the Gateway Arch and stays include breakfast. Drury is a family owned chain headquartered in St. Louis so you’ll find a number of their hotels in and around the city.
- Four Seasons – If you are looking for a 5-star luxury stay in St. Louis, Four Seasons is your place.
- Hampton Inn St. Louis at the Arch – This is a good bet for a good-value hotel within walking distance of many of the city’s top attractions. View of the Gateway Arch from the hotel and breakfast included.
- If you are looking for a lower budget option I’d check Vrbo or Airbnb as you can find some good deals on rooms and apartments even in the downtown area.
- Camper Recs: Casino Queen RV Park in East St. Louis , Trails End RV (just northeast of St. Louis, call 618-931-5041 ), KOA St. Louis West (southwest of the city), and KOA St .Louis NE
Sullivan Lodging Recommendations
- Baymont Inn & Suites – A well-reviewed hotel with an indoor pool, hot tub, and included breakfast. Nicest option in town.
- Comfort Inn – A well-reviewed chain hotel with an indoor pool, hot tub, and breakfast.
- Meramec Caverns Motel – Seasonal motel (open April to October) located next to Meramec Caverns within the LaJolla Natural Park. Reservations are required, call +1 573-468-4215
- America’s Best Value Inn – Good value chain motel with included breakfast. A good budget option in Sullivan.
- Camper Recs : Meramec State Park , Meramec Caverns’ LaJolla Campgound , and Stanton / Meramec KOA (north of Sullivan in nearby Stanton)
Route 66 Itinerary Day 3: Sullivan, MO to Carthage, MO
Today you explore more of Missouri, and might want to start the day exploring one of Route 66’s most popular attractions Meramec Caverns. There are also opportunities to go hiking, canoeing, or bowling, do some wine tasting, visit museums, explore laid-back small towns, eat at some classic Route 66 eateries, and stay at some Route 66 era vintage motels. You might want to end the day seeing a film at the local drive-in movie theater.
Those with an interest in country music or seeing more of the Ozarks might want to make a detour to Branson today.
Starting & Ending Point: Sullivan, Missouri to Carthage, Missouri
General Route: Sullivan –> Cuba –> Buckhorn –> Lebanon –.> Springfield –> Carthage
Mileage: ~ 208 miles (334 km)
No big cities along the route today. Springfield does have over 160,000 people although we’d recommend exploring Springfield as it has a number of Route 66 era sites.
- This morning we recommend visiting Meramec Caverns in Sullivan (if you didn’t do so on the prior day). You can take Meramec Caverns tours (regular tours are about 1.5 hours) and there is also a gift shop, restaurant, motel, campground, zipline, and canoe rental and launch here. Touristy but definitely worth a visit for any Route 66 driver!
- The water tower with “Bourbon” written on it in Bourbon is a popular photo opp. The town was named after Bourbon whiskey.
- If you want to see more caves (Missouri is known as the “Cave State” and has over 6,000 of them!), you can stop at the Onondaga Cave State Park in Leasburg . Park also has camping, hiking trails, fishing, and other activities.
- Cuba has the famous Wagon Wheel Motel (great neon sign, still operating), lots of colorful city murals (good place to get out and stretch your feet), the 19 Drive-In Theatre (still operational, seasonal), and a restored 1932 Phillips 66 station.
- You’ll find the Fanning 66 Outpost and a giant rocking chair in Fanning
- In St. James you’ll find the St. James Winery (tours and tastings available). The Vacuum Cleaner Museum sadly closed its doors in April 2019.
- In Rolla , there are many places you might want to stop and explore: Route 66 Motors (antique cars and signs), Mule Trading Post (a popular Route 66 souvenir stop since 1957 with large hillbilly sign), scale model of Stonehenge at the University of Missouri campus, and the Totem Pole Trading Post (souvenir & snack place, open since 1933).
- Devil’s Elbow has an ominous name because of a bend in the river and the little town has an old 1923 bridge (Devil’s Elbow Bridge), BBQ restaurant, and little market.
- Waynesville offers Frog Rock (a frog-like rock outcropping), the Pulaski Country Courthouse Museum , and a number of historic buildings.
- Near Hazelgreen you can walk to the 1924 Gasconade River Bridge (currently closed to traffic) that spans the Gascondade River.
- Lebanon has the popular Munger Moss Motel (good neon sign), Wrinks Food Market (a longtime family-run grocery), and a small but informative Route 66 Museum (within the Lebanon-Laclede Country Library , free but donations appreciated). Just across from the Munger Moss Motel is Starlite Lanes , a popular local bowling alley.
- You can visit the Route 66 Antiques Mall in Phillipsburg . You’ll can also find two restored Meramec Caverns advertising barns outside town.
- The Route 66 Welcome Center outside of Conway has maps and information, exhibits, restrooms, a playground, a neon sign, and picnic area.
- Marshfield is best known as the hometown of Edwin Hubble, the creator of the Hubble Space Telescope . Here you’ll find a scale replica of the Hubble telescope outside of the country courthouse, several historical buildings, the Webster County Historical Museum (includes an exhibit on Hubble), and H idden Waters Park (walking trails and gardens).
- Wild Animal Safari Park is a drive through animal park in Strafford
- Springfield is the largest city on today’s route, and there were multiple alignments that went through the city so you’ll find reminders of Route 66 here and there throughout, including billboards, old gas stations, Route 66 era motels, and neon signs. A few of the city’s attractions include the enormous Bass Pro Shop Outdoor World (this outdoor store is one of the most-visited tourist attractions in the state!), Gray-Campbell Farmstead (historic home & farm), Askinosie Chocolate (tastings as well as tours on certain days of the week), 1926 Gilloz Theatre , Jefferson Avenue Footbridge (562-foot historic footbridge), Fantastic Caverns (a ride-through cavern tourist attraction), Route 66 Car Museum , and the Railway Historical Museum .
- Halltown has long been a popular stop for antiques, although many of the spots, like Whitehall Mercantile, have closed.
- You’ll find a replica circa-1930 Sinclair gas station, known as Gary’s Gay Parita in Paris Springs. It was built by Gary Turner who loved meeting Route 66 visitors but sadly Mr. Turner died in 2015.
- There are a couple of nice old 1920’s old truss bridges as you leave Paris Springs. The stretch between Spencer and Avilla has several now mostly closed old Route 66 spots and historical buildings.
- Red Oak II is a large artistic installation/community built by local resident and artist Lowell Davis that includes vintage buildings from the area that have been relocated (e.g., blacksmith shop, church, general store, homes) and art installations. It is located just outside of Carthage and we definitely recommend a visit. Note that people do still use and live in some of these buildings so be respectful while walking around. Some buildings are sometimes open so you can see the inside, and at times there have been food and drinks available for sale (don’t expect it though). Not far away at the Flying W Store, you can see one of Davis’ sculptures called “Crap Duster”.
- Carthage is a great small town. Attractions include the historic square area (the courthouse is beautiful!), Civil War Museum (the city was burned to the ground during the war), Precious Moments Park & Chapel (a popular local attraction and a must-visit for any Precious Moments figurine lovers), and the Route 66 Drive-In (operating, seasonal)
- After you have settled into your hotel for the night in Carthage, we highly recommend checking out a movie at the Route 66 Drive-in if they are showing films during your visit!
- Branson, Missouri – If you are a fan of country music or want to see more of the scenic Ozarks, you could make a detour to Branson from Springfield, MO. The town is famous for hosting country performers and for being a family friendly destination within the Ozark Mountains. One of the most classic attractions is the Branson Scenic Railway . It is less than an hour’s drive to Branson from Springfield.
There are several eateries along this stretch that date back to the Route 66 era.
- Circle Inn Malt Shop (171 N. Old Route 66) in Bourbon – An American diner dating back to 1955 best known for its ice cream and milkshakes, but also serves breakfast, burgers, sandwiches, and dinner plates. All meals.
- Skippy’s Route 66 Restaurant (247 Hyw H) in Leasburg – Originally opened as the Coachlight Inn in 1970, the place serves sandwiches, fried chicken, and pizza.
- Missouri Hick BBQ (913 E. Washington) in Cuba – This popular eatery opened well after Route 66 had been decommissioned but has become a popular Route 66 stop. Restaurant focuses on its signature smoked meats, including BBQ ribs, pulled pork, and chicken. Also serves beer and wine.
- Cuba Bakery & Deli (615 W Main Street) in Cuba – A modern deli serving high quality sandwiches and baked goods. Have gluten free items.
- Shelly’s Route 66 Cafe (402 E. Washington Street) in Cuba – Family run small restaurant serving inexpensive casual American diner fare with a Route 66 theme.
- Maid-Rite (1028 Kingshighway) in Rolla – Known for its “loose meat (ground beef) sandwiches” (called a Maid-Rite), this inexpensive fast food eatery is part of a Midwestern chain that began in the 1920’s.
- Rob & Kricket’s Tater Patch (103 Bridge School Road) in Rolla – This is a restaurant, bar, and live music venue that also has pool and karaoke nights. Best known for their pork tenderloin sandwiches, catfish, and smothered baked potatoes. First opened as Moutrays Tater Patch in 1965.
- Elbow Inn Bar & BBQ (21050 Teardrop Road) in Devil’s Elbow – This place specializes in American BBQ and has a casual bar atmosphere. Formerly the Munger Moss Sandwich Shop beginning in 1936 (family that own the Munger Moss Motel in Lebanon), it is one of the oldest continually operating restaurants on Missouri’s stretch of Route 66
- Gary Dowd’s Catfish & BBQ (1760 W. Elm) in Lebanon – Serving American food, including seafood, BBQ, steaks, chicken, and burgers. Best known for their catfish dishes.
- Elm Street Eatery (135 W. Elm Street) in Lebanon – A popular well-rated local restaurant serving American classics all day. A good breakfast or lunch stop.
- Da Vinci’s (1683 S Jefferson Ave) in Lebanon – A local place for Italian food in Lebanon, serving pizza, pasta, seafood, veal, and salads. Lunch and dinner.
- The Cottage Cafe (201 West Pine Street) in Phillipsburg – A restaurant serving breakfast and lunch (sandwiches, soups, and salads). Opened in 2016 and some of the profits go to several charities.
- Joe’s Diner (201 E. Chestnut Street) in Strafford – Serves American diner food, known for burgers and onion rings. Recently changed ownership but still open.
- Cracker Barrel Country Store (2858 North Glenstone Avenue) in Springfield – This chain focuses on rustic country decor and classic American homestyle meals, including breakfasts, homestyle soups, chicken fried steak, and meat loaf. Gift store selling old-fashioned items, candies, and gifts.
- College Street Cafe (1622 W College Street) in Springfield – This cafe serves American style breakfasts, lunch plates, and sandwiches. Route 66 related decor.
- Steak ‘n Shake (1158 St. Louis Street) in Springfield – A hamburger fast food chain known for its steak burgers, milkshakes, and advertising slogan to “Take Home a Sack” (abbreviated to “TAKHOMASAK). Although this chain began in Normal, Illinois (you would have driven through this town on Day 1), this location built in 1962 is one of the best known along old Route 66 and the building is on the National Register of Historic Places.
- Bernie’s Route 66 Bar & Grill (175 Springfield Street) in Avilla – A down-to-earth bar and grill known for its burgers and beer. Occupying the building that used to be Flo’s Tavern.
- Whisler’s Drive Up (300 N. Garrison Avenue) in Carthage – A great old-fashioned hamburger place that has been around since 1953. Inexpensive, highly recommend if you like burgers.
- Pancake Hut (301 S. Garrison Avenue) in Carthage – A restaurant that has been around since 1979 serving American classics all day. A special feature is the coin-operated 1920’s “Chicago Band Box” inside.
- Mother Road Coffee in (325 Main Street) Carthage – A great place to stop if you are just looking for coffee or a snack, serving coffee, tea, and pastries. They even have a Mother Road Mocha drink.
- Lucky J Restaurant & Arena (11664 E. Fir Road) in Carthage – A local steakhouse outside of the town center best know for its steaks and burgers. Diners can also see horse events through glass into a rodeo area and there is also a Western wear and boots store here. Check event schedule if interested in rodeo events.
Hotel Recommendations for Carthage, MO
- Boots Court – This 1939 motor court was saved from demolition by 2 sisters and it has been restored to what it would have looked like in the 1940’s. This is a special Art Deco-Steamline Modern motel with a rich history, and even celebrities like Clark Gable once stayed here. The radios in the rooms are a nice touch to the 1940’s/1950’s theme. Good value. Book in advance.
- Grand Avenue Bed & Breakfast – Another great B&B option in Carthage in a historical home.
- Best Budget Inn – If you are looking for a budget stay, this well-reviewed no-frills motel is our choice. It is a restored 1955-era motel.
- Quality Inn & Suites – Another good budget option with an indoor pool, fitness center, and included breakfast.
- Camper Recs: Big Red Park RV Park and Coachlight RV Park
Route 66 Itinerary Day 4: Carthage, MO to Tulsa, OK
Today, you’ll drive through sections of 3 different states! Kansas has only 13 miles of Route 66 but it is worth taking the section at a leisurely pace to get the most out of your time in this friendly corner of this former mining region. Then you begin your exploration of Oklahoma, a state that straddles the Midwest and South.
This is the home state of Cyrus Avery , the Father of Route 66, and a place that is very aware of its Route 66 heritage with lots of helpful signs and informative museums. Will Rogers fans will really enjoy today as there are a number of Rogers related sites along the route. After passing through a number of small towns, you’ll end the day in the big city of Tulsa which has a number of interesting attractions.
Starting & Ending Point: Carthage, Missouri to Tulsa, Oklahoma
General Route: Carthage–> Joplin –> Galena –> Baxter Springs –> Catoosa –> Tulsa
Mileage: ~ 152 miles (245 km)
Time Zone: Central Time Zone – no changes today.
Those wanting to avoid big cities may want to bypass downtown Tulsa by jumping on Interstate 44 . If you are wanting to overnight outside of Tulsa, you might try staying in Catoosa, OK (17 miles before Tulsa) or around Sapulpa, OK (16 miles past Tulsa).
Main Route 66 Attractions
- You can find Superman memorabilia (and ice cream!) at SuperTAM on 66 Ice Cream Parlor in Carterville
- King Jack Park in Webb City features a large kneeling miner sculpture, a trolley, walking paths, picnic tables, and a giant praying hands statue
- In Joplin , a former mining boom town, you’ll find lots of traces of Route 66 including gas stations, a giant Coke bottle, and a Route 66 Mural. Missouri-born muralist Thomas Hart Benson’s final work, Joplin at the Turn of the Century, 1896-1906 , is on display in the town’s city hall complex. You’ll also find several museums and attractions, including the Joplin History & Mineral Museum and nearby the scenic Grand Falls (a short detour).
- Soon you’ll cross into your third state, Kansas , the Sunflower State, with just 13 miles of Route 66. This part of Kansas is a former mining area and you’ll see signs of its mining history along the route. Although short, be sure to take some time to explore and meet some of the friendly people along this small stretch.
- Galena offers a few attractions include “CARS on The Route” (restored fuel station that offers sandwiches, gifts, and has a tow truck that inspired the Tow Mater character in the Cars films) and the Galena Mining & Historical Museum .
- In Riverton , we recommend stopping at Old Riverton Store, a 1925 general store and deli that serves sandwiches and drinks. A good place to get a sandwich and buy some supplies or souvenirs to support this long-time small town business.
- To get more of your time in Kansas, consider making some small detours such as to see Rainbow Bridge (a restored arch bridge) and Big Brutus i n West Mineral (a GIANT mining machine with visitor center and museum). If you have more time, you might consider a visit the Fort Scott National Historic Site (19th century military fort) which is about a 1 hour drive north .
- Baxter Springs is the biggest town (at a whopping 4,000 people) on Kansas’s Route 66 and has the most services. In Baxter Springs you’ll find a visitor center in a restored Phillips 66 Station (visitor center) and the Baxter Springs Heritage Center & Museum . There is a lovely local story behind the building of the “Field of Dreams” baseball field here.
- Soon you’ll enter the state of Oklahoma which has almost 400 miles of driveable Route 66!
- Quapaw has several murals showing off its town history.
- Baseball fans will want to pay homage to Mickey Mantle in his home town of Commerce . His childhood home is here as well as a large statute at Commerce High School’s baseball field.
- Miam i has Coleman Theatre , a beautiful 1929 theater, that offers tours and performances, the Allen’s Conoco Fillin’ Station (a historic gas station turned gift shop, found on Main Street across from Dairy King) the Route 66 Vintage Iron Motorcycle Museum , and the Dobson Museum (local history museum).
- Afton is home to the Route 66 Motel, the Afton Station Route 66 Museum (vintage automobiles, informal exhibits, and souvenirs), and Darryl Starbird’s National Rod and Custom Car Museum .
- A small detour to nearby Grove allows you to visit Har-Ber Village (antique and history museum, and reconstructed pioneer era village) and take a paddlewheel riverboat ride. Both are seasonal.
- Vinita , hometown of “Dr. Phil” McGraw and home to the Will Rogers Memorial Rodeo, has a large number of historic homes, Route 66 era signs, and the Eastern Trails Museum (local history, including Route 66 exhibits).
- Chelsea is the home of Oklahoma’s first oil well and a 1912 Sears-Roebuck home known as Hogue Home (tours sometimes available by appointment).
- Foyil has a Andy Payne statue (winner of the 1928 International Trans-Continental Footrace) and the Totem Pole Park , a collection of giant concrete totem poles created by Ed Galloway. Totem Pole Park has been a Route 66 landmark since 1948 and is an important example of post-WW2 folk art.
- Claremore is a big draw for Will Rogers fans which has a large amount of Will Rogers related sites , including a museum, statues, and mausoleum. There is a historical downtown and the J.M. Davis Arms & Historical Museum (displays an astonishing number of historical firearms and weapons!) and the Swan Brothers Dairy (farm shop and farm tours).
- Near Catoosa is the giant blue whale, often known as the Catoosa whale in a small park. This was once a popular tourist attraction which included the blue whale, a Noah’s Ark attraction, kiosks, and a swimming area. Now it is just a quick and pleasant photo stop. In Catoosa there is the Catoosa Historical Society Museum (local history museum housed in former railroad depot with a renovated caboose) and the D.W. Correll Museum (rare vehicles, minerals, and lots of other items).
- Tulsa is home to a lot of old Route 66 era motels, signs, eateries, and historical buildings, including many Art Deco buildings. Some Route 66 spots include the 1925 Blue Dome gas station, the 1916 Cyrus Avery Bridge, the Cyrus Avery Centennial Plaza (several Route 66 signs/statues), and the Route 66 Historical Village. Tulsa also has a number of newer spots along Route 66 including the Fuel Stop 66 food truck spot, 918 flea market (located in historic Rose Bowl bowling alley building, Sundays only) and the Mother Road Market (food hall and shops n former 1930s grocery building). In late 2018, a new Route 66 sculpture was added at the Avery Traffic Circle at Admiral and Mingo, titled Route 66 Rising.
- Tulsa also a number of other attractions including the Philbrook Museum of Art (historical home and art collection), Gilcrease Museum (huge collection of Native American and Western art), the Tulsa Air and Space Museum & Planetarium , and the “Center of the Universe” (an acoustic anomaly spot).
- There’s lots to do in Tulsa in the evenings. If you haven’t already visited a drive-in movie theater yet on your drive, you have another possible chance tonight at the Admiral Twin Drive-In Theater . Or if you like live music, you might want to check to see if there is anything going on at Cain’s Ballroom , which was originally built as a garage for the founder of Tulsa in 1924.
- No big notable detours today.
- SuperTAM on 66 ( 221 W Main ) in Carterville, MO – An ice cream parlor that displays memorabilia related to both Route 66 and Superman. Fun atmosphere. Seasonal.
- Granny Shaffer’s (2728 N. Ranger Line Road) in Joplin, MO – Casual eatery serving inexpensive American comfort food included breakfast, fried chicken, spaghetti, and homemade pies. Also serves micro-roasted and fresh ground coffee.
- Instant Karma (527 S. Main Street) in Galena, KS – A casual spot known for their creative gourmet hot dogs, but also serve burgers, sandwiches, and vegetarian friendly options.
- Old Riverton Store (7109 SE Highway 66) in Riverton, KS – This general store has been operating here since 1925 and still has the original tin ceiling. Sells deli sandwiches, snacks, and fountain drinks. Great spot for a quick lunch or to pick up picnic supplies for later!
- Dallas’ Dairyette (103 N Main Street) in Quapaw, KS – Long-time fast-food burger place that also serves ice cream and frozen treats.
- Baxter Springs Smokehouse (2320 S. Military Avenue) in Baxter Springs, KS – A casual barbecue place known for their smoked meats and catfish.
- Waylan’s Ku-Ku Burger (105 N. Main Steet) in Miami, OK – A traditional fast food burger place that also serves fries, tater tots, and ice cream. This restaurant opened in 1965 and is the last survivor of the cuckoo-clock themed Oklahoma-based Ku-Ku chain that once had about 200 eateries throughout the Midwest.
- Dairy King (100 N Main Street) in Commerce, OK – Great little local burger spot in a former 1920’s Marathon station. Also serve ice cream and homemade cookies.
- Clanton’s Cafe (319 E. Illinois) in Vinita, OK – Serves a variety of American classics from breakfast to burgers to pork chops, especially known for their fried chicken and chicken fried steak dishes. Owned by the Clanton family since 1927 and is believed to be the oldest continually owned family restaurant on Route 66 in Oklahoma.
- Ron’s Hamburgers and Chili (1220 South Lynn Riggs Blvd) in Claremore, OK – Offers burgers, chili, and other hot sandwiches. Part of a local Oklahoma-based chain that began in 1975 and also a number of locations in Tulsa and elsewhere.
- Molly’s Landing (3700 N Old Highway 66) in Catoosa, OK – A more upsacle restaurant known for its steak and seafood dishes. Wine menu includes local wines. Voted as one of the best steakhouses in the Tulsa area.
- Hank’s Hamburgers (8933 E Admiral Place) in Tulsa, OK – Old-fashioned hamburger place that has been serving burgers on toasted buns, fries, and malts since 1949.
- Tally’s Good Food Cafe (1102 S Yale Avenue) in Tulsa, OK – A popular local diner with a retro Route 66 theme that opened in 1987, serving American classic diner food. Not a Route 66 era diner (opened in 1987), but has won awards for its big breakfasts, chicken fried steak, and cinnamon rolls.
- 918 Coffee (2446 E. 11th Street) in Tulsa, OK – A good modern coffee spot occupying a former 1928 cottage-style gas station. Serving fair-trade and organic Coda coffee, teas, pastries, and sandwiches. Has board games and plays vinyl records in the evenings.
- Fuel 66 Tulsa (2439 East 11th Street)in Tulsa, OK – A changing schedule of food trucks stop here. Sometimes lunch, sometimes dinner, sometimes both. If interested, be sure to check the schedule to see what’s there and when.
- El Rancho Grande (1629 E 11th Street) in Tulsa, OK – A simple Mexican food eatery that has been serving Tex-Mex food since 1953. Has a vintage neon sign and has won awards for its enchiladas and margaritas.
- Ike’s Chili (1503 E. 11th Street) in Tulsa, OK – This simple eatery is best known for its chili, but also offers burgers, sandwiches & sides. This long-time local favorite was established in 1908, almost 20 years before Route 66 was even established!
- Andolini’s Pizzeria (1552 E. 15th St) in Tulsa, OK – If you are looking for pizza and a lively atmosphere, this is one of the city’s most popular pizzerias offering New York style pizzas and beers.
- Ollie’s Station Restaurant (4070 Southwest Blvd) in Tulsa, OK – Located in the Redfork area of Tulsa, this neighborhood restaurant serves breakfast and homestyle meals. Restaurant has a Route 66 and train theme, and there are model trains running inside the restaurant. Great stop for any train enthusiast.
Hotel Recommendations for Tulsa, OK
- The Campbell Hotel – This 4-star luxury boutique hotel was originally built in 1927 and then restored in 2011. Beautifully decorated themed rooms based on the city’s history, including a Route 66 themed suite.
- Mayo Hotel – Another beautiful 4-star historical luxury hotel. Built in 1925 and renovated in 2009. Well-appointed hotel with stylish and sophisticated decor.
- Aloft Tulsa – If you love modern hotels and decor, you can’t go wrong with the Aloft brand. Has a lounge and cocktail bar.
- Extended Stay America – Midtown Tulsa – One of many options for a good-value stay in Tulsa with breakfast.
- Quality Inn Tulsa – Another good value stay located in the western downtown area of Tulsa with breakfast.
- Desert Hills Motel (5220 E 11th St, Tulsa, OK) – This vintage hotel dates from 1953 and still has a nice neon sign out front. It is budget-friendly no-frills place that has been getting mixed reviews in recent reviews. I’d check out a room first before deciding. No website so call +1 918-834-3311 or stop by to book.
- Camper Recs: Warrior RV Park (located in southeast Tulsa) , Mingo RV Park (located in eastern part of Tulsa), and Tulsa NE / Will Roger Downs KOA (located in Claremore, OK)
Route 66 Itinerary Day 5: Tulsa, OK to Clinton, OK
Today you spend a full day exploring Oklahoma with some nicely preserved sections of Route 66 that lead through small towns and rural areas. But you also have Oklahoma City on today’s route that has some interesting big city attractions if you wish to explore them. You also have many opportunities today to taste one of Oklahoma’s favorite local specialties, the onion burger, and the choice of sampling from over 500 kinds of soda!
Starting & Ending Point: Tulsa, Oklahoma to Clinton, Oklahoma
General Route: Tulsa –> Sapulpa –> Chandler –> Oklahoma City –> Weatherford –> Clinton
Mileage: ~ 204 miles (328 km)
Those wanting to avoid big cities may want to bypass downtown Oklahoma City and rejoin Route 66 in Yukon, OK. You can take I-35 to I-44 West or take the Kilpatrick Turnpike.
- Sapulpa is a town worth getting out of your car and exploring with its historical downtown and Route 66 related advertising murals. It is the home of Frankoma Pottery (been selling handmade pottery since 1933), the Sapulpa Historical Museum , and a giant Coke bottle. Outside of town is the Rock Creek Bridge (1925 bridge) and former Teepee Drive-In.
- A short detour (about 20 minutes) from Sapulpa is the Oklahoma Aquarium in Jenks
- In Bristow is a local history museum and Wake Island Memorial (only national memorial to the World War II Battle of Wake Island)
- Outside Stroud , you have The Shoe Tree Trading Post and Shoe Tree (original is gone, but people are still leaving shoes at a new one). In Stroud, you have the popular Rock Cafe restaurant (since 1939), some vintage neon signs, and the StableRidge Vineyards (with tasting room).
- In Chandler , you have the Route 66 Interpretive Center , Lincoln County Museum of Pioneer History , and McJerry’s Route 66 Gallery Jerry McClanahan is a local artist, Route 66 advocate, artist for the Here It Is maps , and writer of the EZ 66 Guide , definitely try to pay a visit especially if you are using his recommended guide or maps.
- There is a 1921 gas station turned motorcycle museum, the Seaba Station Motorcycle Museum , in little Warwick .
- Outside Arcadia , there is the OK Route 66 artist display, also known as the Oklahoma County 66 Auto Trim and Mini Museum. Built by John Hargrove, this is an artistic collection of replicas of many Route 66 classic sites like the Wigwam Motel, Catoosa Blue Whale, and retro gas stations. Inside there is a collection of memorabilia. This is his private residence so only stop by if the gate is open, but he is often happy to have guests stop by and will often show you around.
- In Arcadia, you have the 1898 Round Barn (restored in 1992 this unusually shaped barn houses a small museum and gift shop, free but donations appreciated) and POPS. POPS has a giant 66 foot tall soda bottle (sometimes lit) out front and is one of the newer popular attractions along the route. Opened in 1997 (now has other locations), the eatery/store is a diner (offering breakfast, sandwiches, and dinners) and sells all kinds of sodas.
- Those who love historical buildings may want to make a detour off Route 66 (30 minutes north of Edmond) to explore Guthrie (former state capital) which has a large number of buildings in the Historical District , and some of the buildings are open as museums to tour. You’ll also find the Beacon Drive-In outside town, which is the oldest (since 1951) still operating drive-in movie theater in Oklahoma
- Edmond has the Edmond Historical Society Museum , the first schoolhouse built in the Oklahoma Territory (1889), a replica Statue of Liberty (donated by the Boy Scouts), and a teepee shaped church ( Hopewell Baptist Church ). You’ll also see a giant cross located within the Life.Church campus.
- Now you head into Oklahoma City (OKC), the capital and largest city in Oklahoma. There are a few routes you can take and trying to follow an exact route in a larger city can be difficult so I’d just focus on navigating to the attractions you want to visit.
- The oil and gas industry has long been important to OKC and the city is literally built on top of oil fields, and you’ll even find oil wells on the grounds of the State Capitol! The city has lots of attractions including historic buildings (e.g., Will Rogers Theater, Tower Theater), museums such as the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum (interactive museum about the 1995 OKC bombing and a memorial to the 168 victims) and National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum (a must-visit if you are interested in the American “Old West” & its history), and other attractions such as Myriad Botanical Gardens and Frontier City (a Western themed family amusement park).
- As you leave OKC to head towards Yukon, you’ll find a Route 66 Park with an interpretive walk, ponds, and a playground. Great place to stretch your legs and for kids to play.
- Yukon , once known for its flour milling industry, has some old Route 66 era signs and a small railroad museum. Country singer Garth Brooks grew up here.
- El Reno has a local history museum, Route 66 eateries, the Heritage Express Trolley (a restored 1924 rail based trolley that runs from the Heritage Park through downtown), and the remains of Historic Fort Reno . It is also believed to be the home of the onion burger, a fried onion burger born out of the Depression era, and there are several places still serving onion burgers in town with Robert’s Grill being the oldest (since 1926!).
- If you are interested in the Chisholm Trail (historic cattle trail), you can make a detour to visit one the two museums in the area ( one in Duncan and one in Kingfisher). You’ll find the grave and monument to Jesse Chisholm (fur trader who the Chisholm Trail is named after) in Geary .
- Outside El Reno you’ll find the Cherokee Treading Post which started as a rug stand in the 1940’s.
- Hydro has a couple of Route 66 sites, the 1927 Lucille’s gas station and motor court run by Lucille and Carl Hamons (no longer operating) and Nutopia Nut ‘N More (began as the Johnson Peanut Company in 1962).
- Weatherford has some old Route 66 era businesses as well as the Stafford Air & Space Museum and Heartland of America Museum (displays includes a blacksmith’s shop, old cars, a school, and a diner that Elvis once patronized).
- Clinton has a number of Route 66 related attractions. The Mohawk Lodge Indian Store (history dating back to the late 1800’s, operating since 1940’s) is a great stop for authentic Native American goods and local Native American history. Also the Cheyenne Cultural Center nearby. The Oklahoma Route 66 Museum is an excellent and modern Route 66 museum with lots of exhibits and there is a restored Valentine diner building. You might want to taste local wines at Yippe AY-O-K Winery tasting room. McLain Rogers Park is a large park containing historic buildings as well as a number of family-friendly facilities which include a playground and a Route 66 themed mini-golf course. There is also a family-friendly indoor water park near the Route 66 Museum.
- Hickory House BBQ (626 N. Mission Street) in Sapulpa – This place has been serving sandwiches, burgers & steaks, plus lunch & dinner buffets, since 1981.
- Happy Burger (215 N. Mission Street) in Sapulpa – This old-fashioned local hamburger joint has been serving burgers and fries since 1957.
- Anchor Inn (630 S. Roland Street) in Bristow – A small restaurant operating since the 1950’s, best known for its chicken fried steak and burgers.
- Rock Cafe (114 W. Main Street) in Stroud – Since 1939, this has been a popular restaurant stop along Route 66. The simple restaurant serves American and German American food, and is best known for its jagerschnitzle and chicken fried steak. The owner, Dawn Welch was the inspiration for Sally Carrera (the Porsche) in the Cars films.
- Tammy’s Round-up Cafe (1025 Broadway Avenue) in Davenport – A newer eatery focused on breakfast, sandwiches, and comfort food.
- Boom-a-rang Diner (912 Manvel Avenue) in Chandler – One of over 20 locations of this popular Oklahoma-based modern diner chain. Best known for its burgers and fries and has 1950’s and 1960’s retro decor.
- The Boundary Restaurant on Route 66 (16001 E. Highway 66) in Luther – Best known for their barbeque (ribs, brisket, and pulled pork), but also serve other sandwiches and chili.
- Josephine’s Cafe and Bakery (104 Main Street) in Luther – Small local cafe serving breakfast, fresh baked goods, and American classics.
- POPS (660 W. Highway 66) in Arcadia – This popular modern Route 66 stop has a diner selling sandwiches, American classics, and over 500 types of soda.
- Tucker’s Onion Burgers (324 NW 23rd Street) in Oklahoma City – A modern popular Oklahoma City based chain specializing in onion burgers, begun in 2011.
- Cheever’s Cafe (2409 N. Hudson Avenue) in Oklahoma City – A stylish restaurant serving American and Southwestern dishes in a historic building that was once a family-run flower shop. Serves weekend brunch as well as wine and beer.
- Big Truck Tacos (530 NW 23rd Street) in Oklahoma City – A popular food truck eatery serving all-day (breakfast to late night snacks) casual creative Mexican dishes like tortilla soup, tacos, and burritos. Brick-and-mortar restaurant plus food trucks.
- VZD’s Restaurant & Bar (4200 N. Western Avenue) in Oklahoma City – An American bar and grill that serves American and Southwestern food and includes vegetarian options. Has been popular for its burgers, live music, and full service bar since 1976. Located in the historical Crown Drug store building.
- Beverly’s Pancake House (3315 N.W. Expressway) in Oklahoma City – Long-time local restaurant known for its breakfast and chicken dishes. Serves all meals. This spot was the original place for the “chicken in the rough” that was the staple offering of the former Oklahoma-based Chicken in the Rough chain that began in 1936.
- Ann’s Chicken Fry House (4106 NW 39th Street) in Oklahoma City – A vintage Route 66-themed diner with lots of neon serving American diner food such as chicken-fried steak. Building was originally a 1948 Cities Service gas station, and has been Ann’s Chicken Fry House since 1971.
- Cattlemen’s Steakhouse in (1309 S. Agnew Avenue) in Oklahoma City – This historical steakhouse began as a cafe in 1910 near the OKC Stockyards, and today it is best known for its steaks. Serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It is the longest continuously running restaurant in the city. This is not on or near Route 66 (so requires a bit of a detour to another part of city), but is a historical restaurant that deserves a mention and the place to go if you are looking for a steak.
- Johnnie’s Grill (301 S Rock Island Ave) in El Reno – A popular local eatery that has been serving traditional fried onion burgers and Coney dogs since 1946.
- Robert’s Grill (300 S. Bickford Avenue) in El Reno – A small classic old-fashioned 1926 diner known for its traditional fried onion burgers and Coney dogs. This was definitely one of the most classic still operating 1920’s diners we visited on the route.
- Sid’s Diner (300 S. Choctaw Avenue) in El Reno – Yet another popular place serving traditional onion burgers in a retro-themed diner since 1989.
- Lucille’s Roadhouse (1301 N. Airport Road) in Weatherford – A modern retro-themed diner that serves American classics, including breakfast, sandwiches, and steaks. The diner was named in honor of Lucille Hamons.
- Route 66 Cafe at the Market (301 W. Gary Boulevard) in Clinton – Locally owned diner serving breakfast, sandwiches, and homemade desserts. Known for their chicken fried steak.
- Adamo’s Route 66 Italian Villa (2132 W. Gary Boulevard) in Clinton – Restaurant serving American Italian foods, including pizza, pasta, and steaks. Located across from the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum.
- White Dog Hill (22901 Route 66 North) in Clinton – Modern American restaurant (steaks, seafood, chicken dishes) in a historical building (1925 Clinton Country Club building). Full bar (Beanie Bar), dinner only, reservations recommended. Great place if you are looking for a nicer dinner out (casual dress is fine).
Hotel Recommendations for Clinton, OK
There are no “special” Route 66 lodging spots in Clinton (except Trade Winds Motel which has mixed reviews), but there are a number of 2- and 3-star chain hotels and motels to choose from in the town.
- La Quinta Inn & Suites Clinton Historic Route 66 – A well-rated 3-star chain property. Breakfast included.
- Holiday Inn Express & Suites – Another well-reviewed 3-star property.
- Hampton Inn – A well-rated 3-star chain property. Breakfast included.
- Super 8 Motel – A well-rated budget option.
- Trade Winds Motel – A historical budget option with mixed reviews so recommend checking out a room here before staying. Elvis Presley is said to have stayed in Room 215 on several occasions.
- If you are looking for a house for the night, check out this Airbnb property calling itself The Route 66 House (sleeps up to 4 persons).
- Camper Recs: Hargus RV Park (in Clinton, Phone: +1 580-323-1664), Elk City / Clinton KOA (in Foss, OK), and Foss State Park (in Foss).
