A neon-fueled road trip along Route 66's most iconic spots

The ultimate guide to seeing the best of Route 66 in one week.

  • 81
  • 74:52
  • 4,400 mi
  • $633
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Created by lindsaymarie84 - June 23rd 2019

Route 66, and its 2,500 miles, is known affectionately as "The Mother Road." It's the quintessential cross-country road trip experience. From Chicago through the beating heart of America and down to Los Angeles, the route officially ends at the Santa Monica Pier. The road reached peak popularity in the late 40's and early 50's before being officially removed from the US Highway System in 1985. After a few years, travelers from America and beyond started feeling tinges of nostalgia, and by the end of the 1980's it was fast becoming one of the most popular road trip routes once more.

Santa Monica Pier
4.0

200 Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica, CA, US

Santa Monica Pier

Whether you call it the starting point or the ending point of the Mother Road, it all comes down to one place: the Santa Monica Pier. It’s the perfect spot to stretch your legs after your journey, or to snap a couple pictures of the ocean before embarking on a 2,000+ mile trip back east. Sure, it’s touristy, but it should be! It’s the Santa Monica Pier! Take a ride on the old 1922 carousel, grab something sweet from the soda fountain, and take in all the great people watching.

1
72mi 01h 43m
Wigwam Village #7 Motel
4.1

2728 W Foothill Blvd, Rialto, CA, US

Wigwam Village #7 Motel

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1

If you're looking to go full kitsch, then you don't want to miss out on spending the night in a Wigwam Village. Once scattered across the country, today only several villages remain to offer guests the pure fun of staying in a teepee-shaped motel room. There's two along Route 66: Wigwam Village Motel No. 6 in Holbrook, AZ, and Wigwam Village #7 Motel in Rialto, CA.

2
150mi 02h 36m
Rt. 66 Roy's Motel Cafe & Gas Station
3.5

87520 National Trails Hwy, Amboy, CA, US

Rt. 66 Roy's Motel Cafe & Gas Station

2

After Oatman, you'll come to one of the best roadside stops along Route 66: The Rt. 66 Roy's Motel Cafe & Gas Station in Amboy, CA. Located on a desolate stretch of road, this is an iconic vestige of the Mother Road, and a must-visit for all 66ers.

3
103mi 02h 05m
Oatman, Arizona
4.2

Oatman-Topock Hwy, Oatman, AZ, US

Oatman, Arizona

3

Of course, no trip through the Wild West is complete without visiting at least one ghost town, and Route 66 offers a few opportunities. But, the best is arguably Oatman, Arizona, which considers itself a "living" ghost town, complete with gift shops, staged gunfights and wild burros wandering through town. Judy’s Saloon and Oatman Hotel and the Dollar Bill Bar are must-visits when passing through.

4
28mi 00h 49m
Mr D'z Route 66 Diner
4.0

105 E Andy Devine Ave, Kingman, AZ, US

Mr D'z Route 66 Diner

4

Another classic Arizona road food destination is Mr D'z Route 66 Diner in Kingman. This is the perfect place for a traditional, retro diner experience along the route.

5
75mi 01h 16m
Delgadillos Snow Cap Drive-in
4.5

301 AZ-66, Seligman, AZ, US

Delgadillos Snow Cap Drive-in

5

Your next major stop is Seligman. At just 6.4 square miles, and boasting a population of only a little over 450 people, it's become a legendary Route 66 town, welcoming multitudes of visitors from around the world every year. And, seriously, when you drive through the town it feels like you've been transported back in time. Seligman's Main Street is lined with historic locally-owned businesses that, against all odds, have withstood the test of time. Many Route 66'ers claim Seligman is a major culinary highlight along the route as well. It's eclectic, quirky personality shines through from Delgadillos Snow Cap Drive-in to the Historic Route 66 General Store, and the ridiculously quirky Rusty Bolt store.

6
42mi 00h 47m
Rod's Steak House
3.5

301 E Route 66, Williams, AZ, US

Rod's Steak House

6

Then hop back on the road and head over to Williams, AZ to grab a bite to eat at Rod's Steak House, which is close to the Grand Canyon National Park, and is known for their homemade rolls, steaks and desserts.

7
122mi 01h 57m

120 W Hopi Dr, Holbrook, AZ, US

Joe and Aggie's Cafe

7

Once you reach Arizona, visit Joe and Aggie's Cafe in Holbrook. This classic Route 66 restaurant is best-known for their homemade red and green chile sauces, and it's a fantastic place for a photo-op and to learn about the history of the Mother Road in the cute town of Holbrook.

8
96mi 01h 31m
El Rancho Hotel and Motel
3.5

1000 E. Highway 66, Gallup, NM, US

El Rancho Hotel and Motel

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The historic El Rancho Hotel and Motel in Gallup, built by Joe Massaglia in 1936 has been featured in loads of Hollywood movies. The Western-style hotel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and features wagon-wheel headboards and suites named after famous Hollywood Western stars. Even if you don't spend the night here, at least pull over to check out their epic lodge-inspired lobby, which has loads of antiques and Native American decorations. The onsite restaurant also makes a delicious enchilada and tasty margarita.

9
138mi 02h 11m
66 Diner
3.8

1405 Central Ave NE, Albuquerque, NM, US

66 Diner

9

If you're still hungry, Route 66 takes you right through Albuquerque, so plan on a pitstop at the 66 Diner in the city.

