The top things to do on a Route 66 road trip

The ultimate guide to seeing the best of the Mother Road from Illinois to California in one week

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  • 48:08
  • 2,313 mi
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Created by mrsprell - February 19th 2021

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.

Beaumont, CA, United States

1
65mi 01h 14m
Joshua Tree National Park
4.5

74485 National Park Dr, Twentynine Palms, CA, US

Joshua Tree National Park

1
2
49mi 01h 04m
Rt. 66 Roy's Motel Cafe & Gas Station
3.5

87520 National Trails Highway, Amboy, CA, US

Rt. 66 Roy's Motel Cafe & Gas Station

2

Roy's is located along a desolate stretch of the Mother Road in the tiny desert town of Amboy. The motel, cafe, and gas station has appeared in numerous movies and is one of the best photo ops along the entire route. The iconic neon sign has recently been restored so it looks great day or night.

3
103mi 01h 51m
Oatman, Arizona
4.2

Oatman-Topock Hwy, Oatman, AZ, US

Oatman, Arizona

3

You’d be hard-pressed to find a ghost town more real—or more alive—than Oatman. Located at the edge of Arizona on Route 66 and perched 2,700 feet above sea level in the Black Mountains, Oatman is a strange place run by wild burros.

In 1908, gold was discovered in the Black Mountains and many prospectors flocked to Oatman to stake their claims. For the remainder of the 19th century, mining in the area steadily decreased, and in 1921, a fire ripped through town, destroying most of the buildings. I-40 bypassed Oatman in the early 1950s, and nearly a decade later, it was a virtual ghost town.

But the people of Oatman fought to survive and now the town has more than 40 shops, eateries, and other attractions including Wild West reenactments, gunslinging shows, annual bed races, a sidewalk egg fry contest, Gold Camp Days, the International Burro Bisket Toss, and a yearly book fair and bake sale.

4
28mi 00h 47m
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 stop is Mr D'z Route 66 Diner. The retro diner prides itself on its home-cooked food and family-friendly vibe. Try the chicken fried steak and wash it down with a root beer float.

5
17mi 00h 25m
Alpacas of the Southwest
4.5

1108 McCarrel, Kingman, AZ, US

Alpacas of the Southwest

5
6
57mi 00h 58m
Delgadillos Snow Cap Drive-in
4.5

301 AZ-66, Seligman, AZ, US

Delgadillos Snow Cap Drive-in

6

When Juan and Mary Delgadillo opened the Snow Cap Drive-In on Route 66 in Seligman in 1953, they probably didn’t anticipate it becoming a worldwide tourist attraction. More than 60 years later, Delgadillo's Snow Cap Drive-In is one of the most sought-out Route 66 destinations. Built with scrap lumber from the Santa Fe railroad yard, the Delgadillo family constructed the drive-in on an absolute shoe-string budget.

To attract travelers, Delgadillo took a 1936 Chevy, cut the top off, and decorated it with every weird paint color and doodad he could find, including a Christmas tree in the back. The plan worked and it’s still one of the most photographed pieces of Route 66 Americana.

The drive-in isn’t the only iconic Route 66 location in the Delgadillo family. Juan’s brother, Angel, made his mark on the Mother Road with his barber shop (now a gift store). Angel, affectionately known as the “guardian angel” of Route 66, founded the Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona in 1987, a move that would quickly be imitated in other states along the route.

7
43mi 08h 36m
The Rusty Bolt
4.3

22345 W. Rt. 66, Seligman, AZ, US

The Rusty Bolt

7
8
42mi 00h 45m
Rod's Steak House
3.5

301 E Route 66, Williams, AZ, US

Rod's Steak House

8

Grab a bite to eat at Rod's Steak House, known for its homemade rolls, steaks, and desserts. Located about an hour from Grand Canyon National Park, Rod’s has been a Route 66 icon since 1946.