Route 66 Itinerary Day 6: Clinton, OK to Amarillo, TX
Today you leave behind Oklahoma to enter the big state of Texas. Despite the massive size of Texas, Route 66 only runs along the northern section of the Texan panhandle, making for under 200 miles of driving. While the scenery can be a bit dull at times, there is still much to see and do along this stretch. Some of today’s highlights include the National Route 66 Museum, the Devil’s Rope Museum, Cadillac Ranch, and the chance to eat a 72 oz. steak at the Big Texan Steak House!
Starting & Ending Point: Clinton, Oklahoma to Amarillo, Texas
General Route: Clinton –> Elk City –> Texola –> McLean –> Conway –> Amarillo
Mileage: ~ 176 miles (283 km)
No big cities today, although some might want to bypass downtown Amarillo, which is the largest city (population close to 200,000) Route 66 passes through in Texas.
- Little Canute has some Route 66 signs and buildings and the Canute Heritage Center.
- Elk City is home to the National Route 66 Museum Complex .This is a must-visit for any Route 66 traveler and the museum covers the history of Route 66 and its route through all 8 states. The gift shop is a great place for Route 66 books and souvenirs. Admission also includes access to the other museums in the complex which include the Old Town Museum, Farm & Ranch Museum, and Blacksmith Museum. Elsewhere in town there is a giant oil derrick in front of the Anadarko Basin Museum of Nature History (historic building, museum currently closed), and Ackley Park has a hand carved wooden carousel, playground, mini-golf, picnic areas, and a miniature train.
- Sayre is worth taking some time to wander around as it has some nice murals, lots of historic buildings, old Route 66 era signs, a courthouse that was briefly shown in the 1940 Grapes of Wrath film, and the RS&K Railroad Museum (private collection of railroad memorabilia and hundreds of model trains).
- In Erick , there is the Sandhills Curiosity Shop, 100th Meridian Museum (about the long-disputed state boundary between OK and TX, open by appointment only), and Roger Miller Museum .
- After little Texola , which has become almost a ghost town, you pass into your fifth state, Texas. There is a Will Rogers Marker at the state line.
- Shamrock has the impressive Art Deco Tower Service Station and U-Drop Inn Cafe , built in 1936 which was a historic Route 66 icon. It fell into disrepair after the route was decommissioned but has since been restored and reopened as a visitor center and offices of the local chamber of commerce. The town also has the Pioneer West Museum , a restored Magnolia gas station, and a piece of the Irish Blarney Stone (in Elmore Park).
- In McLean , you’ll find the combined Texas Route 66 Museum and Devil’s Rope Museum (a museum dedicated to barbed wire as well as Route 66 exhibits), a restored Phillips 66 Station, and the McLean-Alanreed Area Museum (local history, especially pertaining to a former WW2 prisoner-of-war camp that was located in the area).
- Alanreed has a restored 1930’s 66 Super Service Station. Outside town on I-40 eastbound is a Route 66 themed rest area with a neon sign, a few exhibits, and a playground.
- Groom has a leaning water tower (purposely leaning), some Route 66 ruins, and a giant cross (197 feet and 2.5 million pounds!). The giant cross is part of the Cross Ministries , a non-profit non-denominational religious site, that also has impressive bronze statues representing the Stations of the Cross and a gift shop. Future plans here include a chapel and museum.
- Conway has some Route 66 ruins and out by the interstate in Panhandle you can find the “VW Slug Bug Ranch” where you’ll find several Volkswagen Beetles buried nose down in the dirt. An art installation satire of the more famous Cadillac Ranch. Not from the Route 66 era or even on Route 66 (neither is Cadillac Ranch for that matter) but worth a stop if you enjoy this kind of art.
- Amarillo is your only taste of a larger city in the Texas Panhandle, and a quirky place worth exploring. It is best known for being home to the over-the-top Big Texan Steak Ranch restaurant and motel (started along on Route 66 in 1960 but relocated to I-40 in early 1970’s) and Cadillac Ranch, an art installation of uptuned buried Cadillacs. The public art piece was created by art group Ant Farm and commissioned by eccentric Texan millionaire and convicted sex abuser Stanley March 3 . Cadillac Ranch was installed in 1974 and then relocated in 1997, but neither location was actually along Route 66.
- However, Amarillo offers much more than 72 oz steak dinners and quirky art, and you’ll find historic buildings (especially in the Route 66-Sixth Street Historic District and Polk Street Historic District), art galleries, shopping and nightlife opportunities (check out the San Jacinto neighborhood), and museums such as the American Quarter Horse Association Hall of Fame and Museum and Bill’s Backyard Classics (classic cars). Families (and the young at heart) may want to visit the Wonderland Amusement Park (seasonal), a traditional family-run amusement park since 1951. Includes rides, water slides, games, and a mini-golf course.
- For evening nightlife, there is often live music and dancing to be found in downtown Amarillo. Some places to try are the GoldenLight Cafe & Cantina (since 1946, food, drinks, and live music), Hoots Pub (dive bar with live music), Starlight Ranch Event Center (live music and dancing), and Guitars & Cadillacs (country music and dancing). Sadly the giant long-time dance venue Midnight Rodeo closed in September 2017.
- The Country Dove Gift & Tea Room (610 W. 3rd Street) in Elk City, OK – A lunchtime eatery in a historic home known for their creamy potato soup, chicken avocado croissant sandwiches, and French Silk Pie. Also a Christian gift store.
- Lupe’s Cocino and Cantina (905 N. Main Street) in Elk City, OK – This Mexican American restaurant is your best bet for Mexican food in the area.
- Tumbleweeds Grill & Country Store (5th Street) in Texola, OK – The building was once a 1930’s bar (Waterhole #2), and this simple place serves breakfast, soups, salads, sandwiches, and has lunch and dinner plate specials. Art for sale on the walls, and also has snacks and supplies for sale in its general store section.
- Hasty’s (203 E.18th Street) in Shamrock, TX – This hamburger spot closed and reopened recently with new owners, serving American classics like hamburgers, pulled pork, chicken strips, and catfish.
- Big Vern’s Steakhouse (200 E. 12th Street) in Shamrock, TX – Country-style restaurant serving American food, best known for its steaks and beer bread.
- The Roost (117 Railroad Avenue) in Shamrock, TX – Southern and Southwestern sandwiches, best known for their fish tacos and Reuben sandwiches. Also serve homemade desserts and fresh baked goods.
- Red River Steak House (101 W. Highway 101) in McLean, TX – A locally owned steakhouse known for their steaks, fried catfish, and fruit cobbler. Next door to the well-rated Route 66 era Cactus Inn motel. Opened in 1997 and another location opened in 2015 in Amarillo.
- The Grill (407 Front Street) in Groom, TX – Small local place serving homemade breakfasts, sandwiches, and American classics dishes. Known for their homemade fried stuffed biscuits.
- Gram Gram’s (9696 E. 40) in Conway, TX – Simple no-frills American diner place sitting next door to the Conway Inn (no frills motel since 1978).
- Big Texan Steak Ranch & Brewery (701 Interstate 40 Access Rd) in Amarillo, TX – This Route 66 classic started life in 1960 alongside Route 66 but was then moved to sit along I-40 in the 1970s. Large menu of American homestyle classics but best known for its steaks. If you eat the 72 oz. steak dinner in under 1 hour, you get it for free. Laurence and I ordered it and couldn’t even finish it together! Full service bar, brewery, breakfast buffet, homemade candy, and ice cream.
- Stockyards Cafe (101 S Manhattan Street) in Amarillo, TX – Located in the Amarillo Stockyards livestock sale barn, this simple cafe is known for its breakfast, chicken fried steak, burgers, and chicken fried steak.
- Smokey Joe’s Texas Cafe (2903 SW 6th Avenue) in Amarillo, TX – An American cafe with retro decor, serving American road food such as burgers, blackened catfish, and chicken fried steak. Also serves alcohol and have live music on some evenings.
- The Golden Light Cantina (2908 SW 6th Avenue) in Amarillo, TX – A Route 66 era (since 1946) American diner serving burgers and sandwiches. Also serve beer and wine. Live music on some nights.
- Wild Bill’s (3811 SW 6th Ave) in Amarillo, TX – American place serving burgers, sandwiches, salads, nachos, Frito pie, etc. Also serve beer and wine and have a game area (pool, darts).
- Beef Burger Barrel ( 3102 Plains Blvd) in Amarillo, TX – An American walk-up burger place serving burgers, hot dogs, fries, onion rings, and sodas out of a former 1937 A&W Root Beer barrel-shaped stand.
Hotel Recommendations for Amarillo, TX
- The Big Texan Motel – Next door to the Big Texan Steak Ranch, this quirky and kitschy motel is designed to resemble an old west town, and has Old West and Texan themed decor throughout. There are Cadillac limos that can escort guests, and in the warmer months, you can even swim in the giant Texas-shaped swimming pool! Note that noise can be an issue here.
- Drury Inn & Suites Amarillo – A solid 3-star hotel with indoor pool and included breakfast. We stayed here at our last visit to Amarillo and enjoyed our stay.
- My Place Hotel – A well-reviewed 3-star hotel that offers kitchenettes in every room.
- Extended Stay America – Amarillo West – A good value budget option that includes breakfast.
- Camper recs: Big Texan RV Park (also known as Amarillo Ranch RV Park), Oasis RV Resort , and Amarillo KOA
Route 66 Itinerary Day 7: Amarillo, TX to Tucumcari, NM
Already one week into our Route 66 itinerary! Today you say goodbye to Texas and cross into New Mexico, the Land of Enchantment which has about 400 miles of Route 66. This morning or afternoon you’ll cross the halfway marker of the route in little Adrian, TX (or Vega depending on who you ask!), so woo-hoo you are halfway done and making good time. The route today passes through many ghost towns that did not survive the demise of Route 66 and ends in a town that screams Route 66 like no other town on the route, Tucumcari, NM. The driving time is fairly short today giving you plenty of time to do any extra exploring in Amarillo, make small detours, travel at a leisurely pace, and explore Tucumcari.
Starting & Ending Point: Amarillo, Texas to Tucumcari, New Mexico
General Route: Amarillo –> Vega –> Adrian –> Glenrio –> San Jon –> Tucumcari
Mileage: ~ 109 miles (175 km)
Time Zone: 1 hour time zone change today! You’ll want to set your watches and car clocks back an hour as you head from the Central Time Zone to Mountain Time Zone as you leave Texas and enter New Mexico. Keep the time change in mind if you have any appointments or tours scheduled today.
No big cities today.
- Visit anything in Amarillo you didn’t get to see yesterday.
- Those looking for some hiking and nice scenery may want to make a detour (about 30 miles south) to visit the Palo Duro Canyon State Park .
- You may notice some crazy signs along the road after you leave Amarillo evoking the signage of the Route 66 era, some with references to the Bates Motel from Psycho . These are more of Stanley Marsh 3’s commissions. There are several art commissions in West Texas from him, which include the series of signs all over Amarillo (known collectively as The Dynamite Museum), Floating Mesa (north of Bushland) and the Ozymadias sculpture (south of Amarillo). Those interested can take some short detours and hunt these down.
- Vega is home to a restored 1920’s Magnolia gasoline station and Dot’s Mini Museum which is two small buildings that hold personal collection of artifacts of Dot Leavitt that she started collecting in 1944. It is not so much of a museum as a cluttered personal collection of objects, but great to see for those who like things from the Route 66 era. Dot and her husband (both deceased) once ran a store called Vega Zero Lockers which provided ice and other services to passing Route 66 travelers. Her family has continued to keep the mini-museum open in their mother’s memory. Some people say Vega is the midpoint for Route 66.
- The most touted candidate for the midpoint for Route 66 is Adrian . It has sort of self-proclaimed itself as such with a sign, paintings on the road, and the Midpoint Cafe and Gift Shop . It is impossible to determine an exact midpoint due to all the changes and different alignments of Route 66 but most Route 66 experts agree it is somewhere around Vega or Adrian. There is also the Sunflower Station (selling gifts and antiques next door to the cafe run by former Midpoint Cafe owner Fran Houser) and The Bent Door, which is a recently restored 1947 cafe that is planned to reopen as a diner soon.
- Glenrio has only a few Route 66 era ruins, and is the last town in Texas along the route.
- Now you’ll cross the border into state number six, New Mexico, the Land of Enchantment.
- Between Glenrio and San Jon, you have the option to take a dirt and gravel section of Route 66 (pre-1950’s) or the post-1950’s paved section which runs along the 1-40. I’d opt for the dirt and gravel section towards Endee which is more scenic. Although I’d avoid this route if it is muddy and during bad weather. If you have the time, you can drive both routes as it is only about 18 miles. In San Jon the two routes converge.
- Most of the towns through this stretch have few residents and most have become ghost towns.
- Tucumcari remains a true Route 66 town. It once promoted itself as a great place to overnight along the route with signs along the route in Texas and New Mexico proclaiming “Tucumcari Tonite—2,000 Motel Rooms”. Today there are still several historic Route 66 motels like the Blue Swallow , Motel Safari, and Pow Wow Inn and a few really nice neon signs. There is also Tee Pee Curios, a former 1940’s gas station and grocery store, that has been a popular curio and souvenir shop for a long time now. It is a great place to stop for souvenirs and gifts, and you’ll also find gifts and western wear at Tucumcari Ranch Supply .
- Other things to do in Tucumcari include towns murals, the beautiful 1930’s Art Deco theater The Odeon (still operational), Mesalands Community College’s Dinosaur Museum , Tucumcari’s Historical Museum (local history, housed in a 1903 schoolhouse), and the Route 66 Museum (located in part of the Convention Center). You can also get vintage looking photos taken at Mother Road Old Time Photos.
- If you looking for things to do in the evening in Tucumcari, I’d recommend checking out the glowing neon signs once they are lit up after dark, sipping a drink at one of the town’s lounges or bars, or check to see if the Odeon Theater is playing a movie.
Note that there are limited options for dining spots between Amarillo and Tucumcari, especially ones that are open in the evening. So just keep that in mind today.
- Hickory Inn Cafe (1300 Vega Blvd) in Vega, TX – A casual family-owned restaurant serving breakfast, burgers, salads, and sandwiches.
- Roosters (1300 Vega Boulevard) in Vega, TX – A well-rated casual Mexican restaurant with rustic decor, serving Mexican favorites like burritos, tacos, and enchiladas.
- Midpoint Cafe and Gift Shop (305 West Historic Route 66) in Adrian, TX – A Route 66 era diner (established in 1928) that has changed names and owners several times. It is currently the Mid Point Cafe its name since 1995) with a retro theme serving basic diner food. Best known for its pies, especially the Ugly Crust pie. Also sell gifts and souvenirs.
- Russel’s Route 66 Cafe (1583 Frontage Road) in Glenrio, TX – Eatery serves breakfast and American classic road food like burgers, burritos, catfish, and fried chicken. Located within a modern family-owned travel center and truck stop that also offers a fuel station, antique car museum, small grocery store, and other travel services.
- Watson’s BBQ (502 S. Lake Street) in Tucumcari, NM – A small much-loved barbecue lunch spot that serves sandwiches and family-style BBQ and sides. Also has donuts and bakery goods. Located within the Tucumcari Ranch Supply. Dine in or carry out. Best place for BBQ in town.
- Del’s Restaurant (1202 E. Route 66 Boulevard) in Tucumcari, NM – This restaurant has been on Route 66 since 1956, and serves homemade soups, salads, sandwiches, and a large variety of American and Mexican dishes. Has a salad bar and vegetarian options. If you are looking for a family-friendly sit down place with lots of options in Tucumcari for lunch or dinner, this is our pick
- Kix on 66 (1102 E. Route 66 Boulevard) in Tucumcari, NM – A modern retro-themed diner serving American classics and Mexican food for breakfast and lunch. Breakfast, burgers, sandwiches, several salads, and fruit smoothies. They have a doggie menu for those who want to sit outside with their dogs! Our recommendation for a breakfast spot.
- Cornerstone First Edition (711 E. Route 66) in Tucumcari, NM – A no-frills eatery serving deli sandwiches, subs, burgers, pizzas, and malts. Popular with locals, and a great spot for those looking for a quick sandwich or pizza.
- La Cita (820 S. 1st Street) in Tucumcari, NM – Inexpensive no-frills place serving Mexican food in an iconic building with a nice neon sign and a giant sombrero over the entrance. Building dates back to 1940, although has moved from its original location a time or two.
- Pow Wow Restaurant & Lounge (801 W Route 66) in Tucumcari, NM – Next door to the Pow Wow Inn, the restaurant services American and Mexican food and has a full-service bar. Good place for drinks and sometimes has live entertainment or karaoke. One of the more lively places in town.
Hotel Recommendations for Tucumcari, NM
Tucumcari is an epicenter for Route 66 era motels with signs along Route 66 in Texas and New Mexico saying “Tucumcari Tonite—2,000 Motel Rooms”. This was a very popular Route 66 overnight stop and is still a great place to stop and sleep. There are no longer 2,000 motel rooms but there are still over 1,000 in the town. Several of the Route 66 era motels are still operational, so there is no reason to have to stay in a chain hotel here.
- Blue Swallow Motel – This Route 66 classic motel has one of the most recognizable neon signs along Route 66. It opened in 1939 and is family-owned and offers vintage 1940’s/1950’s themed rooms.
- Motel Safari – Another Route 66 era motor court with a classic neon sign. Built in 1959, the motel offers retro decor with modern furnishings.
- Historic Route 66 Motel – This 1963 Route 66 motor court motel offers aviation themed decor, and there is a coffee shop on site.
- Desert Inn – This more modern well-reviewed 3 star motel features a hot tub, fitness center, and free continental breakfast.
- Pow Wow Inn (801 W. Route 66 Blvd.) – This historic Route 66 motel (started life as Lin’s Motor Lodge in the 1940’s) offers basic amenities and a seasonal pool. The motel is adjacent to the popular Pow Wow Restaurant & Lizard Lounge. Motel has received some mixed reviews in recent years. To book, call +1 575-461-0500 or stop by.
- Holiday Inn Express & Suites – If you are looking for a familiar chain, I’d recommend this one which comes with breakfast.
- Camper Recs – Tucumcari KOA Journey and Blaze-in-Saddle
Route 66 Itinerary Day 8: Tucumcari, NM to Albuquerque, NM
Today you really get to see the heart of New Mexico, with a chance to explore one or both of its main cities, Albuquerque and Santa Fe. The route diverges today after Santa Rosa and you can decide to take the older and slower route through Santa Fe or the main Route 66 route used after 1937 which bypasses Santa Fe and cuts across downtown Albuquerque.
Albuquerque has the longest stretch of Route 66 of any city and has retained a number of Route 66 era buildings, signs, and restaurants. Whichever route you choose, both of these main cities are filled with worthwhile attractions. Today is also a good day to sample New Mexican dishes, basically any dish smothered in chile sauce, as you have loads of great options along the route today!
Starting & Ending Point: Tucumcari, New Mexico to Albuquerque, New Mexico
The route splits into two alignments today west of Santa Rosa. An older loop goes to Santa Fe and the post 1937 route goes through downtown Albuquerque. The pre-1937 route splits off west of Santa Rosa and doesn’t rejoin the post-1937 until Correo (or you can also rejoin in Albuquerque at Central Avenue).
General post-1937 Route: Tucumcari –> Montoya –> Santa Rosa –> Clines Corner –> Moriarty –> Albuquerque
Alternative pre-1937 Santa Fe Route to Santa Fe: Tucumcari –> Montoya –> Santa Rosa –> Glorieta –> Romeroville –> Santa Fe
Alternative pre-1937 Santa Fe Route to Albuquerque: Tucumcari –> Montoya –> Santa Rosa –> Glorieta –> Romeroville –> Santa Fe –> Bernalillo –> Albuquerque
Mileage: ~ 171 miles (275 km). Alternatively, it is ~ 181 miles (291 km) to do the first part of the Santa Fe loop and overnight in Santa Fe, or 240 miles (386 km) to do the Santa Fe loop and end in Albuquerque.
Note: The Albuquerque and Santa Fe route are similar in terms of miles if you overnight in Santa Fe (171 versus 181) but the drive takes longer as the road requires slower driving. Also note that the Santa Fe route will obviously add additional miles and time to your trip as you still have to loop back to return to Route 66.
Time Zone: Mountain Time Zone – no changes today.
Those who want to avoid big cities will likely want to avoid downtown Albuquerque (population over 500,000). You can take the alternative route to Santa Fe or jump on I-40 after Tijeras to pass through both cities. Santa Fe is not a large city but the one-way narrow streets, crowds, and limited downtown parking can make it a bit trying for those trying to navigate by car. You are better off parking and walking around in the central downtown area rather than trying to drive.
If you are want to overnight outside downtown Albuquerque or Santa Fe, consider Las Vegas (Santa Fe route), Bernalillo (Albuquerque route), Los Lunas , or the Route 66 Casino Hotel & RV Park (located just west of Albuquerque), depending on the route you are taking and how far you want to drive today.
- Most of the towns from Tucumcari to Santa Rosa are essentially ghost towns now with lots of abandoned buildings, many dating from the Route 66 era.
- Little Cuervo has a pretty red brick Catholic Church dating from 1915.
- Santa Rosa has the Route 66 Auto Museum run by a local couple, and a great stop for auto enthusiasts. There are also a few Route 66 era businesses still open here and some nice signs. Also just outside downtown Santa Rosa is the Blue Hole , which is a deep water hole that was once used as a fishery. You can swim here at your own risk and it is a popular spot for divers.
- Those with an interest in Billy the Kid, Native American history, and/or 19th century military history, may want to make a detour to visit Fort Sumner . It is about a 45 mile detour south of Santa Rosa. The town is best known for being the town where Pat Garrett shot Billy the Kid and the historic site of Fort Sumner. Here you’ll find the Billy the Kid Museum (Billy the Kid was killed by Pat Garrett here) and Bosque Redondo Memorial (informative and touching memorial and museum about the fort and the forced marches and confinement of thousands of Navajo and Apache people).
- Routes split west of Santa Rosa and you can take US 84 E (at exit 256) to follow the pre-1937 Route 66 Santa Fe Loop or keep going towards Milagro and Moriarty for the post-1937 route through Albuquerque. We’ll describe highlights on both routes that one could take today until Albuquerque.
- It is a scenic drive north to Romeroville as you leave behind the Interstate.
- If you have time, Las Vegas is worth making a detour (about 6 miles from Romeroville) to visit. This is the “Other Las Vegas”, not the glittering one in Nevada. This one has many wonderful historic buildings, good places to eat, and an interesting downtown.
- Tecolote has a restored 19th century adobe church, Santa Fe Trail marker, and a ruined 1920’s bridge.
- Pecos is home to the Pecos National Historical Park which has the ruins of two Spanish colonial missions and a Pueblo community and is worth stopping to explore. You can also walk the Glorieta Battlefield hiking trail (which leads to a Civil War battlefield) which is over 2 miles long, ask at the Visitor Center for information and a guide.
- Glorieta was where the Battle of Glorieta Pass occurred which was a decisive battle in the New Mexico Campaign during the American Civil War. There is a memorial near the road.
- Santa Fe is the state capital and the oldest capital in the United States. Santa Fe is best known for art (which is in great abundance in museums, galleries, and along the sidewalks), history (you’ll find some of the country’s oldest buildings here), and high prices (it is by far the most expensive city in New Mexico and also home to some of the most upscale hotels, galleries, restaurants, & spas in the state). Route 66 did not run here as long as most cities but there are still some Route 66 era motels (e.g., El Rey Inn), hotels, and signs to be found here. There are so many worthy attractions in Santa Fe but some highlights include the Plaza area (check out the historic La Fonda Hotel), New Mexico History Museum & Palace of the Governors , Museum Hill (a collection of several museums), churches (e.g., Loretto Chapel, Chapel of San Miguel), art galleries along Canyon Road, and the Georgia O’Keefe Museum . For more ideas for Santa Fe, see our guide to what to do in Santa Fe .
- You’ll find the Coronardo Historic Site (about both explorer Francisco Vásquez de Coronado and the Kuana Pueblo ruins) in Bernalillo . Canoeing and kayaking tours and rentals are also possible here on the Rio Grande with Quiet Waters Paddling .
- Corrales has a historic 19th century church Old San Ysidro Church and a restored Spanish colonial ranch house known as both Casa San Ysidro and the Gutiérrez-Minge House (now operated as a house museum, can be toured).
- You’ll find the family-run J&R Vintage Auto Museum in Rio Rancho which has a large collection of vintage automobiles and die-cast toys as well as a book store.
- Soon you’ll be in Albuquerque . Skip below to the information on Albuquerque.
- The Flying C Ranch has been around for a long time and is owned by the Bowlin Family who have run trading posts in New Mexico for the past 100 years. Once a giant tourist complex, it still offers gifts, fuel, and a Dairy Queen.
- Clines Corners began here when Roy Cline built a rest stop here in 1937. Today there is still a large store and gift shop called Clines Corners Retail Center . There is also food, gas, and an information center here.
- West of Clines Corners at Exit 203 there are the remains of Longhorn Ranch which was a tourist compound with a motel, gas station, museum, restaurant, etc. in buildings that looked like they were in the Old West.
- In Moriarty , you’ll find more signs of Route 66, including the remains of the last operating Whiting Bros station, some nice signs, Moriarty Historical Society & Museum (local history, in town’s old fire station), Lewis Antique Auto & Toy Museum (large private collection of automobiles and toys of Archie Lewis), and the U.S. Southwest Soaring Museum (museum dedicated to gliding and motorless flight).
- In Edgewood is the Wild West Nature Park , a 122 acre non-profit wildlife park that is home to animals that have been rescued, which include a number of birds, deer, foxes, wolves, bobcats, and deer.
- If you have time a great detour drive is to join the Turqouise Trail from Tijeras . There is a day’s worth of things to see and do along the 50 mile trail but if you have time (or an extra day, it’s a great drive between Albuquerque and Santa Fe) you might want to drive a section of it.
- Soon you’ll reach the outskirts of Albuquerque .
- Albuquerque has not only the longest stretch of Route 66, but it is also the only place where Route 66 crosses itself as both the pre-1937 and post-1937 routes cross in downtown. The more interesting section is the post-1937 that is now Central Avenue but the older alignment is also worth exploring. If you are doing the pre-1937 Santa Fe loop, you may want to also check out Central Avenue, but those who dislike busy downtowns, may want to avoid it.
- The city has a number of Route 66 era signs, eateries, old buildings, and theaters. It has some fantastic Route 66 neon signs, several of which are still operating. See our guide to Albuquerque’s Route 66 attractions (I used to live here) that gives detailed history of the sites in order as there are a lot of them. It includes both the pre-1937 and post-1937 sites as well as more dining and lodging recommendations that we could fit into this itinerary.
- In terms of other things to see and do, some of the highlights of Albuquerque include the historic Old Town (including a church dating to the Spanish colonial period), Sandia Peak Tramway , Albuquerque Museum (local history, includes some Route 66 info), the Anderson-Abruzzo International Balloon Museum , the historic Kimo Theatear (Art Deco-Pueblo Revival Style, still operating), National Museum of Nuclear Science & History , Petroglyph National Monument , Albuquerque BioPark (botanic garden, zoo, Tingley Beach, and aquarium), and the many craft breweries (there are about a dozen!) throughout the city. See our guide to things to do in Albuquerque for more ideas.
- Fort Sumner – The town has Billy the Kid history, military, and Native American history. The Navajo and Apache were confined here by the U.S. military in the 1860’s. It’s about a 45 minute detour south of Santa Rosa from the route. Although not a huge detour, this will take at least a few hours, so be sure to account for this. This detour is not recommended for those trying to visit both Santa Fe and Albuquerque today, unless you have an extra day in the area.
- Exploring both Albuquerque and Santa Fe – If you want to visit both of these great New Mexican cities and explore them more in-depth, I’d add an extra day or two to the itinerary here. Our suggestion would be to drive the route to Albuquerque and then overnight in Albuquerque for 2 nights, exploring Albuquerque one day and then head to Santa Fe on a day trip on the second day. Santa Fe is best explored on foot so you might consider taking a day trip via the Rail Runner train and then get around Santa Fe on foot and by bus (there is a great free tourist shuttle ).
Although yesterday there weren’t many dining options along the route, today you will be overwhelmed with options, no matter which of the Route 66 alignments you choose to drive. Santa Rosa, Santa Fe, and Albuquerque have tons of popular and well-reviewed eateries. A number of them, especially in Santa Rosa and Albuquerque, have been operating since the Route 66 era. Be sure to try the green and red chile – they love to smother it on just about anything in New Mexico!
- Silver Moon Cafe (2545 Historic Route 66) in Santa Rosa – Simple diner serving Mexican and classic American food since 1959. Serves alcohol.
- Route 66 Restaurant (2295 Historic Route 66) in Santa Rosa – Modern diner with vintage Route 66 theme serving Mexican and American food. Known for its green chile burgers and tacos. This restaurant has been around since the Route 66 era under different names and owners, once as Lettie’s Restaurant.
- Sun & Sand Restaurant (1124 Historic Route 66) in Santa Rosa – Old-fashioned eatery serving homestyle New Mexican and American dishes. Been around since 1950’s, sits next to old Sun n’ Sand Motel (currently closed) known for its bright neon sign with a Zia symbol.
- Joseph’s Bar and Grill (1775 Historic Route 66) in Santa Rosa – Restaurant with vintage and Americana decor serving Mexican and American dishes. Serves all meals and also has a bar. Been around since 1956. Has the “fat man” logo out front that once was part of the Club Cafe.
- Comet II Restaurant (1257 Historic Route 66) in Santa Rosa – Simple family run place serving Mexican and New Mexican food like enchiladas, tacos, burritos, and green chile stew. Been in the Martinez family since 1927.
- Route 66 Restaurant (2295 Historic Route 66) in Santa Rosa – Mexican/American known for its green chile burgers and tacos.
- Harry’s Roadhouse (96 B Las Vegas Highway) in Santa Fe – Contemporary eatery serving healthy and contemporary eclectic menu with American, Tex-Mex, and European inspired dishes. Serve sandwiches, salads, steaks, pizza, tacos, stews, etc. Very vegetarian friendly!
- Pink Adobe (406 Old Santa Fe Trail) in Santa Fe – Located in a pink adobe building, this restaurant serves upscale Mexican, Creole, and European inspired dishes. Popular dishes include clams lucifer, gypsy stew, French Onion Soup, Steak Dunigan, and enchiladas. Lovely Southwestern decor. Drinks and partial menu available in the Dragon Room Bar. Been around since 1944, and original owner is known for The Pink Adobe Cookbook . Dinner only, reservations recommended.
- Santa Fe Bite (311 Old Santa Fe Trail) in Santa Fe – Contemporary casual eatery serving American and New Mexican burgers, sandwiches, salads, steaks and milkshakes. Best known for their green chile cheeseburgers. Located inside the Garrett’s Dessert Inn. Opened in 2013, owners previously ran the popular Bob Cat Bite. Serves lunch and dinner.
- La Plazuela in Santa Fe (100 E. San Francisco Street) – A New Mexican restaurant within the La Fonda Hotel serving more upscale New Mexican and European food. The restaurant resembles a modern winter garden with Southwestern accents. The space was once the hotel’s 1920’s era patio and courtyard.
- Five & Dime General Store (58 E. San Francisco Street) in Santa Fe – The small snack bar at the back of the souvenir store serves sandwiches and snacks, and is best known for their “Frito pies”. A Fritos pie is Fritos corn chips topped with red chile sauce, shredded cheese, and toppings and served in the Frito bag. The building has been a souvenir and general store since the 1990’s but was originally a Woolworth’s store started in 1937. The claim that this is the “original” place for the Fritos pie is debated ( evidence suggest the first Fritos pie originated in Texas in the 1940’s), but Woolworth’s was a popular destination for them starting in the 1960s as they began being served at their lunch counter.
- Plaza Cafe (54 Lincoln Avenue) in Santa Fe – A historic eatery serving New Mexican, American, and Greek favorites in an Art Deco style diner. Food includes sandwiches, enchiladas, tacos, chicken fried steak, gyros, and moussaka. Believed to be the oldest still operating restaurant in Santa Fe, opened in 1905 and has been owned by the Razatos family since 1947.
- Cafe Pasqual’s (121 Don Gaspar Avenue) in Santa Fe – Popular Mexican restaurant focused on using local and organic ingredients. The restaurant has been here since 1979, but the Pueblo style adobe building started life as Texaco station and car dealership back in the 1920’s.
- Cowgirl BBQ (319 S. Guadalupe Street) in Santa Fe – A cowgirl themed restaurant serving American and Southwestern favorites, such as chicken wings, burgers, barbecue, steaks, and catfish. Best known for their barbecue, “Mother” burger, and live music. Have an outdoor patio area, bar, and nightly live music. Been around since 1993.
- The Pantry (1820 Cerrillos Road) in Santa Fe – Classic eatery serving American and New Mexican favorites like nachos, tacos, enchiladas, burritos, hot turkey sandwiches, and burgers. Popular breakfast and meeting spot. If you are staying at the El Rey Inn, it is a convenient 2 minute walk away. Been around since 1948.
- Range Cafe (925 Camino Del Pueblo) in Bernalillo – A locally owned restaurant serving New Mexican, Mexican, and American dishes. Best known for its eggs benedict, huevos rancheros, blue corn enchiladas, and desserts. Full bar and live music nightly in the Lizard Rodeo Lounge. Good selection of local wines and beers. Originally opened in Bernalillo in 1992 in a restored former gas station but this burned down in 1995, and the restaurant reopened in its current location in 1996.
- Silva’s Saloon (955 S. Camino del Pueblo) in Bernalillo – No food, just drinks. This bar opened in 1933 by former bootlegger Felix Silva and is one of the oldest still operating bars in New Mexico. Walls are covered with memorabilia from the past 80 years. A good stop if you are looking for a dive bar in the area with a lot of history, but not a place to bring your kids. Attracts a mixed clientele of locals, bikers, and tourists.
- El Camino Dining Room (6800 4th Street NW) in Los Ranchos De Albuquerque – This local restaurant has a broad menu of American classics and New Mexican dishes and is best known for its huevos rancheros. Right across from the El Camino Motel.
- Garcia’s Kitchen (1113 4th Street NW) in Albuquerque – A local Albuquerque chain of family-run restaurants that offers authentic New Mexican food. There are several locations in the city (including another on 4th Street at 4917 4th Street NW) but this is the original that opened in 1975.
- Sadie’s (6230 4th Street NW) in Albuquerque – This restaurant focuses on simple New Mexican food, known for its hearty portions, good salsa, and margaritas. Started out as a tiny eatery in the 1950’s and has expanded to three locations. It is very popular with both locals and tourists.
- Clines Corners (One Yacht Club Drive) in Clines Corner – Clines Corner is a huge gift shop and travel center. It has been around since 1937. There is a restaurant here serving American and Southwestern food and a Subway. The food and service get mixed reviews.
- Shorty’s 66 BBQ (1204 W. Historic Route 66) in Moriarty – A family-run American restaurant serving BBQ, pasta, chicken, and pizza dishes. Popular with locals and best known for its barbecue and broasted chicken. Opened in 1997.
- 66 Diner (1405 Central Ave NE) in Albuquerque – A modern diner with 1950’s retro decor serving up American and local diner favorites like burgers, chicken fried steak, fruit pies, and milkshakes. The diner started in 1987 in a former 1940’s Phillips 66 gas station although the original building was later largely destroyed by fire.
- The Dog House Drive-In (1216 Central Ave SW) in Albuquerque – A no-frills American road food drive-in spot serving burgers, hot dogs, and sandwiches. Best known for its foot-long chili hot dogs. Cash only.
- Duran Central Pharmacy (1815 Central Avenue NW) in Albuquerque – A great place for authentic New Mexican food served in a local hangout reminiscent of the Route 66 era. This pharmacy has included a restaurant since 1975.
- Kelly’s Brew Pub (3222 Central Avenue SE) in Albuquerque – A popular brew pub in Nob Hill serving sandwiches, salads, and classic American and New Mexican dishes. Popular for its green chile chicken stew and beer. It opened in 1993 but is housed in a 1939 Jones Motor Company building. Has a large outdoor seating area.
- Lindy’s (500 Central Avenue SW) in Albuquerque – This unpretentious 1929 eatery may be the oldest continuously operating Route 66 eatery in New Mexico and it is located in a 1906 building. Serves a casual mix of American, Mexican, and Greek diner food.
- Loyola’s Family Restaurant (4500 Central Avenue SE) in Albuquerque – This local family restaurant has been serving American and New Mexican classics since the 1950’s.
- Mac’s La Sierra Family Restaurant (6217 Central Avenue NW) in Albuquerque – Family owned casual restaurant since 1952. Serves American and New Mexican classics, and known for its original “steaks in the rough”.
- Standard Diner (320 Central Avenue SE) in Albuquerque – A great place for those looking for a more modern and upscale diner. Opened in 2006 in a converted 1938 Carothers & Maudlin service station, the menu features upscale twists on diner classics.
