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, the route officially ends at the Santa Monica Pier. The road reached peak popularity in the late 1940s and early '50s before being officially removed from the U.S. Highway System in 1985. After a few years, travelers from around the country and beyond started feeling tinges of nostalgia, and by the end of the 1980s it was once again becoming one of the most popular road trip routes.
Looking for more tips for your Route 66 trip? We've got you covered.
Route 66 is renowned for its classic American cuisine. If you’re not still full of donut holes (or even if you are), visit Dell Rhea's Chicken Basket, just outside Chicago, for some of the best fried chicken you'll ever taste. The roadhouse has been serving its home-cooked goodness since 1946, and even if you’re not ready to eat just yet, the neon sign is a classic photo op.
5257 Historic U.S. 66, Shirley, IL, US
For travelers with a sweet tooth, Funks Grove Pure Maple Sirup in Shirley is a must-see (and must-taste). Funks Grove produces more than 2,000 gallons of maple syrup—or “sirup”— per year using old-fashioned sap-gathering techniques. The finished product comes in beautifully designed bottles.
Atlanta, IL, US
Atlanta is also home to the Route 66 Arcade Museum, a fantastic hidden gem. It features a collection of vintage arcade machines (made between 1934 and 1982) that you can still play for just a quarter.
525 South Pasfield Street, Springfield, IL, US
For the full Lincoln experience, spend the night at the Pasfield House Inn in Springfield. This gorgeous bed and breakfast is owned and operated by Tony Leone, a local historian, who greets his guests with that famous Prairie State hospitality. The Georgian-style inn is a Springfield landmark, and oozes with style.
The home was built in 1896 and has been lovingly preserved under the care of Leone since 1996. The six-suite bed and breakfast sees quite a lot of visitors, especially history buffs on Lincoln-inspired pilgrimages.
1107 Historic Old Rte 66, Staunton, IL, US
Six miles south of Mount Olive, take a slight detour to Henry's Rabbit Ranch in Staunton. The ranch is full of Rabbits—both the Volkswagen kind (some stick out of the ground in a Stonehenge-like fashion) and the fluffy kind. If you’re lucky, you might get to meet the owner and pet the real-life rabbits that spend their days hopping around the store. A short drive away is the St. Paul Lutheran Church and its large blue neon cross.
6726 Chippewa, St. Louis, MO, US
Ted Drewes Frozen Custard, a Route 66 icon, has been serving hot and hungry road travelers for more than 80 years. After opening his first successful custard store in Florida in 1929, Drewes opened a few more stores, including this stand located on Historic Route 66. Almost a century later, the stand is still a family-run business.
7400 Grant Rd, St. Louis, MO, US
12580 Rott Rd, St. Louis, MO, US
On your way out of St. Louis, hit up the sprawling Laumeier Sculpture Park and Museum. Stretch your legs among the weird and wild outdoor art exhibits, which include a gigantic eyeball in the middle of a field.
97 North Outer Road (Visitor Center & Museum), Eureka, MO, US
2958 Highway 100, Villa Ridge, MO, US
I-44 - Exit 230, Sullivan, MO, US
The Jesse James Wax Museum in Stanton is an interactive walking museum that takes visitors through the life and mysterious death of the notorious outlaw. The gift shop is loaded with kitschy James memorabilia. The nearby Riverside Wildlife Center, full of snakes and alligators, is also worth a visit.
1135 Highway W, Stanton, MO, US
2426 S Service Rd E, Sullivan, MO, US
E Of Sullivan Off Mo 185, Sullivan, MO, US
115 Meramec Park Dr., Sullivan, MO, US
112 N Filmore St, Cuba, MO, US
There are so many Route 66 icons to see and experience while in Cuba, but it’s absolutely essential to take a tour of the famous Route 66 Viva Cuba Murals. Take a journey through the town’s history via 12 outdoor murals. For a more in-depth look, a narrated bus tour departs from the Cuba Visitor Center. A self-guided map is available at Cubamomurals.com.
5957 Hwy ZZ, Cuba, MO, US
540 State Route B, St. James, MO, US
Highway 63 North, Rolla, MO, US