9
30mi 00h 31m

332 S State Route 64, Williams, AZ, US

Flintstones Bedrock City

9
10
116mi 01h 50m
La Posada Hotel
4.7

303 E 2nd St, Winslow, AZ, US

La Posada Hotel

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10

The resurgence of Winslow didn’t start entirely on the corner. During the town’s heyday as a stop for steam locomotives, Fred Harvey wanted to build a landmark hotel in Winslow. With a price tag that would equal nearly $40 million today, La Posada Hotel was completed just after the stock market crash. It would only be open for 27 years, eventually having most of its fine furnishings sold at auction, but efforts to save the Winslow icon were eventually successful.

Facing the threat of demolition for several decades, the La Posada Foundation and the new owners of the property finally restored La Posada Hotel to its former glory as the Jewel of the West. The foundation changed their name to the Standin’ On the Corner Foundation and took on their next project, helping to make the now-famous park a reality.

11
32mi 00h 32m

120 W Hopi Dr, Holbrook, AZ, US

Joe and Aggie's Cafe

11

This classic Route 66 restaurant is best-known for its homemade red and green chile sauces. Even if you’re not hungry, it’s worth stopping for a photo in front of the building, which features a hand-painted map of Route 66.

12
0mi 00h 01m
Wigwam Village Motel No. 6
4.0

811 W Hopi Dr, Holbrook, AZ, US

Wigwam Village Motel No. 6

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12
13
74mi 01h 08m
Chief Yellowhorse Trading Post
3.7

359 Interstate 40, Lupton, AZ, US

Chief Yellowhorse Trading Post

13
14
30mi 00h 31m
El Rancho Hotel and Motel
3.5

1000 E. Highway 66, Gallup, NM, US

El Rancho Hotel and Motel

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14

The historic El Rancho Hotel in Gallup was built by Joe Massaglia in 1936 and has been featured in dozens of old 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 the epic hunting lodge-inspired lobby, which is full of antiques and Native American decor. The onsite restaurant makes a delicious green chile enchilada, a tasty margarita, and the crispiest pancakes you’ll find along the route.

15
134mi 02h 02m
Hotel Albuquerque at Old Town
3.5

800 Rio Grande Blvd NW, Albuquerque, NM, US

Hotel Albuquerque at Old Town

15
16
4mi 00h 08m
66 Diner
3.9

1405 Central Ave NE, Albuquerque, NM, US

66 Diner

16

For an authentic Route 66 meal, make a pit stop at the 66 Diner in Albuquerque, where you can load up on burgers, fries, strawberry shakes, and the biggest banana split you've ever seen. The 66 Diner doesn't just serve authentic 1950s-style food, but goes out of its way to look the part. Retro touches include chrome tables, a jukebox loaded with period-appropriate 45 records, and wait-staff in 1950s outfits. The sundaes here are comically giant—the banana split has eight scoops of ice cream, so get it to share.

17
24mi 00h 28m
Tinkertown Museum
4.5

121 Sandia Crest Rd, Sandia Park, NM, US

Tinkertown Museum

17
18
165mi 02h 35m
Blue Swallow Motel
4.3

815 E. Route 66, Tucumcari, NM, US

Blue Swallow Motel

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18

The iconic Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari has been open since 1939. As far as vintage neon signage goes, it doesn't get much better than the Blue Swallow's classic sign. If you can, stick around until dusk, it’s worth the wait. And there’s a reason for the classic “Tucumcari Tonite!” campaign—there’s no better place to stop for the night. Many rooms at the Blue Swallow come with their own garage, so you can stow your car, grab a lawn chair, and sit outside to bask in the glow of the iconic neon.

19
0mi 00h 00m
Tee Pee Curios
4.5

924 E Tucumcari Blvd, Tucumcari, NM, US

Tee Pee Curios

19

One of the last remaining curio shops in Tucumcari, Tee Pee Curios is not only awesome from the outside, but the inside is packed with all the Route 66 souvenirs, pottery, shirts, and jewelry you could ever want. Stop by after dark to check out the beautiful neon sign, one of only a few along this stretch that still lights up at night.