- Western View Diner & Steakhouse (6411 Central Avenue NW) in Albuquerque – This long-time restaurant has been serving travelers since 1941. Homemade American classics and steaks with generous portions and friendly service
Hotel Recommendations for Albuquerque, NM and Santa Fe, NM
We provide lodging suggestions for both Albuquerque and Santa Fe so you can choose what fits best with the route you’ve chosen and the distance you want to drive today.
Lodging Recommendations for Albuquerque, NM
Having lived in Albuquerque, I have dozens of lodging recommendations (feel free to ask if you want something specific) and you can find more Route 66 Albuquerque motels and hotels in my prior post. But here are several options:
- Monterey Motel – This Route 66 era motel opened in 1946 and continues to offer good value lodging in a central location that is within walking distance of Old Town attractions. Great neon sign out front. A top recommendation for a Route 66 era motel in Albuquerque.
- Hiway House Motel – This 1958 Hiway House Motel was once one of many of the Hiway chain motels and now one of only a handful. It has a neon sign and colonial-style architecture.
- El Vado Motel – This classic court motel was built in the Spanish Pueblo Revival style in 1937 and is probably Albuquerque’s most famous surviving Route 66 era motel. Has a beautiful classic neon sign out front. It was just recently restored and reopened in 2018!
- Bottger Mansion – If you are looking for a historic and romantic B&B, we’d recommend this one. The house was built around 1912 and later become a popular boarding house, even Elvis Presley slept here. One of the rooms has a Route 66 theme.
- Hotel Parq Central – This modern 4-star hotel opened in 2010 in a historic 1926 building that was originally a Santa Fe Railroad hospital for railway workers and later a psychiatric ward! The decor is a mix of modern and vintage and its Apothecary Lounge rooftop bar is a popular place for cocktails for locals and visitors alike.
- Hotel Chaco – One of the city’s newest 4-star hotels, this hotel is best known for its architecture which is influenced by the ancient pueblo culture and Chaco Canyon. Includes an on-site restaurant, café, bar, and fitness center.
- Los Poblanos Historic Inn & Organic Farm – This is a beautiful 4-star historic boutique inn offering guest rooms in both the main hacienda and elsewhere on the farm. Many rooms have patios. The inn sits on a historic farm and has a great restaurant and farm shop. Located about 2 miles from the pre-1937 Route 66 alignment in a peaceful spot just outside central Albuquerque in Los Ranchos.
- Camper Recs: Enchanted Trails RV Park (unique Route 66 era RV park and campground with trading post and collection of vintage travel trailers), Route 66 RV Resort (located about 20 minutes west of Albuquerque, next door to the Route 66 Casino & Hotel) and Albuquerque KOA
Hotel Recommendations for Santa Fe, NM
- El Rey Inn – This is a much loved Route 66 era motor court, and some of the rooms date back to 1936. Includes nice gardens, Southwestern decor, whirlpool, sauna, and fitness center. This is a good value stay in pricey Santa Fe and includes continental breakfast.
- La Fonda Hotel – This is the most well-known hotel in Santa Fe and is a historic landmark hotel that dates back to 1922. Located centrally right on the Plaza, this hotel has beautiful architectural details and a rich history. Includes 3 restaurants, bars, fitness center, spa, pool, gift shops, and business center.
- Silver Saddle Motel – This 1958 vintage motor court motel offers basic Route 66 and Western themed rooms, and room rates include continental breakfast. Great Route 66 era budget spot!
- El Sendero Inn – This 1957 Route 66 3-star motel offers good value spot with a pool. Within walking distance of the Plaza. Formerly Garrett’s Desert Inn.
- The Inn of the Five Graces – This 4-star luxury boutique hotel has regularly been named as one of the top small hotels in the country! Centrally located, the hotel is decorated with east Indian and Tibetan furnishings and each room comes with a fireplace and kitchenette. On site dining and spa services available. In busy times, 2 day or longer stays are required.
- Camper Recs: Santa Fe Skies RV Park , Santa Fe KOA , and Trailer Ranch RV Resort
Route 66 Itinerary Day 9: Albuquerque, NM to Gallup, NM
Today you have another full day to explore New Mexico. The route goes through small towns, Native American reservation lands, and crosses the Continental Divide. There are a lot of ghost towns along the route that were once popular Route 66 stops. Acoma Pueblo is a short detour worth taking if you have not visited a Pueblo before. Gallup offers lots of historical buildings, a couple of museums, hiking opportunities, and even a bit of nightlife. Note that many parts of today’s route run through various federal tribal lands, be respectful and don’t trespass as you need a permit to hike or take photographs in certain areas.
Starting & Ending Point: Albuquerque, New Mexico to Gallup, New Mexico
General Route: Albuquerque –> Mesita –> Grants –> Gallup
Mileage: ~ 139 miles (224 km) Alternatively, it is ~ 165 miles (265 km) following the pre-1937 alignment from Albuquerque or it is ~ 224 miles (360 km) if you are coming from Santa Fe following the pre-1937 alignment (join regular route at Correo).
No big cities along the route today.
Pre-1937 Route 66 Route from Albuquerque to Mesita
- If you are starting in Santa Fe, see Day 9 itinerary for attractions, food, and lodging recommendations along the stretch from Santa Fe to Albuquerque.
- After leaving Albuquerque, you’ll pass through the Isleta Pueblo land. In the village is an old square area and a Roman Catholic mission church that was established in 1619 and has been restored and is in active use. The main visitor attraction here is the Isleta Resort & Casino complex which includes a casino, arcade, billiards, bowling alley, hotel, restaurants, golf course, and spa.
- In Los Lunas , you have a historic 1879 Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad (AT&SF) depot and the Los Lunas Museum of Heritage and Arts .
- At Correo , rejoin the main Route 66 route and head to Mesita .
Post-1937 Route 66 Route from Albuquerque to Mesita
- At Rio Puerco is a preserved 1933 bridge. You can’t drive across it but you can get out and walk across it.
- Not far from the bridge, you’ll see the Route 66 Casino run by the Laguna Pueblo . This modern Route 66 themed casino has all kinds of slots and gaming tables, entertainment shows, diners, bars, restaurants, a hotel, and an RV park. If you are looking for a casino stop along Route 66, this would probably be our first choice.
- Follow route along to Mesita .
Route 66 Route from Mesita to Gallup
- As you drive around Mesita , you’ll pass “Owl Rock”, a large rock formation the road curves around that sort of looks like an owl. Then there is a tight loop known as “Dead Man’s Curve”.
- In Laguna , you can see and visit the well-maintained San Jose Mission church dedicated to Saint Joseph that was built in 1699.
- In Paraje , there is another mission church, this one is St. Margaret Mary Mission Chapel that was built in 1935.
- A short detour from Paraje Acoma Pueblo . It is about a 15 mile detour and you can take a guided tour of “Sky City” on top of Acoma mesa which is the oldest continuously inhabited community in the country. The most significant building is the San Esteban Del Rey Mission church built between 1629 and 1641. There is also a museum and cultural center at the visitor center and local pottery and handicrafts are available for purchase. An interesting place to visit and especially atmospheric on public feasts days! Note that on the mesa you can’t take photographs without a photography permit (available at the visitor center) and photography is not permitted (even with a permit) in the religious buildings or cemetery, or anywhere on feast days. Must be dressed modestly. Be sure to check visitor hours before heading here as the Pueblo is closed to visitor on certain days and period fo the year.
- In Budville is the remains of the Budville Trading Company. It was opened by H.N. “Bud” Rice and his wife Flossie in 1928 as a gas station, grocery, and trading post. It was also the scene of the murder of Bud Rice and a female customer in 1967. Flossie Rice continued to run it until 1979. It has opened and closed since, but mostly been closed. Across the street is the old Dixie Bar from 1936.
- Cubero had been bypassed with the post-1937 alignment but it is worth a visit to stop at the Villa de Cubero Trading Post. The trading post is a family-run general store and gas station that sells groceries, fresh pizza, beer, souvenirs, and some general supplies. The tourist complex once also included a cafe and motor court, and celebrities like Lucy Arnez and Ernest Hemingway are said to have stayed the night here (Hemingway may have written part of The Old Man and the Sea here).
- In San Fiedel , there is St. Joseph’s Church (built in 1920) and some remains of Route 66 era service stations.
- In McCarty’s is a 1933 church called Santa Maria de Acoma which is a smaller version of the Acoma Pueblo church. From McCarty’s you can also detour to Acoma Pubelo “Sky City” (described above) if you wish.
- A short detour from McCarty’s is El Malpais National Monument which has 400,000 acres of lava flow and has some interesting geological features and trails. It is about 5 miles west of Route 66 to reach the edge of the large park. Note that there is little shade so you’ll want sun protection, water, and durable shoes to explore the park.
- The first town of any size today is Grants . The town has an interesting history involving Native Americans, Wild West characters, carrots, and uranium mining. It also has several Route 66 era vintage motels, signs, theaters (the 1959 West Theatre is still showing films!), and buildings. The main attraction here is the New Mexico Mining Museum which includes lots of exhibits plus the chance to go underground to learn what it was like to mine uranium!
- In Milan , you’ll see some Route 66 remnants along the road and you can visit the small Western New Mexico Aviation Heritage Museum . It has an inside exhibit area, a recreated 1929 airway beacon site, and a 1950s Flight Service station.
- In Bluewater , you’ll see the remains of Bowlins Old Crater Trading Post, a once very popular general and curio store along Route 66. Built in 1954 (on the site of an even older trading post built by Claude Bowlin in 1936), the business operated until 1979. The business was known for the painted murals depicting Native Americans and its logo of a running Indian holding a tomahawk and wearing a headband and feather.
- From Prewitt to Thoreau, you’ll see some more Route 66 era remains include closed trading posts and bars. There is the Roy T. Herman’s Garage and Service Station in Thoreau which is still operating as an auto repair shop. It started as a Standard Oil Company Station gas station in 1937 and was purchased by Roy T. Herman in 1950 and he and his son have operated it since then. It is now an auto repair station only (does not sell gas or other items).
- Now you’ll cross the Continental Divide . The Continental Divide is the hydrological divide of the Americas which extends from the Bering Strait to the Strait of Magellan, and separates the watersheds that drain into the Pacific Ocean from those river systems that drain into the Atlantic Ocean (including the Gulf of Mexico). This is one of the highest points along Route 66 at about 7,275 feet in elevation. You’ll find signs, an official marker, and the Continental Divide Indian Market which has a lot of souvenirs as well as Native American handicrafts such blankets, jewelry, and kachina dolls.
- You’ll start noticing the colorful red hills and rocks as you get closer to Gallup and this red landscape will continue into Arizona.
- Our final suggested stop for the day is Gallup . The downtown area includes a number of historical buildings which include the Rex Museum (built in 1900, formerly a hotel, brothel and grocery store, now a local history museum), the El Rancho Hotel and Motel, the El Morro Theater (opened in 1928, still operating), the old McKinley County Courthouse built in 1938 (contains a number of New Deal era murals), and the Santa Fe Depot (now the Gallup Cultural Center ).
- Another popular attraction in Gallup is the small Navajo Code Talker’s Room within the Gallup-McKinley Chamber of Commerce building which tells the story of how the Navajo language was used to beat the Japanese code breakers during World War II. There is also a giant yellow Kachina doll which is a copy of the one that was well-known during the Route 66 era and often appeared on postcards.
- Just outside Gallup is Red Rock Park and Museum . The park is surrounded by red cliffs, has a campground and hiking trails to places like Church Rock, a small museum, and is where a lot of local events take place.
- If you are looking for things to do at night in Gallup, there are often things going on at the local pubs and bars. The historical El Morro Theater shows films most evenings, and there are other more modern cinemas in town. The Gal-A-Bowl has been a family-run bowling alley since 1959, and also offers snacks, pizza, and sandwiches. The town often has events such as Native American dances, rodeos, concerts, hot air balloon rallys, and other events, especially in the summer months.
Today the two towns with the most options for dining are Grants and Gallup with a few located in smaller towns along the route.
Pre-1937 Route 66 route to Mesita
- The Luna Mansion (101 Main Street) in Los Lunas – A 1881 mansion turned upscale restaurant serving American food, including steaks, seafood, and pasta. Open for drinks, dinner, and Sunday brunch. Reservations recommended.
Post-1937 Route 66 route to Mesita
- The 66 Pit Stop (14311 Central Avenue NW) in Albuquerque – Just as you leave the city, you’ll come across this travel center which offers fuel, food, and supplies. The diner serves simple American food like burgers, chicken fingers, hot dogs, and fries. It is best known for its tasty 1/2 lb. Laguna burger. Owned by the Laguna Pueblo.
- Route 66 Casino & Hotel (14500 Central Avenue SW) in Albuquerque – The Route 66 Casino complex has a number of food spots within, many with retro, Western, and/or Route 66 themes. These include a buffet, a steakhouse and bar, a diner, and a cocktail lounge.
Route 66 Mesita to Gallup
- The 66 Pit Stop (1-40 Exit 140) in Laguna – Another location of this service station eatery known for the 1/2 lb Laguna burger. Travel center also offers fuel, snacks, and supplies.
- Route 66 Junkyard Brewery (1634 E. Route 66) in Grants – A former auto junkyard turned into a brewery and pub with car parts here and there throughout for an interesting decor! The focus is on local beer (their own plus other ones from New Mexico). Sometimes have food on offer. Has comedy and live music on some nights.
- El Cafecito (820 E. Santa Fe Avenue) in Grants – Simple and clean eatery serving New Mexican and American dishes like enchiladas, tostadas, stuffed sopapilllas, chimichangas, burgers, and taco salads. Serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
- First Street Cafe (1600 W. Santa Fe Avenue) in Grants – A family-owned cafe known for its breakfast, deli sandwiches, and homemade pies. Open for breakfast and lunch. Since 1996.
- El Ranchero Cafe (705 W. Highway 66) in Milan – A simple family-run restaurant serving inexpensive authentic New Mexican and Mexican dishes. Inexpensive, popular with locals, and serves breakfast to dinner.
- Wow Diner (1300 Motel Drive) in Milan – A retro-themed diner serving American and New Mexican food. Food includes breakfast, sandwiches, pasta, tacos, steak, trout, and pizza. Opened in 2006.
- Lil’s Restaurant (100 NM-371) in Thoreau – A simple local restaurant serving New Mexican and American classics. Serves breakfast to dinner. Previously the Wagonwheel Cafe.
- Earl’s Family Restaurant (1400 E. Highway 66) in Gallup – This casual restaurant serves American and Mexican food including breakfast, soup, burgers, enchiladas, meat loaf, and tacos. Local Native American artisans (mostly Navajo) offer crafts and jewelry to customers (or you can put a sign at your table saying you are not interested). Around since 1947 when it started as a small hamburger diner and has since greatly expanded. Popular with locals and visitors.
- El Rancho Hotel Restaurant & Lounge (1000 E. Highway 66) in Gallup – The restaurant serves American and Mexican food like steaks, fajitas, tacos, tamales, and burgers. The lounge offers a full bar with a focus on margaritas and beer. Located within the historic El Rancho Hotel.
- Angela’s Cafe (201 E. Highway 66) in Gallup – Serves light American dishes like artisan deli sandwiches, soups, pasta, salads, and desserts in a casual and contemporary cafe setting. Also serve beer, wine, and of course lots of coffee and tea drinks. Open for breakfast, lunch, and snacks. Located within the Gallup Cultural Center (old train station).
- Jerry’s Cafe (406 W. Coal Avenue) in Gallup – A cozy casual diner serving New Mexican food like breakfast burritos, enchiladas, stuffed sopapillas, chile rellenos, pork chops, and green chile turkey melts. Serves breakfast to dinner. Family owned and operated since 1976. Neon sign out front.
- Badlands Grill (2201 W. Highway 66) in Gallup – Historic locally owned restaurant with a Southwestern decor serving upscale seafood and steak dishes. Dishes include steaks, burger, pasta, seafood, ribs, and chicken dishes. Wine list which includes local wines.This is the place to go in Gallup if you want a nicer dinner out. The building has been owned by the same family since 1969. Reservations recommended.
Hotel Recommendations for Gallup, NM
Note that most of Gallup’s motels and hotels are located near the railway so there may be train noise. Ask for a quiet room and bring ear plugs just in case.
- El Rancho Hotel – This historical hotel dates back to 1937 and is a Route 66 landmark, known for its beautiful lobby. It was a popular hotel for celebrities in the 1930s to 1950s, which included John Wayne, Lucille Ball, and Katherine Hepburn. Note that there is both the historic hotel building plus the more simple El Rancho Motel with less expensive room rates next door.
- Hilton Garden Inn Gallup – If you are looking for a nicer property, this well-rated hotel is a good bet in Gallup. Property includes a restaurant, indoor heated pool, and fitness center.
- Holiday Inn Express & Suites East – A well-rated chain hotel with included breakfast and a pool.
- Hampton Inn Gallup West – Another well-rated chain hotel with included breakfast and pool.
- Econo Lodge Gallup – A well rated budget motel with all the basic amenities. A good choice for those on a tight budget.
- Camper Recs: USA RV Park and Red Rock Park (located east of Gallup in Churchrock, NM)
Route 66 Itinerary Day 10: Gallup, NM to Flagstaff, AZ
You’ll say goodbye to the Land of Enchantment this morning and head into Arizona. Arizona is probably the state that is most associated with both the Old West and Route 66 in people’s minds, and therefore gets a lot more visitors driving Route 66 than most of the other states. Today, you pass through cities, towns, abandoned tourist attractions, and scenic landscapes as you head towards Williams. Stops along the way include a petrified forest, a giant meteor crater, trading posts, and state parks.
Starting & Ending Point: Gallup, New Mexico to Flagstaff, Arizona
General Route: Gallup –> Lupton –> Holbrook –> Winslow –> Flagstaff
Mile age : ~ 181 miles (291 km)
Time Zone: Mountain Time Zone – no changes in time zone today although confusingly most of Arizona does not observe Daylight Saving Time (New Mexico does), with the exception of the Navajo Nation. So be sure to check the local time once in Arizona, and note that it will actually change as you drive in and out of Navajo land!
No big cities along the route today. Flagstaff is the largest city today with a population around 75,000 which you can take the Interstate through if you wish to skip exploring it. Big city avoiders may want to overnight in Winona instead.
- If you are wanting to explore the Four Corners area , which includes a number of ancient Native American and archaeological sites, you’ll want to detour there before leaving Gallup. Most sites are within 2 hours and 30 minutes to 3 hours away from Gallup. See Big Detours section below for more information.
- After leaving Gallup, you have just a short stretch left in New Mexico. You’ll pass through Manuelito and past more scenic cliffs and former trading posts.
- Soon you’ll see the sign showing you’ve crossed into Arizona , your seventh state along Route 66! Arizona is probably best known for being home to the Grand Canyon and lots of Old West associated scenery. It also has the longest stretch of continuous old Route 66 and the last decommissioned stretch of Route 66. It has lots of little towns that fit visitors idea of Route 66 and are not surprisingly some of the most touristy. We generally find this to be one of the most crowded stretches of Route 66 (especially between Williams and Toprock) but go slow and take the time to explore as there are still a lot of gems here.
- You’ll soon reach Lupton , where you’ll find some trading posts and souvenir shops, and colorful signs about cave dwellings, teepees, and Navajo rugs. Currently there is the Yellowhorse Trading Post which is named after the Yellowhorse family, a Navajo family who runs the shop. The Yellowhorse started selling rugs from alongside Route 66 to passing tourists in the 1950’s. This remains a popular souvenir stop. You’ll also see a geodesic-domed building which once was the Ortega’s Indian Market, but is now closed.
- In Houck , there is an abandoned tourist travel center called Fort Courage that includes a replica of the fort used in the 1960’s TV series F Troop. The center once had a coffee shop, trading post, and gas station.
- Little Sanders has another closed trading post, the 66 diner (a Valentine building which is now closed, there were plans to reopen in 2017 but it is still closed as far as we know), and a 1923 Pratt pony truss bridge over the Rio Puerco that once was part of the Route 66 route (closed to traffic but you can still see it on foot).
- You can take a detour from Chambers to visit the Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site , which has a 19th century Navajo house and the oldest continuously operating Navajo trading post from the 1870’s. It is now operated by the National Park Service and guided tours are available. It is about 40 miles north of Chambers.
- Between Chambers and Holbrook , you can visit the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest National Park . An old section of Route 66 (no longer driveable) used to run though a section of the park and visits to this park were popular for drivers of historic Route 66. A recommended stop if you have time. The park includes a visitor center, remains of petrified trees, colorful mineral deposits in the hills, petroglyphs, Native American ruins, and a 1920’s hotel called the Painted Desert Inn (no longer offers accommodation). Most can be seen from the car if you are short on time. Hiking opportunities, from short walks to backcountry treks possible here. Note, it is illegal to damage or try to take any petrified wood from the park, but you can buy legal petrified wood from rock shop and gift shop vendors all around Holbrook collected from private property.
- In and around Holbrook, you’ll find a bunch of giant statues, mannequins, and dinosaurs with most being concentrated at the gift shops and rock shops. Two popular quirky souvenir stops are Stewart’s Petrified Wood Shop and Rainbow Rock Stop. Holbrook has several historic buildings including the now ruined Bucket of Blood Saloon (so named after some murders here in the 1880’s), a restored 1880’s train depot, and the former Navajo Country Courthouse which was built in 1898 and is now the town visitor center and museum. It displays original items from the courthouse and local history information, and you can see the former sheriff’s office, courtroom, and jail. The towns also has a few Route 66 era signs, cafes, and motels, including the famous Wigwam Motel where guests have been able to sleep in a concrete teepee since 1950.
- Between Holbrook and Joseph City is the Geronimo Trading Post which is another quirky gift shop which is said to have the largest petrified wood log in the world (the thing is huge!). This place has been around in one form or another since around 1950.
- Just west of Joseph City , you’ll find another popular Route 66 era gift shop, the Jackrabbit Trading Post which is believed to have first opened in 1949. The Jackrabbit Trading Post was well-known because it used to have dozens of giant billboards along the highway and its famous “Here it is” sign greeted you once you approached. There are still a few signs remaining and you can see a giant jackrabbit here and of course visit the store. If you already have all the souvenirs you can handle, they also sell snacks, drinks, Route 66 maps and books, and antique items.
- Between Joseph City and Winslow , just off Route 66, is the entrance to the Rock Art Ranch which is a private working ranch that has a museum with a collection of cars and farm equipment, cowboy artifacts, Native American pottery and artifacts (mostly Anasazi), and there are Native America ruins as well as thousands of petroglyphs within the property. Guided tours are possible with a reservation. If you want to visit the Rock Art Ranch, you must call in advance to make reservations (+1 928-386-5047).
- Winslow Arizona is probably best known to the world through the lyrics of a 1972 Eagles song “Take it Easy” which goes “Well, I’m a standin’ on a corner in Winslow, Arizona / Such a fine sight to see / It’s a girl, my Lord, in a flat-bed Ford / Slowin’ down to take a look at me”. There a statue, mural, and sign at Kinsley & Second Streets as well as numerous souvenirs and references throughout the city. The town has more to offer though which includes Route 66 era gas stations, neon signs, motels, and cafes. It also has the “Tiny Church of the Mother Road” on 2nd Street which is just an open-air “church” building. Two of the most treasured buildings are the La Posada Hotel , which is a beautiful 1928 former Harvey House hotel which is still operating, and the Lorenzo Hubbell Trading Post and Warehouse . The Navajo trading post was built in 1917 and is now the town’s visitor center. There is also the Old Trails Museum (local history museum house in a 1920’s bank building with info on trails, railroad, and Route 66) and the Remembrance Garden (a simple and stark memorial to victims of the 9-11 terrorist attacks),
- About 3 miles northwest of Winslow is the Homolovi State Park which offers Hopi Pueblo archaeological ruins, petroglyphs, a visitor center, and hiking trails.
- Meteor City is not really a city or even a community but the name for the geodesic dome shaped gift shop, Meteor City Trading Post , here that closed in 2012. Meteor City first began as a service station in 1938, and became a trading post in 1941. Next to the dome were once the “world’s largest dreamcatcher” and “world’s longest map of Route 66” (original version was painted by Bob Waldmire ). The domed gift shop is private property and under new ownership with plans to restore it to its former glory in the near future.
- A short detour from Meteor Cit y is the actual meteor crater , which has long been a popular Route 66 attraction. The crater is a the result of an asteroid that is believed to have hit about 50,000 years ago. It is about 1 mile across, 2.4 miles in circumference, and 550 feet deep. You can visit the museum and visitor center and take a guided walk around the rim. It is on private property and there is a fee to visit. Both the trading post and meteor crater were featured in the 1984 science fiction film Starman .
- As you drive along, you’ll see the remains of Two Guns and then later Twin Arrows , both once thriving tourist centers with attention grabbing names. Both were iconic tourist traps along Route 66, and places kids couldn’t wait to visit. Both had all kinds of attractions such as roadside zoos, service stations, motels, an “Apache death cave” tour, curio shops, a campsite, and diners. Now everything is long closed, but nearby the Twin Arrows Casino Resort is very much alive.
- A short detour will take you to the Raymond Wildlife Area which is a former ranch turned into a protected wildlife area located just south in between Two Guns and Twin Arrows . The wildlife area headquarters is 10 miles south of I-40 along a mostly dirt road (Buffalo Range Road). Here there is a herd of bison as well as elk, deer, prairie dogs, rabbits, birds, etc. This is a wildlife viewing area, not a zoo, so you may or may not see animals as you drive or hike here. There is a loop hiking trail with interpretive signs and basic facilities. The dirt road is not recommended in rainy or winter conditions.
- The little town of Winona has an old iron bridge (closed to traffic but viewable/walkable) and some Route 66 era remains. Bobby Troup’s song “Route 66” tells us “Don’t forget Winona” but sadly there is not much left to see here today as the main thing here was the Winona Trading Post which his now a modern gas station and travel service stop.
- Now you come into Flagstaff , the biggest city along Arizona’s section of Route 66. It sits near both mountains and forests and at an elevation of 6,910 ft (much higher than Denver, Colorado!). The city has more than one Route 66 alignment and has a number of Route 66 era motels, neon signs, and cafés. The city has a downtown historic district that has 19th century buildings as well as Route 66 era ones, one favorite is the Weatherford Hotel (building dates from 1897 and then opened as a hotel in 1900) and still operating.
- Some of Flagstaff’s main attractions include Lowell Observatory (famous observatory built in 1894, has the Pluto Discovery telescope that discovered the dwarf planet Pluto), Riordan Mansion State Historic Park (1904 American Art and Crafts style house museum offering tours), Museum of North Arizona (history, art, botany, culture, etc. from the Colorado Plateau), and the Pioneer Museum (former 1908 hospital now a museum of local history and pioneer life). Surrounding the city are a number of forests, parks, monuments, and nature spots including Walnut Canyon National Monument , Coconino National Forest , and Sunset Crater Volcano National Museum that offer interpretive and hiking trails, ranger talks and guided hikes, birdwatching, camping, and other activities.
- Four Corners area – From Gallup you can detour north to explore northern New Mexico and the Four Corners area which contains a number of ancient Native American ruins, archaeological sites, and monuments. These include Chaco Culture Canyon National Historical Park , Aztec Ruins National Monument , Mesa Verde National Park , Monument Valley , and Four Corners Monument . These places are scattered around the area but it is about a 2 hour and 30 minute detour to Chaco Culture National Historical Park, 2 hours and 30 minute detour to Four Corners Monument, and a little over 3 hours to Monument Valley. I would add 1 day to your itinerary if you want to visit some of these sites. If you want to visit a few of them, I’d add 2 days.
Today you have a lot of dining choices along the route, especially in Winslow and Flagstaff.
- Mesa Italiana Restaurant (2318 E. Navajo Boulevard) in Holbrook, AZ – If you are looking for Italian food in Holbrook, this is your best bet. Serves Italian American for lunch and dinner. Full bar. The attached sports bar next door often has live music on weekends.
- J oe & Aggie’s Cafe (120 W. Hopi Drive) in Holbrook, AZ – This place has been serving Mexican, American, and Native American classics since 1943. They serve all day, breakfast to dinner.
- Romo’s Restaurant (121 W. Hopi Drive) in Holbrook, AZ – Next door you’ll find a well-rated brightly colored restaurant serving Mexican and Southwestern classics. Best known for their Mexican dishes. Breakfast to dinner. Also serve wine, beer, and margaritas.
- Casa Blanca Cafe (1201 E. 2nd Street) in Winslow, AZ – Simple restaurant serving Mexican food. Big portions. Also serve beer and wine. It has been family owned and operated since 1971.
- Turquoise Room (303 E. 2nd Street) in Winslow, AZ – Restaurant within the historic La Posada Hotel with Southwestern decor serving American Southwestern food. Lunch and dinner. Beautiful restaurant. Has full bar and a Martini Lounge.
- Falcon Restaurant & Lounge (1113 E. 3rd Street) in Winslow, AZ – This old-fashioned diner serves American classics in a Route 66 era roadside diner that opened in 1955. Open for breakfast to dinner, full bar, lounge attached.
- Miz Zip’s (2924 E. Route 66) in Flagstaff, AZ – A classic roadside diner offering up classic American roadside favorites like burgers, sandwiches, steaks, and ice cream. Best known for their breakfast, burgers, and homemade fruit pies. Been operating since 1952! Cash only.
- Simply Delicious (408 E. Route 66) in Flagstaff, AZ – This eatery serves up an eclectic menu with dishes such as blackberry duck tacos and Brazilian fish stew. Also serves simple soups, salads, and sandwiches. Vegetarian friendly. Located in an old Foundry building and also does local catering.
- Grand Canyon Cafe (10 E. Route 66) in Flagstaff, AZ – A Route 66 era cafe serving an eclectic menu of American and Chinese food such as American breakfasts, chop suey, chicken fried steak, hot sandwiches, and chow mein. Serves alcohol. Been open since 1942.
- Alpine Pizza (7 North Leroux Street) in Flagstaff, AZ – Popular long-time inexpensive local pizza place which also serves calzones, salads, sandwiches, and pasta. Lunch and dinner.
- Charly’s Pub and Grill (23 North Leroux) in Flagstaff, AZ – Eatery serving American and Southwestern classics including soups, sandwiches, salads, tacos, burgers, and burritos. Full bar. Best known for their Navajo tacos. Restaurant is located within the historic Weatherford Hotel.
- Beaver Street Brewery and Whistle Stop Cafe (11 S. Beaver Street) in Flagstaff, AZ – A micro-brewery (first in Flagstaff) and cafe offering sandwiches, salads, burgers, wood-fired pizzas, and their own craft beer. Lively atmosphere, railway deco, pool tables, and a seasonal beer garden. Opened in 1994, located in a former 1930’s food market building near the old train station.
- Macy’s European Coffeehouse & Bakery (14. S. Beaver Street) in Flagstaff, AZ – A popular local coffee spot and bakery serving American vegetarian food such as breakfast sandwiches, pastries, salads, and sandwiches. Vegan friendly. Been serving baked goods since 1980.
- Galaxy Diner (931 W. Route 66) in Flagstaff, AZ – This 1950’s themed diner serves classic American and Southwestern diner food such as burgers, hoagies, meatloaf, turkey platters, splits, malts, & milkshakes. Serves breakfast through dinner. Dates back to 1952 although under new management. Has Route 66 Cruisers meetings and swing dance evenings.
Hotel Recommendations for Flagstaff, AZ
- Little America Hotel Flagstaff – A 4-star hotel located within a pine forest offering modern rooms, outdoor pool, fitness center, and on-site bar and restaurant.
- Drury Inn & Suites – A 4-star hotel with indoor pool, hot tub, fitness center, and included breakfast.
- Weatherford Hotel – A beautiful historical hotel build in 1897 with wraparound balconies. Hotel has on-site dining and bars and the bars can be noisy until midnight.
- Hotel Monte Vista – A quirky historical 3-star hotel dating back to 1926. Includes on-site bar and restaurant. The bar and lounge area are open late and has a lively atmosphere but some guests have complained of noise when trying to sleep.
- Hampton Inn & Suites – A great mid-range chain hotel offering a swimming pool, fitness center, and included breakfast.
- Western Hills Motel – This vintage 1953 motel is a good budget no-frills motel that offers all the basics motel amenities. It has an on-site bar and restaurant, a cool neon sign, and an outdoor picnic area.
- Motel 6 – A good budget chain motel option with swimming pool
- Grand Canyon International Hostel – A well-reviewed centrally located hostel offering both dormitory and private room accommodation in a renovated 1933 building. Sinks and fridges in each room. Great budget option.
- Camper Recs: J & H RV Park , Flagstaff KOA , and Canyon Vista Campground
Route 66 Itinerary Day 11: Flagstaff, AZ to Seligman, AZ
Today you explore more of Arizona. The route takes you to the last city with a strip of Route 66 before it was fully decommissioned and also the town known as the “birthplace of historic Route 66”. You also begin driving the longest intact section of Route 66. Today is purposely a short drive to allow time to detour to the Grand Canyon for those who wish to do so. If you are not visiting the Grand Canyon, this is a great day to relax and take it slow!
Starting & Ending Point: Flagstaff, Arizona to Seligman, Arizona
General Route: Flagstaff–> Bellemont –> Williams –> Ash Fork –> Seligman
Mile age : ~ 74 miles (119 km)
Time Zone: Mountain Time Zone – no changes in time zone today
- Take the time to explore anything you missed yesterday in Flagstaff .
- In Bellemont , there are some remains of the Pine Breeze Inn tourist center which was used in the film Easy Rider. The site is now the Pine Breeze Inn RV Park Campground.
- In Parks you have the Parks in the Pines General Store which opened in 1921. Today it offers general supplies and snacks plus fresh deli sandwiches, burgers, and pizza.
- Between Parks and Williams is the Grand Canyon Deer Farm which is a family-friendly petting zoo plus gift shop. It has been operating since 1969. There is also the Bearizona wildlife park and zoo outside Williams.
- The town of William is a popular place from which you can detour to the famous Grand Canyon National Park (which is not on Route 66). The south entrance of the park is about a 1 hour and 10 minute drive north from Williams. You can also visit by train from Williams or taken an earlier detour from Flagstaff. The Grand Canyon Railway offers scenic trips to the Grand Canyon in vintage train cars. See Notable Detours section below for more information and Grand Canyon trip ideas.
- However, Williams offers more than a gateway to the Grand Canyon. It was the very last town bypassed by the Interstate and had the last stretch of official Route 66 before it was decommissioned in 1984. There are a few Route 66 era businesses here and you can also visit Pete’s Route 66 Gas Station Museum which is a beautifully restored 1949 gas station turned small museum. Williams has a lot of historical buildings and I’d recommend visiting the visitor center near the rail station to get a walking map that will point out some of the buildings within the historical district like the former Frey Marcos Hotel, an old bank, a former 1897 bordello (now the Red Garter B&B), and Sultana Theatre (opened in 1912, no longer operating, most recently the building has been used as a bar). A more recent addition to the town (since 2013) is the Route 66 Zipline .
- Just outside of Williams are some sections of old alignments of Route 66 that have been incorporated into mountain bike paths within the Kaibab National Forest, such as the Devil Dog Loop . Check the forest website for access information and maps.
- In Ash Fork, there are some old gas stations, a few cafes, a couple of nice signs, and the Ash Fork Route 66 Museum . Outside of town, you can hike and find petroglyphs along Partridge Creek.
- Starting at I-40 exit 139, you begin the longest intact section of Route 66 that stretches from here to Topock, AZ. It is about 159 miles long with no need to rejoin the interstate although you do cross it a few times. Each year (typically in late April or May) the Fun Run happens which is a 3 day driving rally and car show from Seligman to Topock. Note that if you are visiting during the Fun Run expect slow traffic, extra festivities, and lots of people between Williams and Topock.
- Seligman is sometimes referred to as the “birthplace of Historic Route 66”, but more accurately it is the birthplace of the Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona. It is home to the Route 66 Gift Shop which also functions as the unofficial visitor center. It was started by Angel & Juan Delgadillo, who also built the popular quirky Snow Cap eatery in town, and has been welcoming visitors since 1987. There are a few Route 66 era eateries and motels in this little town, and lots of little gift stores to explore. Other historical buildings include the former Cottage Hotel which was built in 1912, and is expected to re-open as a town museum.
- Most places close by 9pm in Seligman, but if you are looking for late night entertainment try the Black Cat Bar which is open late.
- Grand Canyon – If you are wanting to visit the Grand Canyon National Park , you’ll want to detour from either Flagstaff or Williams. It is a 1 hour 30 minutes to 2 hour drive to the south entrance of the Grand Canyon from Flagstaff and about a 1 hour and 10 minute drive from Williams. You can also take a scenic train ride to the Grand Canyon from Williams or a normal train to the Grand Canyon from Flagstaff with Amtrak. If you are wanting to see the Grand Canyon in a day trip from Williams I’d consider booking a guided train experience like this one . If you want to explore both the South Rim and North Rim and/or do some hiking, I would add at least 1 day (ideally 2 days) to your itinerary. Be sure to book a hotel or campsite well in advance if you want to stay overnight as they can be booked up weeks in advance. See our photography guide to the Grand Canyon for more inspiration for your visit.