10
117mi 01h 54m
Blue Hole of Santa Rosa
4.0

Route 66, Santa Rosa, NM, US

Blue Hole of Santa Rosa

10

Another New Mexico highlight along Route 66 is the small town of Santa Rosa, home to the Blue Hole of Santa Rosa. This deep azure-hued diving hole is a favorite local swimming spot, and it's absolutely worth a stop to take a dip, especially if you're braving the Mother Road in July or August. If you're a serious diver, this is one of America's most popular dive destinations. Then, once you've toweled off, visit the Silver Moon Cafe in town for some of the best pancakes of your life.

11
59mi 01h 02m
Blue Swallow Motel
4.3

815 E. Route 66, Tucumcari, NM, US

Blue Swallow Motel

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If you're looking to spend the night in Tucumcari, the Blue Swallow Motel is an absolutely essential Route 66 lodging. It's perfect for photographs pretty much any time of day. Its retro signage is some of the best you'll see along the route, so make sure to pull over for a few pictures, at least.

12
0mi 00h 00m
Tee Pee Curios
4.5

924 E Tucumcari Blvd, Tucumcari, NM, US

Tee Pee Curios

12

In fact, you should plan on spending at least a whole day in Tucumcari. The entire town feels like you've stepped back in time. The people are salt-of-the-earth, friendly and passionate. They believe in Tucumcari and are fighting for it, so this great Route 66 town doesn't go the way of so many others in the wake of the highway system. Tucumcari is also home to the Tee Pee Curios, a quirky little gift shop. Or you can hit up the Sand Hills Curiosity Shop for some great taxidermy and other antiques.

13
0mi 00h 00m
Del's Restaurant
4.5

1202 E Route 66 Blvd, Tucumcari, NM, US

Del's Restaurant

13

Next up is New Mexico! There are about 465 miles of historic Route 66 that run through the state, though in recent years a few of those miles have disappeared. However, there's still plenty of old-school road to drive along, and so many charming communities along the way to visit. There are tons of classic Route 66 places to see, including fully-functioning historic motels, diners and classic roadside attractions. A few of the notable Route 66 cities you'll pass through include Tucumcari, Santa Rosa, Santa Fe, Albuquerque, and Gallup. Enjoy a meal at historic 66 hotspot, Del's Restaurant in Tucumcari, where a cow gracefully adorns the sign above the diner.

14
62mi 01h 00m
MidPoint Cafe
4.4

305 W Historic Route 66, Adrian, TX, US

MidPoint Cafe

14

Once you reach Adrian, Texas, pat yourself on the back: you've made it to the middle of Route 66! You'll know you've arrived once you see the MidPoint Cafe, a vintage-style roadside diner, with lots of photo-ops to commemorate your journey down the Mother Road.

15
47mi 00h 48m
Golden Light Cantina
4.0

2906 SW 6th Ave, Amarillo, TX, US

Golden Light Cantina

15

When you're ready for a cold beer and some good tunes, visit the Golden Light Cantina in Amarillo. It's a fantastic little roadhouse that serves up burgers and beers, and also frequently has swinging live music.

16
8mi 00h 17m
The Big Texan Steak Ranch
3.8

7701 East Interstate 40, Amarillo, TX, US

The Big Texan Steak Ranch

16

No Route 66 trip through Texas would be complete without a big Texan-style meal. Do yourself a favor and head to The Big Texan Steak Ranch. It's a Route 66 legend with its 72oz steak challenge, which began way back in 1962. Just a couple years after owner Bob Lee opened the doors he noticed the influx of hungry cowboys on their paydays looking to down some hearty steaks. One Friday in 1962 he set up an eating contest to see who could eat the most one-pound steaks in an hour. After one cowboy downed 72oz worth of steak (along with a salad, a shrimp cocktail, and a baked potato) Lee declared that anyone who could eat that much steak in an hour gets it for free... and so a legend was born.

17
32mi 00h 42m
Palo Duro Canyon State Park
4.5

11450 Park Road 5, Canyon, TX, US

Palo Duro Canyon State Park

17

Get your nature kicks on Route 66 at Palo Duro Canyon State Park. This is America's second largest canyon, and it only costs $5 to enter. You can easily drive the length of the park and pull over for some scenic overlooks. There's also a sizeable campground in the park.

18
95mi 01h 42m
Phillips 66 on the Route
3.5

219 Gray St, McLean, TX, US

Phillips 66 on the Route

18

Another great little Texas town to visit is McLean. Here you can stop at the Phillips 66 on the Route, a vintage 1928 gas service station that was designed in what was known as "Cottage Fashion," because it resembled a little country cottage. Adorable!

19
20mi 00h 22m

101 E. 12th Street, Shamrock, TX, US

Tower Station and U-Drop Inn Café

19

On to Texas! The Lone Star state still has about 150 miles of Route 66 road still remaining, and it all closely parallels Interstate 40, so it's easy to hop on and off the patches of Mother Road. A few highlights include Shamrock, Texas, which is home to the Conoco Tower. This once-bustling stop along the route remains a great place to take pictures to this day. Of all the gas stations, open or closed, in America, this may be one of the most stunning. It’s just a hop, skip, and jump off I-40, so you really have no excuse not to stop and see this roadside classic. While you’re in Shamrock, also hit up their very own Blarney Stone.

Best time of year to travel along Route 66: The best time to road trip down Route 66 is between late April and early July, as well as late August through late October. The worst times to visit would be July and August, this is when the temperature is sweltering and all the kids are out of school, which means you'll come across some crowds along the route. In addition, July and August is considered high season, so you're going to be paying higher rates for lodging.