Today you have a lot of dining choices along the route, especially in Williams and Seligman.
- Route 66 Roadhouse Bar & Grill (11840 W Route 66) in Bellemont, AZ – A unique Route 66 themed bar and grill where you cook your own meat (burgers, steaks) on an open grill yourself. They provide a buffet with all the toppings and fixings, and you grill the meat how you like it. Full bar. Popular with bikers.
- South Rims Wine & Beer Garage (514 E. Route 66) in Williams, AZ – This popular tasting room and lounge offers a short food menu for lunch and dinner with American food such as salads, chicken wings, burgers, sandwiches, steaks, and ribs. Large selection of local wines and beers, plus international options.
- Twister’s 50’s Soda Fountain (417 E. Route 66) in Williams, AZ – A 1950’s themed American diner serving burgers, hot dogs, steaks, catfish, ribs, ice cream sodas, and flavored Coke. Also have a full service bar. Open for lunch and dinner.
- Rod’s Steak House (301 E. Route 66) in Williams, AZ – A Route 66 classic steakhouse dating back to 1946 serving steaks, seafood, and chicken entrees. Best known for their steaks and the neon cow sign out front. Full bar.
- Station 66 Italian Bistro (144 W. Historic Route 66) in Williams, AZ – American Italian eatery serving pizza, pasta, salads, and sandwiches. Best known for their pizza. Open for Lunch and dinner, and have patio dining area. Serve local beer and wine.
- Pine Country Restaurant (107 N. Grand Canyon Boulevard) in Williams, AZ – A causal restaurant serving homestyle cooking and American favorites like burgers, melts, shrimp, and roast beef. Serve breakfast to dinner. Best know for their large selection of homemade pies.
- Cruisers Cafe 66 (233 W. Route 66) in Williams, AZ – A 1950’s and car themed cafe serving American classics such as burgers, salads, steaks, barbecue, and chicken. Located in a converted 1930’s gas station. Offers a full bar and sometimes has live music in the evenings.
- Ranch House Cafe (111 Park Avenue) in Ash Fork, AZ – A simple casual American restaurant serving breakfast and American and Southwestern favorites.
- Oasis Route 66 Cafe (346 Park Avenue) in Ash Fork, AZ – A Mexican restaurant with a full bar.
- Delgadillo’s Snow Cap (301 E. Chino Avenue) in Seligman, AZ – A former drive-in eatery dating back to 1953 that serves American classics like cheeseburgers, hot dogs, burritos, shakes, and ice cream. Opened and built by Juan Delgadillo. This quirky place is a Route 66 classic and best visited on a warm day since seating is covered but outside.
- Road Runner Cafe (22330 W. Old Highway Route 66) in Seligman, AZ – This cafe serves American food like BBQ, paninis, hot dogs, salads, pizza, sandwiches, and ice cream. Also has a bar area which serves alcohol and a large gift shop area. Opened in 2010 in a 1936 former garage and car dealership building.
- Westside Lilo’s Cafe (415 Chino Street) in Seligman, AZ – An American/German restaurant serving food from breakfast to dinner. Serves American food with some German favorites like bratwursts, schnitzel, and sauerkraut. The building has been a restaurant since the 1950’s. The current incarnation dates back to 1996 when opened by a German immigrant and her husband. Lively atmosphere, Route 66 decorations, patio in summer, serves alcohol, and sometimes has entertainment. Best know for its German dishes and desserts (carrot cake and pies).
- Roadkill 66 Cafe & OK Saloon (22830 W. Route 66) in Seligman, AZ – An American restaurant and cafe with an unusual roadkill theme, menu focuses on burgers, steaks, buffalo chicken sandwiches, and game. Serves breakfast to dinner, and has a bar and a gift shop area.
Hotel Recommendations for Seligman, AZ
Seligman offers several small good-value Route 66 era motels dating to the 1950’s and 1960’s. If you are looking for something more upscale or modern, I’d consider overnighting in Williams instead.
- Stagecoach 66 Motel – Basic vintage motel located next door to a pizza place (owned by the motel owner). Has themed rooms (e.g., Elvis, Cars, John Wayne). Built in the 1960’s as the Bill Mar Den Motel.
- Supai Motel – Well-reviewed vintage Route 66 era motel with continental breakfast included. Since 1952.
- Deluxe Inn – Clean, well-rated, good-value motor court motel. Next door to Roadkill Cafe. Vintage 1930’s Route 66 motel that began life as the Court Deluxe.
- Historic Route 66 Motel – Vintage motel with themed rooms located next to the Roadkill Cafe. A 1950’s motel previously known as the Navajo Motel. Call +1 928-422-3204 for reservations.
- Canyon Lodge – A 1960’s Route 66 era vintage motel with themed rooms. Continental breakfast included.
- Camper Recs: Seligman KOA , Grand Canyon Caverns Campground (in Peach Springs, about 25 miles west of Seligman), or Interstate 40 Grand Canyon RV Park & Campground (in Ash Fork, about 24 miles east of Seligman)
Route 66 Itinerary Day 12: Seligman, AZ to Needles, CA
Today you spend most of the day exploring the longest intact section of Route 66. The highway goes through a number of old mining and Route 66 era tourist towns. Although most of these communities became ghost towns, many have again become Route 66 tourist towns and this is one of the more popular stretches of Route 66. Take the time to enjoy your drive, the towns, and your final taste of Arizona. Drive slowly as you navigate some switchbacks and watch out for wild burros! You’ll end the day entering the Mojave Desert and crossing the state border into the fabled state of California.
Starting & Ending Point: Seligman, Arizona to Needles, California
General Route: Seligman –> Hackberry –> Kingman –> Topock –> Needles
Mile age : ~ 154 miles (247 km)
Time Zone: Today as you cross the state line into California, the time zones changes to the Pacific Time Zone . Be sure to check your watches and clocks. This is your final time zone change along Route 66.
- Between Seligman and Peach Springs, you might want to make a stop at the Grand Canyon Caverns . Note this is not THE Grand Canyon, but is a large cave you can tour and there is also a restaurant and motel here as well as some huge dinosaurs out front! Rafting, helicopter tours, hiking trips, and horseback riding can be arranged here as well. The cave has an interesting modern history dating back to 1927 and is a classic Route 66 attraction.
- Peach Springs is where the tribal headquarters for the Hualapai people is located, and also has a former 1920’s gas station. If you have a reservation for the Havasupai and Havasu Falls hike , this is a good place to overnight before you begin your hike.
- In Truxton , you have some Route 66 era buildings, such as an old gas station and the former Frontier Motel and Restaurant.
- In Valentine is the Keepers of the Wild sanctuary which is a non-profit sanctuary for mistreated and abandoned exotic and indigenous wild animals. Guided tours are given in safari vehicles about 3 times per day.
- The Hackberry General Store in Hackberry is a great stop for souvenirs, snacks, and to see all the cool cars and vintage decorations here.
- Kingman is the largest city on the uninterrupted stretch of Route 66 and is home to a number of historical buildings and several small museums. The Beale Hotel dates back to 1899 and was the former home of actor Andy Devine (sadly it closed in 2012). The old power station building built between 1907 and 1911, has been repurposed into the Arizona Route 66 Museum (a.k.a. “The Powerhouse”). There is also the Mohave Museum of History and Arts , Kingman Railroad Museum , and Locomotive Park (you’ll find a steam engine, caboose, and a monument to Beale’s wagon trail here). The city also has interesting history related to military aviation and it was here that Clark Gable married Carole Lombard in 1939.
- Just outside Kingston near McConnico , you may want to stop at Cool Springs Camp. Opened in the 1920’s and burned around 1966. However, a new one was built by Ned Leutchner and it reopened in 2004. Today it is a vintage looking tourist stop, small museum, and gift shop.
- As you continue on to Oatman, the road gets more steep and twisty so be careful on the turns and switchbacks. You’ll pass through Sitgreaves Pass (a steep and troublesome climb for early Route 66 drivers) and drive through an old mining area (was still partially active when we were last there).
- Oatman is a former gold mining town that was a bustling place back in the 1920’s to 1940’s. It later became a ghost town with the closure of most of the mines and the building of the Interstate. It now stays alive as a tourist town. Although most of the tourist business here are post-Route 66, this one street town would fit right in as an old-fashioned Route 66 town attraction. There are regular live Old West shows (these short shows take place in the middle of the street and do stop traffic), live burros wandering the streets (these burros used to be used in the mines), and lots of gift shops. Be prepared for loud noises (Old West Show) and watch where you step (burros) as you wander the street. The Oatman Hotel (formerly the Durlin Hotel) is a 2-storey historic hotel worth stopping in for a look and perhaps a bite to eat.
- Those who like strange roadside attractions and have the time, may want to make a detour to see the 1831 London Bridge sitting in Lake Hasavu City . The bridge was purchased by millionaire Robert P McCulloch from the City of London and rebuilt piece by piece in Arizona in 1971. This is about a 35 mile detour south on Highway 95 between Oatman and Topock.
- After Oatman, you continue to Topock. There is an arched bridge here called the Old Trails Bridge which once carried traffic over the Colorado River from around 1916 to 1947, but today there is a newer bridge that you can use. Topock is the last community you’ll see before you cross over the Colorado River into California, your 8th and final state in your Route 66 journey!
- Needles is your first city in California and our recommended resting spot for the night. The thing most people remember most about Needles (especially if visiting in summer) is how hot it gets here. It was about 110 degrees Fahrenheit when we were there in August! So this is a good place to make sure you choose a hotel with A/C. Also just a reminder to make sure pets and children are not left for any length of time in the heat, especially along this part of the route. Be sure to always have water with you and sun protection.
- Needles has a number of historical buildings, including a number of Route 66 era businesses such as vintage motels, a 1950’s hamburger place (The Burger Hut which is currently closed), a few neon signs (Route 66 Motel is a good example), former service stations, a train depot, a giant Borax wagon, and El Garces, a former Harvey House hotel dating back to 1908. It is hoped that El Garces will eventually reopen and tours are sometimes possible as a visitor. Museums include the Needles Regional Museum . The Moabi Regional Park and the Colorado River offers a number of water and recreational activities such as canoeing, kayaking, swimming fishing, and camping. In terms of nightlife, there are several bars & grills and lounges open late and you can often find karaoke or live music, especially on weekends.
- If you are planning to visit the Supai village (capital of the Havasupai Indian Reservation) and hike into the Hualapai Canyon and to Havasu Falls , you can detour from Peach Springs. It is a long hike of 8 miles to the village and another 2 miles to the waterfall. Advance reservations and fees are necessary to enter tribal land and do the hike, you’ll want to try to book 9 months to a year in advance. We’ve done this hike and you can see our full guide to the Havasu Falls hike for more information and to plan your visit.
- You can detour to Las Vegas, Nevada from Kingman by heading north on Highway 93 (about 110 miles, ~ 2 hours drive). However, we’d recommend if you want to make this detour to wait and do it from Needles, CA the following day. See our guide to things to do in Las Vegas for more information.
Today you’ll find a number of casual roadside options along the route with the most dining options in Kingman and Needles.
- Grand Canyon Caverns Restaurant (115 Mile Marker AZ-66) in Peach Springs, AZ – American restaurant located at the Grand Canyon Caverns with retro decor. Best known for its homemade pies.
- Diamond Creek Restaurant (900 Route 66) in Peach Springs, AZ – A restaurant serving American diner food and traditional Hualapia food such as breakfast burritos, tacos, chicken fried steak, fry bread, and Hualapai stew. Located within the Hualapai Lodge.
- Rutherford’s 66 Family Diner (2011 E. Andy Devine Avenue) in Kingman, AZ – A retro-style American diner serving American and local classics like cheeseburgers, sandwiches, chicken, Navajo tacos, prime rib, and chicken fried steaks. Located in a former 1960’s Denny’s restaurant building.
- Ma and Pa’s Hot Rod Cafe (2215 Hualapai Mountain Road) in Kingman, AZ – A family-owned car-themed cafe serving American road food like cheeseburgers, sandwiches, and hot dogs as well as soups and salads. Also partially seems to be a car museum.
- Floyd and Company Real Pit BBQ (420 E. Beale Street) in Kingman, AZ – A relatively new BBQ place (since 2016, formerly Redneck’s Southern Pit Barbecue) serving Southern style BBQ and wood-fired pizzas.
- Mattina’s Ristorante Italiano (318 E. Oak Street) in Kingman, AZ – A nicer restaurant serving Italian food such as pasta, steaks, and seafood. Wine menu. Located in a historical home that has been converted into a restaurant. Dinner only. Nice place for an evening out.
- Mr. D’z Route 66 Diner (105 E. Andy Devine Avenue) in Kingman, AZ – A casual American spot with 1950’s retro theme serving hamburgers, hot dogs, shakes, and Mr. D’s root beer. Well-known for its kitschy retro decor and root beer. Originally a 1938 cafe and gas station, the current family has run it since 2000.
- Oatman Hotel Restaurant & Saloon (181 Main Street) in Oatman, AZ – A once historic hotel that catered to miners, it is now a restaurant, bar, and gift shop. Restaurant serves American food and ice cream, such as burgers, chili, sandwiches, and salads. The bar is papered in dollar bills left by tourists. The Durlin Hotel was built in 1902 and rebuilt in 1924 after a fire. This was where Clark Gable and Carole Lombard spent their honeymoon in 1939 and fans can still see the room upstairs.
- Olive Oatman Restaurant & Saloon (171 Main Street) in Oatman, AZ – An Old West themed restaurant serving American Southwestern food such as breakfast plates, burgers, sandwiches, Navajo tacos, fry bread, and ice cream. Named after the woman whom the town was named after, Olive Oatman , who was captured and kidnapped by Native Americans at age 14.
- Silver Dollar Chuck Wagon (12907 S. Oatman Highway) in Topock, AZ – An American restaurant serving breakfast, burgers, steaks, and broasted chicken. Full bar. Opened in 2010, probably best known for their broasted chicken.
- Topock66 Spa & Restaurant (14999 Route 66) in Topock, AZ – A modern restaurant and bar serving American comfort foods like burgers, steaks, shrimp, grilled cheese, and patty melts. Open for breakfast to dinner. Located next to the Colorado River, and complex also has a bar, store, marina, and large swimming pool.
- Lucy’s Mexican Restaurant (811 Front Street) in Needles, CA – A simple Mexican restaurant serving tacos, burritos, chile rellenos, etc. near the train station.
- Munchy’s Mexican Restaurant (829 Front Street) in Needles, CA – A small well-rated local restaurant serving inexpensive Mexican and Tex-Mex food next to the train station.
- River City Pizza Co . (1901 Needles Highway) in Needles, CA – A casual pizza place that also serves chicken wings, subs, and salads. Serves beer and wine.
- Giggling Cactus (2411 W Broadway Street) in Needles, CA – A casual American restaurant serving burgers, salads, chicken, breakfast, and fish & chips. Formerly the popular Juicy’s River Cafe.
- Wagon Wheel Restaurant (2420 Needles Highway) in Needles, CA – A local favorite with an Old West theme serving American comfort food like chicken fried steak, pot roast, burgers, melts, and meatloaf. Serve an all day breakfast, and opens early and closes late. Building was originally Lynn’s Broiler, a restaurant that opened in the early 1950’s, and became the Wagon Wheel Restaurant in 1978.
Hotel Recommendations for Needles, CA
Needles offers a mix of riverside resorts and chain motels. Campers have a lot of options here. If you are traveling in summer, we’d definitely recommend making sure you get a room with air-conditioning as temperatures can be sweltering in the desert heat.
- Best Western Colorado River Inn – Well-reviewed chain hotel with included breakfast and a pool and hot tub.
- Pirate Cove Resort & Marina – This pirate-themed riverfront property offers cabins with kitchens, a kitchen, playground, restaurant, bar, marina, and boat rentals. Great place for families as well as those wanting to spend some time on the water.
- Fender’s River Road Resort Motel – This riverfront motel along the Colorado river offers rooms with kitchens, boat launching service, campground, and a fishing & beach area. Fewer amenities than Pirate Cove but at a much lower price.
- Quality Inn – A good value chain motel with swimming pool and hot tub.
- Imperial 400 Motor Inn – A classic Route 66 era no-frills 1960’s motor court that was once part of a former motel chain. Low rates make it a good option for those on a tight budget, but be sure to check recent reviews before booking.
- Budget Inn – A basic motel – another good budget option in Needles.
- Camper Recs: Pirate Cove Resort RV Park , Fender’s River Road Resort RV Park & Campground , Needles KOA , and Desert View RV Resort
Route 66 Itinerary Day 13: Needles, CA to San Bernardino, CA
Today you begin your exploration of California and your drive takes you through the hottest and most desolate landscape along Route 66 through the Mojave Desert. Be sure to stock up on water and snacks, and fill up on fuel before leaving Needles. Today you can get a real feel for the “California or Bust” saying and perhaps get a sense of how potentially hazardous this drive would have been in the 1920’s and 1930’s with poor roads, early automobiles, and no air conditioning. Some travelers and migrants would drive through the desert overnight to avoid the heat. Savor today as after San Bernardino, the historic Route 66 feel starts to disappear as you enter the Greater Los Angeles area and a long stretch of concrete jungle.
If you are detouring to Las Vegas, Nevada or Joshua Tree National Park, you’ll want to head off there along today’s route.
Starting & Ending Point: Needles, California to San Bernardino, California
General Route: Needles –> Essex –> Amboy –> Barstow –> Victorville –> San Bernardino
Mile age : ~ 233 miles (375 km) For those wanting a shorter and more relaxed drive, you can stop in Barstow, California for the night. Mileage ~ 159 miles (255 km).
Time Zone: Pacific Time Zone – no changes.
No big cities along the route today, although San Bernardino has a population of over 200,000 people. If you’d like to overnight elsewhere, you might consider Barstow. Basically once you get to San Bernardino you just outside the suburban and urban sprawl of Los Angeles and there are no more small towns.
- If Las Vegas, Nevada is on your vacation itinerary, you’ll probably want to leave Route 66 after Needles and head north to Las Vegas. The famous gambling town is a significant detour from Route 66 of about 110 miles (2 hours). I’d recommend adding a couple of days to your itinerary if you want to explore Las Vegas.
- Past Needles, there are two Route 66 alignments for a 11 mile stretch. One follows the pre-1931 route and one the post-1931 route. Both routes rejoin in Essex. I’d recommend taking the pre-1931 route to avoid driving 1-40.
- In Goffs you can see an old 1914 mission-style schoolhouse and a small collection of other historical buildings maintained by the Mojave Desert Heritage & Cultural Association. There is also a small local history museum exhibition (call ahead to arrange a visit as no regular hours). An interesting place to get the chance to learn what it was and is like to grow up in the desert.
- Little communities like Fenner are almost ghost towns now. Fenner has a gas station and limited tourist services.
- Essex was once a place with a public well that thirsty tourists would stop to drink and fill up their cars. Today there is not much left. But nearby is Mitchell Caverns , within the Providence Mountains State Recreation Area, that offers guided cave tours and there are also hiking trails within the park.
- After a stretch passing some former tourist complexes, graffitid buildings, and old billboards, you’ll come to Amboy . The only business still open here is Roy’s Cafe and Motel, originally opened back in 1938 by Roy Crowl and it served Route 66 drivers for decades as a motel, cafe, gas station and auto repair shop. The sign has become an iconic Route 66 image. Roy’s Cafe currently still has an operating gas station, a small gift shop, toilets, and snacks. There is no hot food served here but you can usually buy snacks, canned drinks, and coffee.
- A couple of miles from Amboy , you can visit the Amboy Crater which is an extinct cinder cone volcano which is now a National Natural Landmark. You can do day hikes here but just be prepared with water, sun protection, and watch for rattlesnakes.
- At Amboy you can detour southwest if you want to visit Joshua Tree National Park , a park know for its desert landscapes and hiking trails. It is about a 1 hour and 10 minute detour to reach the park, or you can wait and make the detour at Barstow (takes about 20 minutes longer but better roads from Barstow).
- After Amboy, you’ll drive through what once was Bagdad where today nothing of the town reamins. There is nothing to see here but it is notable for being where the original Bagdad Cafe once stood (opened in the 1940’s, closed in 1968) and it is from where the current one in Newberry Springs got it name.
- Among some derelict former buildings, you’ll find a cafe, motel, and gas station still operating in Ludlow . If you want to see another volcano cinder cone, nearby is Pisgah Crater just south of Route 66.
- Little Newberry Springs has a few Route 66 era relics like a former Whiting Bros. gas station. However, it is a popular stopping spot, especially for Europeans, because of it’s still operating Bagdad Cafe. It was here that 1987 German film Bagdad Cafe (also known as Out of Rosenheim in Europe) was filmed. If you haven’t seen it, we’d recommend watching it before driving Route 66 as it one of a handful of films fully shot along Route 66. The film was shot in Sidewinder Cafe (opened in the late 1940’s) as the actual Bagdad Cafe was long gone by then. The Sidewinder Cafe later changed its name to Bagdad Cafe to match the name used in the film. The film actually spawned a short-lived 1990 American TV series starring Whoopi Goldberg and Jean Stapleton.
- In Dagget, you’ll find some historical buildings like the old Stone Hotel built in 1883 (now the town history museum), the Desert Market built in 1908 (still operating!), former Ma Millet’s Cafe, and Alf’s Blacksmith Shop (not open to public) which dates back to 1890. The town’s local history museum is located within the former Stone Hotel and is generally only open on Saturdays. If you are interested in visiting, I’d call or email ahead for hours.
- Just a short detour north of Dagget, is the Calico Ghost Town in Yermo . It is a former silver mining town that became a ghost town and is now a tourist attraction. Several structures date back to the late 19th century alongside a few modern replica ones built to look old. There are restaurants, shops, gunfight stunt shows, mine tours, and a campsite within the park. Admission fee required to visit.
- Barstow is the first town today that has a range of services and dining options. It is also a town worth taking the time to explore. You’ll find a number of Route 66 era businesses here (some operating, some not), vintage neon signs, and a number of street murals. If you like auto signs, there is a huge collection at Tom’s Certified Welding and Machine Shop. The Casa del Desierto building is a former Harvey House hotel and rail depot built in 1911, and it now houses the Barstow Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau, the Route 66 “Mother Road” Museum , and the Western America Railroad Museum . Two other museums are the Mojave River Valley Museum (collection is focused on the heritage of the Mojave Desert) and the Desert Discovery Center (promotes awareness of desert life and houses the 2nd largest meteorite in the USA). Just outside of town you can catch a drive-in movie at Skyline Drive-In.
- In Lenwood , just outside Barstow, you can find a couple more Route 66 era businesses.
- Helendale used to be the home of “Sagebrush Annie” who ran tourist complex featuring a gas station, cafe, and dance club and possibly also a brothel in the 1920’s to 1940’s. Today what remains of the stone Sage Brush Inn is a private residence. A couple of miles outside of Helendale is Elmer Long’s interesting collection of bottle tree folk art, which you’ll see along the road. This is private property but usually open to visit, just be respectful. Note: Elmer died in June 2019 so it is unclear if the collection will continue to be open to the public.
- Between Helendale and Oro Grande is the Iron Hog Saloon, a historic biker bar and restaurant (age 21 and over only) in a building that was once an 1890’s trading post, the Butterfield Stage Stop. It served as a filming location for a few movies, including Easy Rider. However, the restaurant is currently closed although there are reported plans to reopen.
- In Oro Grande , there are a number of Route 66 era buildings, although most of the businesses are now closed. There is an interesting antique store along the road here called Route 66 Antique Station that was still operating last we checked.
- Victorville is home to a number of Route 66 era businesses as well as the California Route 66 Museum . This place was vandalized and robbed in January 2018, so please stop by to show support of this great museum.
- As you continue on you’ll drive over the Cajon Pass , a mountain pass between the San Bernardino Mountains and the San Gabriel mountains. You’ll also cross the Pacific Crest Trail, a long-distance hiking trail from Mexico to Canada, and pass by what was once the Summit Inn, a 1950’s roadhouse that was a popular Route 66 stop until it sadly burned down in August 2016. You’ll also find markers here for the Mormon pioneers who passed through this area along the Mormon Trail.
- San Bernardino is a larger city and the beginning of “Greater L.A.”, the area that is a series of cities and suburbs clustered around Los Angeles. You’ll find a number of vintage Route 66 spots, especially along and around Mt. Vernon Avenue, although many are no longer operating. The city was the site of the world’s first McDonald’s store begun by the McDonald brothers, and you can visit the Original McDonald’s Museum where that store once stood. The museum also has some Route 66 related items. Other sites of interest include the beautiful 1928 California Theatre (still operating, hosting regular musicals, opera, and theater performances), Fullerton Museum of Art , Norton Air Force Base Museum , and the Inland Empire Military Museum (small museum run by Vietnam era veteran). Located just east of the San Bernardino in Rialto is the Wigwam Motel, one of two places along Route 66 that you can sleep in a teepee!
- There are a number of parks, forest areas, and lakes in and around San Bernardino if you are looking for picnic spots, hiking, biking, boating, fishing, or camping. These include Perris Hill Park (park within the city), Glen Helen Region Park (county park within city with playgrounds, swimming complex, and picnic tables), Silverwood Lake (about 15 miles from the city, lots of outdoor recreational activities like fishing, hiking, boating, and camping), and Big Bear Lake (about 40 miles away, popular mountain retreat with hiking trails, fishing, biking, and winter sports like skiing).
- Near San Bernardino, just south in the city of Redlands , is the family-friendly Splash Kingdom Waterpark (waterpark and trampoline park), the San Bernardino County Museum , Historical Glass Museum , and San Bernardino de Sena Estancia , a 19th century ranch outpost of historic Roman Catholic Mission San Gabriel Arcángel.
- For the evening, consider attending a performance at the beautiful California Theatre, heading out to one of the city’s many bars or nightclubs such as the Brandin’ Iron Saloon which also offers live entertainment and country dancing (complimentary dance lessons on certain nights), seeing a movie at the local cinema, or going out bowling. Note that Splash Kingdom in Redlands often has late night hours and evening events as well. You might also want to check to see if there are any events are taking place at the National Orange Show Events Center .
- Las Vegas, Nevada – Las Vegas is known as “the entertainment capital of the world” and offers lots of gambling opportunities, world-class entertainment, shopping, and dining, over-the-top resorts, and the Hoover Dam. Although not on Route 66, Route 66 fans will appreciate the huge amount of neon lighting the famous Strip which is one of the brightest spots on earth. Just after Needles, you can leave Route 66 to head north on Highway 95 to reach Las Vegas. Las Vegas is about 110 miles from Needles and about a 2 hour drive. I’d recommend adding a couple of days to your itinerary if you want to explore Las Vegas.
- Joshua Tree National Park – This is a protected area of the Mohave Desert and Colorado Desert known for its rugged rocks, Joshua tress, and stark desert landscapes. Lots of hiking trails. It is about a 1 hour and 10 minute drive from Amboy or a 1.5 hour drive from Barstow. I’d recommend adding at least 1 day to your itinerary if you plan to spend a day hiking and exploring Joshua Tree.
Today you might want to think ahead about when you want to stop for meals (particularly breakfast and lunch) and bring along some snacks as there are few places along certain stretches of the highway today between Needles and Barstow. But we recommend supporting those businesses operating in isolated areas like Ludlow, Amboy, & Newberry Springs if you can! But there are several dining options in Barstow, Victorville, and San Bernardino.
- Ludlow Cafe (6835 Ludlow Road) in Ludlow – A no-frills cafe with Western decor serving simple roadside food for breakfast and lunch including burgers, sandwiches, and homemade pies. The original Ludlow Cafe opened back in the 1930’s in a streamline modern building, but it closed in the 1960’s and the building is now a ruin. This cafe building dates back to the 1970’s and has been a coffee shop or restaurant off and on over the years.
- Bagdad Cafe (46548 National Trails Highway) in Newberry Springs – A simple Route 66 era cafe serving classic American road food. Best known for being the place where the movie Bagdad Cafe was filmed and is very popular with Western European visitors, especially French tourists. The cafe dates back to the 1940’s and was originally called Sidewinder Cafe.
- DiNapoli’s Fire House (1358 E. Main Street) in Barstow – A restaurant serving Italian food, including pizza, pastas, and seafood. Fire station theme and memorabilia. Serves lunch and dinner, and has wine and beer. Family owned and operated since 1994.
- Lola’s Kitchen (1244 E Main Street) in Barstow – Simple Mexican eatery in a local strip mall serving Mexican favorites. A popular local spot for breakfast and lunch.
- Roy’s Cafe (413 E. Main Street) in Barstow – A casual retro-style American cafe serving American food and a few Mexican dishes like burgers, fries, salads, burritos, and milkshakes. Serve breakfast to dinner. Inspired by the 1930’s Roy’s Cafe in Amboy, CA and they even have a similar sign out front. Opened in 2017.
- Rosita’s (540 W. Main Street) in Barstow – Mexican/American – A family-run restaurant serving casual Mexican and American food. Best known for their Mexican dishes. The restaurant’s history dates back to 1954 and it has been in its current location (a former grocery store) since 1976.
- Route 66 Pizza Place (2046 W. Main Street) in Barstow – A casual pizzeria with Route 66 decor. Best known for pizzas and its salad bar. Open for lunch and dinner. Take out, delivery, or dine in.
- Emma Jean’s Holland Burger Cafe (17143 D Street) in Victorville – An old-fashioned Route 66 era family-run diner serving up class American classics. Best known for its breakfast and burgers. Been around and run by the Holland family since 1947!
- Richie’s Real American Diner (14236 Valley Center Drive) in Victorville – A modern retro-style diner serving American comfort food and a few Mexican dishes with 1950’s decor. Best known for their breakfasts and smoked meat and BBQ dishes.
- Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers (2032 Amargosa Road) in Victorville – A modern retro-style fast-casual chain (founded in Wichita in 2002) focused on steakburgers, shoestring fries, and frozen custard. Also serve chicken sandwiches, patty melts, hot dogs, and various frozen custard treats.
- Paulina’s Mexican Grill (4845 Monarch Boulevard, Suite G) in Victorville – A more upscale but still casual eatery serving American and Mexican fusion dishes, including seafood, fajitas, steaks, and burritos. Vegetarian friendly. Lunch and dinner.
- Outpost Cafe (8685 US Highway 395) in Oak Hills – A long-time casual diner serving salads, sandwiches, burgers, and Southern American comfort food in large portions. Open breakfast to dinner. Located within a truck stop plaza.
- Rosa Maria’s (4202 N Sierra Way) in San Bernardino – A family owned Mexican take-out spot which is well-rated for its authentic Mexican food. Take out only. First opened in 1975, and now have 4 locations in the Inland Empire area.
- Amapola Rico Taco (1279 W. Base Line Street) in San Bernardino – No frills fast-casual Mexican food eatery. Serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Drive thru or eat in. Been around since 1975 and now have several locations.
- Mitla Cafe (602 N. Mount Vernon Avenue) in San Bernardino – This long-time Route 66 era classic serves traditional Mexican food with a few American favorites in an old-fashioned setting. Serves brunch, lunch, and dinner. This spot started as a simple lunch counter, and has been family owned and operated since 1937!
- Alfredo’s Pizza & Pasta (251 W. Base Line Street) in San Bernardino – Traditional casual family-oriented Italian eatery serving pizza and other Italian foods like pasta, sausage, veal, and salads. Serve homemade bread and offer beer and wine. A local favorite, open since 1979.
- Miyagi Sushi (2580 Fair Oaks Boulevard, Suite 26) in San Bernardino – Japanese restaurant serving popular Japanese favorites like katsu chicken, vegetable tempura, sashimi, a wide range of sushi rolls, noodles, and teriyaki chicken. Also have a full bar and a popular place for happy hour drinks. Serve lunch and dinner.
- McDonald’s (699 W 2nd Street) in San Bernardino – If there is one place we’d recommend eating at a McDonald’s it is here (as well as Downey, CA where you’ll find the oldest still operating McDonald’s). This McDonald’s is located about 4 blocks from where the original McDonald’s once stood.
Lodging Recommendations for Barstow, CA to San Bernardino, CA
Today we recommend overnighting in San Bernardino but those wanting a shorter driving day, or those planning to make some detours, may want to overnight in Barstow.
Hotel Recommendation for Barstow, CA
Note that you’ll likely notice that there are several additional Route 66 era motels in Barstow we’ve not included on this list. We’d recommend checking reviews or asking to see a room before committing as many along this stretch get mixed reviews.
- Route 66 Motel – This Route 66 era motel dates back to 1922 and has retro decor in rooms and classic cars out front. Some rooms come with fun round beds. This vintage motel is also a good budget option.
- Ayres Hotel Barstow – This well-reviewed 3-star hotel includes breakfast, indoor pool, hot tub, and mini-fridges and microwaves in the rooms.
- Best Western Desert Villa Inn – A well rated chain motel with continental breakfast and outdoor swimming pool.
- Econo Lodge – A basic Route 66 era motel with outdoor pool and offers breakfast. The motel was formerly called the Town and Country Motel.
- Stardust Inn – A no-frills basic motel that is a good budget option.
- Camper Recs: Shady Lane RV Park , Barstow/Calico KOA (located in Yermo, about 10 mile east of Barstow), and Owl Canyon Campground (no hookups)
Lodging Recommendations for San Bernardino, CA
- Wigwam Motel – Opened in 1949, this is one of only 2 remaining Wigman Motels still operating along Route 66. Basic but clean and comfortable rooms in individual concrete teepee structures with private bathrooms. Swimming pool.
- Homewood Suites – If you are looking for something a little nicer, we’d recommend this hotel. Comfortable rooms, breakfast included, and outdoor swimming pool. Most rooms have kitchens and sitting areas.
- Hampton Inn & Suites – Well-rated chain hotel with comfortable rooms, included breakfast, and pool. Some rooms have refrigerators and microwaves.
- Loma Linda – A basic motel and good budget option in San Bernardino.
- Camper Recs: San Bernardino RV Park , San Bernardino National Forest campgrounds (various locations within San Bernardino forest), and Yucaipa Regional Park campground (a few miles east of the city)
Route 66 Itinerary Day 14: San Bernardino, CA to Santa Monica, CA
Woo-hoo you’ve reached the end of Route 66! The real end is a bit underwhelming, so most people drive on to the Santa Monica pier for a much more fitting end to this epic road trip adventure. We’d recommend trying to time your arrival at the pier for late morning or early afternoon, and avoid rush hour traffic if at all possible.
Along the way to the pier you pass through iconic places like Hollywood and Beverly Hills. At the end, say hello to the Pacific Ocean and after 2 weeks of dusty roads you may be feeling like a swim!
I recommend a shorter driving day here so that you can have extra time for the traffic (traffic will increase steadily as you get closer to Los Angeles), explore the Santa Monica/Los Angeles area if you wish, and also leave you time if you need to return your car or catch a flight out. If you have the full day, a relaxing day at the beach is an excellent way to spend your final day and a pleasant reprieve after driving over 2,000 miles across 8 states!
There is plenty to keep you busy in the Los Angeles area for several days if you have more time or you can start a new journey and explore further afield in California.
Starting & Ending Point: San Bernardino, California to Santa Monica, California
General Route: San Bernardino –> Rancho Cucamonga –> Pasadena –> Los Angeles –> Santa Monica
Mile age : ~ 79 miles (or ~ 153 if coming from Barstow)
Time Zone: Pacific Time Zone – no changes today.
There is nothing quite like the asphalt jungle of Los Angeles and its suburbs, and if you are wanting to avoid the traffic and city, you might want to end your Route 66 journey in San Bernardino or Pasadena. Or head in for the finish line and then retreat back to Pasadena or San Bernardino if you are looking to stay outside of LA.
If staying in San Bernardino, you may want to stay in the same place for 2 nights (see lodging recommendation above in Day 13 of itinerary).
In Pasadena, the Saga Motor Hotel is a great 1950’s Route 66 motel and you can find more Pasadena lodging options here .
- In Rialto , you’ll find a few Route 66 era businesses including the iconic Wigwam Motel (since 1949) and Rialto Historical Society museum (local history) which is located within a picturesque 1907 former church school.
- Fontana was once part of the large citrus growing area of California and during the Route 66 era there were loads of orange stands. Some of these stands have been repurposed into eateries or drink stands such as Bono’s Historic Orange (opened in 1936), currently closed but still standing last time we were there. There are also some other historical buildings such as the 1937 Art Deco style Fontana Theater (now the Center Stage and still operating with regular theater performances and shows).
- You’ll find lots of Route 66 era business and signs in Rancho Cucamonga . The Cucamonga Service Station dating from 1915 has been restored as a Route 66 and local history museum. One of the oldest eateries along Route 66 is the Sycamore Inn here which dates back to 1848. You’ll see lots of references to wine here as this area was once covered in vineyards. If you are interested in walking or biking here, there are 18 miles of trails as part of the Pacific Electric Trail, and one is the Route 66 Trailhead (8500 Foothill Boulevard) which has some Route 66 information and a bit of preserved historic Route 66 pavement.
- In Upland , you’ll find the Cooper Regional History Museum (museum in a 1930’s former fruit exchange building) and another Madonna of the Trail Monument (you may have seen earlier in Albuquerque), this one denotes the end of the National Old Trails Highway.
- Claremont is home to some historical buildings, the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden , and a number of small museums, including the Folk Music Center Museum , Claremont Museum of Art , Claremont Heritage center (local history and tours), and the Alf Museum of Paleontology .
- You’ll find an interesting small historical district areas in both Laverne and San Dimas as well as a few still operating Route 66 era businesses. You start seeing a lot of palm trees here that will continue through most of the rest of your drive towards the coast.
- Glendora has two main Route 66 alignments, so you can choose one or drive both if you have time. You’ll find some still running Route 66 era businesses plus some neon signs such as the big boot at the Golden Spur restaurant.
- In the city of Azusa , you’ll find more palm trees and you can see the marquee of the former Foothill Drive-In Theater.
- Durante is home to the Justice Private Automotive Collection (a museum dedicated to the Justice Brothers and the world of auto racing) and the Durante Historical Society and Museum . The city also hosts an annual Route 66 parade (usually in September).
- In Monrovia , you’ll find a pleasant historic downtown area, the Monrovia Historical Museum , and some great historical spots such as a former vintage service station (originally a fruit stand from 1921) and the 1925 Mayan Revival Aztec Hotel (closed, but there are some hopes it will reopen).
- Arcadia is best known as the home of the Santa Anita Park and its horse races. Near the racetrack is a Denny’s that occupies a former Van de Kamp’s chain restaurant building with a windmill tower. You can can also visit the Gib Museum of Arcadia Heritage (local history).
- Beginning in Pasadena , the traffic really starts to pick up and also there becomes a tangle of former Route 66 alignments so it becomes more difficult to faithfully follow the Route 66 route. We recommend just navigating to spots you want to visit from here to Santa Monica based on your interests and traffic conditions.
- Pasadena is probably best known as the home of the Tournament of Roses which includes the Rose Bowl (college football game) and the Rose Parade, an annual parade on New Year’s Day. It is also believed to be where cheeseburgers were first invented! There are a number of historical sites and buildings such as the Colorado Street Bridge (concrete arch bridge built in 1912), the 19th century Old Mill (gardens open to public and tours available of the 1816 adobe building), and the Gamble House (Arts and Crafts style house built for the wealthy Gamble family in 1908, tours available) if you have the time to explore. Pasadena also has several museums, including the Pasadena Museum of History , Bunny Museum (dedicated to everything rabbit related), and Tournament House (Rose Tournaments headquarters at Wrigley Mansion, seasonal house tours possible).
- Depending on your chosen route, you’ll enter Los Angeles and pass through a number of cities and Los Angeles neighborhoods such as Highland Park, Echo Park, Hollywood, and Beverly Hills. Some Route 66 things you might spot are the 1924 Highland Theater, the popular Chicken Boy fiberglass statue, views of the Hollywood sign, and loads of vintage restaurants and signs.
- Now head to the End of Route 66. The western terminus of Route 66, like the eastern beginning, is not a clear single spot, as it differed across alignments over the years. The original 1926 terminus was at 7th Street and Broadway in downtown Los Angeles and was later moved to the intersection of Lincoln Boulevard and Olympic Boulevard in Santa Monica . Olympic Boulevard is now divided by Interstate 10. You’ll find both a brown Begin and End sign for Route 66 located at the intersection in front of Mel’s Drive-In (1670 Lincoln Blvd).
- Within Pacific Palisades Park in Santa Monica, there is a monument dedicated to Will Rogers which reads: “The Main Street of America Route 66 was the first road he traveled in a career that led him straight to the hearts of his countrymen.” Those interested in Will Rogers may want to later visit Will Rogers State Historic Park which includes his former estate and final home before his death.
- Now you can head a little further west to the modern and commercial end to Route 66. Since there is not much to see at the “official” ending point intersections, most drivers continue on to the modern end of Route 66 which is the Santa Monica Pier . The pier opened in 1909 and here you’ll find a family amusement park, a carousel, shops, an arcade, pubs, and restaurants. Park the car and explore the pier (entrance at Colorado and Ocean Avenue) where you’ll find an End of the Trail sign and shops selling Route 66 merchandise. Stop at the 66 to Cali kiosk shop for any final Route 66 souvenirs. You’ve done it, you have driven historic Route 66 (or started your Route 66 road trip adventure if headed east)!
- After completing your epic road trip, you might want to relax at the beach (the Santa Monica State Beach is convenient next to the pier as one option), enjoy a celebratory lunch or dinner, explore the many attractions in and around Santa Monica and Los Angeles, or head to the airport or train station to head back home.
- The Los Angeles area has so many attractions! Los Angeles has dozens of cultural attractions such as the Getty Museum (world-class art museum), California Science Center , Griffith Observatory , and Petersen Automotive Museum . In Hollywood you can visit movie studios such as Universal Studios (book tickets here ) and Warner Brothers , visit the historic Grauman’s Chinese Theatre , marvel at the Hollywood sign, stroll down Hollywood Boulevard and the Walk of Fame, and visit the Hollywood Museum . There are also tons of beaches along the coast, culinary spots (the city is home to about every type of world cuisine), shopping opportunities, sporting events (the city is home to several prominent sports teams such as the Dodgers, Lakers, and Galaxy), and of course Disneyland is not far away. If you have more than a day to explore LA, we highly recommend picking up a good local guidebook to help you make the most of your time here. To save money on sightseeing you may want to check out the GoCard .
- If your travels are taking you further afield in California , see the next section for some ideas of where to head next.
Notable Detours / Next Stops
- No notable detours today although we do have suggestions for a number of potential places you might want to explore in California after your Route 66 trip (or before if you are driving it west to east). See below suggestions.
- San Diego and Southern California – San Diego is known as one of the sunniest and happiest cities and is known for its sandy beaches, world-class museums, association with the US Navy, parks like Balboa Park, being home to the first Sea World and San Diego Zoo, one of the world’s top-rated zoos. Those planning to do a lot of sightseeing in this area may want to check out the GoCard and Southern California CityPass to save money on attractions, and read our guide to things to do in San Diego . You can reach San Diego in about 2.5 hours by car or you can also reach the city by train or bus.
- Pacific Coast Highway – If you feel you still are up for another road trip after Route 66, consider driving the Pacific Coast Highway which heads north from Los Angeles through the scenic Central Coast and up to the San Francisco Bay area. Or if you are tired of driving and want to see more, consider a fun guided camping trip along the Pacific Coast. Lots of great scenery, coastal towns, wineries, hiking opportunities, and historical sites along this route. You can read our Pacific Coast Highway guide here to help plan your trip.
- Yosemite National Park – This was one of the country’s (and the world’s) first national parks and protects a vast area of the Sierra Nevada that contains granite cliffs, waterfalls, mountains, glaciers, wilderness area, and giant sequoias groves. It is a popular destination for hiking, climbing, and scenery. To get started check out our Yosemite Valley planning post , Yosemite photography guide , and southern Yosemite National Park highlights article.
- San Francisco – This hilly northern California city is known for its iconic Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf area, cable cars, vast Golden Gate Park , liberalizing attitudes, and interesting cultural attractions like Alcatraz prison and the California Academy of Sciences. We can personally recommend checking out this discount city pass (there is also a GoCard discount card option) for San Francisco as it can help you save money on attraction entrance fees. You can reach San Francisco by plane, driving, Amtrak train service, or a bus. It is a quick 1 hour 30 minute flight from Los Angeles, or it can be reached by car in about 6 hours and 30 minutes depending on traffic and route. If you have more than a day in San Francisco, we recommend considering getting a city guidebook to make the most of your visit.
Today there is no shortage of places to eat and there are more options than on any other day along Route 66 as Los Angeles and the surrounding area has a plethora of options. There is everything from historical Route 66 eateries (and ones that predate Route 66) to modern fine dining spots to restaurants representing about every type of cuisine in the world from Vietnamese to Nigerian. Below is only a short list of options!
- Brother’s Pizza (142 E. Foothill Boulevard) in Rialto – Well-loved local pizza place that also serves pasta, sandwiches, chicken wings, and soups. Lunch and dinner. Been around since 1984.
- Red Hills Coffee Shop (16757 E. Foothill Boulevard) in Fontana – Classic no-frills American diner that serves inexpensive American breakfast and lunch with large portions. Breakfast and lunch. Building dates back to 1943 but has been the Red Hill Coffee Shop since the 1970’s.
- The Deli (9671 Foothill Boulevard) in Rancho Cucamonga – A simple American sandwich shop serving deli sandwiches and hot sandwiches. Indoor and outdoor patio seating. Since 1968.
- Sycamore Inn (8318 Foothill Boulevard) in Rancho Cucamonga – A beautiful lodge-like historical fine dining restaurant serving American and European cuisine like crab cakes, steaks, and lamb. Wine menu. Building was once a stagecoach stop dating back to 1848. Reservations recommended. Dinner only.
- Magic Lamp Inn (8189 Foothill Boulevard) in Rancho Cucamonga – A classic California steakhouse dating back to 1955 with Old World decor with wood paneling and stained glass. Known for their steaks but also serve a number of chicken and seafood dishes as well as sandwiches, salads, and soups for lunch. Serve lunch and dinner. Reservations recommended, especially for dinner.
- El Tarasco Meat Market (8161 E. Foothill Boulevard) in Rancho Cucamonga – A no-frills Mexican counter serving simple Mexican items like tacos and burritos with freshly butchered meats. Located within a grocery store and butcher shop.
- Old World Deli (281 S. Mountain Avenue) in Upland – An international delicatessen featuring Italian, American, German, and Jewish offerings such as sandwiches, salads, meatballs, soups, and pasta. Dine-in or take out. Initially began as a meat market in Downey California in 1969. Located within a shopping center.
- Wolfe’s Kitchen & Deli (160 W. Foothill Boulevard) in Claremont – A gourmet market, deli, and grill focused on deli sandwiches, grilled sandwiches, baked goods, and milkshakes. Breakfast to early dinner. Opened in 1917 as Wolfe’s Market
- La Paloma Cafe (321 Hobsonway) in Blythe – A no-frills inexpensive eatery serving authentic Mexican food including burritos, tacos, and menudo. Building dates to 1928, restaurant to 1966.
- Pinnacle Peak Steakhouse (269 W. Foothill Boulevard) in San Dimas – A casual steakhouse focused on serving working men good value meals with large portions. Known for its open flame grilled steaks, prime rib, and BBQ ribs. Been around since 1967, and there is an old wagon out front. Lunch and dinner.
- The Golden Spur (1223 E. Route 66) in Glendora – A Route 66 era casual steakhouse serving American food like steaks, seafood, and prime rib. Has live entertainment on some evenings. The Golden Spur is said to have started life as a ride-up hamburger stand back in 1918 for customers on horseback and became a steakhouse in 1954. Great Route 66 era cowboy boot neon sign out front. Lunch and dinner. Reservations recommended for dinner.
- The Hat (611 W. Route 66) in Glendora – A Route 66 era fast-food chain known for its pastrami sandwiches, onion rings, and fries. Lunch and dinner. Since 1951.
- Flappy Jack’s Pancake House (640 W. Route 66) in Glendora – An American breakfast and lunch spot with Route 66 decor serving large portions. Since 2002.
- Cabrera’s (1856 E. Huntington Drive) in Duarte – A Mexican restaurant serving Mexican food like soups, tamales, tortas, enchiladas, burritos, and chicken with mole. Open for all meals. Since 1985.
- Denny’s (7 E. Huntington Drive) in Arcadia – A casual modern diner-style chain serving classic American food. Open 24 hours a day and serves breakfast all day. The Googie style building is the last of the Van de Kamp’s drive-in Dutch Holland Dutch Bakery restaurants along Route 66 and still has the old windmill. The Denny’s chain originally began life as Danny’s Donuts in Lakewood, CA in 1953.
- Matt Denny’s (145 E. Huntington Drive) in Arcadia – A family style restaurant and pub serving salads, sandwiches, burgers, steaks, pasta, and seafood located near the Santa Anita racetrack. Large range of beers and sports normally on the TVs. Lunch and dinner.
- Lucky Baldwin’s (17 S. Raymond Avenue) in Pasadena – A restaurant and bar serving British pub food and some American classics like fish and chips, burgers, chicken curry, pasties, and cottage pie. Lots of beer options. Opened in 1966, located in a historical building in Pasadena’s Old Town.
- Euro Pane (950 Colorado Boulevard) in Pasadena – A European style bakery serving sandwiches, quiche, fresh baked goods, and coffee. Breakfast and lunch.
- The Raymond (1250 S. Fair Oaks) in Pasadena – An upscale New American and European restaurant focused on using locally grown seasonal food and has a changing menu. The Bar 1886 is well-known fo its cocktails. Located in a historic building. Reservations recommended.
- Fair Oaks Pharmacy (1526 Mission Street) in South Pasadena – This long-time pharmacy (since 1915) also serves breakfast, sandwiches, burgers, hot dogs, Italian sodas, phosphates, and loads of ice cream drinks and desserts. Great old soda fountain feel.
- Señor Fish (618 Mission Street) in South Pasadena – A no frills inexpensive cantina-style Mexican restaurant chain focused on seafood, known for its fish tacos.
- Mom’s Tamales (3328 Pasadena Avenue) in Los Angeles – A family-run Mexican restaurant best known for their homemade tamales. Breakfast and lunch.
- Philippe The Original (1001 N. Alameda Street) in Los Angeles – This long-time eatery serves breakfast, sandwiches, soups, and baked goods. Best known for their French dip sandwiches, and it is believed that the very first French dip sandwich was invented here in 1918. Original store opened in 1908 but moved to this location in 1951.
- Cielito Lindo (E-23 Olvera Street) – A simple Mexican food stand serving Mexican food since 1934! Best known for their taquitos served in avocado sauce. Also serve burritos, chile rellenos, and a few other favorites.
- Cole’s (118 E. 6th Street) – A classic historic bar and restaurant serving salads and sandwiches along with a full bar menu. Founded by Henry Cole in 1908 in the Pacific Electric Building. Claims to be the oldest public house in Los Angeles and where the French dip sandwich was invented (however many believe this was actually done so at Philippe’s). Lunch, dinner, and late night drinks. Two blocks from the 7th Street and Broadway terminus.
- Clifton’s (648 S. Broadway) in Los Angeles – Clifton’s is a long-time Los Angeles landmark serving cafeteria style American food on a pay-per-item basis. Common dishes are meatloaf, hot turkey, fried chicken, green beans, masked potatoes, and desserts. Also has full bar and event space. The current restaurant dates back to 1935 although the chain begun in 1931. Clifford Clinton was the owner and a strongly Christian and charitable man and the restaurant often offered food at the price people could pay or even gave it away for free. The restaurants also served African-Americans and other minorities at a time (it was promoted as a safe place for Blacks to eat in The Negro Motorist Green Book ) when this was unusual for a White-owned business. This place is huge and is the oldest cafeteria style eatery in Los Angeles. Serves lunch and dinner. Sits right next to the 7th Street and Broadway Route 66 terminus.
- Taix French Restaurant (1911 Sunset Boulevard) in Los Angeles – A long-time family owned- traditional French restaurant serving French classics like pâté, coq au vin, quiche, steak frites, cassoulet, and frog legs. Has a more formal restaurant dining area and more casual bar dining area. The restaurant history dates back to 1927 and the present location in Echo Park dates to 1962.
- Millie’s Cafe (3524 Sunset Boulevard) in Los Angeles – This long time old-fashioned American coffee shop and eatery in the Silver Lake neighborhood dates back to 1926. It serves classic American food using high quality ingredients. Has a huge menu, best known for its breakfasts which are served all day. Very popular local restaurant. Breakfast and lunch.
- Formosa Cafe (7156 Santa Monica Boulevard) in West Hollywood – This long-time West Hollywood restaurant serves an eclectic mix of Asian inspired dishes such as hot and sour soup, pork buns, pad thai, Mongolian Chicken, and Beijing Chicken. Has a full bar. The restaurant was opened by prize fighter Jimmy Bernstein in a trolley car in 1925 and has been in its current form since 1939. It sits next door to what was the United Artists lot and later the old Warner Bros. Studio, so was a long-time popular spot for movie stars. Dinner only (except on Sundays).
- Barney’s Beanery (8447 Santa Monica Boulevard) in West Hollywood – This long-time American restaurant serves a large selection of Mexican and American dishes, including an all-day breakfast. Restaurant first opened in 1920 and is believed to be Los Angeles’ third oldest existing eatery. Quirky place with a huge menu. Also has several other locations in Southern California. All meals, including late night eats.
- Mel’s Drive-In (1670 Lincoln Boulevard) in Santa Monica – This modern diner chain has locations around California but only opened in this location in 2018. It is located in the former 1959 Googie style building that was the Penguin Coffee Shop. Serves a large variety of burgers (including vegetarian and vegan options) as well as nachos, salads, short ribs, meat loaf, milkshakes, local craft beers, and more. We can recommend the burgers here. Located at the westbound Route 66 terminus at Lincoln & Olympic. A great place to stop for a bite to eat as you end (or begin) your Route 66 adventure for one more American diner meal.
- Solidarity Restaurant (1414 Lincoln Boulevard) in Santa Monica – Popular Polish restaurant and bar serving hearty Polish dishes like pierogies, potato placki, kielbasa, golabki, and stews. Located in a craftsman style house with an outdoor patio. Full drink menu and sometimes has live music. Been here since 1979, previously called Warszawa Restaurant. Located 2 blocks from the Lincoln & Olympic Route 66 terminus.
- Ye Olde King’s Head (116 Santa Monica Boulevard) in Santa Monica – A popular British pub serving dishes like full English breakfasts, meat pies, fish and chips, bangers and mash, curries, fish cakes, and Sunday roasts. Also has a full bar and serve traditional afternoon teas. Since 1974. Located a couple of blocks from the Santa Monica Pier.
- The Lobster (1602 Ocean Avenue) in Santa Monica – A seafood restaurant with ocean views, serving fresh and seasonal seafood such as oysters, scallops, lobster, and local fish. Full bar. The Lobster has changed hands and been extensively renovated but has a history dating back to 1923. Sits at the corner of Ocean Avenue next to the entrance to the Santa Monica Pier.
Lodging Recommendations for Santa Monica, CA
You have a lot of options in Santa Monica or Los Angeles, but we’ve focused on those options close to the Santa Monica Pier. If you would rather stay elsewhere in Los Angeles, you can check out options here . If you are looking for a more relaxed beach town, consider spending the night in Malibu .
Note that parking space is limited in Santa Monica and parking fees normally range between $25 to $45 per night at most hotels and parking structures in this area (we note a few lodging options with free parking). Los Angeles is not the most RV friendly place but you can find RV spots with hook-ups in Malibu and even in Hollywood!
- The Georgian – A historical luxury ocean front 4-star hotel from 1933 that has Art Deco details and an on-site restaurant, bar and fitness center. Conveniently located just a 10 minute walk from the Santa Monica pier and many rooms have ocean views. Private parking on-site but there is an extra fee. Beautiful hotel; great end of the trip splurge.
- Casa del Mar – A 5-star luxury beachfront hotel that features 2 restaurants, a spa, a pool, and a hot tub. Some rooms have ocean views. It is a 5 minute walk to the Santa Monica Pier. Private parking available on-site but there is an extra fee. Another great end of the trip splurge.
- Gateway Hotel Santa Monica – A well-reviewed 3-star hotel with comfortable rooms and a fitness center. Parking is normally free but must be booked in advance. About 2 miles from the pier. A very good value stay for this area!
- Ocean View Hotel – A well-rated 3-star hotel near the ocean. Some rooms feature private balconies and ocean views. A few minute walk from the beach and Santa Monica Pier. Private parking available at an extra fee.
- Santa Monica Motel -This classic Route 66 era motel was originally the “Travel-O-Tel” motel in the mid 1900’s. It was renovated in 2000 and now offers clean and comfortable, but basic rooms. Rates include breakfast (coffee, juice, muffins), free parking, and a 24 hour front desk. Only 10 minute walk from Route 66 terminus and a 20 minute walk from Santa Monica Pier and beach.
- Rest Haven Motel – This Route 66 era motel dates back to 1938 and was one of the first motels in Santa Monica. Offers standard rooms as well as family rooms and a cottage; all with basic motel amenities. A good budget option to consider. About a 17 minute walk to beach and a 25 minute walk to Santa Monica pier.
- Ocean Park Hotel – A basic well-reviewed hotel that offers budget priced rooms. Some rooms have shared bathrooms. Rates include free on-site parking. Located about 3 miles from Santa Monica Pier. A great option for those on a tight budget.
- Hostelling International – Santa Monica Hostel – A well-reviewed hostel offering dormitory style accommodation with included continental breakfast. Well located with a short walk from beach and pier. No parking available on site. Another good option for those on a tight budget.
- Camper Recs: Malibu Beach RV Park (about 15 miles west in Malibu), Dockweiler RV Park (about 15 miles southeast in Playa Del Rey), and Hollywood RV Park (about 20 miles north in Van Nuys).
So that is the end of our Route 66 itinerary! We hope that you have found this helpful in planning your own Route 66 road trip.
Are you interested in driving Route 66? Which spots on the Route 66 itinerary are most interesting to you? If you have driven Route 66 or some section of it, we’d love to hear about your own experience and any favorite spots along the route. If you are planning your own Route 66 trip and have questions about Route 66 or traveling within the USA, we’re happy to try to help. Just leave any questions or comments in the Comments section below!
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Paula Post author
September 6, 2023 at 11:57 am
Thanks for sharing your experiences in this terrific blog!! It seems most people drive east to west versus west to east. We have about 10-11 days for the trip. We are thinking to go west to east since we live in the west, and will be in an RV. We are open though to starting in the east if that’s a better way to go!! We’d love to hear your thoughts on upsides and downsides of starting in east versus west etc? Thanks very much!!
Jessica & Laurence Norah Post author
September 6, 2023 at 2:12 pm
Glad you are finding our Route 66 itinerary helpful in planning your trip.
So there is a historical precedent for driving it east to west, the scenery gets more dramatic when going that direction, and most Route 66 guides focus on this direction. If I had to choose between the two, I’d choose to drive east to west if it made no difference either way. But if you live near the West Coast, it might make more sense to start there. But there is no big differences if you drive it east to west or west to east, and we have done it both ways. I used to live in California so my first time driving Route 66 we went eastbound from California to Chicago. We have a section about driving Route 66 eastbound versus westbound in our Route 66 planner guide for more pros/cons on that.
One thing to really consider is your RV (are your renting or do you already own?) and how you plan to get home after your trip (are you flying, driving, heading elsewhere?)? If you are renting an RV, it probably makes as much sense to drive eastbound route as you can fly to Chicago, pick up an RV and then get started and do a one-way drop off in L.A. or wherever you live. If you did eastbound and rented a RV in LA, you’d probably then want to return in Chicago and fly back. I’d check rental rates and see if there is much difference in rental rates in the east versus west, be sure to account for one-way rental fees.
But if you already own an RV, then you’ll need to consider time to get back, and I’m not sure it would make much difference which way you start as in one direction you will need to probably take interstates to save time.
Ultimately both ways of driving Rte 66 are great, you’ll see pretty much the same things, just in reverse order. If both options are equal, I’d start in Illinois and head west. But I’d let costs and practicalities dictate the best route for you.
Anyway, hope that helps! Jessica
Graeme Stewart Post author
August 22, 2023 at 9:16 am
Your web page on Route 66 has been a great help in planning our (my wife and I) trip, thank you very much. We plan to visit both the Grand Canyon, staying in Flagstaff, and Monument Vally. Our initial plan is to add * One day for the Grand Canyon. * One day for the travel from GC to Monument Valley. * One day for the Monument Valley. Then the following day drive from Monument Valley to Seligman. Can you make any recommendations for accomodation in and around Monument Valley and do you think the above would give us enough time in both places.
Thanks for your help and advice
August 24, 2023 at 5:32 pm
You’re very welcome, and so glad that you are finding all our Route 66 guides useful in planning your upcoming trip!
So I think that is fine as it sounds like you are adding 3 full days to see both the Grand Canyon and Monument Valley. I would spend the night in Flagstaff, then spend a night at the Grand Canyon (its worth it to stay in the park if lodging is available), and then a night around Monument Valley. I would allow a full day for Grand Canyon and stay the night if you can as its wonderful to have a chance to experience sunset/sunrise there (for canyon hikes, seeing both rims, and more activities I’d add a second day). For Monument Valley, most people see all they want in a few hours but there is of course more you can do there if you want. Staying the night there is definitely a good idea if you have the time.
For lodging at the Grand Canyon, we stayed in the RV park/campground when we last visited, but there is a number of hotels and inns within the park of various types and budgets. If you love old historic hotels, I’d check out El Tovar, its a beautiful old hotel although it tends to be pretty pricey unless you book way in advance or visit during off season. If you can’t get lodging inside the park (recommended) there is also a lot of accommodation options located outside the park boundaries. I am guessing you are just visiting the South Rim? Just make sure to take that into account when making your booking. You can check out a full list of lodging options and how to book here . No matter where you want to stay, book your Grand Canyon lodging in advance, the loding in the park often books out in advance.
Also just to note in Flagstaff, a motel just recently been remodeled and reopened there (a restored historic one from 1960s) called Americana Motor Hotel which is new since we were last in Flagstaff but has a Route 66 era theme and decor, if you like hstoric motels it is another one to consider.
For Monument Valley lodging, I’d stay at The View at Monument Valley or Goulding’s Lodge if there is availability. Those have some of the best locations (in terms of view and being very close to the rock formations), they are 3-star lodgings so typically not that expensive (they are not luxury). Monument Valley Tipi Village is another one to consider. There is also a few other inns/B&Bs nearby and some camping available in that area and there is a Hampton Inn in Kayenta as well.
It seems like from your current plan has you driving from Flagstaff to Grand Canyon and then to Monument Valley, then back the same way to then rejoin Route 66 route at Seligman? So a potentially better route if you want to make a detour to both those places and avoid driving back on yourself, would be to leave Route 66 around Gallup, NM or Holbrook, AZ and then head north towards Utah and Monument Valley, spend a day there, then drive to Grand Canyon, spend time there, and then drive down to Flagstaff, AZ from there and spend the night? Then you can just continue on from Flagstaff if you are driving Route 66 onward to California. I think this will save you some time if you want to check that out and compare the two routes.
Anyway, hope the above info and thoughts are useful. Just let us know if you or your wife have further questions as you plan your Route 66 road trip!
Best, Jessica & Laurence
Debra Brown Post author
July 27, 2023 at 5:22 pm
July 28, 2023 at 12:13 pm
Hope you have a wonderful drive down Route 66, and just let us know if you have any questions as you plan your trip!
Marina Post author
July 14, 2023 at 1:49 am
Hi, love your 14 day breakdown of Route 66, planning the trip next year for Easter break, want to use this, could you please send me the pdf file. Thanks
July 17, 2023 at 10:52 am
Glad you enjoyed our 2 week Route 66 itinerary. I also got your email and just replied to answer your questions and sent you instructions how you are able to print or get a PDF of our article as a newsletter subscriber (free). If you have further questions as you plan your Route 66 trip, just ask!
Donna Post author
July 2, 2023 at 3:11 pm
Good morning my name is Donna, I absolutely love reading all about your route 66, my husband and I are in the planning of doing this 2 week drive, and I’m wondering how do I go about getting the PDF map I’m not that good on computer and don’t know how I subscribe, any help will be much appreciated thank you Donna Australia 😊
Laurence Post author
July 4, 2023 at 9:36 am
We’re delighted to hear you have found our content useful! So you should have received an e-mail to confirm your subscription after you left this comment. Once you confirm you’ll be subscribed. Then, you can just press the “print” button on the bottom of any of our posts, enter your e-mail, and you’ll get to a printable version of the page. Just note it won’t contain any images as they take up a lot of space and most people prefer just the text.
Let us know if you have any more questions!
Laurence & Jessica
AnneMarie Davies Post author
May 1, 2023 at 11:35 am
Hi Thanks for the detailed itinerary. I am subcribing to your newsltter in order to get the PDF version AnneMarie
May 1, 2023 at 12:06 pm
Glad you are finding it helpful. Just let me know if you have any issues getting the PDF version or have any questions as you are planning your Route 66 trip.
Sudan Bhetuwal Post author
April 7, 2023 at 3:10 am
great article.. thanks for the information…
April 8, 2023 at 12:33 pm
Thanks very much, always happy to hear that someone is finding our Route 66 itinerary helpful. If you have any questions if planning your own trip, just ask!
Graham Ritchie Post author
December 8, 2022 at 7:17 am
Hi Jessica & Laurence, we’re two old fogeys from Scotland who are planning to drive Route 66 next year (probably early May, but we’re flexible). We came across your blog a couple of days ago and are very impressed with the level of detail that you have provided. We haven’t yet read it all so apologies if it answers some of our questions. We could book a commercial package that includes flights, car hire and insurance, one-way fees and accommodation. These seem to come in around £3300pp but more expensive packages are on offer (presumably providing more upmarket accommodation. Also an upgrade to, say, a Mustang convertible would add another £350. These trips tend to be 18 days, door-to-door, that includes about 13 days car hire. Your 2-week itinerary covers pretty much the same route (obviously!), albeit not overnighting in some of the bigger cities eg you avoid St Louis, Oklahoma City, Santa Fe. Depending on flight arrival times, we might want to pick up our car at O’Hare and set off right away, although we wouldn’t plan to drive all the way to Springfield on day 1. We plan to avoid Las Vegas but would definitely want to visit the Grand Canyon, so that we would have maybe 15 days driving. We would like to be as flexible as possible and rather than take a commercial package, follow your itinerary, albeit in a loose way. Accordingly, we would prefer not to book accommodation in advance, simply turn up. We might prefer to dawdle some days and speed up on others, so we might not even know where we would fetch up. That’s Big Question number one – is that sensible? For example, is it likely that we would turn up at Clinton OK in early May and be unable to find a twin bedded room in any of the places you recommend? We could I suppose leave booking to a day ahead but that ruins the flexibility. Another possibility, given that a couple of friends have expressed an interest in joining us, would be to rent a 4-berth RV. Big Question 2 is similar – would we have any difficulty in turning up at camping sites without prior booking. One of us will be age 75 by the time of the trip – does that cause any problems with car/RV hire. You have already answered most of our queries and I’m sure there may be more to come, but it would be useful to have your guidance on the foregoing. Best wishes, and thanks again for your great blog. Graham & Jimmy
December 9, 2022 at 9:17 am
Hi Graham & Jimmy,
Happy to try to help and will try to comment on what you have said and answer the specific questions you had about planning your Route 66 trip.
So £3300pp seems like a reasonable amount for international flights, rental car + insurance, accommodation for 18 nights, and most of the pre-planning and arrangements done for you. But you could probably save some by doing it yourself, so it is just a question of how much time you want to spend on planning and arranging on your own. The biggest costs for you would be the car hire/insurance and the flights, which have been a bit all over in price the past year. Accommodation is available across a range of prices so you can choose according to your budget and gas prices will be what they will be, but will probably seems cheap to someone used to UK fuel prices. Food costs will also vary according to your budget and tastes so easy to eat cheap or spend more for nicer meals.
In terms of larger cities that Route 66 runs through, depending on your interests, you can avoid the central area of most of them. We give tips on this throughout our itinerary if you want to avoid them. Pros for including the cities is that they have lots of attractions and lodging options from super budget to luxury. Cons are traffic and parking can be difficult, and some people are wary of crowds and potential increased crime. If you are considering renting a RV/motorhome, you’ll probably need to avoid the largest cities as some places do not allow them within the city centers or have made it very expensive for them to park. Readers have recommended avoiding both Chicago and Santa Monica / L.A. entirely if you can.
Yes, the packages usually loosely follow the route and include places like the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, and Disneyland which are obviously not on Route 66. So easy to avoid or add those places as you wish as none are on Route 66. If you want to visit Grand Canyon, I’d recommend overnighting in the park to get a chance to really see it (lodging/camping in park needs to be reserved in advance as lodging is often booked out in advance). Although you could do it as a day trip, experiencing sunrise and/or sunset is definitely highly recommended if making the detour to visit.
Yes, I think 15 days/nights is a very reasonable amount of time to generally follow our itinerary and make a detour to visit the Grand Canyon for 1-2 days.
On Day 1, if starting from Chicago airport, Pontiac, IL can make a good first place to overnight as we note if you don’t want to drive down to Springfield.
May is popular time to travel but before the school summer break so most places will be neither super busy or quiet, but that will of course vary across the route. You’ll certainly be able to turn up in most places and find lodging if you are not particular about a certain place or type of room, etc. But if there are any special stays, rural areas, or national parks (such as Grand Canyon), those we’d recommend booking in advance. You can of course book the day of as you go along but we generally recommend people book in advance, whether just a day in advance or book their own trip, to know where they are staying each night and it also helps if trying to stick to a budget. But it is of course up to you how you want to do it and what you feel most comfortable doing!
I think many people imagine they need to be flexible but in our experience, since you are following a set route and have a certain amount of days for your trip (flights booked, rental car dates set, etc.), you can’t be that flexible and most people want to stop driving by dinner time so you don’t usually have a lot of options anyway. If you have 15 days total, you can’t really deviate too much and we tend to find people move at a pretty predictable rate if they have generally planned what they want to do in advance. We generally book everything in advance with a free cancellation policy (usually 24 to 48 hours in advance) so if things need to change, we can cancel.
Yes, a RV that can sleep 4 people is definitely an option and would probably save you money when split by 4 persons as you could make more of your own meals, avoiding staying at hotels/motels, etc. For most campsites, you can turn up the same day – we list a couple of spots for each day and you can check and get a sense of their policies and prices. If you don’t have a reservation, generally a good practice is to call in advance that day to make sure they have space available as can be a bit of distance in between them as they are often located outside of a city or town. The downsides of course with an RV is around parking it (particularly in cities as can be hard to find parking and more expensive to do so), greater fuel costs, and you’ll be more limited in where you can stop and overnight.
There are some rental car companies that do have maximum age limits and may not rent to older drivers or charge a “senior driver fee”, but I don’t think this is that common in the USA. For most it is just “21 and over” or “25 and over” with no maximum age limit. But maximum age restrictions can start at 65 so just be sure to put that age information in for anyone that will be driving to be sure you book with a company that does not have an age limit. I believe that most of the booking websites like Rental Cars take this into account when calculating any fees. I don’t think this will be a problem but definitely something to check before booking a rental.
I think from your comments and questions, that the first thing to decide is who all is going (2 or 4 persons) and how you plan to travel (booked tour/self plan with a car/motorhome rental). Once you get those 2 factors set and what dates you have available, then everything else will be much easier 😉
Anyway, hope that helps, and happy to answer any more questions as you plan your Route 66 adventure!
Sam Post author
October 19, 2022 at 9:00 am
Hi! What a great setup for an itinerary! Maybe you can give us some advise? We are planning a trip that will be 20 days in April/May 2023 ( those days are set, bc of the school of my oldest) We are going to travel with 2 children (5 and 2 by the time) and want to squeeze in some Vegas and hopefully a day or 2 in SF. What are the most fun parts for kids and should not be missed and which parts are fine to speed up a little (in time, not to get some fines;-)) so we can win a little time on the itinerary?
October 22, 2022 at 4:53 pm
Glad you are finding our itinerary and guides helpful. Our planning guide is a good place to look if you are looking to drive a specific section as it gives some different ideas based on different themes.
In general, Route 66 isn’t the most interesting for young children. Many of the sites, attractions, museums etc. are not very interactive and are not going to super interesting to young kids. I am not sure any specific section is going to be more fun, but instead I would focus your route and stops more on specific sites and places. At that age kids are likely going to like things like playgrounds, parks, rides/amusement parks, children’s museums, family friendly tours, short walks, animal/wildlife related stops, interactive things, diners, soda fountains, and ice cream parlors, etc.
Big cities like Chicago and LA (stoping and ending points) have lots of family friendly sites. For instance in Chicago (the starting point), there is the Navy Pier (which offers several rides), Children’s Museum, Adler Planeterium, Shedd Aquarium, Willis Tower, lake boat rides, zoo, lots of parks, etc. You of course have a number of parks in and near LA such as Santa Monica Pier, Disneyland, and Legoland.
Some sites in between that come to mind are Magic House children’s museum (Kirkwood, MO), Meramac Caverns (Sullivan, MO), Blue Whale in Catoosa, OK, Frontier City (Six Flags theme park, near Oklahoma City), Grand Canyon Caverns (near Peach Tree, AZ), Calico Ghost Town (California, short detour from route). But really there are loads of free local parks, playgrounds, scenic walking routes, state parks, zoos, etc. across the route that you might want to stop at and we mention a number of places that might be of interest in our itinerary above. You just need to decide what will be most of interest to your family.
In terms of days, if you have 20 days you could do it in the 14 days and still have 6 days for Las Vegas and SF. But you can certainly shorten it by just driving to the places of most interest to you along the route rather than trying to follow the route. Getting on the interstate, avoiding some of the rural routes and alignments, and not doing detours will save you time.
Also since traveling with young kids, you’ll want to take into account how much time you want to be on the road each day, how often you’ll need to take breaks, and when you’ll want to stop each day. That will help determine how far you want to go in terms of miles each day. With kids you are likely going to want to go at a much slower pace and have shorter days of driving.
For dining, most of the casual places are family friendly and for picnics there are often picnic areas in many city parks, rest areas, campgrounds, etc.
Anyway, hope that helps. If you have more questions or want us to look over a drafted itinerary, just send it along and happy to answer questons or give further advice as you get further along in your planning.
Shankar Adhikari Post author
August 21, 2022 at 12:18 am
Wow. I appreciate you spending the time to accomplish this. It had to be a lot of work, therefore it must have been a labor of love. Your Route 66 road trip itinerary will be very helpful to me as I plan my vacation!
Our honeymoon is scheduled for May of next year, and we recently booked our flights. We want to begin in Chicago and travel the entire way.
August 21, 2022 at 4:14 am
Thanks for taking the time to comment and so happy you are finding our Route 66 road trip itinerary helpful in planning your vacation. Yes, it certainly did take a long time to write and put together, but I am always happy to hear it has been helpful to so many other travelers.
If you have any questions as you plan your upcoming road trip along Rte 66, just ask!
Mr. Gurung Post author
August 7, 2022 at 3:15 am
This itinerary is just fantastic! Although I enjoy them, I’ve never taken a long road trip. I have only traveled a short stretch of it in California.
August 10, 2022 at 6:39 am
Hi Mr. Gurung,
Yes, a long road trip is definitely a bit different, but if you enjoyed the stretch in California, I am sure you would enjoy doing more if you have the time. If you have any questions as you plan your Route 66 road trip, just let us know.
Mr. Chudamani Post author
August 7, 2022 at 12:15 am
I appreciate you sharing this wonderful list and the complete article. This Rte 66 itinerary is just fantastic! I adore traveling on the road.
August 7, 2022 at 12:24 am
Hi Mr. Chudamani,
Thanks for taking the time to comment and wishing you a wonderful trip on Route 66!
Rangi Post author
July 5, 2022 at 10:15 pm
Thank you guys so much! I rode Route 66 this time last year. I used pretty much exclusivity, your itinerary and I had a blast! Really grateful. I’ll be recommending this post in my photo blog. Thanks for all your detailed hard work.
July 6, 2022 at 3:26 am
Glad you had a good trip along Route 66, and that you got so much use out of our guide and Route 66 itinerary. And thanks for recommending it to others.
Wishing you wonderful future travels!
Lee Finch Post author
July 5, 2022 at 3:27 am
Hi. What a fabulous read. We are coming from Australia. Not planning the trip until 2024. A couple of questions if you don’t mind? 1. Is September a good month to do Route 66? 2. Is the route easier enough to follow of you have a map? 3. Could I do a detour to Wyoming to visit a friend? We should have 21 ish days in the US and will start in Chicago with a few nights there and a 4 nights at the end in LA. I’m so overwhelmed , I’m not sure where to start !!
July 5, 2022 at 10:05 am
1. Yes, I think September is a fine month to do the route. Weather is normally fairly mild, kids are back in school, and most things will be open except for a few summer-only places.
2. I think it is a good idea to have an atlas or maps, but it is better for planning. For turn-by-turn instructions you’ll want the latest edition of the EZ66. We used an atlas (or state maps), the EZ66, and also had a GPS unit. See our Route 66 planning guide for more info about planning the route, time of year, maps, and all that kind of stuff.
3. Wyoming is not a state on or near the historic Route 66 route. It depends on where your friend lives as Wyoming is a large state, but it is likely going to be an 11 to 14 hour drive there from the closer points on the route. So you would probably want to allow at least 4-5 days for that detour if driving. For example if you headed up from Albuquerque, New Mexico, it is about an 11 hour drive each way to Casper, Wyoming. I’d probably recommend flying there. So you could arrive in Chicago, do your sightseeing there and then fly to Wyoming (I think Casper has the largest airport) and have your friends pick you up there and spend a few days with them and then fly back to Chicago and start your road trip. That would save you a lot of time and driving.
So for example if you had 21 days and wanted to do all the things you noted, your itinerary might look like this:
Day 1 – 3 – Explore Chicago Day 4 – 6 – Fly to Wyoming, visit friends Day 7 – Fly back to Chicago in morning, pick up car in Chicago and start Route 66 trip Day 7 – 18 – Route 66 road trip ending in L.A. (this gives you about 12 days to drive the route) Day 19 – 21 – Explore Los Angeles Day 22 – Fly home
If you have some days that you could add, I’d probably consider adding a few extra days to your trip to give you a day at beginning in Chicago to just relax (Australia to Chicago is such a long flight!) and 1-2 extra days on Route 66 so you can follow our 2-week itinerary. But you can certainly do the drive in 12 days, you’ll just need to drive a bit further on a couple of the days.
Hope that helps get you started! If you have further questions as your trip gets closer, happy to answer them.
CherylAnn Mabry-McComsey Post author
June 28, 2022 at 9:57 am
Thank you for all this information! I signed up to receive the newsletter and would love to get this in a pdf if possible. A friend of mine, bestie, adventure photographer we do trips and leave the husbands home because they are not ones for random stops, pullovers and get photos. We are planning out our 2 week adventure has to include to and from Chicago to California or ending in Arizona (boo), so any suggestions would be wonderful. We also need to leave from Pennsylvania to Chicago to our starting point.
Thank you again for All your suggestions and I do! -CherylAnn
June 29, 2022 at 8:09 am
Very happy to try to help!
So it sounds like you are planning to drive from Pennsylvania and have 2 weeks total to do as much of the route as possible? Are you using your own car or hiring a car? Are you flying home or driving home? That info is obviously going to be very important in determining how much time you have and how far you might want to drive.
But let’s say you have 2 weeks total and are renting a car and driving, but flying back home.
Day 1: Leave PA and head to Chicago. Depending on route, it will be about 10 hours of driving so I’d recommend stopping overnight partway. Such as in Sandusky, OH or Toledo, OH. Day 2: Arrive into Chicago, overnight in Chicago. Day 3: Start Route 66 trip, driving to Springfield, IL Day 4-13: Follow our Route 66 itinerary, ending in either Flagstaff, AZ or Seligman, AZ for your last night on Route 66 Day 14: Drive to Phoenix, AZ and fly from Phoenix back home to Pennsylvania
You can of course get from Pennsylvania to Chicago in different ways (flying, bus, train, car). But if you decide to fly instead of one of the other ways (and rent a car in Chicago and return in Phoenix), you can save a day of travel and then have an extra day to either explore Chicago or to spend on the route. But Phoenix is probably the best place to end to fly back (as it is only about a 3 hour drive from Flagstaff or Seligman). But I would check flight connetions and prices from Phoenix.
If you are planning to drive back, you’ll want to stop earlier. Perhaps in New Mexico, as it is about a 3 day drive back (if driving about 9-10 hours a day) to PA.
Glad you are finding our Route 66 helpful and thanks for subscribing to our free monthly newsletter. To print or get a PDF of an article as a newsletter subscriber, just click on the printer icon on that article (at bottom of article text) and follow the directions (enter subscription name and email). If you have any issues, just let me know.
Hope that helps, and just let me know if you have further questions as you plan your trip! Jessica
Kaat Post author
June 22, 2022 at 2:02 am
Hi Thanks so much for this information. Do you have a pdf version of the itinerary?
June 22, 2022 at 4:28 am
Glad that our Route 66 itinerary have been helpful in planning your trip so far.
If you do want to print our article or use it as a PDF, you can do so as long as you are a member of our monthly newsletter (which is free). To print the article in a printer-friendly format (with all ads and images removed) or save them as a clickable PDF, you just need to be subscribed to our monthly travel newsletter (it is free and easy to subscribe). Be sure to check your email and click the link to confirm the subscription.
Once you are subscribed to our newsletter, then you just need to go to the article you want to print, click on the print icon (at the side or at the end of the article) and put in your name and then the email address you used to subscribe to the newsletter. You can also save them as a PDF using this same process as well.
Hope this helps and do let us know if you have any questions as you plan your trip!
Ron Post author
April 20, 2022 at 6:12 am
Jessica, you have done a great job here. This is very thorough and well done. I’ve done the trip four times and my wife and I and two friends are doing it again this fall. We started planning this trip in February of 2021 (19 months in advance) and two of the iconic motels were already booked for the nights we wanted. We were able to re-arrange our trip so we could stay at both of them. So, my recommendation is to book the motels well in advance. Also, avoid East St. Louis, IL at all costs and at any time of day.
April 20, 2022 at 6:29 am
Thanks for taking the time to comment and glad to hear you have enjoyed our Route 66 posts.
So glad you were able to get your itinerary to work by adjusting dates a bit. Yes, in all our Route 66 posts, particularly our historic Route 66 motels post, we do recommend that people who are interested in particular hotels book well in advance if they can. However, I think most people planning a trip are doing so 6 months or less beforehand (some are just booking places to stay a night or two in advance as they go). But for those who can plan that far ahead, it is a good idea to book as soon as they have their dates, especially if wanting to stay at some of the smaller and more popular motels like Blue Swallow.
And thanks for the tip on East St. Louis. We have only driven through during the day and had no issues (would definitely avoid at night), but it is one of the areas with some of the highest crimes rates along the route and people should take precautions here (and avoid if don’t feel safe).
Enjoy your fifth Route 66 trip, we are planning to head back out on the road, if all goes well, in the fall. It will be our first time on Route 66 since the pandemic started.
KP Post author
April 15, 2022 at 10:27 am
This is brilliant itinerary – loved it. I was googling about Route 66 and found this one few months ago but today I have read it in detail. This is just fantastic. I think I am going to do this in summer, You have inspired me to do this now.
The only thing I am not sure is whether it is safe to take family with two teenage kids.
April 15, 2022 at 11:37 am
Glad you enjoyed reading our Route 66 itinerary and that it has inspired you to consider driving the route yourself!
In terms of safety, we have a whole section on this in our Route 66 guide which I recommend reading as it covers all the planning questions you are likely to have. But in general, while most travelers experience no issues, you do want to take general precautions, especially when traveling in the larger cities along the route. The route does go through some “bad neighborhoods” and crime can of course take place anywhere. You particularly want to be careful with securing valuables and your vehicle as probably the most common crimes against tourists are pickpocketing, muggings, and car thefts. We always recommend making sure you have travel and medical insurance coverage.
Maybe a bigger issue is if your family members are all on board with a drive along Route 66? Teenagers can be notoriously hard to please, so I would just make sure it is a trip your teens are interested in doing and make sure there are plenty of stops on the trip that would be of interest to them. This might mean modifying the trip a bit to be fun for everyone. You’ll all be spending a lot of time together in a car so you want it to be an enjoyable experience for all 😉
Hope that helps, and just let us know if you have any other questions as you plan your trip!
LVM Post author
April 4, 2022 at 8:45 pm
Amazing itinerary, very informative and full of all the needs to bear in mind while travelling Rte 66!
April 6, 2022 at 7:31 am
Thanks for taking the time to comment, and just let us know if you have any questions if you are planning your own Route 66 trip!
Happy travels, Jessica
Steve Griffiths Post author
April 4, 2022 at 8:24 am
Just about in the final stages of planning route and flights from UK. Your guide is so good with lots of detours that could be worth doing. General outline is the following with some flexibility about number of days. Is some of the later part of the journey too much in the time. I have been to Vegas before but the person I am going with has not. The aim is pre book a couple of hotels then follow your guide. Is a sat nav useful?
Day 1 Aug 30 fly out overnight at Chicago airport hotel Day 2 Aug 31 Collect car at Chicago airport, probably about 09.30 drive to Springfield 186 miles overnight Springfield Day 3. Springfield to Sullivan. St Louis on route and worth a stop 163 mile depending on alignment (choice of route). Day 4 Sullivan to Carthage 208 miles lots of interesting stuff on route so could be a long day. Devils elbow plus other small detours. Day 5 Carthage to Tulsa. Tulsa art deco plus some civil rights history. 152 Miles. Possible stay just outside Tulsa and visit city following morning. Day 6 Tulsa to Clinton 204 miles. Long drive and some interesting places on route. Possible do not drive all of this leg in one day. Day 7 Clinton to Amarillo 176 miles. Route 66 museum on route at Elk City. Amarillo has the big steak houses including Big Texan steak ranch and Cadillac ranch. Hotels very close by so worth a stop. Day 8 Amarillo to Tumacari 109 miles. Time zone change. Possible light driving day so can explore Amarillo. Day 9 Tucumari to Alberquerque. Choice of three routes with varying mileages so long driving day. Overnight at Aberquerque as lots of route 66 there. Can detour to Santa Fe . Suggest we stay and book Aberquerque. Day 10 Alberquerque to Gallup various mileages say 160. Junk Yard brewery on route. Day 11 Gallup to Flagstaff. 181 miles. I have done some of this route. Day 12 Drive to Williams try to book as a package to take the train trip to Grand Canyon. https://www.thetrain.com/the-train/classes/ Day 13 Grand Canyon and then probably drive a short distance to a place to stay possibly Needles. Day 14 and 15 Needles to Las Vegas Day 16 drive to San Bernadino check mileage and route Day 17 probably drive all the way to Santa Monica (overnight) Day 18 fly home
April 5, 2022 at 9:52 am
Glad you are finding our travel blogs helpful in planning your trip. It looks like you have just about 14 full days for driving Route 66 plus a couple of days for a Las Vegas detour and a travel day or two. So that fits pretty perfectly with our suggested 2 week Route 66 itinerary.
A sat nav (generally just called a car GPS in the U.S.) can be helpful. While we recommend getting a EZ66 guide and a road atlas or maps to help guide your trip, a sat nav or Google Maps can be very useful when you get lost, need to navigate off the route (e.g., to get to your hotel, a restaurant, or museum off the route), and for telling you things like expected arrival times or traffic jams. We used the guide direction and maps to plot our route each day and followed those for directions to stay on Route 66, but had the GPS running in background for when we needed it. You can see our Route 66 planning guide for more on this.
Yes, you definitely want to book your rental car in advance as last summer there simply was not enough cars for the demand in certain areas and prices have definitely gone higher. Fuel prices also surging so be sure to budget for that – prices will vary across the route with CA typically having the highest prices. We have been a bit shocked at the price changes when we were looking at car rentals ourselves for the U.S. this summer as they are 2 to 3x higher at many places than a couple of years ago.
For motels/hotels, we do recommend booking them in advance if you are pretty certain about your travel plans and where you want to stay. This summer is expected to be a very busy one with pent-up travel demand. We particularly advise this if there are any specific hotels/motels you want to stay in, you have a lower budget, or you need a special type of room (e.g., disabled access or family room). If you are more flexible with budget/room type/specific lodging, then you can just book a day or two ahead as you go if you wish. We generally book in advance using Booking or Hotels.com and book properties that have flexible cancelation policies in case trip plans change.
I think your drafted itinerary looks pretty good, it mainly follows our suggestions. Below are just a few suggestions on your Rte 66 itinerary:
-Day 7/8 – Yes, lots of things to do/see in and around Amarillo so can be a good place to have a little extra time. Also since it is around the halfway mark of your trip, probably good to have a break from long drives. If you enjoy hiking and have extra time in Amarillo after seeing Route 66 sites, Palo Duro Canyon or Wildcat Bluff Nature Center are two great options.
-Day 9/10 – Yes, for this section you have a few options. The drive from Tucumcari to Albuquerque along the post 1937 route doesn’t take that long, but the ones that go through Santa Fe will likely take you most of the day when including stops. All are worth driving, just depends on your priorities and the places you really want to see. But you will have to pick and choose as you could easily spend a full day just exploring Albuquerque or Santa Fe.
-Day 12 – For Grand Canyon train from Williams, definitely something you’d want to book in advance once you have your dates set. You might also consider staying the night in Williams on Day 11 (instead of Flagstaff) as I am guessing you’ll want to do a morning train to Grand Canyon. That way, you won’t have to worry about traffic or getting to your train in time. Lots of options within walking distance or short drive from the train station.
-Day 14/15 – Yes, you can detour to Las Vegas, Nevada from either Kingman, AZ or Needles, CA. We generally recommend Needles but either works. It is about a 2 hour drive each way from Needles. When driving from Las Vegas, NV to San Bernardino, CA – the driving time will depend a lot on your route. You can drive here in about 3 hours doing the most direct route (mainly just following I-15 S), but if you want to head down via Needles where you left off and then follow Route 66, then you are looking at more like 6 hours. So you may want to head down to Barstow, CA and follow Route 66 from there (skipping the Needles to Barstow section) to save time this day, depending on when you leave Las Vegas and how much time you have. You definitely have a few options.
Day 17 – The driving distance isn’t too long between San Bernardino and Santa Monica – the time will just depend on traffic which generally gets worse the closer you get to L.A. Leaving early can be a good idea. But once you get to Santa Monica, this is a good day to relax and enjoy the sunny pier, amusements, beach, shopping, etc. and can be a nice night for a splurge dinner and stay to celebrate the end of your trip 😉
Hope that helps, and happy to answer any questions you have as you finish planning your Route 66 road trip!
Ahmad Post author
March 13, 2022 at 6:31 am
Hello, I’m planning to visit the US end of April to visit my brother and was thinking of doing a road trip between states and was suggested for route 66 and, while searching and found your itinerary!
Your itinerary and suggestion are the best I read, so detailed and informative which encouraged me to follow, really great job on putting all details together.
I’m intending to stay in the US for 20 days and to arrive in NY and stop for 4 days then to Chicago for 2 days, from there to follow route 66, however, I have a little shorter time than 14 days for a road trip as I want to spend 2-3 in Las Cruces, NM with my brother and his family!
would it be possible to guide me if I can do this road trip in 10 days and to additionally 2-3 days in Las Cruces?
appreciate your suggestion.
March 13, 2022 at 10:17 am
So glad you found our Route 66 itinerary and yes if you are going from Chicago to Las Cruces, following Route 66 can make a lot of sense for your trip.
Yes, so if you have 10 days/9 nights for Route 66 then you will just obviously need to move quicker and further on some of the days and you won’t have as much time to stop and visit attractions or take any detours. So you can follow the itinerary pretty much as laid out but will need to drive further on at least 4 of the days to make it work with your time frame. You may need to jump onto the Interstate more to speed up on some days.
Las Cruces is just over a 3 hour drive south of Albuquerque so not too far of a detour. So it is easy to drive down from Albuquerque and then drive back to pick up on the route where you left off after visiting your family to continue towards California.
I’d see what places you want to spend the most time in and do your own driving distance calculations for each day, but here would be a quick adjusted itinerary that would include what you want in the time frame you have. But I would adjust it based on your interests and how much you are OK with driving each day as some of these days are longer than what we have in our 14-day itinerary for Route 66.
– Days 1- 4: New York City – Day 5: fly to Chicago – Day 6: Chicago – Day 7: pick up car in Chicago and start drive south along Route 66, overnight in Springfield, IL – Day 8: Springfield, IL to Carthage, MO – Day 9: Carthage, Mo to Clinton, OK – Day 10: Clinton, OK to Amarillo, TX – Day 11: Amarillo, TX to Albuquerque, NM – Day 12 – 14: 3 nights in Las Cruces, NM – Day 15: Las Cruces, NM to Gallup, NM – Day 16: Gallup NM to Flagstaff, AZ – Day 17: Flagstaff, AZ to Seligman, AZ – Day 18: Seligman, AZ to Needles, CA – Day 19: Needles, CA to Santa Monica, CA – Day 20: Los Angeles, fly home
Hope this helps and just let us know if you have any other questions.
Wishing you a safe and fun trip to the USA!
March 14, 2022 at 1:26 am
Thank you so much for the quick response!
This is really a perfect plan and you have saved me from searching other articles or plans. this is definitely what I was looking for and I’m going to follow the same and share my trip with you soon.
Thank you again and wish you the best.
March 14, 2022 at 6:07 am
You are very welcome and look forward to hearing about your Route 66 trip!
March 16, 2022 at 2:50 am
I hope you are doing well.
I have made some changes to my itinerary whereby I plan to make a reverse road trip for R66 to spend my last few days in NY instead of spending at the start.
I made the plan as below taken from your previous suggestion but in reverse, would it be fine if you can review and advise if it’s ok I use this. I really appreciate your effort and am sorry for bothering with this.
Day 1-3: LA Day 4: Santa Monica, CA to Needles, CA Day 5: Needles, CA to Seligman, AZ Day 6: Seligman, AZ to Flagstaff, AZ Day 7: Flagstaff, AZ to Gallup NM Day 8: Gallup, NM to Las Cruces, NM Day 9 – 10: 2 nights in Las Cruces, NM Day 11: Albuquerque, NM to Amarillo, TX Day 12: Amarillo, TX to Clinton, OK Day 13: Clinton, OK to Carthage, Mo Day 14: Carthage, MO to Springfield, IL Day 15: Springfield, IL to Chicago Day 16 – 19: NY Day 20: Fly back home
March 16, 2022 at 6:20 am
Sure you can do it in reverse as well, although if given the choice we do recommend east to west, but it works out about the same for an itinerary either way. And you should adjust the itinerary as it makes the most sense for you and your time. It looks like you are wanting to prioritize LA and NY.
You note you have 2 nights in Las Cruces but I think you still have 2 days/3 nights, Day 8, 9, and 10. I’d drive from Gallup to Albuquerque on Day 8 and then drive down to Las Cruces. Then on Day 11, you can drive back up to Albuquerque and continue the route.
Note that with the revised itinerary you will not have much or any time to explore Chicago. So you might want to take a day out of your days in NY to allow some time to see some of the city.
My husband has written a lot of content on NYC, if this is your first visit, his 3 day NYC itinerary might be a good place to start.
Hope that helps, and wishing you a great trip!
Mr. Prakash Chandra Devkota. Post author
March 9, 2022 at 10:49 pm
Wow! A great informative guide to route 66 Road trip, thanks!
Jay W Gilpatrick Post author
March 1, 2022 at 8:13 am
Good afternoon i am looking for any information on Rt 66 four of us are looking to do this ride this summer and want to know the best time to do it. You can sign me up for the news letter thank you Jay
March 1, 2022 at 8:24 am
I am glad you are planning a Route 66 trip and that you have found our 2 week itinerary. I’d start though with our Route 66 planning guide article as that will probably answer a lot of your questions related to the best time to do it and how to get started in planning your trip. Then once you know when, for how long, how you plan to travel the route, things you are most interested in, etc., then the itinerary will be more of use to you in planning the more day-to-day details. You can use the itinerary and adjust it based on the time you have and your specific interests of you and your travel companions. Our planning guide also gives some suggestions for guidebooks, maps, etc. that might be of use.
In terms of when is the best time to drive Route 66, we generally recommend any time between April and October. Route 66 can be driven any time of the year although winter does present winter weather-related issues and some closures of seasonal businesses.
It sounds like you are looking to do it in summer and that is indeed the most popular time of the year to do the road trip. Summer, in general, is a great time to drive Route 66. But that does mean it is the busiest time along the route and prices are often at their highest for accommodation and the most popular spots can book up in advance. It can also be really hot in some areas during the day (~ 100 F), especially the desert locations, so you’ll want to always have plenty of sunscreen, water, hats, etc. and we’d recommend considering booking hotels with A/C in those particular areas (e.g, Needles, CA).
Anyway, hope that helps get you started. But I am happy to answer any specific questions you have once you start planning! And yes, you are signed up now to our free monthly travel newsletter.
Michael McKee Post author
February 19, 2022 at 2:40 pm
Just went through your 14 day trip and it is awesome. We are going to drive it next year starting in Chicago, as we are from Michigan. We are thinking of leaving in early to mid February. We have unlimited time to spend on this trip. What do you think about the weather that time of year? Our plans are very flexible. Thanks for your work.
February 22, 2022 at 5:12 am
Being from Michigan makes it super easy to get to Chicago to the starting point of Route 66. I am guessing you will be driving your own car and then making the return drive?
Being from Michigan, I am guessing you are also very familiar with winter weather and winter driving which you are of course likely to experience in the more northern states of Route 66 in particular. Chicago can, of course, be a cold and windy place in winter. But it can also be pretty cold along much of the rest of the route that time of year, although of course temps will be more mild in states like NM, AZ, and California, but even in this warmer states, it can get pretty cool at night even in the deserts areas and the mountains are likely to have snow (Albuquerque, Flagstaff, etc.). So I’d recommend packing your cold/cool weather clothes and gear and have basic safety stuff for winter driving with you. Being flexible and being able to deviate a bit in case of bad weather, flooding, road closures, etc. is always a good idea when doing a longer road trip like this. Although we do recommend booking accommodation in advance, we normally book places that offer free cancelation within 24 or 48 hours.
The other big thing to consider is that although most places along Route 66 are open year-round, there are of course some places are seasonal and close over the winter months. So some attractions, museums, restaurants, etc. may be closed that time of year. So if there are any must-see attractions, I’d just make sure they are open that time of year. It is also not the best time for outdoor things like drive-in theaters (majority close over winter) or hiking in certain areas (although some places are good cause not hot).
But if cold weather and some seasonal closures don’t bother you, then it can be a great time to go on a Route 66 road trip. No summer or holiday crowds, lower travel prices in general, and you don’t have to worry about the high desert temperatures.
Hope that helps, and just let me know if you have any questions as you continue to plan your trip. We are hoping to drive Rte 66 again ourselves later this year 😉
Sharon Adams Post author
January 20, 2022 at 11:28 am
I was just wondering if there is a way to download your guide. I LOVE LOVE LOVE it!! We are planning to do the trip late summer in our convertible mustang. I would love to have some type of hard copy to take with us.
Just let me know. If there is a cost to get it in print let me know and we can arrange payment.
January 21, 2022 at 7:32 am
Glad you are enjoying our Route 66 blog posts and hope you are able to do a Route 66 road trip this summer!
To print the article in a printer-friendly format (with all ads and images removed) or save them as a clickable PDF, you just need to subscribe to be subscribed to our monthly travel newsletter (it is free and easy to subscribe). Once you subscribe, you should get a confirmation email from us. Check your email and click the link to confirm the subscription within the email. Once you have confirmed your subscription, you just need to go to the article you want to print, click on the print icon (at the side or at the end of the article) and put in your name and then the email address you used to subscribe.
However, just note we don’t really recommend printing them unless you really need them as many of our guides are over 100 pages printed. You will also not be able to use the many links or referred websites if printed. So we’d recommend planning your trip with the online article first. But if you want to print it, we’d also recommend printing it right before you leave as we plan to update it later this year. If you wait to print it until close to your trip, you’d have a more recent version.
If you have any questions as you plan your Route 66 trip, feel free to ask!
Hope that helps, and wishing you a safe and fun road trip! Jessica
Bill Darrow Post author
December 28, 2021 at 3:12 pm
Your story has an error. A. Lincoln did not live in Lincoln, Illinois.
December 29, 2021 at 8:10 am
Thanks for pointing out that, and yes, you are correct Abraham Lincoln did not live in Lincoln, IL. As an attorney, he provided legal assistance to those who founded and set up the town and it was the first town ever named after him. He did do legal work in Lincoln and tried cases at the local Postville Courthouse (which later became part of Lincoln). But he lived in nearby Springfield (and before that New Salem, IL). I have clarified that information above.
I hope you enjoyed our Route 66 itinerary and thanks again for that correction!
Rob Alter Post author
October 11, 2021 at 3:08 am
We plan a trip to San José, California because of its diversity, beautiful scenery, and exceptionally high outputs. San Jose is a creative and thriving high-tech culture epicenter. We want to explore the city’s economic hub and cultural traditions. After reading your Route 66 blog we are excited to visit San Jose.
October 12, 2021 at 5:49 am
San Jose can be a great place to visit. I lived in the Silicon Valley area for several years and a number of things you can see and do as a visitor. I’d also recommend visiting San Francisco if you haven’t been as it is close by and you can easily reach it from San Jose by train, car, or bus.
But just note that San Jose is not on Route 66, it is about a 6 hour drive from Los Angeles (taking the freeway and fastest route, slower if driving along the coast). But any easy place to add onto a Route 66 journey, perhaps just add a drive along the Pacific Coast Highway to connect the two.
Jean Taylor Post author
August 15, 2021 at 11:25 am
Why did you choose to make the 14 day itinerary from east to west when that is not the way that you, personally, traveled it? Any way to easily reverse these directions if I’m going west to east?
August 16, 2021 at 4:21 am
Glad you are enjoying our Route 66 itinerary, and are thinking of using it for your own trip.
We’ve traveled the route both ways, but the first time we drove it, it was from west to east because I lived in California. So that just, of course, made the most sense since we were near the ending point of the route. But from a historical perspective, the route was built and often driven east to west and that is what a lot of people who set out to drive Route 66 choose to do. We generally would recommend east to west for a few reasons, but if you are living on the West Coast, obviously starting in California makes the most sense. I’d check out our Route 66 travel guide for answers to common questions about directions, routes, and planning.
But yes, you can easily reverse the direction and head the other way. The route is not exactly the same as there are sections of one-way stretch through cities and such, but generally, it is exactly the same in reverse. So if you are using our itinerary to plan your trip, it is easy to reverse.
But if you are looking for turn-by-turn sort of directions, then you’ll want an additional guide. The EZ66 Guide can be used to drive either direction, so I’d recommend using that if you are trying to follow the route faithfully.
Hope that helps, and let us know if you have more questions as you plan your Route 66 trip!
Rick Westlake Post author
August 20, 2021 at 6:15 am
The historically-prevalent Route 66 trip was from east to west, from the Joad’s trek (The Grapes Of Wrath) to Bobby Troup’s (Get Your Kicks On Route 66). And both examples are reinforced with the general westward expansion of the Nation throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, and indeed into the 20th (and, regarding Silicon Valley, even the 21st).
I used the EZ66 Guide for my eastbound trip through Arizona, from Topock to Chambers, where I turned north through Navajo country to Utah. (This was in April, when the California and New Mexico governments were pushing anti-tourist quarantine mandates. Even the Navajo Nation was less unreasonable — just masks for everyone and a sunset curfew.) The book’s descriptions of every stage are written from a westbound perspective, but each page has westbound directions at the top of the page and eastbound directions at the bottom. It works nicely and is easy to follow, both ways.
sophiya Post author
August 2, 2021 at 10:37 am
This itinerary is insanely good! I love road trips but I have never done a long one. With respect to Route 66, I have only done a small portion in Arizona. Of course, I have been tons of times to the “end of route” since live close to Santa Monica. The interesting thing about your itinerary is that I know very little about the places you mentioned in California. I need to start by visiting those.
August 2, 2021 at 11:26 am
Glad you enjoyed reading through our Route 66 itinerary and glad you have gotten to explore a bit of the California and Arizona sections. The end of route signs, Santa Monica Pier, and 66 to Cali kiosk are definitely all great things to stop and see at the end of the route.
But there is a lot more you could explore in California and could make a great long weekend California road trip along old Route 66. You could just start at the pier and then drive out slowly from Santa Monica to Needles along Route 66 to do the California section. Just follow Days 13 and 14 of our itinerary, reversing the directions. Then you could return by the same route or return via another route if you wish back home.
Good luck! Jessica
Mark Feldstein Post author
July 12, 2021 at 10:36 am
WOW! My wife and I are so excited to follow your recommendations as we leave Chicago for our Route 66 Trip on July 19 – August 5 for my 60th Birthday present (1 year late because of the pandemic). We used pretty much all of your suggestions along the way with a few of our own. Question. Is there a specific ghost town you would recommend along the way? We’ll definitely check after our trip.
Mark and Sandra
July 13, 2021 at 7:23 am
Hi Mark & Sandra,
Sounds like you have a great Route 66 trip planned and glad our tips and itinerary have been helpful in planning your trip!
For ghost towns, probably the most notable is Calico Ghost Town in California. It is a true attraction with lots to see/do and you’ll see it noted on Day 13 of our 2 week itinerary. There is a fee to visit. It is just a short detour off of Route 66 and I’d allow at least a couple of hours to visit.
But you’ll go through lots of other abandoned places which are simply a couple of buildings and a sign, especially in the desert areas between Texas and California, most are former mining towns and we mention some in the itinerary.
Wishing you a wonderful trip and please do return and let us know how your trip went and any tips for future readers!
Paul Brawner Post author
June 18, 2021 at 5:00 pm
Great informational site! Thanks so much for managing it. My wife and I would like to make the trip in March 2022, flying in to Chicago and returning home from LA. We are planning 14 days, give or take a day or two. Do you have any current trip cost estimates? I know things can (and likely will) change between now and then, but it could be helpful to know what figures you see. Thanks!
June 19, 2021 at 7:56 am
Calculating a Route 66 trip budget is going to very much depend on what kind of lodging, food, attractions, and other paid activities you enjoy. Those staying in hostels, campgrounds or budget motels, eating cheap meals (picnics, fast food, diners, cooking for oneself), and spending little on attractions can do the route on relatively little compared to those wanting to stay in nicer hotels, eat restaurant meals twice a day, and plan to go to a number of paid attractions.
So I’d definitely check out prices for the types of lodging of interest, restaurant prices, attraction entry and things to get an idea of what is realistic. So I’d just click on some ones of interest within the itinerary and get a sense of what you are likely to pay for lodging, meals, and activities.
Also check out fuel prices which are likely to change by the time you take your trip so I’d leave some wiggle room for them and of course they will vary across states. Once you’ve booked your rental car, you should have an idea of its fuel mileage to make a relatively accurate calculation. California tends to often have some of the highest fuel prices of the states along Route 66 so you could use its prices to make your budget, and hopefully it will lead to overbudgeting rather than underbudgeting. AAA Gas Prices and Gasbuddy are two of many websites you can use to search for current and average fuel prices as well as doing gas trip calculator costs to get an idea. Electric cars can also be rented although there are fewer options and generally at the moment you will pay a premium for them versus internal-combustion engine cars. Hybrids can be a good medium and there are more available for rent.
So let’s assume you’ve paid for your flight, any needed travel documents (e.g., visas), rental car, and any needed insurance (e.g., travel insurance, car rental insurance, etc.). As those are all costs that will vary widely depending on a lot of factors and all can be booked/paid well in advance and you’ll already know the price. Note that rental car prices right now are higher than normal across much of the USA because of high demand and a shortage of vehicles, but hopefully the prices may be better for your trip in March, but they may still be higher than pre-pandemic. Same with fuel prices which are currently elevated.
Your main remaining costs would be lodging, food (meals, snacks, drinks), fuel and transport, attraction entry, and any planned shopping/souvenirs. I would say you should plan for a budget between $100 to $250 per day, depending on how you like to travel. You could do it for a bit less than $100 a day, of course, if you stayed in hostels, campgrounds, or low budget motels but this would definitely mean a limit to where you could stay, eat, and what you could do. So for 14 days for 2 person I’d say $1500 to $3500, with maybe $2800 being a good ideal if you think $200 a day would be sufficient for your trip.
On a $200 a day average daily budget, you could spend an average of $100 per night on lodging and $100 per day on food, fuel, attraction entries, and extras. Just note that if fuel costs are higher and/or you have a car with poor fuel mileage, this could be a significant portion of your daily costs so good to get a smaller and fuel-efficient car as needed that can take regular or economy fuel.
Of course, a bigger budget would be needed to stay in nicer hotels, go to more attractions, do things like visit an amusement park like Disneyland or do guided activities, or have nicer restaurant meals. Then I’d say more of a budget around $5000 or more would be better for that sort of trip for 12 to 15 days, giving you a budget of $350 per day for the two of you.
Anyway, as you can see, Route 66 can be done on a relatively small budget or if you have a bigger budget, it will allow for more extras and comfort. So it just really depends on your budget and travel style and needs, but I hope this helps give you an idea.
Happy to help further if you have more questions as you plan your Route 66 trip!
June 20, 2021 at 5:38 pm
Thank you Jessica. Greatly appreciate the VERY DETAILED feedback! Excellent information to work through and incorporate into our plans. We are going to budget for a minimum of 14 travel days and about $10,000 for total expenses (air fare, car, fuel, lodging, food, attractions, etc.). We have a ceiling of $12,000 so I think we’ll be okay. We want to make sure we have room to flex in different directions.
Thank you again, for the really quick response and for the detailed feedback! We’ll be in touch as we get closer to our start date. We’re already excited!
June 20, 2021 at 6:43 pm
You’re very welcome and happy to help and provide advice. I think $10,000 is a very healthy budget for the trip for 2 persons as long as your flights are reasonable. The great thing is that a lot of the expenses you’ll hopefully know well before you leave home (flights, insurance, car rental) and perhaps some or all of your lodging depending on how much you book in advance (I’d book at least your Chicago stays ahead of your trip, even if you plan to wing it as you go along).
Planning ahead like you are and being flexible on the trip is great. If you track your daily expenses and find you are spending more than expected, you can spend less on food or attractions later in the trip for example. Booking your lodging in advance can also give you a clearer idea of your expenses and make it so you don’t overspend on that part of the trip. You’ll likely need to spend more on lodging and food in places like Chicago, Santa Fe, and Los Angeles (even the budget places in Santa Monica can be pricey), but you can save money in the smaller towns and cities along the way.
Just let us know if you have further questions as you plan your trip. We also have a Planning Guide for Route 66 as well as a Route 66 motels guide here on this blog that may be helpful if you haven’t already read them.
hopr10 Post author
June 1, 2021 at 7:35 am
Hello, I love this. My husband and I will be taking this trip next week. We have completed the Route 66 trip in three legs so far. We began in Chicago. We ended our second leg of the trip in NM last year. Next week we will fly to Albuquerque, NM and begin there heading to AZ. I know that there are a pre and post route. I am interested in both. What post cities will I miss if I travel on the Pre route?
June 2, 2021 at 5:05 am
Glad you are enjoying your Route 66 trips so far! Albuquerque has a lot of great Route 66 history and you can read more about Albuquerque Route 66 attractions in our post that is just focused on those. It also goes into the two alignments as they pertain to the city.
There are multiple alignments across Route 66, but I think you may specifically be referring to the change of the route that went to Santa Fe pre-1937? We explain that route under Day 8 of our Route 66 itinerary in the above post. It also extends into Day 9 of the itinerary. It lists the towns and attractions along both alignments of the route. However, if you are starting in Albuquerque, then you’ve already missed much of the earlier alignment but you could backtrack a little and drive both alignments if you wish and have the extra time. Just see the Day 8 route itinerary.
Santa Fe is definitely worth a visit if you haven’t been before whether you drive the route or not. If you don’t want to do the drive, you can also easily visit Santa Fe from Albuquerque by taking the Rail Runner train and exploring Santa Fe on foot and taking the visitor shuttles. This is what I often did when visiting Santa Fe when I lived in Albuquerque.
Hope that helps, and let me know if you have any further questions.
Ron Chen Post author
May 27, 2021 at 6:23 pm
Hi Jessica and Laurence,
Thanks much for putting such a detailed and valuable information here. I’d like to make this trip in near future. I think you mentioned that route signs may not be everywhere. I wonder how I’m able to make sure I stay on Route 66 all the time, in particular, in cities, turn by turn? Thanks again.
May 30, 2021 at 1:00 pm
Yes, there is good signage on some sections of Route 66 and it has gotten better over time, but I would definitely not rely on signage. Route 66 is a historical route, not a current highway, so signage is up to the specific state (or even city). In recent years, more highway sections have been renamed as Route 66 or similar for tourism purposes.
It is of course not possible to always follow Route 66 as not all of the original route exists. There were also often multiple alignments in cities over the years, so there is no one route. But if you want to fairly faithfully follow Route 66, I would recommend getting a copy of the EZ66 Guide before your trip. It gives turn-by-turn driving directions and also mentions some of the alternative alignments that are still driveable. We used this for most of our first trip.
But in the larger cities like Chicago, Tulsa, Los Angeles, etc. I think it is often better to navigate to anything you really want to see there (e.g., a museum, a viewpoint, a restaurant) rather than worrying too much about the turn-by-turn specifics as it can be stressful if there is a lot of traffic. We find it is often better to just stay generally on the route in the cities and end up in the right places 😉
There are also often things we want to stop and see that are off route in the cities. So having a GPS unit (or Google maps) and a driving atlas can be great for detours and finding specific places like a hotel or restaurant.
Hope that helps, and just let us know if you have any questions!
Sergeant Alford Post author
May 5, 2021 at 7:57 am
Thank you, this was absolutely awesome information. After COVID19 shut in conditions, we decided on a thirty day roadtrip vacation in June 2021 to see something awesome, enjoy being outdoor, give the children something to write about in the next school year, and Route 66 is on my bucket list. Where is the Route 66 guide book available to purchase? We must use the regular map to locate any available military installations for our personal wants or needs. This is perfect for our first vacation out and about after COVID19. Thanks again.
May 5, 2021 at 11:10 am
Hi Sergeant Alford,
So glad you are finding our Route 66 itinerary and guides helpful in planning your upcoming 30 day road trip! Sounds like an amazing trip for your family.
It depends which specific guidebooks you are looking for, but just about all the ones we have used (plus many others) can be purchased online in advance from Amazon. You can see a list of planning guides and materials we used and recommend here with links: https://independenttravelcats.com/guide-planning-a-route-66-road-trip/#Route-66-Road-Trip-Planning-Materials
But the most popular Route 66 guides and books, like the EZ66 Guide, Adventure Handbook, and Guided Tour, can also be purchased in person at various Route 66 museums and gift shops along the route – if you are starting in Chicago, for example, you should be able to pick up guides in either Joliet or Pontiac.
The Route 66 guides are generally quite focused on Route 66 sites and give good broad strokes in terms of recommendations and advice, but if you plan to spend some time exploring a larger city like Chicago or Los Angeles, I’d probably recommend a separate city guidebook if you want a guidebook for those places.
In terms of physical maps, yes, I would definitely recommend bringing along a recent USA atlas or good individual state maps. I have a couple Route 66 maps (specifically for the route), but none that I’d recommend to people as they are not detailed enough to actually use for navigation.
Hope that helps, and just let us know if you have any further questions!
Russell Post author
May 4, 2021 at 12:05 pm
I love this information! Lucca Grill is in Bloomington, not Pontiac: https://www.luccagrill.com/
May 5, 2021 at 4:22 am
Glad you are enjoying our Route 66 itinerary. Yes, you are correct, thanks for pointing out that error regarding Lucca Grill in Bloomington, Illinois. For some reason, we had the correct street address but the wrong city, thanks for catching that typo! It has been corrected.
Danny Post author
April 7, 2021 at 3:20 pm
April 9, 2021 at 11:36 am
Yes, a good place to start would be to start close to open and just do the California section of Route 66. It would be a great trip for a 3 day weekend, and if you are near Santa Monica, it would be really easy for you!
Kathy Balcom Post author
September 14, 2020 at 6:07 pm
Now I just have to reverse the driving directions – I live in Southern California so will start from there. 🙂
September 15, 2020 at 2:03 am
Yes, you can easily reverse the directions to start in LA rather than Chicago. It makes it a bit more cumbersome but pretty easy to reverse. It definitely helps to live near one of the ending points.
Enjoy your Route 66 trip and let us know if you have any questions.
Betty J Partin Post author
September 12, 2020 at 2:50 pm
please tell me that all this information for two week travel is available to purchase in a book!
September 14, 2020 at 1:53 am
Glad you are enjoying our suggested 2 week Route 66 itinerary. It is not available to purchase as a book, but you can print it if you wish. As a newsletter subscriber, you can print it formatted and without the photos, ads, etc.
However, we’d suggest you use it to plan your trip online and then consult it as needed during your trip to avoid having to print it. We’d suggest buying and using the recommended EZ66 guide and some maps to use in the car on your trip.
Just let us know if you have any questions as you plan your trip.
goinsee Post author
June 13, 2020 at 7:56 am
There are so many details here. Your blog is provided a lot of info we need. Thank you so much for sharing.
June 13, 2020 at 8:08 am
Glad it was helpful, and just let us know if you have any questions as you plan your Route 66 trip!
Jose Garcia Post author
May 23, 2020 at 10:41 am
Hi, What an awesome resource to organize Route 66. And I see you guys answer everyones questions with lots of tips. That is great. My wife and I are doing Route 66. We are actually leaving in a few days. We are doing Chicago – LA (then we are heading north to SF driving PCH1) We have a couple of handicaps that made our original plan to get a little screwed. The main one is that we wanted to do a couple of nights in Great Canyon but right now they are only opening on the weekends so we have to do the first half of the Route a little more rushing that we would like to. We are leaving from Chicago on a Thursday so we are planning on doing a couple of long days on the road in order to make it to GC on Friday or Saturday at the latest . Witch part between Chicago and GC would you suggest to skip or no to pay that much attention? Since GC is only opening the South Rim, do you suggest anything on that? 1 day or 2 days? One last question, Albuquerque, Santa Fe or both? Since we are in that rush… what do you think? Here is our itinerary (I admit all kind of tips or suggestions and everything can be modify). Th: Chicago – Springfield (IL). Fr: Springfield – Lebanon (MO) Sa: Lebanon – Tulsa Su: Tulsa – Amarillo MoAmarillo – Tucumcari Tu: Tucumcari – Albuquerque / Santa Fe (??) (2 nights?) We / Th: Albuquerque / Santa Fe (??) – Gallup Fr: Gallup – Flagstaff (??) Sat / Sun: Grand Canyon
Thanks a lot for your time and this amazing guide!
May 23, 2020 at 11:32 am
In general, because you need to do it a bit more rushed, you are probably going to have to spend more time on Interstate and will have less time for stops and visiting attractions. One way to make the most of your time is to just plan ahead and prioritize the places you REALLY want to visit and make sure you have time to stop and see them. This is especially important for museums, parks, and other attractions which have specific visitor hours. There is never enough time to see everything no matter how much time you have, so it is always a bit of give and take.
For instance on Day 2 of your itinerary, you’ll have to compromise as there is a lot to see from Springfield to Lebanon (including anything you want to visit in St. Louis), but since you can do most of that day on highways/interstates as needed to make up time and just head directly to the sites you most want to see/visit. The day driving from Tulsa to Amarillo also involves a long distance and a lot of driving – I would consider stopping earlier than Amarillo (such as between Elk City, OK and Shamrock, TX) as you have a relatively short drive the following day from Amarillo to Tucumcari.
I think either Albuquerque or Santa Fe would be worth staying a bit longer as both have plenty to keep you occupied for a day or 2. I love both cities, but they are very different, so hard to compare. I have a preference for Albuquerque (used to live there) but Santa Fe is definitely the tourist favorite.
Grand Canyon is a popular detour from Route 66 and normally I’d recommend at least 1 full day and 2 nights there to get the most of it. The South Rim is the easiest to access from Route 66 and is where most people visit. If you were also exploring the North Rim, I’d recommend more time. I am not sure how busy it is now, but normally you need to book weeks in advance to get lodging within the park.
But since the Grand Canyon is only open for day visits and day hikes at the moment and access is limited to certain areas, you could probably see what you want in a day since so many of the normal things you won’t be able to do. None of its restaurants, visitor centers, museums, shuttles, lodging, ranger walks, gift shops etc. are open. But you can do the main things as most of the South Rim viewpoints are open and you can do short day hikes. If this is likely your only chance to go to the Grand Canyon, then it is worth going up and visiting for a day to take in the views of the canyon. But if you think you’ll be back in the area again, I might choose to skip it and visit later when all the facilities and areas of the park are fully open. I’d also see how close you can get lodging.
For the PCH / Highway 1 drive , we have a guide to that as well.
I would definitely recommend checking to make sure any places you really want to stay are open for business, and I’d book ahead any must-stay places. Of course, because of COVID-19, some hotels, restaurants, parks, and attractions are going to be closed along the route.
Hope that helps, and let me know if you have any questions! Jessica
Lawrence Post author
May 17, 2020 at 11:25 am
We are driving Route 66 in it’s entirety next year. The plan was to drive the Mother Road this Summer, but that trip was postponed to the Summer of ’21. This gives us some time to reflect and maybe make some changes to our plans. For example, the Route 66 allignments from Springfield, IL to Staunton, IL. We can either take the older allignment through Auburn and Gillespie or take the newer allignment through Glenarm and Litchfield.
At first, we decided to take HWY 4 east from Auburn to I-55 and then travel down I-55 to Litchfield. However, the EZ66 guide recommends going further down on HWY 4 to Gillespie, and then travel east on HWY 16 to Litchfield. What would you guys recommend? We know both allignments would be nice, but we can’t take both of them down to Staunton… So, what do you guys think would be the right compromise? Thank you!
Kind regards, Lawrence 🙂
May 17, 2020 at 12:50 pm
Glad you are still able to do it next year, even if you had to put off plans for this summer. Route 66 certainly will still be there for you next year 😉
To be honest, both routes have a few good things you can see as we note in our itinerary, although the most interesting places here are definitely in Springfield and Staunton so you won’t be missing anything major. So I think you’ll be happy with either.
If you like old road sections, the earlier alignment (via Chatham and Carlinville) might be a good one to choose as it has older parts of the road, a brick section of road, and an old bridge. There are also more small villages along the route. But personally I prefer the post 1930 alignment (via Farmersvile and Litchfield) if the Litchfield museum and visitor center is open as we personally love to stop at and support all those kind of places along the route. Also if you enjoy drive-in theaters, there is one outside Litchfield that is still operating (seasonally in Spring/Summer).
Yes, Jerry (EZ66 Guide writer) gives you the directions for both routes separately and continues both down to Staunton as they originally ran. But you could leave Route 66 and cut across at Highway 16 if you wanted to mix the two and see Litchfield. So that might be a good compromise if you decide to take the older route but want to also visit Litchfield.
Hope that helps! Jessica
Roger Hewlett Post author
April 24, 2020 at 8:46 pm
I drove route 66 in 1956 .I headed West from Michigan to seek adventure and a job in California. I found that job quickly and soon found myself sailing on a coastal tanker for UNION OIL CO. of California sailing, up and down the California coast and all the way to Alaska. It was a real mid century adventure for an 18 year old. I also had a near death experience on the highway at 2am in New Mexico. I took a few short 8mm movies, mostly of the highway, not the landmarks. I didn’t realize the historic nature of rte.66 at the time, otherwise I would have taken more . Lots of nostalgia. I bet a lot of people took movies. It would be nice to gather them for piecing together a video trip in the early days…………Roger H. of St. Clair, Michigan
April 25, 2020 at 6:09 am
Glad you had such a great adventure along Route 66 in 1956. Working for an old tanker must have also been quite exciting, especially at that age.
Yes, of course, back then it was just a highway and it would not really become famous from the songs and TV show until later. And really its historical/cultural value wasn’t really recognized until it was threatened and the highway was gone. I think that is just the way things are in the world – we don’t often appreciate things too much until they are threatened or gone.
Glad you were able to take some short home movies back then of your trip. If you are looking for others that may have films, I would recommend getting into contact with the national and state Route 66 organizations as they may be able to point you in a direction. I know some already sell videos of footage from the route as well (the museums often have film archives), so that may be of interest as well. You can find a list of the main organizations towards the bottom of our Route 66 guide here .
Thanks again for sharing your memories of Route 66! Jessica
Tom McGinty Post author
March 30, 2020 at 10:55 pm
I am preparing for a car driving trip on The Lincoln Hwy Route 30 to Joilet, Il and then on to Route 66.
March 31, 2020 at 6:22 am
Sounds like a great trip and the two are easy to connect. We would love to drive the Lincoln Highway in full if we had the time, so far have just driven sections in Nebraska/Wyoming.
Obviously, most businesses are closed right now along Route 66, but hopefully things will open up more this summer. Let us know if you have any questions as you plan your trip.
Lawrence Burry Post author
January 27, 2020 at 5:22 am
I just discovered your blog and started reading. I’m really impressed with all the detail and that you continue to add new content. The article on traveling US Route 66 caught my eye as I grew up in Oklahoma and have traveled that highway many times, during my youth, before the interstate highways were complete. Your article is impressive. I’d like to add a couple tidbits for anyone who might be interested.
Near Miami, Oklahoma there is a small stretch of the original route 66 that is single lane. A local person there told me a story that seems to be true or it could be a myth but I’ll share it anyway. During the days of the original construction, the federal government provided funding to local governments to build the highway and those funds were disbursed based on a rate per mile of highway. The highway was intended to be 16 feet wide but apparently, the local government decided they could build an 8 ft highway to stretch the federal funding. I thought was interesting. When you travel down that single lane stretch of the original highway, one can wonder why.
Concerning the Rock Cafe in Stroud, Oklahoma, we used to stop there occasionally when I was a boy. Route 66 was a two lane highway and you simply pulled off to the side of the road to eat at the Rock Cafe. As a boy, during the 1960’s, I recall the cafe owner telling us a story about their structure and where the materials came from. Incidentally, it’s built with huge rocks/small boulders. The cafe owner told us that during construction of route 66, the highway crews had to clear a path and that involved removing a LOT of rock from the soil. The cafe was reportedly build from rock that was cleared to build route 66 through Stroud. It’s still a cool place to stop with lots of history. By the way, there was a fire several years back at the Rock Cafe so they rebuilt, expanded, and updated the original structure. Now it’s about twice the size of the original building plus it has an outdoor patio for dining. Definitely worth a stop and be sure to read the graffiti left by travelers from all over the world.
Keep up the good work and safe travels to you.
January 28, 2020 at 2:24 am
So glad to hear that you are enjoying our travel blog! Thanks for adding the local tidbits about a couple of the potential stops along Route 66 in Oklahoma. We will definitely have to pay another visit to the Rock Cafe whenever we drive Route 66 next and make sure to pay more attention to the rocks and the traveler graffiti 😉
Angela Bomba Post author
January 26, 2020 at 11:38 am
Hi! We are looking to do a Route 66 trip this summer starting at Chicago. Sadly we only have one week to do the traveling, do you have a modified itinerary? We probably won’t be able to go all the way to California. Thank you!!
January 28, 2020 at 2:18 am
Yes, we would not recommend doing this route in only 1 week as it will be quite rushed. Although we do also have a modified suggested 1 week itinerary but it requires about 8 days. That itinerary won’t let you see as much and probably will require more interstate driving to connect cities and attractions, but it may be an option if you have limited time. It starts in Chicago and ends in Santa Monica.
But what a lot of people do who are interested in experiencing all that Route 66 has to offer is to just drive a section at a time. So you could drive to Day 7 or 8 of the itinerary and then save the rest for another trip. So if starting in Chicago, I’d suggest maybe doing the itinerary to Albuquerque. Or if you wanted to go at a bit faster pace, you could continue onto see part of Arizona and fly out from Flagstaff, Phoenix, or Las Vegas.
If you are planning to fly out, then I’d probably start with booking your airline tickets and then your rental car if you are planning on hiring a car. Then once you know where you need to go, you can adjust the itinerary to fit.
Hope that helps, and feel free to let us know if you have any further questions as you plan your summer Route 66 road trip.
Ian Post author
January 19, 2020 at 4:26 am
Hi Jessica and Laurence What do you think of detouring to Memphis and Graceland, big Elvis fan and seems a waste to drive past, as might not get another chance. Thinking of leaving at St. Louis and maybe joining at Oklahoma City or wife would like to see Tulsa, what do you think, is there anywhere else to see on way? Love your site, there’s nothing else like it. Where going from Liverpool Uk, with the wife and two kids (20 and 11) 18 days from Chicago to LA then on to San Francisco to fly home. Your input would be much appreciated. Thanks Ian
January 19, 2020 at 5:45 am
I think if you are an Elvis fan and really want to see Graceland you should definitely make the detour – as you say you may never get a chance to do it again. My dad is a huge fan as well and collects his records and enjoyed his visit there. They offer a number of tour options and you can purchase your tickets in advance online if you want. It can be really busy, especially in summer and weekends, and least busy times (according to the Graceland folks) are first thing in the morning and in the afternoon after 2:00pm. If you want to also want to do the tour of Sun Studio in Memphis, there is a free shuttle bus operated by Sun Studio (for those doing the studio tour) that has stops at Graceland, Sun Studio, and the Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum. I’d allocate a full day here if also want to see the studio and sites in Memphis.
Yes, I think departing after visiting St. Louis, taking I-55 south, and then rejoining via I-40 at Tulsa or Oklahoma City is probably the fastest route. It is about 4.5 hours from St. Louis to Graceland and then about 6 hours from Graceland to Tulsa or 7 hours to OKC. If you head to Tulsa, you’ll probably drive through the small town of Muskogee, Oklahoma – the town for which Merle Haggard’s famous song “Okie from Muskogee” was named (Haggard’s parents were from Oklahoma).
But if you are looking for a more scenic route off the highway, you could also depart from several places betweeen St. Louis and Springfield, MO and head through the Ozark National Forest. There are a number of Arkansas scenic byways (e.g. Scenic Highway 7 or Ozarks Highlands Scenic Byway) and scenic stops you could make. If you want to do that, I’d recommend getting an Arkansas state map with the scenic byways marked so they are a bit easier to follow although I imagine there are highway scenic byway signs.
If you decide to detour from Route 66 to Memphis and Graceland, Ozark National Forest, Branson, MO, and Little Rock, Arkansas are a few other places you could explore in this area depending on the route you take. But there are lots of other smaller places as well of course. For example, if you are a Johnny Cash fan, you can stop off at his childhood home in Dyess, AR which is just a bit north of Memphis.
For the drive from LA to San Francisco, our Pacific Coast Highway planning guide may also be useful. But it sounds like you may not have a lot of time for the California coast on this trip?
Hope that helps, and just let us know if you have further questions as you plan your trip!
January 22, 2020 at 2:36 am
Hi. Jessica Thanks for all your information, don’t think I’ll have time to do all of that if I do Graceland and I want to do all of route 66, so we have decided to leave Graceland for a future holiday then we can do Nashville and New Orleans as well. I like your Pacific Coast guide, so it will give me more time to drive and enjoy that road. Do you recommend getting the EZ66 guide or use satnav. but satnav does not keep you on the Route. Any suggestions on how to stay on the Route? Thanks for everything you have done. Regards Ian
January 22, 2020 at 4:02 am
Glad you have decided on your route and what you want to do on this trip. Yes, if you are able to return, then it might be better to do those other places on another vacation.
We had a USA Atlas (has maps of each state), the EZ 66 Guide, and a GPS. We used the EZ66 guide mainly to navigate and the maps were useful in planning and checking ahead to where we were going and planning detours. We usually just had the GPS on (without being directed anywhere) and then used it to navigate specifically to places like restaurants, hotels, and places off the route. Or to get us back to the route when we got lost.
Our planning guide goes into all the options more thoroughly and tips for staying on Route 66.
Steve Walker Post author
January 11, 2020 at 12:03 pm
Thank you so much for all your hard work in compiling this itinerary! We are going to do Route 66 this Summer and we’re really looking forward to it, and will definitely follow many of your suggestions. I have a question though, either for yourselves or anyone else who has a view…has anyone (and would anyone recommend) taking a detour say from Albuquerque to Monument Valley? Maybe rejoining Route 66 at Winslow or Flagstaff ?? Given that for us it’s probably a once in a lifetime chance to visit Monument Valley it seems to me like it’s worth taking a few days out to do this but would be really interested in what people think about the logistics and effort vs reward 🙂
January 11, 2020 at 5:07 pm
Yes, it is your vacation and if you really want to see Monument Valley, I’d go for it. But it would make more sense to detour from Route 66 at Gallup, NM (most efficient route) rather than Albuquerque. Expect the drive from Gallup to Monument Valley to take around 3.5 hours.
The Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park (its official name) is one of several parks in that region, so if you are going up there you may want to visit another one as well. Most people can see all they want at Monument Valley with a full day there (you need to pay an access fee to drive the route through the area) so I’d probably go and spend a full day at the park and at least one night nearby. I’d try to catch a sunrise or a sunset there if you can. If you are interested in camping/more serious hiking there and spending more time, you just need to be sure to apply for your backcountry permits in advance and pay the fee.
For rejoining the route, I’d recommend rejoining Route 66 from Flagstaff if you are just visiting Monument Valley. It will take you 3-4 hours to rejoin Route 66 at Flagstaff from Monument Valley.
Hope that helps, and wishing you a wonderful trip! Just let us know if you have further questions.
January 14, 2020 at 6:29 am
Thank you for your advice Jessica, that’s really helpful and much appreciated ! Steve
January 1, 2020 at 1:39 pm
Hi guys! Great itinerary and an awesome guide, very detailed! I want to do Route 66 in 4 weeks instead of 2 weeks. What would the itinerary look like for 4 weeks? Thank you! Lawrence
January 3, 2020 at 7:40 am
4 weeks for Route 66 is a very nice amount of time as it allows you to travel more slowly and have more time to see the non Route 66 attractions along the route and make some detours.
We’d recommend doing our suggested 2 week itinerary at a slower pace and add more 2 night stays in more places which will give you much more flexibility and time to explore each place. For towns and areas that look particularly interesting, I’d add a night. Not having one night stays at every place is always nice!
If you enjoy cities, some places you might want to consider extra overnight stops at are St. Louis, Oklahoma City, and Santa Fe as these are not included as overnight stops on our 2 week itinerary. And of course, it can also give you more time to explore Chicago and Los Angeles. There are days worth of stuff you can do in both cities.
4 weeks would also allow you to do more detours and you can easily spend 2-3 days each at a few of the detours to places like the Ozarks, Grand Canyon, and/or Las Vegas.
If you have any specific questions as you plan your route, just let us know!
January 3, 2020 at 2:08 pm
Hi Jessica! Thank you for your advice! I have ‘constructed’ an itinerary of my own. Would you mind checking the itinerary to see if my planning is on the right path? I also added in the hotels/motels we would like to stay at. Thank you in advance! 🙂
Best, Lawrence —– Itinerary – Route 66 (July 15th to August 23rd, 2020)
Day 1 (07-15): Flight Amsterdam, NL to Chicago, IL Day 2 to 4 (07-16 / 07-18): Exploring Chicago, IL (Chicago Parthenon Hostel, 3 nights)
Day 5 (07-19): Chicago, IL to Chenoa, IL (America’s Best Value Inn, 1 night) Day 6 (07-20): Chenoa, IL to Springfield, IL (La Quinta by Wyndham, 1 night) Day 7 (07-21): Springfield, IL to St. Louis, MO (Red Roof Inn PLUS+ Forest Park, 2 nights) Day 8 (07-22): Exploring St. Louis, MO
Day 9 (07-23): St. Louis, MO to Cuba, MO (Wagon Wheel Motel, 1 night) Day 10 (07-24): Cuba, MO to Springfield, MO (Route 66 Best Western Rail Haven, 1 night) Day 11 (07-25): Springfield, MO to Carthage, MO (Boots Court Motel, 1 night) Day 12 (07-26): Carthage, MO tot Tulsa, OK (Ramada by Wyndham, 1 night) Day 13 (07-27): Tulsa, OK to Oklahoma City, OK (Baymont by Wyndham Airport, 2 nights) Day 14 (07-28): Exploring Oklahoma City, OK
Day 15 (07-29): Oklahoma City, OK to Clinton, OK (Econo Lodge Inn & Suites, 1 night) Day 16 (07-30): Clinton, OK to Shamrock, TX (OYO Hotel Route 66, 1 night) Day 17 (07-31): Shamrock, TX to Amarillo, TX (La Quinta Inn by Wyndham Mid-City, 1 night) Day 18 (08-01): Amarillo, TX to Tucumcari, NM (Blue Swallow Motel, 1 night) Day 19 (08-02): Tucumcari, NM to Santa Rosa, NM via Fort Sumner, NM (Americas Best Value Inn, 1 night) Day 20 (08-03): Santa Rosa, NM to Santa Fe, NM via Las Vegas, NM (Motel 6 Plaza-Downtown, 2 nights) Day 21 (08-04): Exploring Santa Fe, NM
Day 22 (08-05): Santa Fe, NM to Albuquerque, NM via Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks (Econo Lodge, 2 nights) Day 23 (08-06): Exploring Albuquerque, NM Day 24 (08-07): Albuquerque, NM to Gallup, NM via Acoma Pueblo ‘Sky City’ (El Rancho Motel, 1 night) Day 25 (08-08): Gallup, NM to Holbrook, AZ via Petrified Forest Park (Brad’s Desert Inn, 1 night) Day 26 (08-09): Holbrook, AZ to Flagstaff, AZ via Meteor Crater & Walnut Canyon Park (Super 8, 2 nights) Day 27 (08-10): Exploring Flagstaff, AZ
Day 28 (08-11): Flagstaff, AZ to Williams, AZ via Grand Canyon Park (Travelodge by Wyndham, 1 night) Day 29 (08-12): Williams, AZ to Kingman, AZ (Red Roof Inn, 1 night) Day 30 (08-13): Kingman, AZ to Las Vegas, NV via Oatman, AZ (Flamingo Hotel & Casino, 2 nights) Day 31 (08-14): Exploring Las Vegas, NV
Day 32 (08-15): Las Vegas, NV to Bryce Canyon City, UT via Zion Park (Quality Inn Western Resort, 1 night) Day 33 (08-16): Bryce Canyon City, UT to Jean, NV via Bryce Canyon Park (Ramada by Wyndham, 1 night) Day 34 (08-17): Jean, NV to Barstow, CA (Route 66 Motel, 1 night) Day 35 (08-18): Barstow, CA to Santa Monica, CA (Airbnb Los Angeles Mid-City, 4 nights)
Day 36 to 39 (08-19 / 08-22): Exploring Los Angeles, CA (Quality Inn & Suites LAX, 1 night) Day 37 (08-23): Flight Los Angeles, CA to Amsterdam, NL —–
January 3, 2020 at 7:20 pm
Hi Lawrence, I think this is a fine itinerary, and I think you’ve used the extra days to really spend more well to spend more time along the route, add 2 night stops here and there, do some detours, and even go a bit well off the route to visit the parks in Utah. Some of those motels, as you probably know, are historic ones we really love to recommend (e.g., Boots, Rail Haven, Wagon Wheel, Blue Swallow, El Racho, etc.) so glad you are planning to stay at some of those. Actually the Flamingo is one of the more historic hotels in Las Vegas and also a good budget one on the Strip. We stayed there recently actually, basic but a great location.
One thing I would just take a look at is where you are planning to leave Route 66 and head north to Las Vegas. Doing it from Kingman, AZ is fine (head north up 93), but it would not be “via Oatman” as Oatman is the other direction. So you can leave from Kingman (before reaching Oatman) or I’d continue onwards a bit further and begin heading north from Needles, CA. So I am guessing you are planning to head to Needles and then head north up I-95?
The only other thought I had, especially since you like parks, is to mention that I’d make a short detour to Palo Duro Canyon State Park, just outside Amarillo. Scenic and a great place for hiking. You have probably already seen this in the itinerary but just wanted to point it out.
The other comment is that you are going at the hottest time of the year, so just be very prepared for the hot weather, sun, and dehydration, especially when visiting any parks or spending time hiking in desert climates along the western part of the route. If you are not used to desert temperatures, it can be a bit hard to adjust especially if you are planning to do any hiking or outdoor activities. You’ll want plenty of sunscreen, a hat, proper clothing (to keep from getting burned), plenty of reusable water bottles, and maybe some rehydration salts. Some of the parks will occasionally close hiking paths if temps get too high as it can become too unsafe to hike so just be sure to heed warnings.
Wishing you a wonderful trip and just let us know if you have any further questions as you plan your Route 66 trip!
Douglas Jack Post author
December 23, 2019 at 10:36 am
This is the most useful thing I have found so far for a planned, well in initial planing stages, trip along Route 66. Really excellent. One thing at this early stage – the route is said to be around 2,300 miles, but my distance planner says the total from Chicago to LA along the same route is around 3,400 miles. I can’t make head or tail of that, but I am sure there is an explanation! All the best from the UK.
December 26, 2019 at 7:34 am
So glad that our Route 66 itinerary has been helping in planning your trip. Yes, the route is about 2,400 miles in length following the route as outlined in our itinerary. If you just followed 1-40 from Chicago to LA it is about 2,120 miles, but you, of course, add a few hundred miles if you try to get off the interstate and follow the original route when possible.
So yes, your distance planner is way off! I wonder if chance you are looking at the driving route in kilometers instead of miles? That might explain such a huge difference as the Route 66 route is about 3,800 km.
Thanks for taking the time to let us know our articles have been helpful, and just let us know if you have any questions as you get further along in your planning!
Joe Ostrander Post author
November 9, 2019 at 11:40 am
Hi. Our family is planning a Rt 66 trip for my wife’s 50th birthday trip next June. We are coming from Pennsylvania , so really going cross country. We are going to make our way into Chicago and then follow the mother road to the Grand Canyon, stay for a few days and then continue on to the end of the route. Think we might even try to sneak a day at Disneyland in for the kids (sshh, that is going to be a secret). Anyway, you blog is amazing and the route guide is just what we were looking for. It is a very ambitious trip we are taking with our new camper. Especially since we also have to drive back home. Thanks again for this fantastic resource.
November 12, 2019 at 6:12 am
That sounds like an exciting classic American road trip with Route 66, the Grand Canyon, and Disneyland 😉 Pennsylvania makes it fairly easy to get to the starting point in Chicago. With the new camper, if you are nervous about driving in Chicago, you can also consider skipping the big city and suburbs and start in a town like Joliet or Pontiac. I think Joliet is the first town where you start getting the Route 66 vibe as there is a Welcome Center there.
So glad you are finding our articles helpful and just let us know if you have any questions as your planning gets further along. Also, we’d love to know how your trip goes in June and always appreciate any updates on the route if you use our itinerary or guides.
Mona & Jim Post author
November 1, 2019 at 10:49 am
Hey guys, A friend recommend your Route 66 itinerary and guides for planning our trip next Spring. Said it was the best resource out there and well after taking a look, I am in total agreement – thanks for making this amazing resource available for free!
Quick question, we’ll be travelling from Ontario by car and wondering if you had any thoughts of a route to get from Toronto to Chicago? We’re just not sure if there might be a scenic or interesting route to take before we get to the Mother Road.
– Jim & Mona
November 1, 2019 at 2:00 pm
Hi Jim & Mona,
So glad that your friend recommended our Route 66 itinerary 😉 Our guide is a good place to get started in your trip planning, and then you can dig into the day-by-day itinerary.
I don’t know of any specific scenic routes along there, but you can certainly string together some attractions and find some nice scenery along the way. It just depends on how many days you have and how far you would be willing to detour from the most direct route. You have essentially 2 choices: head west through Michigan or take the slightly longer route by head southeast around the south of Lake Erie through NY, a bit of Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana.
If you do the Michigan route, some places you might consider visiting are Dearborn (The Henry Ford Museum + several other museums), there are many parks and wildlife areas around Lake Erie, and Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. You could also pop over to Sandusky, Cedar Point, & Put-in-Bay .
If you do the other route some places you might want to stop are Niagara Falls, the Finger Lakes area of NY, Allegheny National Forest, the covered bridges of Ashtabula County, Ohio (I think there are 17 of them in the small county!), Cleveland (lots of museums and city attractions, including Rock and Roll Hall of Fame & Museum), Cuyahoga Valley National Park, and Sandusky / Cedar Point / Put-in-Bay, etc. This is just a few that I can think of, but obviously you have more choices along this route, but it will take you longer.
Hope that helps & wishing you a great road trip! Jessica
Tabish Post author
October 27, 2019 at 9:28 am
Greate article and well detailed Rt 66 itinerary! Thanks for sharing
October 28, 2019 at 3:03 am
Hi Tabish, Thanks for taking the time to let us know you enjoyed our article. And good luck to you if you are planning your own Route 66 road trip! Best, Jessica
Michèle Nadeau Post author
September 17, 2019 at 12:19 pm
Bonjour de Québec! Thanks so much for sharing this. Traveling solo, in my 60s so getting such interesting, accurate, detailed information on such a mind-blowing experience is awesome. Already on my bucket list, now must pick a date. Merci!
September 18, 2019 at 3:24 am
Bonjour Michèle, Glad you found our Route 66 itinerary and hope you get a chance to travel it next year! Just let us know if you have any questions once you get your date set and starting planning your trip. Best, Jessica
Joannie West Post author
September 4, 2019 at 7:40 pm
We will be doing the last section of Route 66 this November….Flagstaff to Santa Monica. We have done most of the Route from Chicago to Flagstaff over the last couple years, a week or so at a time. It was a Bucket List thing for us and we have had a blast and compiled so many memories and photos! I just wanted to comment on all the work you guys put into this Blog! It’s very impressive…. very well done and very helpful! Can’t believe it only took you a couple weeks to write it all up, if I read correctly. We saw many of your suggested sights and missed some of them. One sight I would recommend if you like cars is BILL’S BACKYARD CLASSICS in Amarillo, Texas. Also PALO DURO CANYON in Amarillo. Thanks again, enjoyed your research and insights so much. ROUTE 66 is such a nostalgic, fun, quirky step back in time and if you research before you go, it is like one giant Scavenger Hunt!
September 5, 2019 at 3:24 am
Sounds like you have been having a great time over the last couple of years exploring different section of Route 66. I am glad that you are enjoying our Route 66 itinerary and finding it helpful.
Yes, we really like Palo Duro Canyon as well, and it is listed as a recommended detour from Route 66 on our itinerary since it is 30 minutes off the route. But it is certainly a worthwhile detour for anyone looking for a scenic place to hike! We don’t have Bill’s Backyard Classics mentioned and we haven’t been there, but I will check it out and add it to the itinerary since so many Route 66 travelers love classic cars 😉 It amazes me how many car and motorcycle museums there are near the route!
The Flagstaff to Santa Monica section is great – we actually drove parts of that section again a few months ago. It is probably the section that people think of most when they imagine Route 66. I am sure it will feel good to have a bit of an “ending” when you reach Santa Monica and the Pacific.
Mel’s Drive-In opened last year next to the intersection at the Route 66 terminus and is a good place to stop if you want one last diner-style meal. They have quarter jukeboxes at many of the booth tables that have loads of classic music. It’s a new restaurant but in a 1950’s building. There are also some classic Route 66 motels in Santa Monica and a really nice historic hotel within walking distance of the pier and beach, although prices can be a bit of a shock here after so many good value lodging options elsewhere along the route. You may be able to find some good deals in November though!
Just let us know if you have any questions before you go in November. Also, feel free to report back with any new discoveries you find on your trip and let us know if anything may have closed/changed if you use our itinerary. We try to keep it as updated as possible!
Happy travels! Jessica
Dave and Janaine Davies Post author
August 20, 2019 at 7:00 am
We are just comparing four travel quotes for fly/drive on R66 in 2020 starting in Chicago and finishing in LA. Your site is proving very helpful in working out which of the various options they have provided will meet most of our expectations and highlighting some must see places. We are missing out some sections including Amarillo and Oklahoma City (regretfully) so that we can include detours to The Grand Canyon and the Meteor Crater at Winslow. Thank you.
August 20, 2019 at 7:13 am
Hi Dave & Janaine, So happy to hear that our travel blog has been helpful to you in planning your Route 66 trip. Yes, I think if you have more limited time, there will also be some things you will need to leave out. But perhaps you will be back again some day to visit the spots you miss on this trip. Wishing you a wonderful trip, no matter what package you choose! Jessica
Kevin Post author
July 28, 2019 at 3:26 pm
Wow. What a labor of love you have written! Thanks!!!
July 29, 2019 at 5:40 am
Hi Kevin, Thanks for taking the time to comment and hope our Route 66 itinerary is helpful in planning/guiding your trip along the Mother Road! Best, Jessica
Samantha Ann Post author
July 24, 2019 at 1:59 am
Amazing article, Jessica & Laurence. Loved how you explained things about your awesome road trip. I love your blog! Keep posting 🙂
July 24, 2019 at 9:41 am
Hi Samantha, Happy to hear it and hope you have a chance to drive Route 66 yourself 🙂 Best, Jessica
Allison Post author
July 14, 2019 at 5:50 pm
Up above in the Baxter Springs description, you’ve added the Fort Scott Historic Site. Fort Scott is NOT on or near Route 66. It’s more than an hour north of Baxter. Route 66 cuts across Galena, KS and continues east into Missouri. You might want to fix that. I know because I live in Fort Scott.
July 17, 2019 at 11:39 am
You are 100% correct of course and thanks so much for pointing that out. Yes, the Fort Scott Historic Site is about a 1 hour detour from Route 66 from Galena or Baxter Springs, and we have clarified this in the text so readers will be more aware if they want to visit the historic fort site. Best, Jessica
Darren Tucker Post author
July 7, 2019 at 3:37 am
Hi. My wife and I are looking st doing this trip in the 3 weeks , but staying in LA for a few days after. Do you have a printable version of this guide ( buyable). Would love to read this in full on my breaks at work and make notations and alike. Great work. What I have read is both amazing and exciting Regards Darren
July 9, 2019 at 9:49 pm
Hi Darren, No, unfortunately we don’t have any printed or easily printable version of our Route 66 itinerary or Route 66 guide available. However, we do get asked for this quite often so are looking into some solutions but unfortunately we will not likely have something available before your trip. But we hope this will be helpful to you as you plan your Route 66 adventure and take your trip!! Just let us know if you have any questions. Best, Jessica
nicki Post author
June 11, 2019 at 10:32 pm
Dear Independent Travel Cats, last year when i started planning this trip( I actually had signed up to run the half marathon in Chicago , when we decided to make a road trip out of it!), my husband was concerened that we could not pull the entire route off in 2 weeks. I typed in “Route 66 in 2 weeks” into google and your blog popped up. We will be forever grateful. Your Route 66 in 2 Weeks Guide is hands down one of the best I have found. My husband printed it out and it became our bible for our road trip. MANY MANY THANKS! We have one update for you the “Muffler Man” in Wilmington got a face lift and now you can see his face. If you would like, we can send you the picture for your blog. Again…..thank you. NIcki and Klaus from Berlin Germany
June 12, 2019 at 4:41 am
Hi Nicki and Klaus,
So happy to hear that you had a wonderful Route 66 road trip and that our Route 66 itinerary was so helpful in planning and guiding your road trip. Did you have any favorite towns or attractions along the way?
Oh, that is interesting about the Wilmington Muffler Man, and yes, feel free to email us a photo to see the “new face”. You can find our emails here .
Karen harkness Post author
June 2, 2019 at 12:39 am
This was brilliant. Hubby and I are travelling to USA on 21st July. We are going to drive some of Route66 after leaving New York….probably join it around Oklahoma and then off to Vegas for a few days. Head on to Salt lakes Utah for speed week n August then drive to San Francisco before coming back t9 Western Australia. I have purchased the EZ66 but this blog it just fantastic…..gives me an idea and good notables. Will not be leaving OZ without this. Think it has jus5 become my new route planner Thank you xxxxxx Karen
June 2, 2019 at 8:48 am
Hi Karen, Sounds like a great trip and so glad that you are finding our Route 66 itinerary helpful for that part of your road trip! Wishing you a great visit to the USA. Best, Jessica
Karen Post author
June 2, 2019 at 8:25 pm
Hi guys…I have a question. Whilst travelling on Route 66 ….do you need cash or places take credit card? Don’t want to get stuck. I assume hotels and diners will take credit card however gas stations??
June 3, 2019 at 1:10 am
Hi Karen, Most places in the USA take credit cards, including along Route 66, however, I would always recommend having American cash on you when traveling along Route 66 (or anywhere really). Some of the smaller diners, restaurants, and attractions are cash-only or only accept credit cards when paying for something over a certain amount (e.g., $20). I would recommend keeping around $100 on you as a group as that should cover any necessity and there are ATMs regularly along the route to take out more cash as needed. Also be sure to keep small bills ($1, $5) handy as these come in useful for leaving tips and for leaving donations (some of the museums/attractions are entry by donation, and many rely on donations to operate).
Almost all gas stations take debit and credit cards, but if you try to pay outside at the pump, most pumps require an American credit card to work as they are being authorized against the users billing address before you start pumping (they’ll ask you for your zip code, this is a fraud prevention measure). So I would recommend making sure you get gas during the day rather than waiting until late in the evening so that you can pay inside (by credit card, debit card, or cash) as many pumps may not accept your international card. Almost all gas stations have an indoor gas attendant, but few are attended 24/7. So best to fuel up during business hours.
Hope this helps! Jessica
Blue Miller Post author
May 14, 2019 at 6:32 am
As a regular Route 66 traveller, my heart generally sinks at this sort of blog entry. But actually I think you’ve made a pretty good job of not only putting together a sensible and manageable itinerary, but also cramming in a lot of (relevant!) information. Do I agree with it all? Of course not! Would I add or substract stuff? Of course, but that really is just personal preference. Nice work!
May 16, 2019 at 4:57 am
Hi Blue, Glad you liked our Route 66 article and found it helpful! We like to do a lot of research on things and places before writing about them, and agree that many online articles on Route 66 are not very accurate or helpful. Feel free to recommend our planning guide to itinerary to Route 66 newbies you meet along the route 😉 Wishing you many more great Route 66 journeys. Best, Jessica
Diana Glasspool Post author
May 11, 2019 at 5:40 am
Love you blog post, now to get my husband to agree to do it. What time of year is best considering we will be travelling from the UK and probably take 4 to 6 weeks in total.
May 12, 2019 at 12:07 pm
Glad you enjoyed our Route 66 itinerary – we also have an article on planning your Route 66 trip that may also be helpful to you if you haven’t already read it. It gives more about best time of year, car hire, and other more logistical things in planning a trip.
I’d recommend May, early June, or September for decent weather and less crowds and when most attractions are still open. If do it before the U.S. school year ends or after it begins again, then you’ll have less families out and about. I’d avoid winter as you may run into snow/ice and generally cold weather along many parts of the route.
You need about 2 weeks for the Route 66 part of the trip, but you can of course take longer and I think 3 weeks would be ideal. Although more than 4 weeks might be a bit long 😉 But it is easy to add in time in the larger cities (e.g., Chicago, St. Louis, LA) and take side trip to spots nearby like Grand Canyon, Ozarks, Phoenix, Joshua Tree National Park, and Las Vegas.
Hope that helps, and good luck convincing your husband!
Gord & Marion Post author
April 27, 2019 at 9:58 am
Is it ok to tow a 39′ travel trailer on your 14 day intinerary without to much trouble and is there gas stops every 150 miles or so . Great artical and very informative
April 27, 2019 at 11:09 am
Hi Gord & Marion,
Glad you found our Route 66 information helpful.
I am not an expert on travel trailers, and while I think that may be fine in some states, I think that trailers over 28′ or 30′ in length are actually illegal in some of the states along Route 66. So I would definitely look into state laws for each of the 8 states as each state has different rules. You can see a summary of these by AAA here, but I would definitely check for the latest state laws for each state to confirm: https://drivinglaws.aaa.com/tag/trailer-dimensions/
A 39′ travel trailer is not ideal for small roads, especially for going around curves. Ideally, I’d drive/choose the smallest size vehicle you need for the trip for ease and gas efficiency.
Note that many states do not allow riders/passengers in travel trailers, so I would be sure to check each state law in advance if anyone is wanting to ride in the trailer.
There is a longer stretch of route in the California desert section without much options for gas (or anything really) but I think that is the only section and it is noted in our Route 66 itinerary.
Paul Jordan Post author
March 26, 2019 at 6:18 am
Jessica and Laurence… Great accurate guide! As a child, I fell in love with the route 66 television show (1960 to 1964). Fortunately 10 or more years ago, a group of 30 or so of us travelled the whole route in period-correct (1960 to 1967) Corvettes which were featured driven by the actors of old TV show. Absolutely the best trip of my life and a dream come true. I first drove Route 66 in 1972! and have done it multiple times. I’d love to attach a few of the hundreds of photos I took when we did the trip in our Corvettes.
Thank you for all this information totally free and in the spirit of sharing ones life’s adventures.
Note: this is the only email address I’ve ever had! I am a ‘true’ believer!
March 26, 2019 at 11:33 am
Hi Paul, Thanks for taking the time to comment, and glad you enjoyed our Route 66 itinerary and guide. Sounds like you’ve had some exciting adventures down Route 66 😉 Wishing you many more wonderful returns and road trips. Best, Jessica
jim Post author
March 23, 2019 at 10:51 am
wow what a great informative article I really enjoyed reading it ,thank so much ,my brother and I are heading out at the end of May on our motorcycles after reading this can’t wait once again thanks jim
Ben Post author
March 23, 2019 at 6:49 am
This is an incredible post! How have you both got enough time to document this and travel as much as you do? 🙂 Currently up to day 6 when you arrive in Clinton. I have family here who are trying to persuade me to stay a little longer here, would you recommend it? Keep up the amazing work Jessica and Laurence!
March 23, 2019 at 7:08 am
Hi Ben, Yes, it took a couple of weeks to write this Route 66 itinerary after our trip. I think that lingering a little longer in any place along the route is always a good idea if you have the extra time 😉
If you are following our itinerary closely, let us know if you noticed anything that is closed or newly opened on your journey as we always appreciate updates! Wishing you a great Rte 66 road trip.
Nikki Cuff Post author
February 15, 2019 at 2:10 pm
This is amazing content, thank you. My husband and I will be doing the trip in reverse, starting in Vegas this August / September (we have spent considerable time in CA previously including this end of Route 66). We are coming from New Zealand and looking forward to ticking off this bucket list trip. We fly out of Chicago on the new direct flight to Auckland, NZ – 16 hrs. I would like to know about rental cars, in particular Mustangs – any suggestions please? Regards, Nikki.
February 18, 2019 at 3:03 am
You should be able find all you need here about renting cars and where to check for classic car rental for a Route 66 road trip: https://independenttravelcats.com/guide-planning-a-route-66-road-trip/#Choosing-Transportation-for-a-Route-66-Road-Trip
But let us know if you have any other questions.
Bella Post author
February 8, 2019 at 2:38 pm
Really good content. Thank you so much for sharing it. We will do the trip in May. Me and my husband.
February 10, 2019 at 1:12 am
Hi Bella, That sounds great, hope you and your husband have a wonderful Route 66 road trip. Just let us know if you have any questions as you plan your trip. Best, Jessica
Codi Post author
February 1, 2019 at 6:53 am
Five years ago we were driving through Missouri at night and saw this really neat gas station. By chance I saw you photo of Gary’s Gay Partita on Pinterest and that’s it! Thank you for writing this article, we are planning a Route 66 trip now to revisit the gas station and see more!
February 1, 2019 at 7:25 am
Hi Codi, Glad you figured out the name of the station by finding our photo! Yes, the Gary’s Gay Parita gas station is really awesome and well restored. Just let us know if you have any questions as you plan your Route 66 road trip. Best, Jessica
DAWN SIMPSON Post author
January 11, 2019 at 7:34 pm
Has anyone worked out how much petrol you would use driving an RV? We are coming from Australia and are planning EVERYTHING to work out the costs.
January 12, 2019 at 8:28 am
The Route 66 route if you generally follow our Route 66 itinerary with no significant detours is about 2,278 miles. For most of the route we estimate that the average speed would be between 45 and 50 MPH. So you can use that information to estimate a budget for petrol for your road trip.
Other information you’ll obviously need is the fuel efficiency of the RV you rent. So the average miles it gets per gallon/liter of gasoline. This can vary greatly by model. You’ll also need to know if the RV has a gasoline engine or diesel engine to estimate fuel cost.
Then you’ll also need to figure out the average cost of fuel. The price of gasoline varies greatly from one place to another in the United States so you’ll want to try to come up with an average by checking out some of the average prices across the different states. Prices of fuel change regularly so I’d check now and then again before your trip to see if you’ll need to adjust your budget.
Two good places to look up current gasoline prices are Gas Buddy (can also be used to lowest the lowest priced gasoline during your trip) and Numbeo (provides average price per liter of gasoline in many cities).
Your fuel costs are obviously going to be much higher with an RV than with a compact car, but you should be able to save enough on lodging and food to save money or at least have about the same costs.
Hope that helps, and let us know if you have further questions as you plan your trip.
Tourist Post author
December 26, 2018 at 9:08 pm
Great article! It is really informative and do keep us posted with new updates. I truly loved reading all of your tips!
December 27, 2018 at 3:40 am
Hi Tourist, Thanks, glad you enjoyed our Route 66 itinerary. We should have more Route 66 articles out in 2019, so stay posted! Best, Jessica
Michael Tannery Post author
October 2, 2018 at 5:05 am
We followed your Route 66 itinerary and had such a fantastic time with our family of 4. We hired a couple of local guides in a couple of the cities, got a couple of the recommended city passes in Chicago and LA, and did some walking tours which added to our experience. We loved all your suggestions and found this so very helpful in planning our itinerary in advance and while on the road. Just wanted to say a big tahnk you from the Tanner Family!
October 3, 2018 at 8:52 pm
Hi Michael, Thanks so much for taking the time to write about your Route 66 road trip, and glad you found our Route 66 itinerary and guide helpful during your family vacation! Yes, doing local activities and connecting with guides is always a great way to get more out of a trip – we love doing walking tours in larger cities and passes can definitely help save money in cities where you are doing a lot of sightseeing and attractions! Best, Jessica
Joe Post author
September 25, 2018 at 11:15 pm
These are some really great thoughts and info on Route 66… thank you very much for giving us such good information, its help people. I have been looking for your article for long time ago and finally found what I need here. I live in Chicago and appreciate your efforts!
September 26, 2018 at 5:41 pm
Hi Joe, Glad you found our article helpful on planning a Route 66 itinerary. Living in Chicago, you are definitely in the right spot to make this iconic drive! Best, Jessica
Sandy Post author
September 20, 2018 at 2:38 pm
Jessica and Laurence, I am currently reading your article, but have a question. I am planning a mother/daughter trip using your guide. Have you done this in November? We are leaving Santa Monica on 11/5, planning a side trip up to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon and going only as far as your Missouri stop, so we can then head east back home to NC. If you have any advice for an altered route, I sure would appreciate it. Now, back to the article! Thanks so much, Sandy
September 20, 2018 at 4:44 pm
Hi Sandy, No we haven’t done this trip in November, only in summer/early autumn. The only difference is that it will be a bit colder and we’d recommend checking the weather forecast as it is probably a bit early for snow and winter weather, but you never know in the higher elevations in the western part of the drive. The attractions/museums may also have shorter hours, but most should still be open. There will be less people traveling at that time, so you’ll likely have some of the less popular places to yourself 😉
The Grand Canyon is a great detour and in the post we give you the 2 cities in Arizona which are best to detour from Route 66 from (Flagstaff or Williams) and you can decide which best fits your itinerary. You can do it by car or you can also take a train ride if you only want to go for the day.
Depending on time and where you live in NC, you may want to head east from St. Louis (a great ending I think to Route 66 if you can’t make it to Chicago) and maybe drive home via Lexington and Louisville in Kentucky, and then head a bit south to Daniel Boone National Forest, Knoxville, and Pigeon Forge if any of those places are of interest to you and your daughter. Lots of great potential stops!
Hope this helps, and wishing you a great Route 66 trip – do let me know if you have any questions about the route as you plan your trip!
January 2, 2019 at 6:09 am
Hi Jessica, We did it! We took two weeks and drove a modified route. After landing in LA, we had to pick up a car from Long Beach, so that is where the fun began. We stayed on the Queen Mary and then the next day set out to join the official route to St. Louis and then back home to NC. We had a great time. You are right that November was not the best time, but we made the most of it. Lots of things were closed but it was advantageous at the Grand Canyon with no crowd at all. I had bought several books which, in my opinion, were mostly outdated. Unfortunately, Jerry McLanahan couldn’t open his gallery because of the threat of bad weather. It was very difficult to follow the route in some places, so we did spend some time on the interstate. I would recommend the Santa Fe loop, we enjoyed that city very much. Thanks for all the tips!
January 2, 2019 at 6:25 am
So glad to hear that you had such a nice trip on Route 66 and that our tips and Route 66 itinerary was helpful! Yes, the late fall/winter times can be tougher as many things do close or have reduced hours, but the tradeoff is fewer people. Glad you enjoyed the Grand Canyon and the Santa Fe loop. Too bad you could not meet Jerry due to weather.
Also glad you got to stay on the Queen Mary – Laurence and I got married on the Queen Mary 2 . We’d love to stay on the Queen Mary in Long Beach some day – I visited it years ago before a cruise but have not stayed on it.
Thanks so much for sharing about your road trip with us and wishing you a happy 2019! Jessica
Katrin Post author
September 13, 2018 at 12:57 am
Route 66 has it all – the sea, Forest, Mountains and great view. I wish I’ve seen this post earlier when I had the last road trip!
September 13, 2018 at 4:37 am
Hi Katrin, Well, hopefully you have another chance to drive Route 66 and can use the itinerary next time!! Best, Jessica
William Jones Post author
September 10, 2018 at 7:33 pm
Your Route 66 article is very impressive for me and maybe for everyone, so detailed and helpful! This gave so many good ideas for a road trip. I have never thought about doing something like this even though I live in Chicago!
September 11, 2018 at 5:23 am
Hi William, Thanks very much for the kinds words and glad it has been helpful in inspiring you to do a road trip along Route 66! Since you live in Chicago, things are much easier for you as you can get started on the route right away without any extra flights or long drives 😉 If you have any questions as you plan your trip, just ask! Best, Jessica
Mike Post author
August 28, 2018 at 9:46 pm
I’m very excited to have come across your site! My wife and I will be driving from Chicago to Van Buren, AR, and the first 5 days of your itinerary line up perfectly with our trip! I am curious if you have any recommendations for hiking / trails / walking detours along the first 5 days? We have a goal to get out and do some exercise each day before enjoying all the good food options.
August 29, 2018 at 9:16 am
So glad that it sound like you’ll be able to do the first 5 days of your drive from Chicago to Arkansas along Route 66!
Although we didn’t do a lot of hiking on this stretch, I don’t think you’ll have any trouble finding parks and walking trails along the route if you are looking for them. For instance just along the first few days of the itinerary are a number of possibilities: Chicago Portage National Historical Site, Joliet Iron Works Historic Site in Joliet, IL, the Historic Route 66 1.6 mile self-guided walking trail near Towanda, Cahokia Mounds National Historic Site near Collinsville, IL, Nature Reserve in Gray Summit, MO, Hidden Water Parks in Marshfield, MO, etc. We tried to mention when there were hiking/walking opportunities in the day-to-day itinerary.
If you are looking for a nice walk each morning, you might want to plan your lodging to be in a town/city that offers some nice parks or nature reserves nearby. But I don’t think you’ll have too much trouble especially outside of large cities.
The Ozarks, not too far from Route 66 and on your way, are definitely a great place for scenic hiking opportunities. Although if heading to Arkansas, you probably already know that as they stretch into several states, including AR 😉
Hope that helps, and wishing you a wonderful drive along Route 66 and to Arkansas!
Mark Loo Post author
August 25, 2018 at 4:56 pm
You Route 66 itinerary guide with your suggestions, places to stay and where one could dine was very helpful during my Route 66 trip that I just completed. Thank you for taking the time to put all this together and adding it to your website.
Mark from South Africa.
August 25, 2018 at 4:58 pm
You’re very welcome, and glad you found our guide and Route 66 itinerary helpful in doing your road trip! How was your trip along Route 66, any highlights or things that really stood out?
September 8, 2018 at 9:46 am
Tucumcari and Williams stood out for me. Really makes you feel you have stepped back in time with all the Neon signs and shops like it was back in the days gone by.
As for a detour the Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona with the Blue Mesa area where you can do a walking/hiking trail and see the different layers of rock colours took my breath away. Thanks for having this as a detour suggestion.
September 8, 2018 at 11:17 am
Thanks for sharing your experiences!
We are actually heading back in about a month and will be driving the Amarillo to Albuquerque stretch so will be returning to Tucumcari – we are excited because we are staying at the Blue Swallow for the first time (always sold out in prior attempts) 😉 We were impressed by Williams and the Petrified Forest National Park as well – the park is definitely an underrated park in our opinion as there were relatively few people when we were there (even in summer).
Barbara Post author
August 14, 2018 at 12:54 am
Wow. Thank you for taking the time to do this. This must have been a labor of love because it had to be a lot of work. I want to let you know how much I appreciate all the restaurant options. These sound like real American diners. What I always expected Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives to be, but , sadly, is not. Gotta talk hubby into doing this.
August 15, 2018 at 12:04 pm
Hi Barbara, Thanks for taking the time to comment. Yes, it took me about 2 weeks to write this article after a lot of time going back over our trip notes, photos, maps, and books 😉 I am very glad that you found it helpful and I hope you are able to convince your husband to at least do a part of this route. You can definitely find some authentic old-time diners along the route (as well as newer ones that look vintage) and we try to highlight them in our Dining and Lodging section. If you do decide to do it and need any recs, just give us a shout! Best, Jessica
Jim Parks Post author
August 13, 2018 at 7:57 pm
I’m going to do Route 66 road trip I need your Route itinerary to help me!
August 14, 2018 at 12:50 am
Hi Jim, Glad to hear that you are planning a Route 66 road trip, just let us know if you have any questions as you plan your trip. I’d start first with our Route 66 planning guide and then to use the itinerary to help plan your day-to-day trip and for use during your road trip. I’d also recommend getting a good USA road map and one (or more) of the recommended Route 66 guidebooks. Best, Jessica
Kirstien Miller Post author
August 1, 2018 at 3:03 pm
LOVE your blog!! I’m planning this trip with my boyfriend and I’m wondering if you have a printable version? I’m a highlight and make notes in the margins kind of girl and I’d love to be able to print this out.
August 1, 2018 at 4:05 pm
Hi Kirstien, So happy you are enjoying our Route 66 itinerary. I love paper and writing in the margins too so I understand! Unfortunately there is no easy way to print it, and if you do, it is about 100 pages long! We have thought about creating a downloadable ebook so that might be something we spend some time on in the future. But you can save the page in your Internet browser so you can access it offline as you are traveling if you have a tablet or phone with you but perhaps don’t have data or WiFi.
For something that might be easier to write on, I’d recommend ordering one of the recommended Route 66 guides. You can then add any notes from this article that you wish to add into those books. Since the itinerary (and most printed guides) are in chronological order, it shouldn’t be too hard to collate them.
If you haven’t already seen it, I recommend checking our our Route 66 road trip guide as that post talks all about the planning side. If you enjoy photography we also have a Route 66 photo essay series .
Feel free to reach out if you have more questions as you plan your trip, wishing you and your boyfriend a wonderful Route 66 road trip!
Jacqueline Post author
July 25, 2018 at 3:53 am
What a wonderful American Road-trip this is actually…i just heard about Route 66 but i just now know a lot of information about this road trip. I’d love to do the Route 66 road trip some day. This blog is so informative and very detailed nice blog, keep posting!
July 25, 2018 at 4:28 am
Hi Jacqueline, So glad that this post introduced you to Route 66 and yes it is really the ultimate American road trip! Feel free to follow-up if you decide to drive Rte 66 and we are happy to help you if you plan a Route 66 road trip! Best, Jessica
Lynsey davies Post author
July 13, 2018 at 2:19 pm
Hi, Your Route 66 diary is amazing and very helpful. We have just booked our flights for our honeymoon next May and we intend to start at Chigago and complete the route. I’ll prob call on you for some more info but for now my question is who did you hire your car through and as we are staying in LA for a few nights at the end we’d like to drop the car off as soon as we get to LA – do not want the traffic! Many thanks Lynsey
July 13, 2018 at 2:55 pm
Sure, happy to help and just let us know as you have questions as you plan your Route 66 road trip honeymoon!
When we did the full route we actually did a round-trip road trip to and from California (where I was living at the time) and we had a JUCY campervan (offices only in CA and NV). So that would not work for you. We’ve rented from probably ever major agency in the USA and it really pays to compare prices as no one company is always the lowest in our experience.
There are a lot of major rental car companies in the United States that have offices in both Chicago and LA and allow 1-way rentals: Thrifty, Hertz, Alamo, Avis, Dollar, and Enterprise. We have found that Enterprise often has the best rates for one way rentals, especially since they have more offices outside of airports (airport rentals are often a bit more expensive). Enterprise will also drop you off or pick you up which we often find helpful. But we just booked a U.S. car rental through Hertz last week as it was the least expensive for a one-way rental for an upcoming trip to the Southwest so it really depends.
We often start with a comparison on Priceline for rental cars to start. Now, if you book on Priceline, it may not include the 1-way fee but the company will then send in the total amount with the one-way fee added and you can choose to accept or cancel the booking from there. This will at least give you a good sense of prices for your dates and which companies to check out further.
Yes, driving in LA is not recommended as the roads can be really congested and it will save you money in rental fees to drop it off early. Depending on where you want to go in LA, you can get around the city easily by some combination of public bus, taxi, sightseeing bus, walking, and metro.
July 14, 2018 at 11:13 am
Thanks…..will be in touch!
Yes weather can be a bit off here but this past month is the best it’s been for a long long time ?
July 14, 2018 at 11:20 am
Hi Lynsey, Sure, just reach out as you have questions in planning your Route 66 trip! Yes, it has been an amazing summer here in Scotland indeed – best weather we’ve seen in our 3 years here! Of course we were in Iceland during a large part of it (Iceland is getting the opposite, having the worst summer weather in 100 years…!). Best, Jessica
Zainal Abidin Idrus Post author
July 12, 2018 at 8:52 pm
Hello…. I’m Zainal from Malaysia. Would like to know besides RV any motorcycle group tours you can recommend. It’s my dream experiencing the Route 66….. Thank you.
July 13, 2018 at 9:34 am
For motorcycle tours organized within the United States I would check out Eagle Rider and Ride Free . Both offer motorcycle rentals as well as private guided and group motorcycle tours.
You might also want to check to see if there are motorcycle clubs in your own country that help organize international visits for groups of like-minded bikers. We have met many Europeans on Route 66 that are traveling as an organized group from their home country (e.g., Netherlands, Poland, Sweden).
If you decide to plan a Route 66 trip on your own and rent a bike, you might want to check out this book .
Hope this helps, and hoping that you some day get to experience Route 66!
Seana Turner Post author
July 3, 2018 at 6:22 am
Wow – this post is chock full of information. So glad to see this, as I just heard that Route 66 was placed on a list of historic places in the USA that are at risk of disappearing. There is so much wonderful Americana along this route, and I hope people will read this post and go visit. We need to keep our local vendors and sites alive. I’ve been a couple of times to various stopping points and always had a wonderful time!
July 3, 2018 at 7:47 am
Hi Seana, Yes, it is true that Route 66, or at least parts of it, are definitely considered to be at risk. State and national agencies (including the National Parks Service) have been providing funding to help protect the historic road but only time will tell if it continues to be a preserved. Right now about 80% of the old route is still drivable and hopefully this number doesn’t shrink too much further.
You are very right in that travelers need to support the local vendors. Part of keeping the route alive will depend on whether travelers keep choosing to support the local small businesses (staying at the historic motels, eating at the diners, visiting the paid attractions, donating to free sites, purchasing local crafts and souvenirs). Tourists stopping to take a photo doesn’t pay the electric bills for a restaurant, museum, or motel. Many Route 66 businesses operate on a very thin margin.
We love driving Route 66 and are actually heading back to drive a section with some family in the autumn while in the U.S. and looking forward to re-visiting some of the sites. We love the history, quirky attractions, and small town businesses along this drive 😉
barry Post author
April 13, 2018 at 8:58 am
thanks for the info i look forward to the trip
April 9, 2018 at 9:39 am
Hi Guys i’m retiring the end of this year, and i’m planning the road trip for May 2019 after my son’s wedding. It’s funny that before i read your article i was planning side trips to Branson but also some national parks i’ve never been to. Do you have any information on renting camper vans? i’m starting from my home in New York City, going to the rock and roll hall of fame in cleveland ,then driving to chicago to start the trip.
you should publish a book with all this info including rv sites
April 13, 2018 at 8:54 am
Hi Barry, So glad you are finding our Route 66 itinerary helpful. That sounds like an amazing road trip from NYC via Ohio to California. For campervan rentals I’d check out USA Rentals and Cruise America as they allow one-way rentals although you will need to check to see if they have offices in the specific cities you want to pick up and drop off the RV. We used a company that is only located on the West Coast as we started and ended in California. Yes, side trips to Branson and some of the national parks is easy enough to do with this itinerary, I’d just add in more days or adjust the itinerary to go a bit further each day. Hope you find our information helpful as you plan your road trip, and just let us know if you have any questions as you get further along with your plans. Best, Jessica
Ricardo Post author
April 4, 2018 at 3:52 pm
¡Hola! Les saludo desde Costa Rica, Centro América, la verdad se muy poco ingles así que les escribo en español 😉 Me encanto este itinerario, la verdad es que es muy completo, detallado, bien explicado y muy fácil de entender. Uno de mis grandes sueños es poder viajar a los Estados Unidos y recorrer la Ruta 66, eh revisado muchos sitios webs buscando información sobre este viaje y ninguno estaba tan bien como el de ustedes. Los felicito muchísimo, sigan haciendo más blog así, me encanta leerlos. Nos vemos.
English translation by Google translate: Hello! I greet you from Costa Rica, Central America, I speak very little English so I write in Spanish ? I love this Route 66 itinerary, the truth is that it is very complete, detailed, well explained and very easy to understand. One of my big dreams is to travel to the United States and travel Route 66, I have reviewed many websites looking for information about this trip and none was as good as yours. I congratulate you very much, keep doing more blog like that, I love reading them. See you.
April 4, 2018 at 8:31 pm
Hi Ricardo, Thanks so much for leaving us a comment (and I have translated it into English so others can read it as well), and for following our blogs. I am so happy to hear that you enjoyed our Route 66 itinerary and I hope it will come in handy one day when you have the chance to drive Route 66 yourself. Feel free to reach out once you are planning your trip with any questions. Best, Jessica
April 5, 2018 at 7:01 am
Thank you! They should visit Costa Rica, they will love it. Pura Vida Jess.
April 5, 2018 at 7:16 am
Hi Ricardo, Laurence has visited Costa Rica but I have never been there, so hopefully I will get to visit some day! Best, Jessica
jill Post author
April 2, 2018 at 1:18 pm
We did a part of Route 66 a few years back. We went to the Route 66 museum, ate at some of the Mom and Pop restaurants along the way and stayed at the Wigwam Hotel. I truly enjoyed it and would love to do more. Great tips and great Route 66 itinerary!
April 3, 2018 at 11:11 am
Hi Jill, Thanks, glad you enjoyed our Route 66 itinerary and it sounds like it brought back some good memories from when you drove a section. I hope you get a chance to see more of the Mother Road in the future! Best, Jessica
Amanda Post author
April 2, 2018 at 9:58 am
Wow now THIS is the guide to Route 66!! My sister and I drove a portion of this route a handful of years ago and really loved it – I’d love to do the whole thing some day!
April 3, 2018 at 11:10 am
Hi Amanda, Thanks, and I hope you get a chance to return to drive more of Route 66 in the future! Best, Jessica
Anisa Post author
April 2, 2018 at 7:53 am
I have been to some of the cities on Route 66 but I have not done the road trip – maybe one day. This is such a great resource to plan a Route 66 road trip. I like how you made it so that you only have to drive for a few hours each day.
April 3, 2018 at 11:09 am
Hi Anisa, Yes, it does mean you need to have some time but you can also drive it in sections if you have less time. Yes, I think some people try to drive Route 66 in several days but in that way you really don’t get to see much except the road and your hotel, and most people end up just driving the Interstate to save time. We would not really recommend people spend more than 4 or 5 hours a day just driving as most people want to have time to get out of the car and actually wander around and visit places. Jessica
Emily Post author
April 2, 2018 at 6:35 am
Planning on doing this one summer! Pinning for later to help me plan!
April 3, 2018 at 11:03 am
Hi Emily, Hope you get a chance to drive Route 66 soon, and do let us know if you have any questions once you get to the planning stage! Best, Jessica
Paul and Carole Post author
April 1, 2018 at 3:34 am
We have a Campervan in the UK and love getting out and about, this would be our dream to do this route 66. This is such a extensive guide full of useful information, have pinned for future reference!
April 1, 2018 at 8:05 am
Hi Paul & Carole, Campervans are great for road trips and we hope to see you guys venturing up north to drive the North Coast 500 in Scotland some day soon 😉 But yes, Route 66 is a fantastic road trip, one of our favorite road trips we’ve ever taken. There are campsites and RV parks along most of the route so easy to do it with a campervan and there are a few companies that rent one-way rentals in the USA that you can pick up in Chicago (or LA) and return in LA (or Chicago). If you decide to do it, feel free to reach out if you have any questions! Best, Jessica
Lolo Post author
March 31, 2018 at 11:55 pm
I seriously think you have outdone yourself with this intense itinerary! I honestly learned so much! And to be honest, I never knew where the entire Route 66 led because I never bothered to look and have never driven it! Two weeks is pretty ambitious and most Americans wouldn’t be able to take that kind of time to drive it without really having a lot of vacation time. I would definitely love to drive the entire length though as we love to road trip! Pinned as usual! 🙂
April 1, 2018 at 7:19 am
Hi Lolo, Yes, this Route 66 itinerary took me forever to put together!! But I wanted to write something that would be really helpful as we have a Rte 66 planning guide but people keep asking us for an itinerary and very specific places to visit. There was a really good Dining & Lodging Guide being published that I had planned to just refer people to for most of those recs but it is no longer being updated so that added a lot more work than expected! Its definitely a long and epic road trip, and I would say a lot of the people doing the full Route 66 route faithfully like we were doing were Europeans (many on motorcycles) or retired Americans so yes, time is definitely an issue. But a lot of other people were doing a section and some were doing it section by section with vacation time, so you could definitely do it in sections if you don’t have 2 weeks of vacation time. Best, Jessica
Ruth Post author
March 31, 2018 at 8:13 pm
This itinerary is insanely good! I love road trips but I have never done a long one. With respect to Route 66, I have only done a small portion in Arizona. Of course, I have been tons of times to the “end of route” since live close to Santa Monica. The interesting thing about your itinerary is that I know very little about the places you mentioned in California. I need to start by visiting those.
March 31, 2018 at 9:17 pm
Hi Ruth, Route 66 would be a great road trip for you since you live so close to the western end of the route! Or you could just do the California section since you haven’t visited most of the towns along that stretch – it is interesting to drive from such a crowded area with so many people, businesses, and traffic and then heading into an isolated desert area where towns have just disappeared. But there are lots of Route 66 era businesses just between the Santa Monica and San Bernardino stretch of Route 66. Best, Jessica
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